IP Oktoberfest 2021 Reports On The Latest In IP Networking

Despite Zoom fatigue, one thing that can be said for some of the more recent online industry gatherings is that they are bringing people together in a highly focused and some say more productive way. After nearly two years of such virtual conferences, organizers have learned what works for attendees and what does not. Attendees themselves have also learned what programs work best for them and what don’t.

Take the recent IP Oktoberfest 2021, the second such named (and totally free) gathering held Sept. 29-October 1st, a live, interactive, virtual event for broadcast professionals that has thrived online. It was the second such meeting online this year jointly held by The Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), in partnership with the Video Services Forum (VSF) and the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA).

“IP Oktoberfest 2021 accomplished many things at once, effectively using a dynamic virtual platform to provide convenient access to expert perspectives on adoption of IP-based media workflows,” said Michael Cronk, VP of Strategic Marketing at Grass Valley and Chairman of the Board for AIMS. “We are thrilled with attendance at this year’s event and proud of the exceptional program and presentations delivered by a truly impressive array of speakers. This virtual gathering has quickly evolved into a vital part of AIMS’ educational work and our mission of supporting the broadcast and Pro AV industries in their migration to IP.”

The goal is to help professionals of all types solve video (and audio) over IP networking issues and promote interoperability between member companies that supply the hardware and software necessary to make it happen.

Wes Simpson, technical moderator for the virtual IP Oktoberfest event—and President of IP consulting firm Telecom Product Consulting, in Connecticut—said hosting the conferences online has made it easier to accommodate speaker schedules (without travel) and their program attracted about 150 participants to a session that might have seen about 50 in a live setting during an in-person conference.

Wes Simpson served as technical moderator for the virtual IP Oktoberfest event.

Wes Simpson served as technical moderator for the virtual IP Oktoberfest event.

“Well, it’s certainly different having the Oktoberfest online versus doing it in-person at a show,” said Simpson. “For each talk we generally get a larger audience online. But the other thing we’ve done is trimmed down the number of hours each day of the online conference. This year we presented three tightly scripted hours of session for three days and it worked out great. We had plenty of good material for attendees to consume and everyone came away getting just what they needed and that’s it.”

The AIMS-AMWA’s annually anticipated “shootout” of interoperability testing with competing technology was not held during the recent online meeting, but Simpson said that this “critical” testing has been taken over by the Joint Task Force on Network Media (JTNM)—which includes the EBU, VSF, AES, AIMS, AMWA and SMPTE—which is helping companies execute a common set of test procedures. They have been reporting the results of those tests online every few months.

[From their website: Our mission is to help drive development of a packet-based network infrastructure for the professional media industry by bringing together manufacturers, broadcasters and industry organizations to create, store, transfer and stream professional media.]

This year’s Oktoberfest was broken down into four main tracks over three days: IPMX, the new wireless networking protocol; IP Audio networking; the Networked Media Open Specification (NMOS); and related networking topics like timing and control.

Not fully released yet, IP Media Experience (IPMX) is the first open standard for high performance video over A/V networks. It’s based on the SMPTE ST 2110 video over IP standard but it’s designed for enterprise networking, Houses of Worship and other industries that might not want to invest in a full blown 2110 system but want an open system that isn’t tied to specific manufacturers. They want to choose their preferred technology unabated. It’s designed for sharing content inside of or between related buildings. An example might be a church sharing its services with two satellite campuses.

New advances in the area of NMOS presented during Oktoberfest 2021 included a session on how the network discovery protocol is being made more automatic and robust. For example, the industry is moving towards a place where a user can plug a camera or server in and the network will instantly find those devices without the user having to spend time typing in setup information.

“Years ago, if you had a laptop and brought it into work, you had to call the IT person to come set you up on the house network,” said Simpson. “Today everything is done through WiFi. So, the same thing needs to happen with broadcast equipment. We are not there yet, but there’s a lot of development going on now to make that happen. It’s not going to be wireless, but when you plug in a new camera you shouldn’t have to spend 20 minutes to get it to connect to the network. It should happen automatically. That’s what we’re moving towards.”

AIMS-Chairman Michael Cronk.

AIMS-Chairman Michael Cronk.

The fall Oktoberfest was the second online meeting of the AIMS-AMWA conference, with the first being a two-day meeting held in May where similar topics were discussed.

“The real progress we’ve seen in the area of video over IP is that ST 2110 has become the default configuration for a new broadcast build,” he said. “If you want to start a TV channel in a more developed country, when you go out and put the equipment together, you’ll look at 2110 and IP video first because all of the other stuff (SDI) is just becoming antiquated hard to upgrade to new things coming down the road.”

That’s because 2110 is enabling things that could not be done before. During the Oktoberfest, Gordon Castle, SVP Technology and Operations, Discovery, led a session on building a large 2110 network entitled “Real World Challenges in a Fully IP Production Environment.” He said that during the Olympics this past summer, his company’s network handled one million different simultaneous screen connections. This would never have been possible with SDI connectivity.

“I think AIMS has accomplished its mission by pushing the technology to the point where it is providing unprecedented capabilities,” said Simpson. “Oktoberfest showed that holding online gatherings can be highly productive if you present the right material and plan correctly.”

Other sessions of note: John Mailhot, CTO & Director of Product Management, Imagine Communications led a discussion entitled: “The NMOS Device Modeling Project – Overview and Progress”; Rob Porter, Project Manager, Sony Europe B.V. presented a talk on Automated NMOS Controller Testing called “Sony and Automated NMOS controller”; and Hartmut Opfermann, Senior Solution Architect, Qvest Media gave a presentation on “Management of Audio Streams” at Austrian national public service broadcaster ORF.

“AIMS strives to build upon the work of leading standards bodies and to provide professionals in broadcast and Pro AV with the knowledge they need to move successfully toward interoperable IP-based production, storage, and distribution,” said Andreas Hilmer, Chief Marketing Officer at Lawo and Chief Financial Officer for AIMS. “Delving into topics including IPMX, audio, NMOS, PTP, and media networking, IP Oktoberfest 2021 delivered valuable information and perspectives — and great opportunities for networking and catching up — that will help drive the ongoing migration to IP.”

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