Devices connected to the network can serve as a pool of resources to efficiently share these resources, for example, allowing TV studios and galleries to be interconnected regardless of their locations.
PhD Carlos Pantsios Markhauser *
In recent years, television production has experienced dramatic technological changes and one of them is the one produced by its massive migration, on a global scale, from the well-established SDI technology to the new IP technology. Here, the important question that broadcasters ask themselves is: When is it convenient to migrate?
Converting the current production system into TV to the IP system, just because it is a very attractive new technology, or because it is the new technological trend worldwide, simply results in the replacement of video cables , in the conventional production system, by LAN cables, instead of remodeling and flexibilizing established workflows, making the most of the immense advantages offered by IP technology.
Here it is important to identify the key factors that allow building the corresponding business model.
Advantages of IP technology in production for TV
One of the fundamental benefits of a TV broadcasting infrastructure based on IP technology is its ability to easily assign and implement workflows of any kind.
The deployment of a new production process on TV is simply reduced to a problem of control of signal routing tables and the location of signal processing sources, instead of proceeding to the tedious complete rewiring of the devices that make up the system. IP technology enables the preparation and assignment over time of signal processing devices, located in a data center, in just a few minutes.
Default configurations for TV studios, galleries and signal processing resources are possible to be prepared in advance to fulfill, in a dynamic way, the requirements of individual program and production formats.
Devices connected to the network can serve as a pool of resources to efficiently share these resources, for example, allowing TV studios and galleries to be interconnected regardless of their locations in the space. These innovative flexibilities offered by IP technology open the possibility of adapting continuously, and establishing improvements in present and future workflows.
This new world of possibilities that has just been described does not come without problems. Here, common broadcasting principles, with the separate control system and source signals projected towards the destination, will be fundamentally affected in the IP domain, where the destination is now responsible for recording the signal flow that is currently available in the net. Here it is necessary to model workflows around standard IT principles. It is important to note here that forcing IT to behave as family broadcasting systems is a misguided approach.
The new standard SMPTE ST 2110, currently in full development, is the fundamental element of change of technology in production for TV, since it supports elementary streams of both audio and video data and all kinds of metadata information. This standard greatly simplifies operations in live production, allowing an entire broadcasting channel to be built around the elementary streams.
The tendency towards the elementary streams in the terminal device, where the distribution over OTT means to push signal and not to pull or extract signal, has an impact on the entire chain of signal processing if it is intended to be fast and flexible for the audience.
On the other hand, elementary streams make it difficult to keep all the elements in sync, for example, to avoid delays between the audio and the corresponding video.
This old problem must be solved by means of an adequate and reliable technical design. Here, the key is to preserve the original Time Stamp (TS) of the signal stream. However, until now very little has been achieved on this topic by the industry.
Unified network infrastructure
IP technology allows easy creation of a unified network infrastructure for the IT standard, audio, video, content transfer and for broadcasting control. Here, it is also very important the intensive use of security protocols and authentication of operators and devices in order to guarantee, at all times, comprehensive security against threats.
Today there are still some concerns about security in the production systems implemented in IP offered by different companies in the market. This is because security strategies were never considered initially when DARPA NET created the Internet. For example, online updating and security patching in an IP infrastructure without interruption in the broadcasting service remains a challenge to be solved.
The most important thing, when adopting a new technology, is the change of administration with respect to the staff. It is essential to have open-minded personnel in operations and especially in support, where the broadcasting and IT staff must form working groups to share their knowledge, acquire skills, and develop concepts to keep the company on the air.
Without a doubt, higher productivity here is fundamentally based on an optimized workflow. The creation of new workflows is complicated and the harmonization and development of new workflows is even more difficult.
To achieve success in this productive activity, it is necessary to start thinking outside the broadcasting environment, in functionalities and services instead of devices and products; in IP data packets instead of audio samples or images; and most importantly - start with a clear vision of what you want, in the mind.
* PhD: Carlos Pantsios Markhauser, Telecommunications Advicer.