Monitoring New Ways To Broadcast

IP monitoring differs from SDI and AES due to the abstraction of the video, audio and metadata essence leading to new methods of measuring and monitoring levels and timing.

TV broadcast engineers are tasked with the duty to monitor and maintain the integrity and interoperability of five major categories of digital data. One category is monitoring the transmitter, feedline, antenna performance at the transmitter, and verify reception at multiple locations often using internet probes.

The second is baseband-style, SDI signal monitoring in studio workflows to scientifically measure and adjust audio and video levels as content is created, transported, and/or ingested into digital video files. A third category is monitoring high-bitrate media over local IP networks typically within a facility LAN.

The fourth is monitoring OTT and Variable Bit Rate (VBR) streams on a WAN, typically over the internet. The fifth category is file-based Q/A. Nearly all are based on a combination of government regulatory standards and technical standards from organizations such as ATSC and SMPTE.

For reference, there are two major suites of standards for uncompressed interoperable video-over IP networking. The SMPTE ST 2022 standards suite includes forward error correction, transport of CBR and VBR MPEG-2 streams over IP, transport of high bit rate uncompressed media signals over IP and seamless protection switching. ST 2022-6 defines the conversion of uncompressed, high bit rate SDI signals into encapsulated IP packets and sending them across an IP network. In 2019, SMPTE approved its ST 2022-8 standard aligning the timing of ST 2022-6 streams.

SMPTE ST 2110 is a suite of standards for digital media over an IP network where quality is more important than bandwidth efficiency. It defines system architecture and synchronization of essences such as RTP, SDP and PTP, based on ST 2059. It also defines uncompressed video transport, transmission timing, and constant bitrate compressed video transport using the JPEG XS low latency compression standard. Compliance to these IP standards must be closely monitored.

Monitor And Maintain

Tools are necessary to monitor and troubleshoot workflows with the ability to watch the handoff points between private and public clouds and networks. Test & Measurement manufacturers are doing well at keeping up with the growing need to monitor and measure ever-advancing media-over-IP technology.

Super high speed internet service at formerly GbE network connections is becoming more available at more locations, and new needs driven by the pandemic has produced tremendous growth for IP-based content gathering and delivery solutions. More than a few manufacturers making encoders, decoders, transcoders, IP cameras, switchers and T&M gear for monitoring and testing IP video and essence transport streams agree that 2021 will be their best year ever.

Most TV stations deliver their live, linear content over the air for free, and by over-the-top by satellite, cable, and IP. The new OTA/OTT dual delivery TV system, with or without ATSC 3.0 requires broadcasters to monitor the traditional, linear, over the air DTV signal as well as monitoring outgoing and incoming streaming content and data. Monitoring both delivery systems requires watching various processing stages such as encoders, transcoders, origin servers, and CDNs, to reduce the number of QoE and QoS issues viewers will ever see.

VB440 probes enable production teams to continuously monitor all layers of high bit rate media transport on an IP network recognizing potential problems to maximize QoS. Courtesy Bridge Technologies.

VB440 probes enable production teams to continuously monitor all layers of high bit rate media transport on an IP network recognizing potential problems to maximize QoS. Courtesy Bridge Technologies.

Year Of The Probes

The typical T&M necessity in broadcast and TV production facilities 2021 can be described in two words: Automated monitoring. Most large-scale automated monitoring involves probes.

Bridge Technologies debuted its VB440 probe at the 2018 NAB Show. In 2018, IP broadcasting was more of a curiosity than a necessary discipline and IP-based QoS and QoE has become exponentially more critical than they were before the pandemic. During 2021, the VB440 received multiple improvements including audio enhancements, integrated JPEG XS, HDR, closed caption and packet capture, and audio metering.

In November 2021, Bridge Technologies announced support for the JPEG XS standard is also extended to its VB330 Appliance, which can monitor thousands of streams in backbone networks and central head-ends. The ability of JPEG XS to operate across both PTP and ‘traditional’ transport streams makes it a flexible compression standard that ensures exceptional image quality.

Interra Systems introduced its ORION 2110 probe for monitoring ST 2110 streams for quality assurance of SDI-IP streams. Apart from the deep analysis and troubleshoot features, the software includes validation of individual essences, SDP checks and high monitoring density. It's a timely addition to its ORION content monitoring suite that includes solutions for linear/IP and OTT video, ad insertions and closed captions verification.

Interra Systems uses its web-based ORION Central Manager (OCM) to enable central management and quality monitoring of multiple monitoring probes - e.g., ORION Linear and ORION-OTT systems. The company’s other products include BATON for automated QC, AI/ML based products for creation and QC of captions, Lipsync synchronization, and content classification based on user criteria.

File-based BATON LipSync leverages image processing, ML technology and deep neural networks to automatically detect audio and video sync errors. Courtesy Interra Systems.

File-based BATON LipSync leverages image processing, ML technology and deep neural networks to automatically detect audio and video sync errors. Courtesy Interra Systems.

In a recent interview, Interra Systems’ VP of Product Management Anupama Anantharaman said, "Video Monitoring at the ingest and content preparation stages helps media companies improve QoS and QoE.  Using the ORION 2110 Probe, our customers will be able to ensure high quality and performance for SDI-IP streams and take full advantage of the flexibility and benefits of the ST 2110 standard. Content volume is growing in complexity and size. It's a competitive game and video quality and viewing experiences are critical for success. Our focus is on providing tools for QC and monitoring for both IP and OTT platforms, with flexible licensing models."

Telestream announced a major upgrade to its Extended Inspect 2110 Monitoring Platform in early summer 2021. New to the platform is monitoring of ST 2022-6 data streams for transport of high bit rate media over IP networks. When added to the existing capability of monitoring ST 2110 video, and audio & data essences within facilities and across public and private networks, it provides a unique and seamless means of accessing and assuring reliability within hybrid SDI-over-IP and ST 2110 deployments. The new capability combined inside Telestream PRISM SDI/IP waveform monitors simplifies operations and reduces costs.

Inspect 2110 collects PTP performance metrics and confirms the video network is properly synchronized. Inspect 2110 simplifies automated detection of PTP issues and diagnostics. Courtesy Telestream.

Inspect 2110 collects PTP performance metrics and confirms the video network is properly synchronized. Inspect 2110 simplifies automated detection of PTP issues and diagnostics. Courtesy Telestream.

“As live decentralized production of content becomes more and more prevalent, and ST 2110 essences create hundreds or thousands of additional elements to monitor and diagnose, the Inspect 2110 solution, coupled with Telestream’s PRISM probes, enables a broader and deep analysis of IP content, PTP synchronization, and hybrid networks,” said Agostino Canepa, Director of Product Management at Telestream.

NextGen TV Hyperdrive

Much of the latest technology is leading to new needs in the developing ATSC 3.0 market. The ATSC 3.0 hybrid of over-the-air and two-way internet data will necessarily set a new level of need for video quality, data validation and number crunching so it makes sense to broadcast engineers and marketing analysts. Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) will both help engineers understand and manage the enormous amount of raw data the ATSC 3.0/NextGen TV world will create. Standby for more data and automated data reporting in the future.

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