Video: IP For Broadcast, Colour Theory, AI, VR, Remote Broadcast & More

Today’s video has a wide array of salient topics from seven speakers at SMPTE Toronto’s meeting in February. Covering Uncompressed IP networking, colour theory & practice, real-time virtual studios and AI, those of us outside of Toronto can be thankful it was recorded.

Ryan Morris from Arista (starting 22m 20s) is the first guest speaker and kicks off with though-provoker: showing the uncompressed bandwidths of video, we see that even 8K video at 43Gb/s is much lower than the high-end network bandwidths available in 400Gbps switch ports available today with 800Gbps arriving within a couple of years. That being said, he gives us an introduction to two of the fundamental technologies enabling the uncompressed IP video production: Multicast and Software-Defined Networking (SDN).

Multicast, Ryan explains is the system of efficiently distributing data from one source to many receivers. It allows a sender to only send out one stream even if there are a thousand receivers on the network; the network will split the feed at the nearest common point to the decoder. This is all worked out using the Internet Group Message Protocol (IGMP) which is commonly found in two versions, 2 and 3. IGMP enables routers to find out which devices are interested in which senders and allows devices to register their interest. This is all expressed by the notion of joining or leaving a multicast group. Each multicast group is assigned an IP address reserved by international agreement for this purpose, for instance, is one such address.

Ryan then explores some of the pros and cons of IGMP. Like most network protocols each element of the network makes its own decision based on standardised rules. Though this works well for autonomy, it means that there no knowledge of the whole system. It can’t take notice of link capacity, it doesn’t know the source bandwidth, you can guess where media will flow, but it’s not deterministic. Broadcasters need more assurance of traffic flows for proper capacity planning, planned maintenance and post-incident root cause analysis.

Reasons to consider SDN over IGMP

SDN is an answer to this problem. Replacing much of IGMP, SDN takes this micro-decision making away from the switch architecture and replaces it with decisions made looking at the whole picture. It also brings an in important abstraction layer back to broadcast networks; engineers are used to seeing X-Y panels and, in an emergency, it’s this simplicity which gets things back on air quickly and effectively. With SDN doing the thinking, it’s a lot more practical to program a panel with human names like ‘Camera 1’ and allow a take button to connect it to a destination.

Next is Peter Armstrong from THP who talks about colour in television (starting 40m 40s). Starting back with NTSC, Peter shows the different colour spaces available from analogue through to SD then HD with Rec 709 and now to 3 newer spaces. For archiving, there is an XYZ colour space for archival which can represent any colour humans can see. For digital cinema there is DCI-P3 and with UHD comes BT 2020. These latter colour spaces provide for display of many more colours adding to the idea of ‘better pixels’ – improving images through improving the pixels rather than just adding more.

Another ‘better pixels’ idea is HDR. Whilst BT 2020 is about Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), HDR increases the dynamic range so that the brightness of each pixel can represent a brightness between 0 and 1000 NITs, say instead of the current standard of 0 to 100. Peter outlines the HLG and PQ standards for delivering HDR. If you’re interested in a deeper dive, check out our library of articles and videos such as this talk from Amazon Prime Video. or this from SARNOFF’s Norm Hurst.

ScreenAlign device from DSC Labs

SMPTE fellow and founder of DSC Laboratories, David Corley (56m 50s), continues the colour theme taking us on an enjoyable history of colour charting over the past 60 years up to the modern day. David explains how he created a colour chart in the beginning when labs were struggling to get colours correct for their non-black and white film stock. We see how that has developed over the years being standardised in SMPTE. Recently, he explains, they have a new test card for digital workflows where the camera shoots a special test card which you also have in a digital format. In your editing suite, if you overlay that file on the video, you can colour correct the video to match. Furthermore, DSC have developed a physical overlay for your monitor which self-illuminates meaning when you put it in front of your monitor, you can adjust the colour of the display to match what you see on the chart in front.

