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The Future of Broadcast Control Rooms



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The broadcast industry is coming to recognise the advantages of using standard IP infrastructures for broadcast applications. Traditional concerns, in some quarters, over reliability and speed become less of an issue each passing year in line with the IT mantra “never bet against bandwidth”. At Adder, we think the rise of IP as a transport network in control room environments is not only desirable, it’s inevitable. BROADCAST ROOMS are already benefitting from the convergence of IT technologies into what has traditionally been a bespoke environment. IP is the natural choice of transport layer for these merging technologies. The number of signals coming into and out of the control room, from camera feeds, auto cue, and other interfaces are consistently increasing, rising in line with the complexity of the production environment. Therefore scalability, reliability and ease of use are becoming ever more significant in terms of managing the average gallery.

THE ADVANTAGES OF IP In the simplest terms IP is everywhere, it is reliable and resilient, and forms an extremely cost-effective infrastructure. The backbone of a control room’s infrastructure is already based on IP and while the products on the network may be sourced from different vendors, the investment in technology has already been made. This allows operators to leverage their current infrastructure without spending significantly more money. As a result, one major advantage of the wider adoption of IP is cost savings. In addition, the use of proprietary technology, often with its own set of standards, can be negated and a greater level of interoperability and future-proofing can be achieved.

WHERE IP IS MAKING INROADS One area of IP that is seeing greater adoption in the broadcast control room is in high performance KVM (keyboard video mouse) technology. In a studio or gallery environment, IP-based KVM can be used to bring enhanced flexibility, scalability, functionality and reliability to operations. By adopting this type of KVM, a screen is no longer a screen, but becomes a portal into any number of computers. What this essentially means is that IP-based KVM allows users in the control room to be separated from the physical machines they are using, moving the computers out from underneath desks and enabling users to perform all functions using just a keyboard, video monitor and mouse. Users are therefore no longer tied to a specific desktop, and can use any number of computers that they have access to, from any number of locations. By moving the computers out of the control room, the workstation environment can be ergonomically enhanced, adding space and eliminating noise and heat.

In addition, IP-based KVM allows users to switch between computers and multitask. In the newsroom environment, for example, there is a marked difference between the number of staff required for a prime time news bulletin and those needed for a midnight broadcast. By having the ability to switch between devices from a single desk, multiple users can switch between computers as required. From a multitasking point of view, two users can view the same computer from different screens. While only one user can have control, the other user can follow what is going on in real-time. This has benefits for shift changeovers, guaranteeing a seamless handover, as well as supervisory applications, such as having a studio manager monitoring various editors or operators in a newsroom. IP-based KVM technology also provides the studio and gallery with greater fail-over and redundancy options. If all machines are linked via a high performance KVM system and one piece of equipment fails, an operator can simply move into another studio, type in a command at a workstation and access the same computer, immediately recovering what he or she was working on. If need be, all users within a studio can slowly migrate to the next studio with no downtime or loss of productivity. IP-based KVM can be used effectively in both television and radio studios and control rooms, as well as in outside broadcasting applications where a number of trucks need to be linked to one another and to a main truck.

CONCLUSION Adopting IP as standard is definitely where the market is heading. Even though broadcast control rooms may be slow in adopting this technology across the board, it is proving its worth in stages by being used in various areas of content production. By using standard networking systems as the core infrastructure, the future of broadcast control rooms is bright and will be characterised by high quality operations, cost-effectiveness, scalability and reliability, consigning costly proprietary technology to history. Visit

The main drivers for using IP-based KVM in a broadcast control room are real-time and accurate video operation – absolute essentials for these mission critical hubs. Professionals within the broadcasting environment are coming to realise that this is now possible – and offers additional benefits, such as greater flexibility, interoperability and reliability. KVM in the spotlight Using IP also guarantees greater scalability and upgradability. This is clearly illustrated in the use of KVM; to enlarge an IP-based KVM video system all that is required is the addition of more endpoints. This flexibility and future proofing is evident in that the possibilities for enlarging the system are endless – from the number of machines that can be added, to the distance that can be placed between those machines and users. There is no need for any specialist knowledge to manage KVM that is used with standard IP, as would be the case with proprietary technologies. The system is easy to set up and use, intuitive and can be maintained by the traditional IT department.



By John Halksworth, Senior Product Manager, Adder Technology

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20/09/13 3:04 PM

Content+Technology ANZ Sept Oct 2013  

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