Network Technologies Reaching Maturity At 2023 NAB Show

Vendors at the 2023 NAB Show will present a diverse array of new technology that smooths the transition through hybrid SDI/IP systems into fully IP based workflows and onwards towards next generation cloud infrastructures.

Top three rules for TV broadcast engineers: Never be late. The director is always right. Don’t break in new shoes at an NAB Show.

‘Network Technologies’ is one of the strongest modern influences changing the order of physical production and distribution of TV content since streaming was practical for broadcasters. Nearly every new TV production device has a wired or wireless network connection. Industry standards form an alphabet soup of associations like ATSC, SMPTE, EBU, AES and others that have managed to stay a step ahead of new network technologies from GbE to 5G and beyond. Engineering response to technical problems has significantly improved with the ability to remotely login to station technology from home.

NAB Show 23 exhibitors in the ‘Network Technologies’ category tend to agree that there hasn’t been a big change in networking products or trends over the past year. The industry continues to move to SMPTE ST 2110 and NMOS. IP is gradually going mainstream, and what has accelerated is the speed at which the broadcast and media workflow paradigm keeps shifting.

SMPTE ST2110 will likely not be the only IP transport protocol going forward. NDI and SRT transport and compression solutions are becoming serious alternatives for smaller budget productions. Some exhibitors are seeing an increase in smaller network devices like stage switches for audio applications, and some have also found that cloud workloads and the corresponding orchestration services are even more on the rise this year.

Broadcasters and TV facilities are at various stages of full digital integration and nearly everyone’s needs and ideas differ. In general, people are shopping for connected hardware and software solutions that connect the flow of content from cameras to screens, as well as the workflows for production and playout. Network technologies are friendlier but require designers and users to verify every component in the workflow is digitally compatible before integration. The NAB Show is the best place to ask questions and confirm what will or won’t work with what with the experts. Sometimes, it can be interesting to ask a random fellow visitor what solutions work for them. When asked, many people don’t mind bragging and telling stories.

Evertz (Booth N2225).  According to Mo Goyal, P. Eng, Sr. Director, International Business Development, Live Media Production at Evertz Microsystems, “Efforts by groups like EBU and JT-NM have really helped with vendor interoperability. We have deployed hybrid systems (SDI and IP) for smaller facilities. For larger facilities, there has been more adoption of cloud resources on AWS, Azure or GCP and integrating the flows to/from these resources with a ST 2110-based infrastructure.

The Evertz MIO–BLADE–Z21 is a generic FPGA based computer module capable of running a catalog of software services as defined by the user.

The Evertz MIO–BLADE–Z21 is a generic FPGA based computer module capable of running a catalog of software services as defined by the user.

He continued “At the start of the transition to IP, a vast majority of early deployments were single vendor and greenfield. This was due to the relatively new technology, specifications, and standards. Now, we have more multi-vendor, with the integration of legacy IP equipment and workflows. To help the deployment of these systems, we’ve added features that include hardware-accelerated network address translations (NAT) to our core IP switch fabrics (NATX and EXE3.0).”

Several Evertz tools have added SMPTE ST 2110 support, flexible apps that use a common hardware platform for various applications such as Multiviewing, gateways, and processing, 12G-SDI core and edge devices, and new accessibility tools like captioning. Evertz is also focused on content monetization. Evertz SaaS-based evertz.io enables content owners to launch linear, FAST and OTT channels in minutes. Ease Live provides an interactive graphics overlay on the video player that enables live stats, watch parties, and free-to-play games without leaving the stream.

Evertz will show many new solutions and technologies from signal acquisition to content distribution. Goyal said, “The messaging is around the tools to create content from anywhere – whether it’s from remote locations with only public internet to cloud production tools that can be accessed from any location in the world and everything in between.” He said the Evertz theme is “We provide a connected two-way workflow from the content creator to the content consumer.”

Lawo (Booth C4111) Christian Scheck told “Budgets are under pressure, most operators’ workload tends to grow, and planning for the next five-to-ten years is increasingly difficult.”