Gloria Lee (78m 8s) works for Graymeta, a company whose products are based on AI and machine learning. She sets the scene explaining how broadly our lives are already supported by AI but in broadcast highlights the benefits as automating repetitive tasks, increasing monetisation possibilities, allowing real-time facial recognition and creating additional marketing opportunities. Gloria concludes giving examples of each.

Cliff Lavalée talks about ‘content creation with gaming tools’ (91m 10s) explaining the virtual studio they have created at Groupe Média TFO. He explains the cameras the tracking and telemetry (zoom etc.) needed to ensure that 3 cameras can be moved around in real-time allowing the graphics to follow with the correct perspective shifts. Cliff talks about the pros and cons of the space. With hardware limiting the software capabilities and the need for everything to stick to 60fps, he finds that the benefits which include cost, design freedom and real-time rendering create an over-all positive. This section finishes with a talk from one of the 3D interactive set designers who talks us through the work he’s done in the studio.

Mary Ellen Carlyle concludes the evening talking about remote production and esports. She sets the scene pointing to a ‘shifting landscape’ with people moving away from linear TV to online streaming. Mary discusses the streaming market as a whole talking about Disney+ and other competitors currently jostling for position. Re-prising Gloria’s position on AI, Mary next looks further into the future for AI floating the idea of AI directing of football matches, creating highlights packages, generating stats about the game, spotting ad insertion opportunities and more.

Famously, Netlflix has said that Fortnite is one of its main competitors. And indeed, esports is a major industry unto itself so whether watching or playing games, there is plenty of opportunity to displace Netflix. Deloitte Insights claim 40% of gamers watch esports events at least once a week and in terms of media rights, these are already in the 10s and 100s of millions and are likely to continue to grow. Mary concludes by looking at the sports rights changing hands over the next few years. The thrust being that there are several high profile rights auctions coming up and there is likely to be fervent competition which will increase prices. Some are likely to be taken, at least in part, by tech giants. We have already seen Amazon acquiring rights to some major sports rights.

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Ryan Morris Ryan Morris
Systems Engineer,
Gloria Lee Gloria Lee
VP, Business Development
Graymeta Inc.
Mary Ellen Carlyle Mary Ellen Carlyle
SVP & General Manager,
Dome Productions
Cliff Lavalée Cliff Lavalée
Director of LUV studio services,
Groupe Média TFO
Peter Armstrong Peter Armstrong
Video Production & Post Production Manager,
David Corley David Corley
DSC Labs

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: ATSC 3.0 Part IV – Advanced Emergency Alerting, AWARN & Interactive Content

In a country where the weather can be life threatenin and where earthquakes and wild fires pose a real threat to life, an Early Alert System (EAS) is very important. This talk looks at the ‘Advanced Emergency Alerting’ system (AEA) that is available in ATSC 3.0 and the coalition behind it. It also talks about some of the interactive features possible.

Richard Chernock is back to dig deeper in to the set of standards which is known as ATSC 3.0. He starts by looking at the broadcaster’s role in being a public information provider both to first responders and to the public at large. ATSC 3.0 was seen as an opportunity to go much further than EAS available in ATSC 1.0. One improvement, as covered previously, allows for very robust transmission methods. AEA also provides rich media, version information and expiry information. Additionally it can be delivered to targeted areas.

The AWARN (Advance Warning and Response Network) is a project to look world-wide at the different EAS activities ongoing in order to bring learning into ATSC and represents both broadcasters and national agencies such as FEMA and homeland security. It provides practical advice on resilience (backup generator provision), how to maximise the verboseness of information, encryption and much more.

Finishing off this short talk, Richard highlights the OTT-style interactive services possible with ATSC 3.0. He shows a quiz format where the graphics are within the control of the broadcaster. Other examples discussed are interactive access to sports replays, purchasing merchandise, the ability to synchronise with a second screen and advert displays.
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Please note this is a 30 minute video but the version on YouTube repeats hence lasting 1.5 hours

Richard Chernock Richard Chernock
Former CSO,
Triveni Digital