Harambe post-IBC road show

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IP TRANSPORT: Ikegami UHK-430 camera

Harambe Technologies, based in Rivonia, Johannesburg, held a post-IBC road show at their offices on 13 and 14 October to keep their customers abreast of the latest products and technologies presented by three of their partners, Ikegami, Evertz and Avid, at IBC 2016.

One of main themes at IBC 2016, and by extension at the event, was IP transport in video.  Both Ikegami and Evertz laid a heavy emphasis on the emerging products and protocols in that domain and showcased solutions from both brands that make use of the technology.  Another important aspect of IBC was 4K, a point of significance for Ikegami, who revealed a new 4K camera and associated accessories.  Avid, on the other hand, was there to showcase the latest versions of their real-time Linux-based graphics rendering, slow-motion editing and replay, and sports telestration platforms.

First up at the presentation was Ikegami general manager Chris Hill. Ikegami is known for their extremely high quality broadcast cameras and Hill made a concerted effort to allay cost concerns by first presenting a few of their more affordable camera options that might work well in the South African Market. Additionally, the cameras presented all fell into a specific niche that suited varying shooting conditions such as the satellite broadcasting-aimed HC-HD300, incorporating a newly-developed 1/3” 2.5 megapixel 3CMOS sensor; the HDK-5500, a 1080i camera aimed at low-light conditions; and the 1000fps Hi Motion II, a NAC/Ikegami collaboration.  Two flagship products were then revealed:  the HDK-97A 16-bit fully digital 3G HDTV camera featuring the Unicam HD system and the UHK-430 next generation Utra HD (4K) studio camera system featuring Unicam XE. Both feature Ikegami’s latest fifth generation AXII high speed video processor and the respective variants of the Unicam system. The Unicam system variants essentially split the cameras into two parts, enabling the user to dock to optional assemblies such as to a fibre output or high frame unit, depending on the requirements of the studio. This results in a highly flexible system that negates upgrading the entire camera, should needs change.  The UHK-430 also boasts a built-in 40Gbps optical transceiver (fibre), which enables transmission of full-bandwidth 4K video between the camera and the CCU-430, which features optional IP connectivity expansion for IP-based facilities.

Hailing from Montreal, Canada, Evertz product manager Harjinder Sandhu was the next presenter, focussing on IP-based video, audio and data transport, centred on their new EXE-series of switch fabrics and managed by their Magnum unified control system.  Evertz has been a pioneer in the field of IP-based video transport products and their chosen protocol, ASPEN, leverages MPEG2-TS standards to encapsulate uncompressed UHD/3G/HD/SD over MPEG-2 streams on scalable IP networks.  The EXE and SDVN is one such network core offered by Evertz that can accommodate up to 13,800 uncompressed HD-SDI signals using SMPTE-2022-6.  When compression is utilised, the number of video streams can reach the millions.  The advantage of an IP-based transport system, besides speed and efficiency, is that it eventually negates the need for peripheral devices such as signal splitters as this kind of function can ultimately be handled in the IP-domain. Even more interesting, Evertz’s new FPGA-driven evEDGE “software defined compute and routing platform,” set to be introduced at NAB 2016, is a compute blade system that incorporates a virtualised environment via FPGA chips that can be programmed on the fly.  This means that a customer can choose a certain topology to meet their needs, offering such function as IP media gateways, multi-viewing and video/audio conversion and processing.

The final presentation of the day was given by media giant Avid. East and southern Africa sales representative Thomas Lebreton initiated the talk, introducing Avid, while graphics products specialist EMEA Benjamin Landrot presented the products themselves. Avid acquired Orad Hi-Tec systems mid-2015, rounding out their offering in the 3D real-time graphics, video server and related workflow offerings so some of the Avid-updated products inherited from this merger were the focus.  The HDVG 4 rendering platform paired with their Maestro on-air graphics solution was the first to be presented, followed by the Playmaker slow-motion and media highlights editing server and companion controller.  The Spark telestration software and hardware solution was next, which is an extremely easy-to-use system that features quick and easy drag and drop telestration functions along with the ease of touch-screen compatibility.

From the post-IBC presentations at Harambe by the various guests it is clear where the industry is heading:  firmly towards 4K and IP-based transport.  Harambe’s partner representatives, particularly Ikegami’s Hill and Evertz’s Sandhu, drove these two points home without apology.  As always, however, technologies such as these are slow to be adopted despite their superiority so IBC 2017 may give us a better idea of whether the next progress tier has been reached.

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