Production Control Room Tools At NAB 2024

As we approach the 2024 NAB Show we discuss the increasing demands placed on production control rooms and their crew, and the technologies coming to market in this key area of live broadcast production.

Today’s production control rooms need to handle an ever-increasing number of sources and to produce a constantly expanding range of content in the most efficient way. The biggest drivers in this area are cloud and remote production workflows that bring new value for existing hardware systems, while opening up the possibility to connect with other control rooms on a network - whether located down the hall or across the globe. This is likely to go hand-in-hand with the strong trend towards software centric production systems hosted in ‘the cloud’. We expect a popular discussion point at the show to be whether that is a private cloud, public cloud, a theoretically dynamically scalable hybrid of the two, or SAAS.

While many have made the transition to IP operations, many more are still grounded in the SDI world or have become a hybrid of both technologies. The Broadcast Bridge will publish separate articles dedicated to bridging the SDI/IP world, and supporting simultaneous SDR/HDR HD/UHD video workflows before the show.

PCR crews seem to be shrinking in size with each new AI-driven automation solution or hardware-based robotic camera control system – and they are being asked to do more with fewer components. In many situations, the switcher operator is also running graphics, playback and other components of a show.

This all-in-one integrated strategy is also reflected in the growth of suppliers offering ‘all-in-one’ software-based production solutions which are usually public cloud based, and in a SAAS format.  These new software-based production environments combine broadcast-grade production tools with the flexibility and scalability of the public cloud to deliver live broadcasts and events in a collaborative, browser-based workspace. The approach offers minimal initial capex investment and highly flexible systems which are well suited to dispersed production teams with operators across multiple locations.

Whether it’s new all in one SAAS cloud solutions, or the industry’s biggest vendors offering increasingly software centric solutions, software driven production seem likely to grow in popularity as cloud connections get cheaper & easier to deploy, and professionals begin to fully appreciate the value of these new software-driven, scalable and remote workflows.

The convergence trend is not limited to new software-based systems. At the NAB Show attendees will see a plethora of vendors adding new features to existing products. The new trend is fully integrated systems, like production switchers that also generate graphics, chromakeys, handle video ingest, format conversion and playback and manage audio levels. Vendors have also begun to combine the video router with the switcher so that the routing switcher provides direct access to all of the production switcher inputs needed to produce a newscast or show. Employing this type of fully loaded system helps save on cost and reduces the need for a large staff. It’s also ideal for space-limited facilities.

Many vendors will be exhibiting hardware based on software-controlled FPGA-based processing. This brings the reliability and processing power of hardware with the flexibility of software. It also facilitates greater remote and dispersed team production with the capacity to control switchers and other devices from any networked location. Some vendors will show cloud-based or cloud-native software systems with hardware control surfaces which achieve similar flexibility.

With cloud and AI, key themes at the show, expect graphics systems to offer new workflows and new capabilities which leverage them. New ‘cloud’ software systems facilitate dispersed team production. Graphics is often processor hungry and new cloud-based GPU processing enables remote control from laptops and other devices which would not otherwise have the required compute power. Among the newest solutions are cloud-based 3D graphics that are created, processed and stored on remote servers.

Seek Your Solution

When filling out your list of companies to see at the NAB Show, here are a few that will make your control room as productive as it can be, regardless of where the actual hardware is located.

The new Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio HD8.

The new Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio HD8.

Blackmagic Design (Booth SL5005) will show its ATEM Television Studio HD8, a series of integrated live production switchers that combine broadcast features with portability. These new switchers feature broadcast grade control panels with features such as streaming and recording. There is also an ISO model that can record all video inputs and can connect to up to 8 remote cameras. These new switchers also support live streaming, talkback and optional internal storage.

The ATEM Television Studio HD is a live production switcher built into a broadcast control panel so it can be used for high-end work while being extremely portable. This means customers can use it in small venues that don’t have the access for equipment racks or broadcast vans.

The Studio HD8 features 8 standards-converted SDI inputs, 2 aux outputs, 4 chroma keyers, 2 downstream keyers, 2 media players and lots of transition effects. Plus it includes hardware streaming, recording, audio mixer, talkback, multiviewer and optional internal cloud storage. There’s even an ISO model that records all 8 inputs for editing work.

