A lot of our time on this website is devoted to understanding the changes we are going through now, but we don’t adopt technology for the sake of it. Where’s this leading and what work is going on now to forge our path? Whilst SMPTE ST 2110 and the associated specifications aren’t yet a mature technology in that sense SDI, we’re past the early adopter phase and we can see which of the industry’s needs aren’t yet met.
Andy Rayner from Nevion is here to help us navigate the current technology space and understand the future he and Nevion envision. The beginning of the video shows the big change in process from the workflows of the 90s where the TV station moved to sports events to now where we bring the event to the broadcaster in the form of a light connectivity truck turning up and deploying cameras at the event leaving most people either at home or back at base doing the production there. Andy has been involved in a number of implementations enabling this such as at Discovery’s Eurosport where the media processing is done in two locations separate from the production rooms around Europe.
Generalising around the Discovery case study, Andy shows a vision of how many companys will evolve their workflows which includes using 5G, public and private clouds as appropriate and including control surfaces being at home. To get there, Andy lays out the work within AMWA and SMPTE creating the specifications and standards that we need. He then shows how the increasing use of IT in live production, the already IT-based NLE workflows are able to integrate much better.
Looking to the future, Andy explains the work ongoing to specify a standard way of getting video into and out of the cloud including specifying a way of carrying 2110 on the WAN, helping RIST and formalising the use of JPEG XS. Andy anticipates a more standardised future where a best of breed system is possible down to individual logical components like ‘video keyer’ and ‘logo insertion’ could be done by separate software but which seamlessly integrate. Lastly, Andy promises us that work is underway to improve timing within 2110 and 2110-associated workflows.
When we look at the parts of our workflows that work well, we usually find standards underneath. SDI is pretty much a solved problem and has been delivering video since before the 90s, albeit with better reliability as time has gone on. MPEG Transport Streams are another great example of a standard that has achieved widespread interoperability. These are just two examples given by John Mailhot from Imagine Communications as he outlines the standards which have built the broadcast industry to what it is today, or perhaps to what it was in 2005. By looking at past successes, John seeks to describe the work that the industry should be doing now and into the future as technology and workflows evolve at a pace.
John’s point is that in the past we had some wildly successful standards in video and video transport. For logging, we relied on IT-based standards like SNMP and Syslog and for control protocols, the wild west was still in force with some defacto standards such as Probel’s SW-P-08 router protocol and the TSL UMD protocol dominating their niches.
The industry is now undergoing a number of transformations simultaneously. We are adopting IP-based transport both compressed and uncompressed (though John quickly points out SDI is still perfectly viable for many). We are moving many workloads to the cloud and we are slowly starting to up our supported resolutions along with moving some production to HDR. All of this work, to be successful should be based on standards, John says. And there are successes in there such as AMWA’s NMOS specifications which are the first multi-vendor, industry-wide control protocol. Technically it is not a standard, but in this case, the effect is close to the same. John feels that the growth of our industry depends on us standardising more control protocols in the future.
John spends some time looking at how the move to IP, UHD, HDR and Cloud have played into the Live Production and Linear Playout parts of the broadcast chain. Live production, as we’ve heard previously is starting to embrace IP now, lagging playout deployments. Whereas playout usually lags production in UHD and HDR support since it’s more important to acquire video now in UHD & HDR even if you can’t transmit it to maximise its long-term value.
John finishes by pointing out that Moore’s law’s continued may not be so clear in CPUs but it’s certainly in effect within optics and network switches and routers. Over the last decade, switches have gone from 10 gig to 50 to 100 and now to 400 gig. This long term cost reduction should be baked into the long-term planning for companies embarking on an IP transformation project.
Whenever there’s a step change in technology, we need early adopters and moving to SMPTE’s ST 2110 is no exception. Not only do early adopters help show that the path ahead is good, but they often do a lot to beat down the bushes and make the path easier to pass for all that follow. For larger companies whose tech refresh or building move comes at a time when the industry is facing a major technology change, there comes a time when whilst the ground may not be firm ahead, the company can’t justify investing in technology that would soon be out of date or in technology which won’t support the needs of the company in several years’ time. This is just the situation that BBC Cymru Wales found themselves in when it was time to move out of their old property into a purpose-built national HQ in the heart of Cardiff.
In this video from the IP Showcase, Mark Patrick and Dan Ashcroft guide us through ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’ of the relocation project. It’s important to remember that this project was long in the making with the decision on location taking place in 2014 with the technology decisions taking place in 2016 and 2017. The project took an open approach to the IP/SDI question and asked for RFP responses to include a fully-SDI and a fully-IP option. It was clear during the selection process that IP was the way to go not because the solution was cheaper in the short term, but because it was much more future-proof and the costs would come down over time giving a much better total cost of ownership. Don’t forget that the initial costs of HD video equipment were much higher than those now. For more on the pros and cons of SDI, watch ‘Is IP really better than SDI?‘ by Ed Calverly.
