At NAB 2023, Image Capture And Processing Are Keys To First-Rate Video Delivery

With the multitude of distribution and contribution outlets that must be supported across today’s media landscape broadcasters are looking for tools and systems that help them acquire the best images as well as signal processing technology to ensure it stays that way. At the 2023 NAB Show in Las Vegas, equipment vendors will exhibit a myriad of solutions to get the job done.

Why is this so important? Studies have shown that videos produced with higher picture quality significantly improve a viewer's watch time and engagement. In a survey conducted by Verizon Digital Media, they found that the time spent viewing video fell by 77% when the video quality dropped. So putting your best face forward, as the saying goes, is key to a broadcaster’s bottom line—both in terms of viewership ratings and ad revenue.

“Over the past year, customers have also prioritized image quality, flexibility and connectivity, while striving for better integration with technologies like live production switchers,” said Bob Caniglia, Director of Sales Operations, Americas at Blackmagic Design. “From 4K to 12K, customers are always looking to push the boundaries on image quality, especially when it comes to virtual sets and virtual production.”

He added that with global remote broadcasts and productions increasing, we’ve seen more and more customers ask for high-end cameras that will help them meet this demand while simplifying their workflow.

Cameras Capture The Image

Blackmagic Design (Booth N2601), will show two new cameras, the Blackmagic Studio Camera 6K Pro and Blackmagic Studio Camera 4K Pro G2, that have built-in live streaming via Ethernet or mobile data, so customers can place cameras remotely, almost anywhere in the world.

Blackmagic’s Studio Camera 4K offers UHD resolutions at frame rates up to 3840 x 2160p60.

Blackmagic’s Studio Camera 4K offers UHD resolutions at frame rates up to 3840 x 2160p60.

“This means customers can now place a camera in a remote location and have it generate a H.264 HD live stream that is sent over the internet back to the studio,” said Caniglia. “This remote technology empowers broadcasters by providing them with the flexibility to capture footage from anywhere in the world, helping to give viewers real-time coverage of events ranging from breaking news to sports.”

New camera technology helps streamline production workflows and enable broadcasters to deliver content faster. For example, the Studio Camera 6K Pro has high quality, remote-controllable ND filters that let customers quickly reduce the amount of light entering the camera. The ND filters can be electronically controlled by the function buttons on the back of the camera and remotely. Since they can be controlled remotely by the camera control operator, the camera operator is free to focus on getting the perfect shot.

Paul de Bresser, Product Manager of Broadcast Cameras at Grass Valley (Booth C2408), said that the number of cameras choices continues to increase, as broadcasters look for new ways of providing unique viewpoints and bringing audiences closer to the action. Often, he said, these cameras are placed close to the action or in areas where a camera operator can’t stand. In addition, Broadcasters producing content remotely are looking for options to control cameras from offsite locations.

At NAB Grass Valley is introducing the LDX C135, a camera with all the features of the company's UHD HDR native LDX 135 camera in a compact head that is easy to position anywhere. The camera integrates seamless with camera-robotics and Creative Grading for remote IP or cloud-connected shading to provide new options, even from hard-to-reach camera places. This could include automated studio applications as well as typical sports applications, wirecam, gimball (helicopter) and unmanned projects.

Grass Valley’s new LDX C135 compact camera is ideal for automated studio applications as well as typical sports applications, wirecam, gimball (helicopter) and unmanned applications.

Grass Valley’s new LDX C135 compact camera is ideal for automated studio applications as well as typical sports applications, wirecam, gimball (helicopter) and unmanned applications.

The LDX C135 offers a high sensitivity F11@2000 lux vs F9@2000 lux) global shutter via its three new Xenios imagers that result in wider dynamic range in HDR mode, improved signal-to-noise ratio by reducing gain for cleaner images; greater depth of field by allowing smaller lens apertures for easier and better focusing.

“Just as compelling as its image capture capabilities is the camera’s redefinition of signal distribution,” said de Bresser. “Born a network native, the camera is a self-contained IP endpoint with up to 100 Gb/s IP network connection for audio, video and control directly at the camera head that enables distribution of camera sources wherever they are needed on the network — without the delays inherent in sending signals to a separate control hub.”

The LDX C135 is compatible with all the LDX 100 Series options with the exception of the 3-speed options (HD and UHD) and in fact, offers the same flexibility with regard to workflows as its full-size version (LDX 135). The camera can also operate in a “traditional” SDI configuration or in multiple IP configurations (with Native IP Option).

