Video: TV Sport Innovation – Staying Ahead of the Game

Sports has always led innovation in many areas of broadcast, but during COVID not only did they have to adapt nearly every workflow and redeploy staff, but they then had to brace to deliver 100 games in 40 days. Gordon Roxburgh sums it up: “I’ve been at Sky twenty years, and I think [these have] been the most challenging six months…we’ve faced.”

In this session from the DTG’s Future Vision 2020 conference, Carl Hibbert from Futuresource Consulting talks to Sky, Arsenal TV and Facebook to find how their businesses have adapted. Melissa Lawton from Facebook explains how their live streaming, both for user-generated footage and produced sport have adapted to the changing needs. When COVID hit, Facebook lost some very valuable content. Their response was to double down on fan engagement, with challenges to fans to create content and also staging events which were produced and commentated as real sports events, but all shots were people at home exercising but being brought into the narrative of an Iron Man competition. Facebook have also invested in their user-facing tools and dashboards to help expose and monitor contribution via live streaming.

Gordon Roxburgh from Sky explains the seachange he’s seen in production. “The first thing was to keep channels on air…and keep staff safe.” They moved rapidly from a fully staffed office to just three or four people on-site and a presenter. In order to mix, they created a Virtual Production suite which allowed people to create content in the cloud.

For content, Gordon says that watch-alongs proved very popular where key sports personalities talk through what they were thinking during key sporting moments. This was just one of the many content ideas that keep programming going until “Project restart” commenced where the whole sports ecosystem asked itself ‘How can we deliver 100 games in 40 days?’ Once they knew the season would start, Gordon says, this opened up a 3-week build period during which BT Media and Broadcast, NEP, NEP Connect and multiple internal departments collaborated to produce rapid turnarounds.

“As an industry, we came together.” The working practices developed at Sky were shared with other major broadcasters who also shared their best practice – always putting staff first. Sky even went to the extent of building a technical space in a large studio floor to keep people apart and co-opted a set of training rooms to become a self-contained graphics unit. These ideas kept graphics operators together but not mixing with the rest of the production.

The view from Arsenal TV is explained by John Dollin. They worked quickly very early on and were able to be back in the office from February. Whilst Arsenal TV doesn’t have the rights to stream live, they produce their programmes live for transmission later. This used to be done in a crowded room but was soon transferred to a virtual mixer in the cloud with remote editors. John highlights the challenge of involving freelancers into the system and providing them with appropriate supervision. More importantly, he feels that their current ability to maintain the pre-covid production quality is due to the continued dedication of certain personnel who are putting in long hours which is not a sustainable situation to be in.

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Speakers

Gordon Roxburgh Gordon Roxburgh
Technical Manager,
Sky Sports
Melissa Lawton Melissa Lawton
Live Sports Production Strategy,
Facebook
John Dollin John Dollin
Senior Product & Engineering Manager,
Arsenal Footballl Club
Carl Hibbert Carl Hibbert
Head of Consumer Media & Technology,
Futuresource Consulting

Video: Progress Update for the ST 2110 WAN VSF Activity Group

2110 Over WAN Update

Is SMPTE ST 2110 suitable for inter-site connectivity over the WAN? ST 2110 is moving past the early adopter phase with more and more installations and OB vans bringing 2110 into daily use but today, each site works independently. What if we could maintain a 2110 environment between sites. There are a number of challenges still to be overcome and moving a large number of essence flows long distances and between PTP time domains is one of them.

Nevion’s Andy Rayner is chair of the VSF Activity Group looking into transporting SMPTE ST 2110 over WAN and is here to give an update on the work in progress which started 18 months ago. The presentation looks at how to move media between locations which has been the primary focus to date then introduces how controlling over which media are shared will be handled which is new to the discussions. Andy starts by outlining the protection offered in the scheme which supports both 2022-7 and FEC. Andy explains that though FEC is valuable for single links where 2022-7 isn’t viable, only some of the possible ST 2022-5 FEC configurations are supported, in part, to keep latency low.

