Long a proven networking technology for many industries, Internet Protocol (IP) technology is quickly gaining traction across the broadcast television ecosystem as broadcasters look to make their operations more efficient on every level. Understanding exactly how and when IP technology will impact a given business model depends on a broadcaster’s individual situation, but developing an understanding of the technology and how it fits different workflows is critical.
The need to manage a growing volume of content continues in the broadcast world (i.e., multiple formats, VOD, OTT, etc.) as the market jockeys to identify the best way to accommodate viewer tastes. Higher quality content (4K/UHD and beyond) requires more horsepower to distribute throughout and between broadcast plants. To remain efficient while satisfying these demands, broadcasters need to choose the technology that has already demonstrated its ability to support the bandwidth that broadcasters require. In the long term, IP provides the most affordable and sustainable solution.
IP technology is well established and is already delivering benefits in a number of other vertical industry applications, including IT data centers. The broadcast industry can benefit from a model like this, one that relies on the same scalability, load balancing, use of commodity hardware and redundancy that make IT data centers so ubiquitous and successful. The Broadcast Data Center approach from Grass Valley, a Belden Brand, brings all of those benefits to the broadcast space.
With the agility of IP, broadcasters are set up to handle the growing needs of their broadcast plant today and, perhaps even more importantly, to ensure their ability to continue expanding easily in the future. It’s this agility through technology that makes IP so appealing: high data rates, wide bandwidth and a system that’s both format agnostic and scalable for whatever the future brings. An IP infrastructure based on open standards provides broadcasters with maximum agility and flexibility to adjust business models, capitalise on new revenue opportunities, and add new capabilities and services without having to constantly rebuild their infrastructure.
The reason for common standards is obvious: interoperable solutions based on widely accepted, open standards have driven the industry’s growth and success for decades by accommodating broadcasters’ current needs and ensuring they’re ready for future advancements. Just as the industry did with SDI, broadcasters must maintain this approach with IP—utilising a single, standardised interface for transmission of video to ensure that widespread signal transport interoperability continues.
As a founding member of the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), an independent trade association founded to ensure that all IP solutions brought to market offer complete interoperability, Grass Valley is dedicated to open standards that will integrate seamlessly into current workflow environments. The association’s initial focus is on promoting the awareness, adoption and refinement of open protocols for media over IP.
Broadcast television operations are the factories that drive the medium and IP technology improves productivity. Going forward, IP technology is changing the way video is produced. IP data transport not only provides a way to move media from point to point, but also enables carriage of additional, time-varying data related to the media itself.
For example, a camera has a fixed location measured with GPS and lens type, based on configuration. As the video is recorded, F-stop and focus are varied. Additional dynamic information related to the recording can be included in the metadata such as time of day, event type, people, places or things, and other keywords associated with the media. This data can then be used to generate and render real-time graphic enhancements, such as first down lines for American football games or other event-specific graphics. As a result, follow-on productions are richer, and offer more value by including additional clips, sound-bites or text references based on context.
This is one of the real values of IP. It can be argued that metadata has become at least as valuable, if not more valuable, than the actual video being captured. And, the way that dynamic metadata is handled by IP technologies powers creativity, through time-aware, data-rich applications that can’t be handled in SDI.
In many customer environments around the world, Grass Valley’s Broadcast Data Center enables a broadcast-centric IP plant designed with the affordability and efficiency of today’s IP networks and COTS switches, while leveraging the reliability, extensibility, functionality and familiarity of the SDI broadcast world. GV Convergent control system controls and manages traffic through both IP switches and SDI routers, while controlling edge switching and orchestrating bandwidth with a design for the needs of broadcasters. The GV Node Real-Time IP Processing and Routing Platform provides vertically-accurate switching. Controlled by GV Convergent, GV Node’s real time, distributed routing and IP processing supports both IP and SDI workflows. Additionally, GV Convergent and GV Node provide other broadcast-centric benefits so that an IP infrastructure mimics traditional SDI workflow and processes.
With the right solutions provided by a supplier that is committed to interoperability and leveraging the benefits of technology from adjacent markets, broadcasters are realising the benefits of IP and are discovering new opportunities for improved efficiency and profitability.
Visit Grass Valley at Mediatech 2017 on the Protea Electronics stand (D17).