IP networks have been at the heart of many broadcast operations for two decades and more. Editing uses commodity workstations and IP networks, as do playout operations. But live production has, until recently, been the preserve of SDI. The advances in IT, driven by the data centers that power the cloud, and the general move to virtualization, brings benefits that now make live, real-time broadcast operations possible in an all-IP environment. There is gathering momentum to consider IP-connected broadcast equipment instead of the tried and tested SDI, which has served the industry well since the introduction of digital video.
There was a time when the use of fiber optic cable struck fear in hearts of live production crews because it was difficult to work with and there was a certain black magic associated with distributing optical signals that had to be done right in order for multiple paths of video and audio to cleanly pass through tiny strands of glass. Today, the technology has advanced to include military-grade tactical cable and fiber/copper hybrid cabling that is much more robust to work with. Along with better equipment, there is a better understanding across the industry of how to deploy fiber cable and hardware with the least amount of effort and on-site field problems.