The headline to carrying 2110 over the WAN is that it will be done over a trunk. GRE is a widely used Cisco trunking technology. Trunking, also known as tunnelling, is a technique of carrying ‘private’ traffic over a network such that a device sending into the trunk doesn’t see any of the infrastructures between the entrance and the exit. It allows, for instance, IPv6 traffic to be carried over IPv4 equipment where the v4 equipment has no idea about the v6 data since it’s been wrapped in a v4 envelope. Similarly, the ipv6 equipment has no idea that the ipv6 data is being wrapped and carried by routers which don’t understand ipv6 since the wrapping and unwrapping of the data is done transparently at the handoff.

In the context of SMPTE ST 2110, a trunk allows one port to be used to create a single connection to the destination, yet carry many individual media streams within. This has the big benefit of simplifying the inter-site connectivity at the IT level, but importantly also means that the single connection is quite high bandwidth. When FEC is applied to a connection, the latency introduced increases as the bit rate reduces. Since ST 2110 carries audio and metadata separately, an FEC-protected stream would have variable latency depending on the type of the of traffic. Bundling them in to one large data stream allows FEC to be applied once and all traffic then suffers the same latency increase. The third reason is to ensure all essences take the same network path. If each connection was separate, it would be possible for some to be routed on a physically different route and therefore be subject to a different latency.

Entering the last part of the talk, Andy switches gears to talk about how site A can control streams in site B. The answer is that it doesn’t ‘control’, rather there is the concept of requesting streams. Site A will declare what is available and site B can state what it would like to connect to and when. In response, site A can accept and promise to have those sources available to the WAN interface at the right time. When the time is right, they are released over the WAN. This protects the WAN connectivity from being filled with media which isn’t actually being used. These exchanges are mediated and carried out with NMOS IS-04 an IS-05.

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Speakers

Andy Rayner Andy Rayner
Chief Technologist, Nevion,
Chair, WAN IP Activity Group, VSF
Wes Simpson Moderator: Wes Simpson
Founder, LearnIPVideo.com
Co-chair RIST Activity Group, VSF

Video: Remote editing, storage, cloud dynamics & reopening production

The rug was pulled from under the feet of the production industry due to the pandemic, both in film and television. The scramble to finish projects and to fill TV schedules has resulted in a lot of creative ideas and a surge in remote editing. This panel looks at the benefits of this work and considers whether this will continue to be done in the future when the restrictions are lifted.

In this video, we hear from Sony, Teradici, Lou Wirth Productions, EditShare and PADEM Group on the gaping hole in workflows left by the pandemic and how the industry has bridged the gap with remote editing.

Moderated by IET Media Exec director Allan McLennan from PADEM group, we hear answers to questions like “What are the challenges moving to remote editing?”, “Can Remote Editing open up diversity in this part of the industry?” and features a look to the future in terms of new technologies for meeting the streaming demand.

“One of the challenges with a technology transition is people often need a motivation”

Stephen Tallamy, EditShare

“It’s easy to keep doing the thing you used to do until you’re forced to do it,” explains EditShare’s Stephen Tallamy. But the panel doesn’t see the pandemic as just something that forced a change, rather they see the benefits in the move towards remove editing and remote collaboration. David Rosen from Sony was positive saying that “Creative resources can be anywhere and the elimination of having to move those people to where the content it…is a significant advantage.” From his perspective, increasing numbers of customers have cloud as part of their workflow.

“Never again.” My customers are saying, “Never again will I be in a situation where I cannot get access to. my content.”

David Rosen, Sony

The panel’s discussion moves to remote editing, the practice of giving editors access to remote computers which run the editing software and have access to the relevant media. The editor’s local computer then becomes a window on to the edit suite in a different building, or in the cloud. Ian Main from Teradici, explains that a company can open an edit station up to an editor who could be anywhere in the world which is why this is such an important part of the solution to enabling work to continue in an emergency. Teradici specialises in developing and deploying high-performance remote control of PCs and Stephen Tallamy speaks from the experience of enabling remote editing using Teradici for enabling remote editing workflows on AWS and other cloud providers and data centres.

“The production side shut down, but the post-production side accelerated.”

