As an industry, the need to work smarter has long been a talking point, however, trying to keep content flowing during a global pandemic accelerated and accentuated this need. Broadcasters now understand the value of enabling production, playout, and creative staff to work from any location, and they see the clear benefits of evolving workflows to create content or playout/deliver that content to viewers in smarter, more efficient ways.
In parallel, recent market consolidation has also made customers sharply aware of the wisdom of working with technology partners that are here for the long haul and will support the ongoing evolution of their business.
Together, Rohde & Schwarz Broadcast and Media plus Pixel Power provide a complete end-to-end workflow from ingest to playout and our customers benefit from the security of a stable company – that is family owned – with ongoing investment in innovation. Rhode & Schwarz’s decades of experience in broadcast and media, and our deep understanding of how production, playout and distribution has worked in the past, allows us to innovate foundational solutions for an IP and cloud-based future.
Our customers are looking for a trusted partner to help them evolve new ways of working; ways that offer hybrid working as they make transitions to remote or virtualized operations. We bring the reliability that is the hallmark of our brand to new technology approaches, giving customers the peace of mind they are looking for when transitioning to more agile and flexible platforms.
Unlike venture capital backed technology providers, we can remain laser focused on our engineering-led approach and our commitment to delivering the solutions that broadcasters need to build and grow successful, competitive businesses. Our professional services team consults, designs, deploys, trains and hands over a working system to go on-air, drawing on decades of trusted deployments.
Creating Tighter Synergies
Customers benefit when manufacturers align and integrate development across all product divisions, regardless of historical acquisition – this is what we have done. The result is a platform agnostic studio production, playout, and transcoding workflow, delivering the capability to ingest and pass content straight to the playout system - either for scheduling or delivery straight to air. Content is also sent directly to our intelligent storage system for automatic back up in disaster recovery (DR), and files can be dropped onto cloud storage if needed. We can work with customers to do all the above in the cloud, then bring content back to on-premise storage, with monitoring – visually or technically – ensured across the whole chain.
We can now bring together a workflow offering that goes from content creation with R&S®CLIPSTER, which is used by some of the major Hollywood studios for IMF and digital cinema creation, to R&S®VENICE for live ingest of multi-camera recordings – whether in studio or in playout centers which routinely handle large numbers of feeds.
Underpinning everything is our intelligent, high performance storage system, R&S®SpycerNode, which is easily configurable to meet broadcasters’ capacity and bandwidth requirements – including during operation – and offers shared storage to support fast turnaround workflows. The system uses High Performance Computing (HPC) file systems for high scalability and full redundancy with even the smallest unit and the ability to add a production asset management (PAM) component, with R&S®SpycerPAM, makes for tight integration with NLE workflows. Our storage solution gives customers a complete overview of the content available across the network, connecting individual workstations into a comprehensive, distributed content management system, enabling multiple concurrent transfers, and cutting bottlenecks.
R&S® PRISMON, our fully software-defined multiviewer also provides a key USP within the workflows with some unique capabilities in terms of support for IP formats including SMPTE 2110. Designed specifically with IP studio production and playout systems in mind, it fully supports Ultra HD signals, both for displays and for streams within mosaics, while the scalable-distributed-multiviewer functionality, unique to Rohde & Schwarz, enables “any input to any output” connectivity through IP proxy networks. This also allows the system to share resources across a network, allowing users to set up a view with multiple Ultra HD inputs, beyond the decoding capacity of a single system.
As well as working smarter, broadcasters today must also maximize eyeballs and find ways to leverage their content as they face fierce competition from an ever-growing number of channels and content aggregators, like Netflix. On-screen graphics are a critical part of marketing content and keeping audiences engaged; they are now more important than ever, and our StreamMaster intelligent branding system offers an elegant solution that can automatically schedule and create high-end graphics.
StreamMaster uses easy to develop, customizable graphics templates, allowing broadcasters to create a look and feel that aligns with their brand via a set of graphics templates which can be quickly populated. The solution interfaces directly with major newsroom systems, such as Octopus, automatically transferring rundowns and asset lists and can be operated by a single person. As with all our solutions, customers can build on existing functionality to create a fully virtualized, IP connected playout system at a later date.
Leading The Way With Software Defined Solutions
The move to software-defined solutions, and less reliance on hardware across our solutions portfolio, is an area that we are leading the way in. All our products are modular, virtualizable and we have shown working examples of our content workflows from ingest to playout with integrated monitoring, multiviewing, graphics and branding in the public cloud, with synchronized storage to both cloud and on-premise storage.
We give customers the flexibility of deployment on-premise or in the cloud; post-COVID broadcasters’ roadmap to the cloud has accelerated and virtualizable workflows with remote operation has gone from nice-to-have to must-deploy. The pandemic also accelerated customer conversations straight through to deploying software-defined solutions either on-premise or in some form of cloud or remote location. Our customers know that with us, they have a clear path towards cloud-based deployment, wherever they are in their own journey; we provide a unified strategy across cloud and on-premise.
Workflows need to be invisible, like the best table service in the best restaurant, the content simply needs to be available right when you need it - ensuring speeds that mean it can be stored anywhere, and latency that is negligible.
We deliver a common user experience and the same software stack across on-premise and the cloud. Our software licenses are portable from one to the other; customers can deploy their on-premise solutions with a straightforward transition to cloud-centric operations when required.
We are giving customers an integrated set of tools that they can use to build workflows that can easily be automated – this is a key factor for broadcasters today as they look to create efficiencies by automating as much as possible, monitor their content efficiently and reduce manual intervention to a minimum.
This approach gives broadcasters the peace of mind that their investments are protected and can adapt as their businesses evolve.
Partnership And Collaboration
Allowing customers to transition to fully virtualized, cloud-based workflows at a pace determined by their individual operational and business strategy, lies at the heart of our product development strategy as a company.
While the cloud is the ultimate destination for some, in the interim an all-cloud approach is not right for every customer or every part of the broadcast chain. By running in a software-defined world, with solutions that can be virtualized, we give customers the opportunity to “cloud burst.” They can spin up cloud capabilities – for pop-up channels for example - when peak demand hits, then spin it back down again, only paying for what is needed. This is a far more efficient, not to mention cost effective, approach to the traditional way of building out capacity based on projected demand.
We do not limit customers with off-the-peg solutions; our ethos is to partner with customers and take a collaborative approach with them to ensure they get the right solutions for their businesses. Whether a broadcaster is ready for an all-cloud environment today, or a flexible half-way approach where they can cloud burst as needed, we work with them to meet their needs.
We also get involved in helping customers change management process. As the industry migrates to new technologies, it is important that we do not just replicate old ways of working, but instead take the opportunity to innovate and push the creative boundaries. We help customers make that transition easier for their staff, taking customers and their creative and technical teams on the journey with us.
As a technology partner our role is to support customers in making the right choices for their business rather than offering a one-size-fits-all solution. This is the basis of our product roadmap, one that supports customers wherever they are in the journey and helps them achieve a cloud-based future that is of the right flavour for them.