Peter Ijkhout - Senior Product Manager, ChyronHego
Video over IP has become one of the hottest topics in our industry. It represents a sea change approach for transporting content from site to site, within a studio and over the air.
The transition to IP-based production and distribution, from the proven and well-understood world of SDI, will be challenging. Here are a few thoughts on how those challenges may impact future protocol standards, workflows, and UHD live production.
CHALLENGE 1: IDENTIFYING AND ADOPTING A SINGLE STANDARD
For a successful transition from SDI to IP, it is very important that one standard is accepted and adopted by our industry in order to allow interoperability between systems - just as SDI provides today. At present, several organizations and/or companies are developing competing protocols, and we have to wait and see how this will progress.
For it’s part, ChyronHego is a member of ASPEN, a community of leading broadcasters and equipment manufacturers who support a protocol developed to meet the real world requirements of an IP-centric facility. And there are other standard bodies, such as AIMS, the Alliance for IP Media Solutions, and NDI, from NewTek. ChyronHego is taking an agnostic approach and will support all IP protocols as they become mainstreamed.
That said, SDI will be around for many years to come, and there are several good reasons as to why this is true. SDI is a proven technology and broadcasters and other content creators have invested in fixed cabling. SDI is found on every piece of equipment so it prevents incompatibility issues. SDI also scales easily with near-term requirements of 4K. More about that later…
CHALLENGE 2: THE TRANSITION TO IP WILL BRING CHANGES TO WORKFLOW
Workflow-wise things are already changing rapidly. Content producers demand and get more and more IP-based tools (apps/interfaces) to focus on their creative work and these tools push the core technology side of things, such as SDI, to the background. For broadcasters in general, IP-based tools like production automation also help reduce costs, as smaller crews can produce more content faster.
ChyronHego’s recent acquisition of VidiGo is a big driver to solving this challenge. Our focus is on developing IP-based workflow tools, such as production automation and tools for scalable 'task-oriented' crews. The latter means flexible off-loading of some workflow elements onto browser-based interfaces. This allows for a scalable production control-room suitable for single person operation as well as larger productions involving larger crews.
CHALLENGE 3: IP-BASED LIVE PRODUCTION AND 4K
To some extent, 4K production will actually slow down developments for IP, as a replacement to SDI, as the bandwidth requirements for 4K (assuming we still hold on to uncompressed feeds) is such that building a reliable IP infrastructure will be very costly and there will be reluctance to invest as there is no global standard yet. In the compressed domain, however, there could well be a speed-up of developments. Adoption, however, will depend on acceptance of compression in the production chain as well as unavoidable longer latency compared to traditional SDI.
As mentioned previously, there’s also the lack of a unified standard. Without a well-designed protocol that can be shared seamlessly between different vendor’s equipment, there will be reluctance on the part of broadcasters to invest in IP as an SDI replacement. At the same time, and certainly for 4K, the required network systems are complex and expensive. Traditional engineers at broadcasters are very video-oriented and it will take time to make the transition to IP-based engineering.
The good news is that these and other challenges are solvable, and the benefits of migrating to an all-IP live production workflow are many. IP-based production and distribution promises workflow efficiencies and cost savings when commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components are factored in, and this includes hardware, software and services. IP-based tools and workflows also offer a scalable path to 4K, HFR, HDR, object-oriented audio, and even 8K production.
Here’s the bottom line. These and other challenges can be met and the transition from SDI to IP will, eventually, be realized.