NAB 2015 review: IP comes of age

V_Line
Analysis
May 15th 2015 at 11:31AM

IP presents an opportunity to increase the flexibility of a workflow and reduce the amount of cable required, therefore cutting overall costs

NAB 2015 was all about the advancements in IP and the acceptance of 4K production workflows rather than the launch of individual standout products, argues Kevin Fitzgerald.

There’s always so much to take in at NAB, with all the new product launches and refinements made to recently released tools. What really stood out for me this year though was IP. To put it simply: IP has come of age. It’s now a real option, meaning that everything can be routed over IP.

From a sales and systems integration point of view, IP presents us with an opportunity to increase the flexibility of a workflow and reduce the amount of cable required, therefore cutting the overall costs of building infrastructures.

Solving the issues

All of the major router manufacturers – Imagine, Snell, Evertz and Axon – seem to have solved the issues with using IP in their latest releases, although the fact that they’re all slightly different is a concern. The emergence of SMPTE 2020/6 as the preferred standard should help with this going forward.

A real game changer for me is the Lawo V_link4 single box video-over-IP tool (pictured, above). We’re fortunate enough to be the exclusive seller of this in the UK and Ireland, because it has a big future. It enables remote production over Gigabit Ethernet and will allow users to put multiple picture and talkback systems over the line, something that’s ideal for major sporting events that are spread over a long period of time or long distances.

Feeds can be taken straight into the vision mixer which is either local, or at a different site, and they can be mixed as live without any redundancy or delay. Users of the V__link4 will benefit from absolute certainty of reliability, knowing that there will be no problems relaying media over long distances.

Adding value

At Gearhouse, we look to deliver complete solutions to help to our customers, rather than just selling boxes, so at a show like NAB I’m always interested in what will offer better functionality or add value.

Fujinon announced its ‘world’s first’ 4K broadcast zoom lens which adds credence to the whole 4K story, and shows that the acquisition side is ready. What’s interesting now is that routers and vision mixers are also hitting the market with 4K as standard, rather than being an optional extra.

Of course 4K requires a means by which to record, edit and broadcast what’s captured, and at NAB this year, a number of those required elements fell into place.

 

It’s all well and good having a 4K camera but that’s just one part of the chain.

 

I was particularly interested in the new Cinedeck ZX. It’s a relatively inexpensive 4K disc recorder that looks like it would fit nicely into a 4K workflow, enabling users to record in 4K, HD and low-res proxy all at the same time. Up to now, the difficulty has been how to turn around 4K media quickly, but that challenge is currently being addressed by a number of manufacturers.

 Similarly, V-Nova’s new Perseus codec was on the Hitachi stand. This could be a very important development as it compresses a 4K broadcast signal into the same bandwidth as an SD signal.

It seems that all of the various different hardware aspects of an end-to-end 4K TV workflow are now emerging. To me, this demonstrates that 4K is becoming a realistic option for the future.

Best of the rest

EVS always has a raft of different products and the presentation of its C-Cast APPlied contest winners was interesting this year. These four applications use EVS technology to distribute and utilise live video content to mobile phones. Amongst them was a VR app, a user-generated content aggregation app and an app for social media integration with live content.

EVS also had the DYVI switcher on display. Gearhouse was one of the first companies to buy one of these. It a powerful piece of kit that’s going to easily fit into remote production workflows.

Graphics-wise, news of Avid’s planned acquisition of Orad stood out as it could help Avid add content creation solutions to the Avid MediaCentral Platform, while RCS Uppercut, which was on the Vizrt stand, is a touchscreen device that’s ideal for sports productions.

It makes the vision mixing and graphics interface much easier and quicker to do, and its small footprint reduces the amount of space required.

I also felt there was a lot of potential to add new production values into sports and other events with the Ncam 3D camera tracking system as it allows virtual reality images to be placed into a live environment like a football pitch.

Kevin Fitzgerald is head of system and product sales at Gearhouse Broadcast.