Mark and Dan talk through the thinking for the IP choice and their decision to pick a vendor who would be their partner in the project. The theory being that given the standards were still very young, it would be important to work closely to ensure success. In addition to Grass Valley equipment, they chose a Cisco network with Cisco SDN control and operational control by BNCS. The talk references architectures we’ve featured on The Broadcast Knowledge before with Arista’s Gerard Phillips discussing the dual-network spine-leaf architecture chosen and noting the difficulty they had incorporating the Dante network into the 2110 infrastructure and their choice of a third network purely for control traffic.
We often hear about the importance of PTP in a SMPTE ST 2110 network for live production because it is vital to keep all the essences in sync. For more information about the basics of ST 2110 check out this talk by Wes Simpson. PTP is both simple and complex so Mark explains how they’ve approached distributing PTP ensuring that the separate networks, amber and blue, can share PTP grandmasters for resilience.
An industry-wide move to any new technology takes time and there is a steady flow of people new to the technology. This video is a launchpad for anyone just coming into IP infrastructures whether because their company is starting or completing an IP project or because people are starting to ask the question “Should we go IP too?”.
Keycode Media’s Steve Dupaix starts with an overview of how SMPTE’s suite of standards called ST 2110 differs from other IP-based video and audio technologies such as NDI, SRT, RIST and Dante. The key takeaways are that NDI provides compressed video with a low delay of around 100ms with a suite of free tools to help you get started. SRT and RIST are similar technologies that are usually used to get AVC or HEVC video from A to B getting around packet loss, something that NDI and ST 2110 don’t protect for without FEC. This is because SRT and RIST are aimed at moving data over lossy networks like the internet. Find out more about SRT in this SMPTE video. For more on NDI, this video from SMPTE and VizRT gives the detail.
ST 2110’s purpose is to get high quality, usually lossless, video and audio around a local area network originally being envisaged as a way of displacing baseband SDI and was specced to work flawlessly in live production such as a studio. It brings with it some advantages such as separating the essences i.e. video, audio, timing and ancillary data are separate streams. It also brings the promise of higher density for routing operations, lower-cost infrastructure since the routers and switches are standard IT products and increased flexibility due to the much-reduced need to move/add cables.
Robert Erickson from Grass Valley explains that they have worked hard to move all of their product lines to ‘native IP’ as they believe all workflows will move IP whether on-premise or in the cloud. The next step, he sees is enabling more workflows that move video in and out of the cloud and for that, they need to move to JPEG XS which can be carried in ST 2110-20. Thomas Edwards from AWS adds their perspective agreeing that customers are increasingly using JPEG XS for this purpose but within the cloud, they expect the new CDI which is a specification for moving high-bandwidth traffic like 2110-20 streams of uncompressed video from point to point within the cloud.
John Mailhot from Imagine Communications is also the chair of the VSF activity group for ground-cloud-cloud-ground. This aims to harmonise the ways in which vendors provide movement of media, whatever bandwidth, into and out of the cloud as well as from point to point within. From the Imagine side, he says that ST 2110 is now embedded in all products but the key is to choose the most appropriate transport. In the cloud, CDI is often the most appropriate transport within AWS and he agrees that JPEG XS is the most appropriate for cloud<->ground operations.
The panel takes a moment to look at the way that the pandemic has impacted the use of video over IP. As we heard earlier this year, the New York Times had been waiting before their move to IP and the pandemic forced them to look at the market earlier than planned. When they looked, they found the products which they needed and moved to a full IP workflow. So this has been the theme and if anything has driven, and will continue to drive, innovation. The immediate need provided the motivation to consider new workflows and now that the workflow is IP, it’s quicker, cheaper and easier to test new variation. Thomas Edwards points out that many of the current workflows are heavily reliant on AVC or HEVC despite the desire to use JPEG XS for the broadcast content. For people at home, JPEG XS bandwidths aren’t practical but RIST with AVC works fine for most applications.
Interoperability between vendors has long been the focus of the industry for ST 2110 and, in John’s option, is now pretty reliable for inter-vendor essence exchanges. Recently the focus has been on doing the same with NMOS which both he and Robert report is working well from recent, multi-vendor projects they have been involved in. John’s interest is working out ways that the cloud and ground can find out about each other which isn’t a use case yet covered in AMWA’s NMOS IS-04.
The video ends with a Q&A covering the following:
Where to start in your transition to IP
What to look for in an ST 2110-capable switch
Multi-Level routing support
Using multicast in AWS
Whether IT equipment lifecycles conflict with Broadcast refresh cycles
CTO & Director of Product Management, Infrastructure & Networking,
Executive Vice-President of Engineering,
Principal Solutions Architect & Evangelist,
Amazon Web Services
Strategic Account Manager Sports and Venues,
Senior Account Executive,
Key Code Media
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