IP Production Forum explores transformative nature of IP in wake of SMPTE 2110

The first SVG USA IP Production Forum since the initial SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards was published drew a packed house of more than 220 industry personnel to the New York Hilton May 9.

Highlighted by a Morning Keynote by SMPTE President Matthew Goldman, who discussed the current state of ST 2110, the day-long event kicked off with an overview of how IP will transform our industry.

SVG’s IP Production Forum attracted more than 220 attendees

Transitioning to IP is about more than just replacing baseband audio and video signals with packets and holds more transformative potential than simply additional capacity. When Game Creek Video rolled out Encore in 2015, adding capacity was the primary factor in building an IP truck. Now, with two more IP trucks on the road, the factors spurring IP adoption have evolved.

“In Encore, it was about capacity,” said Jason Taubman, VP, design and new technology, Game Creek Video. “In Yogi and 79, it’s more about making sure we’re building an IP-safe environment for the future. We’re still very much in an SDI world; we don’t yet have any edge devices in trucks that are speaking 2110. But those are on the way.

“At the moment, in the trucks, we’re simulating a giant SDI router with an IP core, and we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of all the edge devices — switchers, routers, cameras — that have native 2110 connectivity so we can get rid of that middle layer of SDI connectivity.”

In a historic move, NEP recently debuted EN3, the first truck in North America built around a SMPTE ST 2110 IP routing core. The truck, which hit the road for ESPN in late March, features an Evertz EXE router and Grass Valley Kayenne K-Frame switcher that are fully integrated via SMPTE 2110.

Scott Rothenberg, SVP, technology and asset management, NEP, laid out the benefits of IP: “We’re seeing some scalability, flexibility, ease of install, and future-readiness. The interoperability between manufacturers has been going very well, and, through the entire process, the interop tests have worked.”

Taubman and Rothenberg agreed that the IP transition has resulted in closer partnerships with vendors, benefiting both sides. As truck providers like Game Creek and NEP leverage vendors’ expertise when installing and operating an IP infrastructure, vendors learn what the trucks and broadcasters are trying to accomplish and what they need to get their product to air.

In addition, vendors are finding that IP enhances their technology — and, as a result, benefits end users — in ways they might not have foreseen a few years ago.

“The reasons we went IP three years ago are not the reasons that we go IP today,” explained Pamela Dittman, director, customer support, live sports productions, Evertz. “Then, it was all about capacity, and we weren’t taking into account some of the size of the actual equipment because we still had to convert everything back to SDI from IP. Now we’re starting to connect to edge devices; we’re starting to see that the weight and the size of the equipment are going down.”

The decrease in equipment size isn’t the only benefit, she added. Three years ago, Evertz hadn’t thought to take advantage of the bidirectional nature of IP signals or tie two or more IP-based trucks together in order to transmit signals and share assets. “It’s really evolved in ways we never envisioned before.”

For vendors like Sony, the industry-wide transition to IP is an opportunity to see how existing products can be enhanced through IP, so that current customers looking to go IP don’t have to invest in all-new gear.

“We looked at the full catalogue of products that we offer to the market in general — cameras, switchers, servers, management — and [asked ourselves], How do we uplift our entire catalog of products to support IP?” said Deon LeCointe, senior manager, sports and IP solutions, Sony Electronics. “There’s a number of customers out there who already have cameras that they’ve invested in, and they don’t want to have to throw all that away just to make the transition from SDI to IP. What we’ve really been focusing on is how we augment their existing investment so they can take advantage of the IP curve.”

By transitioning to IP, truck manufacturers and vendors are laying “the foundation for the future,” said LeCointe. And, throughout the IP Production Forum, the transformative benefits of that transition were brought up again and again, such as the ability to virtualize production facilities and deploy more at-home–style workflows. But, the panelists agreed, the transition will require a rethinking of how events are broadcast and a move away from what has worked in SDI.

“We’ve had a very fortunate position to start out,” said Johannes Kuhfuss, head of product management, Lawo. “Lawo was never very deeply involved in the SDI side of things, so we could afford to start thinking about production and broadcast in a more IP-centric way. I think the key takeaway from the very first point we implemented a complete IP-based router was that you have to think about broadcast in a slightly different way.

“When you think about production nowadays,” he continued, “try to think about production from an IP/IT-centric point of view and not try to emulate the different workflows that we’ve been accustomed to in broadcast for the last 20 years. Some of the things just can’t be done or require a lot more work to be done in the very same way, and you’ve got an advantage if you go ahead and think about production in new ways. You can start harnessing the advantages of scale, of cost, if you do that.”

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