In addition, as remote production continues to increase, the LDX C135 offers the option for in-camera compression, starting with the HQ-Low latency JPEG XS compression (eliminating the need for extra equipment), where GV's AMPP Creative Grading X module offers shading from any place with an internet connection.

"The LDX 135 family of cameras eliminate the need for traditional SDI interconnects, thereby enabling a high level of distribution flexibility including true REMI integration that requires less bandwidth because only the required signals are transmitted," de Bresser said.

Signal Processing Polishes The Image

Once a live event or studio program is captured with a high-quality camera, the next step is to process it for different distribution platforms and workflows. Throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center, attendees will see many options for Up/down/cross conversion, frame synchronization and color correction, on display.

With HDR now part of many live telecasts, SDR to HDR conversion has become increasingly in demand for broadcasters and production companies.

Cobalt Digital (Booth C2108) offers the 9904 UDX 4K as an openGear card. Dr. Ciro Noronha, CTO at Cobalt Digital, said that the card has been very popular because it offers a variety of features packed into a single card. He describes it as a “2G/6G/3G/HD/SD UHD Up/Down/Cross Converter/Frame Sync/Embed/De-Embed Audio Processor as well as an advanced scaler/frame synchronizer. The series actually includes two cards in the series: the 9904, single channel 4K; and 9904 quad channel up to 3G HD.

“There is an increased need for signal conversion as broadcasters try to support multiple distribution platforms with a wide variety of formats,” said Dr. Noronha. “Many cameras use S-Log, so we can take that in and convert it to PQ HDR. Thanks to our partnership with Technicolor, we now offer two flavors of Dynamic Conversion. Using machine learning, we can convert SDR to HDR in real time and the pictures look great.”

At the company’s booth it will show support across its products for JPEG SX to HDMI conversion. JPEG XS is for people that need very low latency but they don’t want to pay for the bandwidth. Cobalt claims it can send 4K in less than 12G without giving up quality results.

It will also display a solution for “Adaptive Encoding” and a SafeLink gateway, which is part of Reliable Internet Stream Transport (RIST) workflows. The gateway card has been available as an OpenGear card, but now they are showing it running in the cloud. In live workflows, many customers have used it as a failover switch.

By using the low latency protocol, SafeLink provides reliable video transport even in live production environments that may experience network delay.

By using the low latency protocol, SafeLink provides reliable video transport even in live production environments that may experience network delay.

SafeLink protects live video and audio data over unsecured networks, thereby eliminating video hits or glitches. By using the low latency protocol, SafeLink provides reliable video transport even in live production environments that may experience network delay.

The software can be installed on most computers or on Cobalt’s OpenGear OG-PC-x86 platform. Control is handled with DashBoard, a free application that handles control and monitoring for all OpenGear broadcast products.

LYNX Technik (Booth C2616) is showing a new HDMI to SDI converter in 12G 4K UHD, the CHD-4002, the latest in its yellowbrik series of converters. It’s also good for converting the aspect ratio and frame rates of a telecast in real time, in both interlace and progressive scan formats.

The need for conversion is growing in live sports as productions attempt to improve and maintain pristine picture quality for viewers around the world. In many cases, using specialized conversion technology, an HD HDR image could be made to look better than a true 4K image. Also, every time you want to get an HDMI signal into the SDI world, you need to add a converter to support a variety of workflows.

Daniel Kubitza, Director of Sales at LYNX Technik said that the company now also offers a segmented frame-by-frame SDR to HDR converter with frame sync and metadata processing that supports all HDR formats up to 4K/UHD, as part of its greenMachine series. Called the HDR EVIE+, it uses a “segmented dynamic algorithm” and tone-mapping technique that looks at the picture frame by frame based on dynamics. So, bright areas and dark areas can be adjusted individually.

The greenMachine HDR EVIE+ Constellation is a tool for dealing with dynamic ranges and color gamuts, providing viewers of the broadcast SDR with the majority of the detail from the live or recorded HDR content.

The LYNX Technik HDR EVIE+ uses a “segmented dynamic algorithm” and tone-mapping technique that looks at the picture frame by frame based on picture dynamics.

The LYNX Technik HDR EVIE+ uses a “segmented dynamic algorithm” and tone-mapping technique that looks at the picture frame by frame based on picture dynamics.

