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Commercial AV, Live Production Trends Converge And AV-over-IP is driving it. By Brian Olson NewTek


he live production industr y has been on a journey for the past five or six years to find a suitable replacement for traditional baseband serial digital video. Driven by multiple factors, including the move to 4K ultra HD, industr y alliances and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) settled on an IP video standard known as SMPTE ST 2110 in late 2017. Two years prior to that, NDI (Network Device Interface), a free software-based IP video protocol that has seen wide adoption, was introduced. Now, with AV-over-IP (AVoIP), the commercial AV industr y is going through a similar IP evolution, with competing standards and many of the same issues, wants and needs that the live production community has.

Common Goals In moving to IP audio/video transport, both the commercial AV and the live production industries are looking for the same things: • high quality • low latency • scalability • flexibility • elimination of distance barriers • ability to use standard networking equipment • interoperability • cost-effectiveness Both industries want to be able to deliver more content, to more places, more effectively. IP infrastructure eliminates many of the barriers to delivering high-quality content in a ver y efficient manner. 28 Sound & Communications February 2019

Merging AV With Traditional IT Both live production and commercial AV see real benefits to breaking down the wall between the deliver y of audiovisual content and the deliver y of data over traditional IT networks. First, these networks already exist in many cases, and they’re supported by enough human resources in most organizations. Second, with the advent of streaming, the lines have already started to blur between the two disciplines. Not having to run separate pathways for the production and distribution of media also ser ves to streamline operations and keep costs down.

Finding The Right IP In the live production space, SMPTE 2110 is mostly being adopted by top-tier broadcasters and production studios that run in high-definition resolution. For 4K signals, ST 2110 requires 40GbE and 100GbE networks, limiting the use of this IP protocol in many places. NDI works on existing networks (1GbE and 10GbE), and it provides a pathway to IP for a larger section of the market, along with more efficient 4K transport. NDI is available royalty-free for all hardware and software developers as a software development kit (SDK). With AVoIP, the main competing standards are HDBaseT-IP and Software Defined Video over Ethernet (SDVoE). Each has its own set of benefits, and, as with their live production corollaries, one might be better suited to a project than the other is. It’s also possible that NDI might be the right choice for certain customers, becoming a crossover protocol between the traditional live production and commercial AV spaces.

Hardware vs. Software Approach SMPTE 2110 is a hardware-based IP protocol that must run on its own dedicated network. As mentioned earlier, these networks also have to be ver y fast. NDI is a software-based IP protocol that either runs on an x86 computer platform or runs as an ARM/FPGA implementation for embedded hardware operations. Due to high adoption rates over the past three years, native NDI input and output is supported by hundreds of software applications and a good number of video hardware products using only a network connection. HDBaseT-IP and SDVoE can also work on traditional networks, but they require separate hardware encoders and decoders to send and receive the AV streams. Of the two, HDBaseT-IP is the most interoperable, due to the widespread adoption of the original HDBaseT (HDMI-over-Cat5) technology.

Compression Is Not A Dirty Word When digital compression was first introduced for audio and video signals, it meant two things: less quality and more latency. That is no longer true, even though many purists in the live production and commercial AV businesses seem to believe (continued on page 76)

Profile for Sound & Communications

Sound & Communications February 2019, Vol 65 No 2