Where is video production technology headed? Let's ask the experts.
This is part 2 of the series “Where is Production Technology Headed for 2019?” Here we ask three executives from key production technology companies for their thoughts on new technology developments for 2019.
As in Part 1, these experts were asked about the post communities' transition to IP production technology in the light of new SMPTE standards, the evolution of post-production over the past few years, and where they felt post was headed for 2019. Part 1 in the series can be found here.
Throughout the course of 2018, SMPTE ST 2110 has been a driving “force for increased flexibility in production IP workflows and the impetus behind the modular approach to broadcast media routing,” Bryce Button, director of product marketing at AJA Video Systems started out, “allowing video and audio to be embedded and disembedded separately as needed.
Bryce Button, director of product marketing at AJA Video Systems.
“New standards within the SMPTE ST 2110 protocol that will continue to evolve in 2019 include SMPTE ST 2110-22, which aims to standardize compression across IP to help conserve bandwidth, and SMPTE ST 2110-31 for transport of AES3 audio, introducing leading audio standards to the evolving broadcast IP delivery system. And AJA has taken full advantage of it.
“We continue to integrate SMPTE ST 2110 standards into our full range of production solutions, including the Thunderbolt 3-equipped Io IP and our IP to/from SDI and HDMI Mini-Converters,” he said. “Looking forward to 2019, we can also expect to see further developments in IP with the auto-discovery process, enabling equipment to self-identify and communicate what it’s capable of transmitting and receiving. PTP timing protocol for synchronizing elements will also continue to develop, allowing master clocks to sync streams for more accurate timing throughout production chains. The result is we can all produce better product.
“The prevalence of HDR and WCG content has also led to the growing modern workflow of using LOG source materials from cameras,” Button continued, “providing a great starting point for extracting the largest dynamic range and color gamuts possible from the source for delivery as P3 or BT 2020 for the various HDR formats, including Dolby Vision, HLG or HDR10. Our FS-HDR converter easily bridges many of these new color spaces and HDR formats, and has become a standard piece of gear in finishing post suites.”
What's ahead for post?
“Pipelines are continuing to evolve,” said Button, “and though designed to be as simple as possible for post professionals to use and navigate, video creatives are expected to understand protocols and approaches more commonly associated with the IT side of the business. It behooves any creative who is making this transition to spend as much of their spare time as possible getting up to speed with these standards, using resources like The Broadcast Bridge to learn about them.”
“Creatives must also be open to a range of new possibilities that have become available as IP becomes more of a standard,” he concluded. “including greater density for routing, more powerful use of metadata and the increasing ability to collaborate within larger shared workgroups. In tandem with this, creatives are quickly embracing single-cable simplicity for SDI workflows with 12G-SDI, allowing large raster, deep color and high frame rate workflows and, in either case, SDI or IP or a combination of the two."
Bill Thompson, product manager - storage products at EditShare, echoed many respondents’ enthusiasm for what SMPTE has been achieving.
Bill Thompson EditShare product manager.
“First, let’s remember that SMPTE Professional Video over IP delivers these benefits:
- It can eliminate the need for 2 separate facility networks (one for HD-SDI signals and one for IP/Ethernet) by embedding video signals in IP and delivering in real time.
- Hard-wired coaxial HD-SDI infrastructure is not software definable. IP networks are both software defined and virtualizable.
- IP-based networks cost much less to build, install, maintain and upgrade than coaxial-based HD-SDI infrastructure.
- Moving to Professional Video over IP is consistent with the larger trend in the enterprise space of eliminating specially built and managed dedicated networks in favor of unified corporate networks managed by IT professionals.
These benefits are really valuable for segments like broadcast master control, live production, outside broadcast by virtue of the need to dynamically change signal routing to select inputs, content and destinations.”
Thompson went on to say, “In the post-production space addressed by EditShare, it has been many years since nonlinear, file-based workflows displaced coaxial infrastructures. While the benefits of incorporating SMPTE Professional Video over IP may ultimately make post-production solutions easier to manage and more efficient, challenges like content security and storage costs currently command more customer attention.”
And the major trends Thompson identifies?
“Our post production customers tell us that we’ll see major growth in corporate video as companies increase their use of video to get their messages across. As a result, collaborative workflows will demand remote workers, multi-site facilities, content security measures and hybrid (cloud/on-premises) solutions.
“We’ll see more high resolution (4K and beyond), higher dynamic range, and immersive experiences like VR driving performance requirements and associated networking capabilities.
But Thompson recognizes this comes at a price.
“We need to tame equipment costs and system management tasks in current and next-gen products,” he said. “Content owners are becoming acutely aware of the need for safeguards in their own facilities and organization as well as across those within their chain of service providers. In addition, greater use of computer generated effects (outside of blockbuster movies) to differentiate content and reduce production costs is driving storage performance requirements and scalability.”
The best is yet to come.
“When I think about the next 10 years of post production,” he said, “I envision that we will see at least some of the following changes:
- Wider access to production techniques like VR as technology costs fall.
- More economical cloud-based solutions for storage, backup and post production tasks.
- Greater incorporation of content security principles across the post production industry.
- Emergence of AI-based solutions for tasks that, today, typically require artists and craftspeople.
“Brainstorm is a software company,” began Miguel Churruca, marketing and communications director at Brainstorm Multimedia, “so we are not constrained to specific technologies as we want to take advantage of any new hardware. As a result, when it comes to IP-based production, we welcome the arrival of the SMPTE specifications which clarify the situation.
Miguel Churruca, marketing and communications director at Brainstorm Multimedia.
“Brainstorm has always been dedicated to real time 3D graphics, and we are extremely happy to see technology evolve to comply with many of the objectives we’ve marked in previous years. To accomplish this, traditionally we had to make compromises between feature sets weighed against rendering and operation speed, and the amount of data required for displaying advanced weather graphics has always been an issue.
“Rendering has always been a challenge,” Churruca continued, “both for speed and quality. We can use high-end rendering techniques such as PBR (Physically Based Rendering) along with HDR to create photorealistic results. Also, upcoming GPUs allowing for real time ray tracing and other features will represent a major change in the looks of television graphics. This, also coupled with the use of render engines originally developed for games, is pushing the overall quality of the final graphics and getting them to a new level. Photorealistic backgrounds are now increasingly popular in virtual set operation, and also in AR applications now being widely used by broadcasters.”
Churruca sees the future of graphics as just getting brighter.
“Of course, we must rejoice!” he said. “Now that the toolsets available are huge, usability will be paramount for allowing designers to deliver their best. And as data analysis tools evolve, and link more closely with the graphics applications, we will be able to see more complex but understandable data-driven weather graphics, also creating in-context 3D AR environments which take the concept of the ‘information graphic’ to a new level. Now, couple this with the integration between graphics applications and photorealistic virtual set/AR solutions, and you will have a winning combination for advanced data presentation, where presenters can interact with graphics in real-time, or the audiences can select the statistics they prefer using second screen applications or interactive TV, and much more.
“But taking into account how many ‘must-have’ concepts and trends didn’t make it over the years,” he finished up, “I am quite curious to see which direction broadcast will take.”