2018 NAB Show Event Channel

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Production & Post Global Viewpoint – November 2017

Live Production Trucks Become Test Beds for IP

Several industry technology practices can be observed as more broadcasters and content creators migrate their systems to IP-enabled broadcast infrastructures.

NEP Australia is building a set of new 4K  trucks, many of which will rely on newer IP-technologies. Some of the IP gear includes, Sony HDC-4300 cameras and ICP X7000 switcher panel, Lawo audio consoles and broadcast control and monitoring systems, 10 EVS XT3 production servers, and an IHSM Draco Tera KVM control system.

NEP Australia is building a set of new 4K trucks, many of which will rely on newer IP-technologies. Some of the IP gear includes, Sony HDC-4300 cameras and ICP X7000 switcher panel, Lawo audio consoles and broadcast control and monitoring systems, 10 EVS XT3 production servers, and an IHSM Draco Tera KVM control system.

The first is that greenfield build outs remain scarce. Few companies have, or will spend, the resources to build something new from the ground up while operating a full SDI suite. One exception is live broadcast trucks with IP technology. These production studios on wheels are designed to perform highly focused tasks and little else. These studios do not get involved in the mundane tasks the traditional local and network broadcasters must do.

Second, traditional broadcasters are risk adverse. In the 1980’s there was a phrase engineers sometimes shared between themselves, “No one ever got fired for buying Sony.” The point was, digital technology was just becoming popular, but it was still famous for failing at most inopportune times. Plenty of other companies built great equipment, often equal or better than a Sony solution. But this particular Japanese company was unyielding in is drive towards product reliability. That fact alone resulted in the sale of a lot of equipment. Engineers tend to buy what they trust. In today’s vernacular, many engineers believe IP has yet to prove itself plus sufficient options are not yet available.

What’s your hurry?

What does this have to do with migrating to IP infrastructures? Everything.

Someone please send me a photo of a group of engineers protesting outside an equipment vendor carrying signs, marked something like “What do we want? IP. When do we want it? Now.” Not one engineer as ever told me, “I want an all IP plant ASAP.”

The managers and technology experts who use this gear want a careful and orderly march to IP. No panic rush to place orders.

Vendors, on the other hand, want the IP conversion process to resemble Black Friday shopping.

When broadcasters begin the migration, even those fully committed to getting to that magical all IP infrastructure, they will do it s-l-o-w-l-y. One step at a time. Movement will be in increments, not leaps.

The fact remains, hybrid IP/SDI environments will be commonplace, perhaps until many of us retire. That is neither good or bad (unless all you sell is IP-centric gear). Let the customer decide the pace of transition. If vendors want to drive purchases, try discounts.

I can hear the push back from equipment manufacturers, “You don’t understand. Look at the benefits of IP solutions….bla, bla…bla.”I get it. Yes, there are benefits, but what’s the hurry?

Trucks are a good place to try things

Trucks are excellent places to try new technology. NEP Australia is transitioning from an SDI infrastructure to an all-IP infrastructure for outside broadcast and live production. The catalyst for this migration is the construction of two IP enabled centralized production hubs and four new all-IP OB trucks.

During the transition NEP will run a mix of all-IP OB trucks and legacy SDI trucks with an IP layer allowing connectivity to either hub. The need to support in two formats during the transition period presented a challenge to the network in monitoring and troubleshooting the complex hybrid environment.

Trucks Can Experiment

The NEP build out features software defined networking (SDN) within Lawo’s V matrix platform, providing all-IP routing, processing and multi-viewer functionality. Then Lawo’s Virtual Studio Manager (VSM) and ‘The WALL’ multi-viewer control will provide over-arching orchestration and control, as well as a common user interface for all operators.

Along with the new software-defined V matrix platform, NEP will use the Lawo mc296 audio console in six control rooms and four mc256 audio consoles for the IP–based outside broadcast trucks. Further, the order includes audio and IP processing equipment for the four new outside broadcast (OB) trucks and the upgrade of seven trucks in NEP’s existing OB fleet.

Each NEP OB Van's audio section is centered on a Lawo mc256 audio console and an audio core with eight DSP cards and five stage boxes connected via fiber using MADI. Click to enlarge.

Each NEP OB Van's audio section is centered on a Lawo mc256 audio console and an audio core with eight DSP cards and five stage boxes connected via fiber using MADI. Click to enlarge.

With the VSM system, NEP will have total control and monitoring capabilities to support routing, which will be handled by the Imagine Communications IP3 hybrid video/audio router and SX multiviewer, as well as 10 EVS XT3 video servers.

With an IHSE Draco Tera KVM, can pre-configure workflows and settings in advance of a production, and also save and restore them for recurring productions.

The Sony ICP X7000 switcher panel provides a familiar layout for operators.

The Sony ICP X7000 switcher panel provides a familiar layout for operators.

For video capture, the trucks will use Sony HDC-4300 cameras and Sony MVS/XVS-8000X vision mixers. Each truck can operate with up to 28 cameras and provides enough space to accommodate 34 staff. The 10 EVS XT3 production servers allow NEP staff to use them utilized in HD, 4K, SDI or IP-based environments.

Signal monitoring and test and measurement are crucial in IP networks. Tektronix was a key supplier to the NEP truck renovation. It is worthwhile noting that much of the sophisticated test equipment works with both SDI and IP networks.

The QC gear includes standalone and rack mount Tektronix PRISM hybrid IP/SDI media analysis instruments as well as SPG8000A hybrid sync generator and PTP grand master clock units, ECO8000 automatic changeover devices and WFM5200 waveform monitors.

Tektronix PRISM can monitor both IP and SDI networks simultaneously.

Tektronix PRISM can monitor both IP and SDI networks simultaneously.

The Tektronix PRISM combines ST-2110 analysis with full SDI support, [emphasis added] making it ideal for the NEP’s hybrid networking. Broadcast and network engineers obtain real-time monitoring and analysis of IP streams and the associated content. The result is their ability to provide early identification and diagnosis of network or content issues including intermittent loss of video, audio, or data content.

The PRISM’s IP capabilities include analysis of PTP synchronization timing, support for SMPTE ST 2022-7 redundancy and SMPTE ST-2110, IGMP V3 and API support for easy system integration into network management systems, and IP stream capture for deep dive analysis.

We can agree that IP is tomorrow’s media technology. Today, it is available in many point-solutions. Choose carefully as standards are still being developed.

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