IP is making its way into studios and facilities. It’s no longer a case of whether to move to IP, it’s when to move to IP.
While the general case for moving to IP (best summarized by being able to “do more with less”) seems to be accepted now, there is still some fear, uncertainty and doubt as to whether the technology is up to it and how to handle all the exiting investments in equipment.
Is IP ready?
For some broadcasters, this is a pressing issue as they have plans to move or create new facilities in the next 1 to 3 years, which represents a massive investment, and they are faced with the dilemma of which technology to pick. Do they play safe, and select baseband technology, at the risk of it becoming obsolete relatively soon, or do they go IP which they are not sure about, but which clearly is the future?
Other broadcasters are not faced with such a pressing dilemma, but they are under pressure to do “more with less” (again!) and IP is the best way to do this.
Let’s be clear: IP works, and it works now. The VRT-EBU LiveIP project (for which Nevion provided the software defined network and the management) has proven beyond doubt that the technology can be used to build a standards-based, multi-vendor IP environment that not only does the job, but is embraced by the production staff. The VRT-EBU LiveIP set-up is running at VRT’s premises, and appointments can be made to visit it and test it out.
That said, most broadcasters will rightly feel there is no substitute to trying things out themselves, in their own facilities.
The value is in the network
When it comes to IP though, both the greatest value and biggest the question marks are in the network. It is the IP network that enables studios and control rooms to be decoupled so a control room can be used for multiple studios and a studio production can be managed from any number of control rooms; it is the IP network that blurs the distinction between local and long distance making remote production much easier; it is the IP network that enables equipment to be shared easily between production facilities; it is the IP network that will enable virtualization of live productions. In short, it is the network that delivers the flexibility and cost-effectiveness expected of IP.
So the IP network is where broadcasters need to concentrate their testing efforts in order to answer their questions about the appropriateness of IP for them now.
And that leads to the next issue.
How to leverage existing equipment investment
Whether broadcasters opt for a proper SDN set-up (as provided for example by Nevion) or just a simple IP router (for testing purposes only, obviously), they need signals. They can pick IP equipment (cameras, monitors, video mixers, etc) for that purpose, but that is potentially very expensive – even for a test.
What if broadcasters could use their existing baseband equipment and somehow link it cost-effectively to an IP network?
This question is actually a fundamental one: broadcasters have invested heavily in baseband studio equipment from cameras to monitors, and the business case for replacing them with their IP equivalent is not necessarily compelling.
The solution: Nevion Flashlink
For that reason, Nevion has developed a set of baseband to IP converters in its hugely popular Flashlink product range. The Flashlink IP converters are designed specifically for the purpose of bringing a simple and convenient way to convert from synchronized baseband video, audio and data signals to their IP equivalent, and vice-versa. Nevion also provides a sync converter that generates analog and digital sync signals from the PTP (precision time protocol) sync signal used in IP networks, allowing the baseband equipment to be fully synchronized with other baseband or IP equipment across the network.
Each Flashlink IP converter card costs a fraction of the cost of new piece of IP-enabled equipment, such as an IP camera, and can handle a great variety of equipment – so, for example a single video card can handle multiple cameras or be used for a video-mixer. With Flashlink, it is easy to scale by simply adding the appropriate cards as needs dictate.
In other words, the Flashlink IP converters open up the possibility for broadcasters to leverage their investment in an IP world, offering a return on investment that cannot be matched.
And returning to the original question as to whether broadcasters should move to IP now, the answer is clearly an definite YES!
Find out about the Flashlink IP converter cards: