Video: The Fenix Project: Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery

“Moving to the cloud” is different for each broadcaster, some are using it for live production, some for their archives, some just for streaming. While confidence in the cloud is increasing and the products are maturing, many companies are choosing to put their ‘second MCR’ in the cloud or, say, tier-2 playout to test the waters, gain experience and wait for a fuller feature set. Sky Italia, has chosen to put all its disaster recovery transmission capability in the cloud.

Davide Gandino joins us from Mile High 2020 to show – and demo – their disaster recovery deployment which covers playout, processing, distribution and delivery to the end-user. Davide explains this was all driven by a major fire at their facility in Rome. At the time, they managed to move their services to Milan with minimal on-air impact, but with destroyed equipment, they were left to rebuild. It wasn’t long before that rebuild was planned for the cloud.

This is no insignificant project, with 117 channels of which only 39 are third-party pass-through going on to four platforms, the full deployment uses 800 cloud encoders. This amounts to 4Gbps being sent up to the cloud and 8Gbps returning. David highlights the design uses both Google and Amazon cloud infrastructure with 3 availability zones in use for both.

A vital part of this project design is that not all 800 encoders would be working 24×7. This misses the point of the cloud, but the only scalable alternative is fully automated deployment which is exactly what Sky chose to do. The key tenants of the project are:

  • Everything automated – Deployment and configuration are automatic
  • Software Defined – All Applications to be software defined
  • Distributed – Distributed solution to absorb the loss of one site
  • Synchronised – All BAU (business as usual) changes to automatically update the DR configuration. This is done with what Sky call the ‘Service Control Layer’.
  • Observed – Monitoring of the DR system will be as good or better than usual operation

To active the DR, Davide tells us that there is a first stage script which launches a Kubernetes cluster on which the management software sits and 13 Kubernetes clusters across Google and AWS which will run the infrastructure itself. The second script, uses Jenkins jobs to deploy and configure the infrastructure such as encoders and DRM modules etc. Davide finishes the talk showing us a video of the deployment of the infrastructure, explaining what is happening as we see the platform being built.Watch now!
Speaker

Davide Gandino Davide Gandino
Head of Streaming, Cloud & Computing Systems,
Sky Italia

Video: Usage of Video Signaling Code Points Automating UHD & HD Production-to-Distribution Workflows

As complicated as SD to HD conversions seemed at the time, that’s nothing on the plethora of combinations available now. Dealing with BT 601 and 709 colour spaces along with aspect ratios and even conversions from NTSC/PAL kept everyone busy. With frame rates, different HDR formats and wide colour gamut (HDR) being just some of the current options, this talk considers whether it would be better to bring in a ‘house format’ as opposed to simply declaring your company to be a ‘ProRes HQ’ house and accepting any content, HDR or SDR, in ProRes rather than being more specific regarding the lifestyle of your videos.

This talk from Chris Seeger from NBCUniversal and Yasser Syed from Comcast discuss their two-year effort to document common workflow video format combinations talking to companies from content providers to broadcasters to service distributors. The result is a joint ITU-ISO document, now in its second edition, which provides a great resource for new workflows today.

Yasser makes the point that, in recent years, the volume of scripted workflows has increased significantly. This can motivate broadcasters to find quicker and more efficient ways of dealing with media in what can be a high-value set of workflows that are increasingly being formed from a variety of video types.

Discussing signalling is important because it brings workflows together. Looking at videos we see that multiple sources arrive on left, need to identify correctly and then converted. This video talks about keeping separate video codecs and the identifying metadata needed for contribution and distribution which is best done automatically. All combinations are possible, but take advantages o the best content, having everything converted into a single, HDR-friendy mezzanine format is the way forward.

Watch now!
Speakers

Yasser Syed Yasser Syed
Comcast Distinguished Engineer,
Comcast
Chris Seeger Chris Seeger
Director, Advanced Content Production Technology,
NBCUniversal, Inc.

Video: MPEG-5 Essential Video Coding (EVC) Standard

Learning from the patent miss-steps of HEVC, MPEG have released MPEG-5 EVC which brings bitrate savings, faster encoding and clearer licencing terms including a royalty-free implementation. The hope being that with more control over exposure to patent risk, companies large and small will adopt EVC as they improve and launch streaming services now and in the future.

At Mile High Video 2020, Kiho Choi introduced the MPEG 5 Essential Video Coding. Naturally, the motivation to produce a new codec was partly based on the continued need to reduce video bitrates. With estimates of the video traffic share on the internet, both now and in the future all hovering between 75% and 90% any reduction in bitrate will have a wide benefit, best exemplified by Netflix and Facebook’s decision to reduce the bitrate at the top of their ABR ladder during the pandemic which impacted the quality available to viewers. The unspoken point of this talk is that if the top rung used EVC, viewers wouldn’t notice a drop in quality.

The most important point about EVC, which is in contrast to the MPEG/ISO co-defined standard form last year, VVC, is that it provides businesses a lot of control over their exposure to patent royalties. It’s no secret that much HEVC adoption has been hampered by the risk that large users could be approached for licencing fees. Whilst it has made its way into Apple devices, which is no minimal success, big players like ESPN won’t have anything to do with it. EVC tackles this problem in two ways. One is to have a baseline profile which provides bitrate savings over its predecessors but uses a combination of technologies which are either old enough to not be eligible for royalty payments or that have been validated as free to use. Companies should, therefore, be able to use this level of codec without any reasonable concern over legal exposure. Moreover, the main profile which does use patentable technologies allows for each individual part of the profile to be switched off meaning anyone encoding EVC has control, assuming the vendor makes this possible, over which technologies they are using and hence their exposure to risk. Kiho points out that this business-requirements-first approach is new and in contrast to many codecs.

Kiho highlights a number of the individual tools within both the baseline and main codecs which provide the bitrate savings before showing us the results of the objective and subjective testing. Within the EVC docs, the testing methodology is spelt out to allow EVC to be compared against predecessors AVC and HEVC. The baseline codec shows an improvement of 38% against 1080p60 material and 35% for UHD material compared to AVC doing the same tasks yet it achieves a quicker encoder (less compute needed) and the decode is approximately the same. The main profile, being more efficient is compared against HEVC which is, itself, around 50% more efficient than AVC. Against HEVC, Kiho says, EVC main profile produces an improvement of around 30% encoding gain for UHD footage and 25% for 1080p60 footage. Encoding is close to 5x longer and decoder is around 1.5x longer than HEVC.

Kiho finishes by summarising subjective testing of SDR and HDR videos which show that, in contrast to the objective savings which are calculated by computers, in practice perceived quality is higher and enables a higher bitrate reduction, a phenomenon which has been seen in other codec comparisons such LCEVC. SDR results show a 50% encoding gain for 4K and 30% for 1080p60 against AVC. Against HEVC, the main profile is able to deliver 50% coding gains for 4K content and 40% for 1080p60. For HDR, the main profile provides an approximately 35% encoding gain for both 1080p60 and 4k.

Watch now!
Speakers

Kiho Choi Kiho Choi
Senior Engineer & Technical Lead for Multimedia Standards at Samsung Electronics
Lead Editor of MPEG5 Part 1 Essential Video Coding

Video: DVB-I. Linear Television with Internet Technologies

Outside of computers, life is rarely binary. There’s no reason for all TV to be received online, like Netflix of iPlayer, or all over-the-air by satellite or DVB-T. In fact, by using a hybrid approach, broadcasters can reach more people and deliver more services than before including securing an easier path to higher definition or next-gen pop-up TV channels.

Paul Higgs explains the work DVB have been doing to standardise a way of delivering this promise: linear TV with internet technologies. DVB-I is split into three parts:

1. Service discovery

DVB-I lays out ways to find TV services including auto-discovery and recommendations. The A177 Bluebook provides a mechanism to find IP-based TV services. Service lists bring together channels and geographic information whereas service lists registries are specified to provide a place to go to in order to discover service lists.

2. Delivery
Internet delivery isn’t a reason for low-quality video. It should be as good or better than traditional methods because, at the end of the day, viewers don’t actually care which medium was used to receive the programmes. Streaming with DVB-I is based on MPEG DASH and defined by DVB-DASH (Bluebook A168). Moreover, DVB-I services can be simulcast so they are co-timed with broadcast channels. Viewers can, therefore, switch between broadcast and internet services.

 

 

3.Presentation
Naturally, a plethora of metadata can be delivered alongside the media for use in EPGs and on-screen displays thus including logos, banners, programme guide data and content protection information.

Ian explains that this is brought together with three tools: the DVB-I reference client player which works on Android and HbbTV, DVB-DASH reference streams and a DVB-DASH validator.

Finishing up, Ian adds that network operators can take advantage of the complementary DVB Multicast ABR specification to reduce bitrate into the home. DVB-I will be expanded in 2021 and beyond to include targetted advertising, home re-distribution and delivering video in IP but over traditional over-the-air broadcast networks.

Watch now!
Speaker

Paul Higgs Paul Higgs
Chairman – TM-I Working Group, DVB Project
Vice President, Video Industry Development, Huawei