Audio Global Viewpoint – September 2022

IBC 2022 – Looking Forward

What is IBC 2022 going to deliver for us this year?

IP is continuing its upwards trajectory and broadcasters are benefitting from its flexibility, scalability, and resilience. But it’s worth remembering that IP is an enabling technology that is opening the broadcast industry to technologies that would have previously been difficult, or impossible to adopt. Two of these are cloud and AI.

I expect this year’s IBC to be dominated by cloud-type services. This isn’t just about moving workflows to public-cloud datacenters to reduce real estate requirements but is fundamentally about adopting microservice and agile methodologies. Microservices abstracts the functionality of the services away from the underlying hardware to free the operation from any hardware lockin.

In theory, microservices can run on any vendor cloud platform but the real power comes in the form of managed services. It is possible for broadcasters to build their own infrastructures and buy in microservices and host them on their own datacenter platforms. However, this requires a huge overhead in terms of support to both integrate the microservices and keep them operational.

I expect to see a proliferation of managed services where vendors make the microservices available on specific platforms, such as AWS or Azure, and broadcasters hook into the software through an API. This will allow the broadcaster to focus on building their workflows and not be concerned too much with low level vendor maintenance.

AI is gaining traction, albeit at an understated level. Cutting through the marketing hype is proving a bit of a challenge but when an engineer begins to understand the power of AI then they truly see its massive capability.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is one of the early pioneers of ML (Machine Learning) and so it’s not surprising to see it making a name for itself in subtitling and closed captioning. Multilanguage broadcasts are notoriously difficult to convert into subtitles due to the amount of human effort needed but NLP can learn many languages and deliver text with very low latency.

Image processing is another major field for ML, especially when using CNNs (Convolution Neural Networks) and GANs (General Adversarial Networks), and in the same way broadcasters adopting IP have benefited from successes in unrelated fields, they are now also benefiting from the immense amount of ML research that is being conducted by the medical and gaming communities.

Compression, language detection and SDR to HDR conversion are all areas where ML is proving its worth and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a ML driven studio where the director talks to the production switcher and camera robotic management system to provide real-time control.

Unreal Engine seems to be everywhere in the LED wall space. Combined with high end computers sporting the latest GPU cards, ML for scene prediction and pose estimation, and some incredible robot technology, the future is surely set for virtual reality and 360 immersive experiences of the like we have never seen before.

IBC is back and I believe 2022 has the opportunity to deliver incredible innovation that will continue to build on the previous successes of the broadcasting industry.