“Usually when you do an SDR to HDR conversion, it’s LUT based,” said Kubitza. “This converter can dynamically adjust the LUT calculation internally. It analyzes the picture and adjusts in real time, based on user parameters. And it can do that not just for the full frame, but it can also divide the frame into 144 segments (16x9 aspect ratio) and applies appropriate contrast and color adjustments frame by frame to provide colorful and realistic visuals for the SDR viewer. This gives the broadcaster a lot more creative freedom with the HDR image to get the best results.”

At this year’s convention, Ross Video (Booth N2201) is focused on what it’s calling “Hyperconverged Infrastructure,” that is, combining entire production systems into a single processing platform. The company’s new FR12 288x frame will be on display, a 12-RU system that can replace 12 racks of traditional gear.

“The flexibility, efficiency and cost savings that it generates are the reason why customers are gravitating toward this [integrated, high density] approach,” said Jeff Moore, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Ross Video.

The Ultrix hyperconverged infrastructure combines video and audio routing, multiviewing, frame synchronization, audio mixing, video production switching and more into a single frame.

The Ultrix hyperconverged infrastructure combines video and audio routing, multiviewing, frame synchronization, audio mixing, video production switching and more into a single frame.

Ultrix's hyperconverged infrastructure collapses video and audio routing, multiviewing, frame synchronization, audio mixing, video production switching and more into a single frame. It allows customers to save on rack space, cabling and power consumption in a highly flexible, configurable signal processing frame.

The company will also show it’s evolving Ross Production Cloud, demonstrated in the booth by showing an end-to-end production workflow based on production in-the-cloud technology.

Matrox Video (Booth N2121) will focus its NAB exhibit on how broadcasters can leverage best-practice tools and methodologies when taking on on-premise and cloud-based live production.

The company will show its standalone SMPTE ST 2110 ConvertIP, which integrates and converts ST 2110 IP signals to enable broadcasters to monitor ST 2110-20 (uncompressed video transport) and ST 2110-22 (constant bit rate compressed video transport) sources on HDMI or SDI monitors.

The Matrox ConvertIP signal converters enable broadcasters to monitor ST 2110-20 (uncompressed video transport) and ST 2110-22 (constant bit rate compressed video transport) sources on HDMI or SDI monitors.

The Matrox ConvertIP signal converters enable broadcasters to monitor ST 2110-20 (uncompressed video transport) and ST 2110-22 (constant bit rate compressed video transport) sources on HDMI or SDI monitors.

It will also feature its new Matrox Monarch EDGE encoder and decoder appliances, which are “purpose-built” devices for remote production (REMI) and contribution. They offer built-in tally and talkback, 4K and genlock support. The company said that when used together with its GlobalM cloud-based SRT streaming platform—which offers high-availability, scalable routing and monitoring—this cloud-based orchestration network provides a cost-effective approach to acquiring and sharing high-quality, low-latency contribution streams for REMI production.

We will also be visiting Vislink (Booth W1731) to investigate their new wireless contribution system which combines COFDM technology with the use of private 5G networks. 

The new theme for Lawo (Booth C4111) this year is “elasticity” and it refers to the ability of a system to quickly scale its capacity up or down in response to changes in demand for resources. The company said elasticity is critical in ensuring the efficient use of computing resources, maintaining system performance, enhancing sustainability, and improving cost effectiveness.

Lawo’s HOME, an IP infrastructure management platform, now integrates seamlessly with all of its products as well as a list of dozens of third-party solutions.

Lawo’s HOME, an IP infrastructure management platform, now integrates seamlessly with all of its products as well as a list of dozens of third-party solutions.

Lawo has spent the past two years building out its HOME IP infrastructure management platform, which now integrates seamlessly with all of its products as well as a list of dozens of third-party solutions. At a special NAB show event online, Lawo will exhibit more than 10 new products and major updates to its audio, video, control and monitoring portfolio. HOME IP features full NMOS IS-04 and IS-05 compatibility and device interoperability.

It's Important To Look Good

As new technologies like artificial intelligence, faster compute power, cloud operations and IP infrastructures are being combined with traditional and new types of encoding and signal conversion, a new generation of Hyperconverged Infrastructure (as Ross Video calls it) will help broadcasters serve the many distribution platforms in the most efficient way and stay relevant in today’s highly competitive media environment.

Walking the floor at NAB this year will spotlight the importance of capturing and processing the best signals possible, so that viewers get a good visual experience downstream. Whether it’s HD, 4k 8k or beyond, the tools and technology are now available to establish the on-screen look you are after.

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