Field Report: New Axon Cards Resolve UHD OB Conversion Challenges

Collaboration between Axon and Arena Television creates a working IP solution that integrates with deployed technologies.

A new Axon Synapse card supports TICO and is designed to support other IP standards when ratified.

A new Axon Synapse card supports TICO and is designed to support other IP standards when ratified.

Arena Television is one of the world’s first OB companies to embrace 4K HDR production based on IP infrastructure. The company recently adopted the latest generation of Axon Digital Synapse signal processing cards. The cards provide an Ethernet/SDI bridge and the power to convert from one format to another within the IP domain. The cards were developed in close collaboration with Arena.

Axon’s Synapse signal processing is used heavily across Arena’s OB fleet, including their new triple-expanding OBX and OBY UHD multicast trucks. Sharing valuable experience gained during the build and deployment of these units, the Arena team worked closely with Axon to resolve issues encountered in their new IP environment.

The build of OB12, a 17.5-metre double-expanding production and presentation unit, gave Axon the opportunity to develop new solutions, greatly influenced by Arena, that met the requirement to convert from one IP format to another.  The results were the roll-out in 2017 of Axon’s NIO440, a new 4-channel bi-directional Ethernet/SDI bridge and now the launch of two new Synapse cards – the NUG220 and NGU220 – that resolve conversion within IP and 4K.

The NUG220 is a Synapse card that can bridge up to 2x 4K/UHD TICO Alliance Compressed streams into a dual 1080i/p SDI stream or a dual 4K/UHD four-wire stream. It features a down-converter that bridges the TiCO compressed workflow to an HD (1080i or 1080p) workflow. The NGU220 can bridge up to 2x 4k/UHD (four-wire) into a single 10Gb/s Ethernet using TICO compression and features an up-converter that also allows 1080i signals to be included into a 4K UHD TICO compressed workflow.

One of the unique features of these cards is that they are housed on the same board and a simple software switch on the card alters the function between the two.  The rear panel of the module has been designed to allow for this switch, making the cards ideal for tailboard applications where changes, such as adding resources, can be easily made. Whilst they are initially TICO-based, the cards have been designed to support other IP standards as they become ratified. This responsiveness and flexibility will allow Arena to deliver live IP productions with greater confidence today and be future-ready, protecting its investment.

“We have a well-established relationship with Axon and have greatly benefited from their team’s strong customer focus and pragmatic approach. Through our latest collaboration, we have created working IP solutions where native IP products are simply not yet available and that integrate with the technologies we’ve deployed. This has enabled us to drive IP production forward.”
Dafydd Rees, Arena’s Deputy Director of Operations.
“Every technology step-change relies on early adopters and Arena is a pioneer with a vision leading the way into IP production. Arena has dealt first-hand with issues in this new environment, found out the hard way what works and what needed adjustment and they have readily shared their experience. This enables us to develop and deliver conversion solutions that make their workflow more efficient and reduce the amount of conversion stages significantly.”
Peter Schut, Axon’s CTO.

Arena’s IP fleet has clocked-up hundreds of production credits covering premium football, rugby, factual and entertainment.

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