FEED Issue 26 Web



THINK CHANGE What are the advantages of software-based systems and why should broadcasters consider them?

roadcast television is entering a new era.” Where have you heard that before? Over the

past decade, we predicted the shift from analogue to digital would be negligible compared to the imminent transformative impact of the move to IP. Yet even now, as the SDI fabric of broadcast facilities is being replaced with IT pipes and IP protocols, some visionary broadcasters are craving more. It’s not enough, they believe, to build an IP-based facility capable of transporting video to and from the cloud and in SMPTE-standard 2110. They aspire to the golden goals of AV over IP interoperability, with the ability to flex business models, swap functions and workflows from site to site, call up additional computer, storage and creative power as needed – and they want it now. The good news is this vision is finally within their grasp. There are partners with whom they can work to articulate the same fundamental approach to the future of broadcast – that is, that we should all be thinking in software. Broadcasters have held on to their vision of a world in which they have access to technologies as they evolve, regardless of where those technologies were targeted in the first instance. They imagine an environment in which they have the freedom to work with the latest technologies in one part of their business and to introduce the same technologies in a different part of the business as and when they choose. It’s a freedom that spans studio production, post-production and delivery, and it means subtracting as well as adding the functionality that suits a project or a business need at any time.

IP promises to break down the walls that created digital silos to improve workflow efficiencies inside a station. Yet despite the proliferation of IP, broadcast facilities are still built with legacy digital infrastructures, requiring costly equipment to encode, decode and transcode disparate analogue, IP and digital sources to SDI, so it can be ingested into the workflow and converted to a useable broadcast signal. The continued siloed operational approach is especially problematic for stations affiliated with a larger group or broadcast network. Visionary broadcasters want access to modules of software they can deploy across any part of the chain. This includes multicam ingest, transcoding and QC to mastering, playout, monitoring, multiviewing, VOD asset and promo creation. We’ve seen HDR and UHD migrate from high-end acquisition and post into the broadcast production and distribution chain, accompanied by IMF as an intermediate format. The point is that this functionality has previously existed only on hardware devices, making workflows incompatible with true interoperability. When you bring them on

to a common software-defined platform (running on COTS hardware, which may not be on-premises) you have an underlying technology solution finally capable of supporting the innovation in workflows that broadcasters desperately need. SOFTWARE BENEFITS The benefits on offer in a software world are multiple. Let’s take a look at just a few: Flexibility: in a true software-based world you can access machines and content and control systems over one Ethernet cable for total flexibility over where your operators are sitting. They could be in a central facility or a more remote hub or hubs. Thinking in software means broadcasters can easily move functions from one part of the network to another for operational or creative efficiency. Hot-swapability: the means to deploy features, functionality and standards at one part of the chain and to update them later or remove or add them at will to another part of the chain. The feature sets that benefits live or near-live studio production today might benefit post-production or delivery

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