Software Infrastructure Global Viewpoint – September 2019

IBC 2019 Roundup

For me, this year’s IBC was the most optimistic show I’ve been to for some time. I wouldn’t go as far as saying the corridors were awash with cash, but I certainly detected an air of confidence I hadn’t experienced for many years.

Three big themes dominated my conversations; IP and 12G-SDI, Immersive Audio, and HDR.

I was surprised to see so many vendors promoting 12G-SDI products. Driven by 4K implementations they seem to fit a specific type of static installation and their in-built plug-and-play ability makes integration relatively straight forward. But surely, we should now have reached the limits of the bandwidth of coaxial copper? Can we really go beyond 12G? Maybe 24G?

I understand why broadcasters and service providers may want to continue to use SDI, but in a way, I was saddened by this as the increasing number of IP installations continue to demonstrate more and more IP solutions are being successfully delivered today. Ethernet switches are easily providing 25Gbs and 40Gbs ports with 100Gbs starting to roll out, and fabric manufacturers are currently working on 400Gbs switches. SDI doesn’t stand a hope of reaching these speeds.

IP was ubiquitous and there is a significant increase in the number of installations, and I’m being told that more broadcasters are enquiring about moving to IP. Although many are looking to transition piece-meal, the momentum is definitely building. I believe, the tipping point will be the availability of plug-and-play, when this is delivered, the IP flood gates will open. But training is still an issue, and more must be done in this area to help improve confidence.

Although SDI and IP are important to broadcasters, they don’t make much difference to the home viewer, but Immersive Audio and HDR do.

Immersive Audio is really driving the frontiers of the sound experience as cinema style mixes are being delivered to the home. The combination of advances in microphone and loudspeaker design, with readily available digital processing, is making the whole Immersive Audio experience a reality for the home viewer.

During one presentation I was carefully listening to the sound image but was a little annoyed as some people behind me were whispering. I turned around to complain but there was nobody there, the voices were part of the Immersive Audio mix.

HDR continued the theme of improving the viewing immersive experience and this certainly dominated the advances in video technology, both acquisition and display. As with all emerging technologies, there are some interesting challenges ahead, but HDR has a direct positive impact on the viewing experience and this alone should help its progression.

I was reminded that high-end video cameras have been acquiring and recording HDR images for many years and HDR-Ready televisions are readily available in many consumer stores. The production technology is certainly established, so we just need more broadcasters to get behind HDR and transmit more of it.

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