The most important announcement at NAB 2023 will be Lawo’s HOME Apps, which are abstracted from the hardware they run on and can be spun up and down in a split second. HOME is a management platform for IP-based media infrastructures. It is designed to connect, manage, and secure all aspects and instances of live production environments. HOME provides the tools and centralized services for swift and effective interaction of engineers with their tools. Coupled with a new commercial model called “Lawo Flex”, HOME Apps are managed and controlled via the HOME platform and support SMPTE ST2110, JPEG XS, NDI and SRT. Operators can choose the transport protocol that makes most sense for the production at hand.

LAWO HOME is a management platform for IP-based media infrastructures designed to connect, manage and secure all aspects and instances of live production environments.

LAWO HOME is a management platform for IP-based media infrastructures designed to connect, manage and secure all aspects and instances of live production environments.

The HOME Apps run on standard servers that can be located on-premise, in a datacenter or in the cloud. Load balancing among server locations is available for broadcasters and service providers that have enough compute power or accept to offload certain processing jobs to the public cloud. The first four HOME Apps are called Multiviewer, UDX with HDR processing, Stream Transcoder, and Graphic Inserter. More HOME Apps are on the roadmap and will be announced in due course.

Scheck said “Lawo’s theme at this year’s NAB Show is ‘Elasticity’. Elasticity was the original promise of IP.” Elasticity is the ability of a system to quickly scale its capacity up or down in response to changes in demand for resources. It also refers to the flexibility to only license apps when they are needed and where they are needed. He continued, “With the introduction of HOME Apps server-based processing and the Lawo Flex business model, this promise is finally realized.”

“Meinberg provides synchronization solutions for IP-based production and play-out/distribution infrastructure, such as live sports events or other TV broadcasts. Our boxes help to synchronize not only the ST2110 / AES67 networks of our customers but also can offer non-IP based synchronization signals like Blackburst, Tri-Level-Sync, and Word Clock – all coming from the same box perfectly in sync,” said Bettina Meinberg, Head of Marketing at Meinberg (Booth C3025).

The microSync RX/800 with OLED display, GNS receiver and redundant power supply will be on display.

The microSync RX/800 with OLED display, GNS receiver and redundant power supply will be on display.

Meinberg will be demonstrating a new way to use PTP for synchronization in a client/server approach that is less complex, more secure, and offers a better accuracy than standard unicast PTP. The company will also show its management system, which was developed closely with Skyline based on their Dataminer product. There will also be a demonstration of PTP Track Hound V2 software.

Meinberg said, “We will be placing a special focus this year on the Meinberg products that not only allow established analog & SDI clock solutions such as black burst generators to be used as a reference source for a modern PTP clock infrastructure, but can also generate a variety of tried-and-true industry-standard clock signals based on a high-accuracy PTP reference. Two of Meinberg's leading minds, Head of Software Development Daniel Boldt and PTP Track Hound developer Thomas Behn, will be holding presentations at the Meinberg booth to inform visitors how legacy and modern clock signals can be unified in a single PTP-based network and how PTP messaging can be monitored using Meinberg's PTP Track Hound and mbgNMS software.”

Riedel Communications will occupy two booths at NAB 2023,” said Serkan Güner, Spokesperson for Riedel Communications.

The Riedel ViBox 16 A-I-O is a up to 12 input switcher with up to 4 outputs with integrated slomo, graphics and audio.

The Riedel ViBox 16 A-I-O is a up to 12 input switcher with up to 4 outputs with integrated slomo, graphics and audio.

With the integration of Simplylive (Booth C4513), Riedel will be showcasing their live video production tools including the Simplylive Production Suite, offering ViBox All-In-One for multicamera productions, with Slomo and RefBox. Additionally, RiMotion replay, RiCapture UHD recorder, the Venue Gateway and the Web Multiviewer enabling simple, scalable production and replay for anyone, anywhere. Plus, new additions to the Simplylive portfolio will be unveiled!