Riedel Communications (Booth C4907) will continue the expansion of the company’s range of live video production solutions with the release of RiMotion R10. The RiMotion replay series is part of Riedel’s family of software-based products for multicamera production, integrated into its portfolio after the acquisition of Simplylive. 

The Riedel RiMotion R10 replay interface.

The Riedel RiMotion R10 replay interface.

The R10 will be added to the existing R6, R8, and R12 bundles providing six to 12 HD channels, and the R84 with up to four UHD and eight HD 10-bit HDR channels. RiMotion R10 supports 10 video channels, offering up to eight multi-format camera inputs — including SDI, SRT, and NDI — plus two outputs in a powerful and compact 1RU server. As with all RiMotion systems, the server can be combined with mini-PCs to create a simple, cost-effective solution for remote productions — allowing operators to be anywhere.

The Simplylive Production Suite, is a software-driven live production platform running on COTS hardware. It supports most common video formats (SDI, NDI etc.), and is designed for easy migration to IP and the cloud. It is a modular software solution with a range of application layers including; live switching cameras and video sources, cueing and scrubbing, slowmo replays, controlling audio, or adding graphics, all accessible via a single touchscreen interface.

Riedel’s RiMotion solutions combine extensive replay capabilities, including super-slow-motion (SSM) camera support, with an innovative, user-friendly interface. Its design concentrates all features in a clear and convenient touchscreen interface that even new users can learn to operate in minutes. The RiMotion package also includes a conventional hardware-based remote controller panel for operators who wish to combine the remote controller and touchscreen interface.

Riedel RiCapture.

Riedel RiCapture.

Riedel also chose the 2024 NAB Show to announce expansion of its RiCapture ingest platform with the addition of RiCapture i8, i44, and i84. Complementing the RiCapture i4, these new additions bring increased channel density and/or UHD resolution, 8- and 10-bit support, expanded internal SSD storage, and a series of advanced functionalities to the RiCapture platform. With the brand-new SSE interface for scheduling, streaming, and exporting, the RiCapture product line now offers a powerful and compact solution for multichannel HD/UHD ingest recording and integration to postproduction.

The i4 and i8 provide four or eight HD HDR input channels, while the i44 and i84 boast four UHD channels with HDR capability. On the audio side, all RiCapture products are capable of 16 channels of embedded audio per channel, as well as 64 Dante or AES67 channels.

In all configurations, RiCapture offers high-quality recording in DNxHD or DNxHR along with H.264 4:2:0 and 4:2:2 encoding to the local storage. The local recording storage offers continuous loop recording for the captured content, with options to stream manually, stream with a scheduler, or clip and export files as needed from the available local storage to numerous streaming destinations.

There are three software add-ons available in the RiCapture product line: the VDR panel, a web-based UI with expanded multichannel control for clip playback, program delays, monitor wall playback and other scenarios; the RiView application, which is a multiviewer UI that includes audio down-mix monitoring for synchronized review of record feeds for review, clipping, and export to multiple destinations; and the XDCAM add-on, which provides the tapeless XDCAM format for HD video acquisition and storage. 

Lawo (Booth C4110) will spotlight the Graphic Inserter app for its HOME microservice-based platform. The HOME Graphic Inserter app allows users to turn 2D or 3D animated graphics into video streams. Users simply add the URL of their HTML5 graphic, pick the output resolution and specify the required output format. The following output formats are supported: SMPTE ST2110, NDI®, SRT and JPEG XS - at SD, HD, 3G, and 4K UHD resolutions.

Other Show Floor Highlights

Grass Valley will introduce the Maverik X, a software-based switcher that is part of the AMPP cloud-native software-based production system. It supports both uncompressed and compressed inputs/outputs and full 10bit UHD HDR workflows and it fully compatible with their Maverik switcher control surfaces. Ross Video are sticking with their tradition of revealing all on the eve of the show. EVS are celebrating 30 years ‘Family & Friends Together For Live’ so expect them to do so by continuing their innovative and prolific expansion & evolution of their increasingly diverse product portfolio, which as ever sits at the heart of so many PCRs.

The list of vendors bringing improvements to existing platforms or leveraging new technologies to bring entirely new offerings to the NAB Show floor is huge. Plan your itinerary carefully and don’t be shy in challenging vendors to answer your personal questions about your specific needs and challenges.

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