Video: Will Direct LED Replace Projection?

LCD displays have got to the size and sophistication that they can now be installed instead of projectors in cinemas and smaller theatres. This means a choice is now opening up in what equipment to put into high-end home cinemas, shops and more. Whilst there are good reasons to use LCD displays, called ‘Direct LED” in this talk, there are many pros and cons to be navigated.

Michael Heiss joins us in his usual understated style from ISE starting by outlining the key questions to be asking early in any engagement such as the required screen size, resolution, and aspect ratio. Whilst these are basic, there are further questions such as whether there is a brightness requirement, a need for HDR and of course, what the budget is. Answering these questions will help understand if projection is still the better direction to be going.

If you’re building a direct LED screen, the resolution of that screen will be dictated by the pixel pitch of the modules and the number of modules. For a fine pitch, you may just need a 4×4 array of modules. For a wider pitch, perhaps 8×8 to deliver the same HD resolution. This means your choice of screen sizes will be limited as opposed to projection where the resolution is derived from the projector itself and by adjusting its position you can get any screen size you choose, shape of the room permitting. With the cost of the screen being dependent on both the pitch and the number of modules, Michael advises anyone to go to the manufacturer and get them to specify combinations that could work for your project instead of trying to working out for yourself.

Audio is a big issue for larger screens in a film setting as traditionally speakers have been mounted behind the screens in cinemas. The move to LCD screens prevents speakers being behind the screen, but for large settings, people need to hear audio coming from the area of the screen where the characters are talking. Michael explains that the current practice in a cinema near him is to fill in this dead area of audio with sound from the sides bouncing off the screen. This requires a lot of signal processing and specialist knowledge which is not readily accessible and increases the cost of installation.

Direct LED works well for screens outside due to their brightness, for the smaller single-piece screens the simplicity is ideal for retail and it’s very neat. Bringing in the modular design can also work well but there is more complexity in having a frame to align all the modules, you also then need to ensure you have access to the modules when you need to swap them either from the front or the back. This can have an impact on home cinema design, too, as many screens will be flat against a wall.

With price still being in favour of projectors, it’s clear that there’s room in the market for both types of product. As manufacturers such as Samsung continue to experiment and push forward better and cheaper displays, it’s likely the cost element will continue to be eroded opening up Direct LED to many more people.

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Michael Heiss Michael Heiss
Principal Consultant
M. Heiss Consulting

Video: State of IP Video Networking & Distribution

Andy Bechtolsheim from ARISTA Networks gives us an in-depth look at the stats surrounding online streaming before looking closer to home at uncompressed SMPTE ST 2110 productions within the broadcaster premises. Andy tracks the ascent of online streaming with over 60% of internet traffic being video. Recently, the number of consumer devices which have been incorporating streaming functions, whether a Youtube/Netflix app or a form of gaming live streaming has only continued to grow. Within 5 years, it’s estimated that each US household, on average, will be paying for over three and a quarter SVOD subscriptions.

SARS-CoV-2 has had its effect on streaming with Netflix already achieving their 2023 subscriber number targets and the 8-month-old Disney+ already having over 50 million subscribers over the 15 territories they had launched in by May; it’s currently forecast that there will be 1.1 billion SVOD subscriptions in 2025 globally.

The television still retains pride of place in the US both in terms of linear TV share and the place to consume video in general, but Andy shows that the number of households with a subscription to linear TV has dropped over 17% and will likely below 25% by 20203. As he draws his analysis to a close, he points out how significant an effect age has on viewing. Two years ago viewing of TV by over 65s in the US had increased by 8% whereas that of under 24s had fallen by a half.

An example of the incredible density available using IP to route video.

The second part of Andy’s keynote talk at the 2020 EBU Network Technology Seminar covers The Future of IP Networking. In this, he summarises the future developments in network infrastructure, IP production and remote production. Looking at the datacentre, Andy shows that 2017 was the inflexion point where 100G networking took over 40G in deployed numbers. The next big stop, 400G, has just started to take off but is early and may not make 100G numbers for a while. 800 gig links are forecast to start being available in 2022. This is enabled, asserts Andy, by the exponential growth in speed of the underlying chips within switches.

Andy shows us an example of a 1U switch which has a throughput of over 1024 UHD streams. If we compare this with a top-end SDI router solution, we see that a system that can switch 1125×1125 3G HD signals takes two 26RU racks. Taking 4 signals per UHD signal, the 1U switch has 3.6 times the throughput than a 52U SDI system. He then gives a short primer on 400G standards such as 400G for fibre, copper etc. along with the distance they will reach.

Now looking towards The New IP Television Studio Andy lays out how many SDI streams you can get into 100G and 400G links. For standard 3G HD, 128 will fit into 400G. Andy discusses the reduction in size of routers and of cabling before talking about examples such as CBC. Finally, he points out that with fibre, round trip times for 1000km can be as low as 10ms meaning that, any European event can be covered by remote production using uncompressed video such as the FIS World Ski Championships. We’ve seen, here on The Broadcast Knowledge that even if you can’t use uncompressed video, using JPEG XS is a great, low-latency way of linking 2110 workflows and achieving remote production.

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Andy Bechtolsheim Andy Bechtolsheim
ARISTA Networks

Video: How to build two large Full-IP OB trucks (during COVID-19)

It’s never been easy building a large OB van. Keeping within axel weight, getting enough technology in and working within a tight project timeline, not to mention keeping the expanding sections cool and water-tight is no easy task. Add on that social distancing thanks to SARS-CoV-2 and life gets particularly tricky.

This project was intriguing before Covid-19 because it called for two identical SMPTE ST-2110 IP trucks to be built, explains Geert Thoelen from NEP Belgium. Both are 16-camera trucks with 3 EVS each. The idea being that people could walk into truck A on Saturday and do a show then walk into truck B on Sunday and work in exactly the same show but on a different match. Being identical, when these trucks will be delivered to Belgium public broadcaster RTBF, production crews won’t need to worry about getting a better or worse truck then the other programmes.. The added benefit is that weight is reduced compared to SDI baseband. The trucks come loaded with Sony Cameras, Arista Switches, Lawo audio, EVS replays and Riedel intercoms. It’s ready to take a software upgrade for UHD and offers 32 frame-synched and colour-corrected inputs plus 32 outputs.

Broadcast Solutions have worked with NEP Belgium for many years, an ironically close relationship which became a key asset in this project which had to be completed under social distancing rules. Working open book and having an existing trust between the parties, we hear, was important in completing this project on time. Broadcast Solutions separated internet access for the truck to access the truck as it was being built with 24/7 remote access for vendors.

Axel Kühlem fro broadcast solutions address a question from the audience of the benefits of 2110. He confirms that weight is reduced compared to SDI by about half, comparing like for like equipment. Furthermore, he says the power is reduced. The aim of having two identical trucks is to allow them to be occasionally joined for large events or even connected into RTBF’s studio infrastructure for those times when you just don’t have enough facilities. Geert points out that IP on its own is still more expensive than baseband, but you are paying for the ability to scale in the future. Once you count the flexibility it affords both the productions and the broadcaster, it may well turn out cheaper over its lifetime.

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Axel Kühlem Axel Kühlem
Senior System Architect
Broadcast Solutions
Geert Thoelen Geert Thoelen
Technical Director,
NEP Belgium