Across the aisle on Booth C4910, Riedel’s MediorNet IP solutions for video and audio processing and distribution with innovative MuoN SFP technology, will exhibit an abundance of processing: encoding/decoding, ST 2110 gateways, multiviewers, and newly added HDR conversion between any SDR/ HDR formats, including Slog3, PQ, and HLG. Visitors will also discover the award-winning MicroN UHD media distribution and processing platform, adding bandwidth, I/O, higher resolutions, and processing power to the MediorNet TDM platform.

Mark Davies, Director of Products and Technology at TSL Products (Booth C2416) said “We continue to see the move from the proof of concept and early adopters through to mainstream. This now means we should focus our product development on cost effective solutions for day-to-day operations with IP.” He continued “As always, flexibility is the main requirement of our customers. With this in mind, we cater for all options with customers declaring IP.” 

The MPA1-MIX is now available with a ST 2110 and AES67-compliant version.

The MPA1-MIX is now available with a ST 2110 and AES67-compliant version.

At NAB Show 2023, TSL will showcase the MPA1-MIX-NET, a 1U audio confidence monitor with 16 instantly recallable independent mixes. Designed to ease the transition towards IP media transport, the unit is ideal for ST 2110 trucks and installations. A 1G AoIP connection provides 64 channels of input, with a further 64 available via an optional MADI SFP. Support for in-band NMOS is built-in for integration with TSL control and leading third-party systems. User interfaces are critical in high-pressure production environments, so the MPA1-MIX-NET’s design is informed by users like global production experts NEP. One example is the “V”-shaped layout of the controls for accurate fingertip navigation in low-light environments. Additionally, SNMP integration allows remote configuration changes for added flexibility and improved productivity.

The TSL theme for NAB will be enabling customers to do more with less. This means helping them to be more productive by allowing systems like our X-Connect to hide the complexities of IP from operators. 

Francesco Scartozzi, Vice-President of Sales and Business Development at Matrox Video (Booth N2121) told us “We’re all about cloud and live production this year. The trends have not changed, though the impact may vary from what we may have predicted last year,” he said. “We’ve seen a 25% increase in ST 2110 NIC card sales year over year. We attribute this trend to the fact that ST 2110 is becoming easier to integrate and install. As broadcast engineers gain networking knowledge, the mystery and difficulty of ST 2110 is dissipating.”

“As a major ST 2110 board level supplier to OEMs creating broadcast solutions, we expect to continue to see the upward trend in ST 2110 installations as more broadcasters realize the benefits of its flexibility and scalability. To further impact this trend, we see the use of ST 2110 networks to carry SMPTE ST 2110-22 (JPEG-XS compression) stream as an accelerant to wider deployment.” Scartozzi shared.

The new ConvertIP converters deliver broad flexibility for monitoring operations, supporting uncompressed and JPEG-XS HD/4K video over 10 GbE and 25 GbE ST 2110 networks.

The new ConvertIP converters deliver broad flexibility for monitoring operations, supporting uncompressed and JPEG-XS HD/4K video over 10 GbE and 25 GbE ST 2110 networks.

The cloud is asynchronous and distributed. Despite the general shift from hardware to software, broadcast concepts are founded in synchronous thinking. Broadcast control systems are also modeled as real-time, which adds additional dependencies on synchronous interconnects, such as SDI and ST 2110. Matrox is working to disrupt traditional synchronous concepts by offering our customers better outcomes compared to traditional on-prem deployments.

Instead of simply shifting on-prem workflows to the cloud and giving up some quality and latency, Matrox will be introducing technology that tackles the problem at the infrastructure level. This disruptive technology is a software-only, vendor-neutral, asynchronous framework that runs on IT infrastructure. It can achieve highly scalable, responsive, low-latency, easy-to-control, and frame-accurate broadcast media facilities for both on-premises and cloud deployments.

Answers At NAB Show 23

More than 1000 exhibitors have reserved exhibit space at NAB Show 23, including more than 140 first-time exhibitors. Many will be showing new devices with IP or internet connections. Not every facility can abandon SDI for IP in one year, but it appears nearly every facility is at some stage of moving from coaxial SDI to an IP-based format. Most of the old and new exhibitors will be showing some type of network solution or adaptation in their booth.

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