Ian Main, Teradici
Lou Wirth, award-winning editor and producer, joins the panel as someone who has continued to edit locally. “For producers who were forced to go into a remote editing situation, they may have always been on the fence about it”, Lou says, “…If it was a good experience, they would see the advantages of it and continue.” Indeed the consensus does seem to be that much of what’s happening now will be fed back into workflows of the future even when restrictions are lifted.

Listen to the whole discussion which includes a look ahead to IBC.

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Speakers

Ian Main Ian Main
Technical Marketing Principle,
Teradici
David Rosen David Rosen
VP, Cloud Applications & Solutions,
Sony
Stephen Tallamy Stephen Tallamy
Chief Technology Officer,
EditShare
Lou Wirth Lou Wirth
Head Story Editor,
Lou Wirth Productions
Allan McLennan Moderator: Allan McLennan
Chief Executive, Global Market Technologist, PADEM Media Group,
Executive Board Director, IET Media technology network

Video: Case Study on a Large Scale Distributed ST 2110 Deployment

We’re “past the early-adopter stage” of SMPTE 2110, notes Andy Rayner from Nevion as he introduces this case study of a multi-national broadcaster who’s created a 2110-based live production network spanning ten countries.

This isn’t the first IP project that Nevion have worked on, but it’s doubtless the biggest to date. And it’s in the context of these projects that Andy says he’s seen the maturing of the IP market in terms of how broadcasters want to use it and, to an extent, the solutions on the market.

Fully engaging with the benefits of IP drives the demand for scale as people are freer to define a workflow that works best for the business without the constraints of staying within one facility. Part of the point of this whole project is to centralise all the equipment in two, shared, facilities with everyone working remotely. This isn’t remote production of an individual show, this is remote production of whole buildings.

SMPTE ST-2110, famously, sends all essences separately so where an 1024×1024 SDI router might have carried 70% of the media between two locations, we’re now seeing tens of thousands of streams. In fact, the project as a whole is managing in the order of 100,000 connections.

With so many connections, many of which are linked, manual management isn’t practical. The only sensible way to manage them is through an abstraction layer. For instance, if you abstract the IP connections from the control, you can still have a panel for an engineer or operator which says ‘Playout Server O/P 3’ which allow you to route it with a button that says ‘Prod Mon 2’. Behind the scenes, that may have to make 18 connections across 5 separate switches.

This orchestration is possible using SDN – Software Defined Networking – where router decisions are actually taken away from the routers/switches. The problem is that if a switch has to decide how to send some traffic, all it can do is look at its small part of the network and do its best. SDN allows you to have a controller, or orchestrator, which understands the network as a whole and can make much more efficient decisions. For instance, it can make absolutely sure that ST 2022-7 traffic is routed separately by diverse paths. It can do bandwidth calculations to stop bandwidths being oversubscribed.

Whilst the network is, indeed, based on SMPTE ST 2110, one of the key enablers is JPEG XS for international links. JPEG XS provides a similar compression level to JPEG 2000 but with much less latency. The encode itself requires less than 1ms of latency unlike JPEG 2000’s 60ms. Whilst 60ms may seem small, when a video needs to move 4 or even 10 times as part of a production workflow, it soon adds up to a latency that humans can’t work with. JPEG XS promises to allow such international production to feel responsive and natural. Making this possible was the extension of SMPTE ST 2110, for the first time, to allow carriage of compressed video in ST 2110-22.

Andy finishes his overview of this uniquely large case study talking about conversion between types of audio, operating SDN with IGMP multicast islands, and NMOS Control. In fact, it’s NMOS which the answer to the final question asking what the biggest challenge is in putting this type of project together. Clearly, in a project of this magnitude, there are challenges around every corner, but problems due to quantity can be measured and managed. Andy points to NMOS adoption with manufacturers still needing to be pushed higher whilst he lays down the challenge to AMWA to develop NMOS further so that it’s extended to describe more aspects of the equipment – to date, there are not enough data points.

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Speakers

Andy Rayner Andy Rayner
Chief Technologist,
Nevion