NAB Perspectives: Nicolas Bourdon on EVS, Data, and the Move to IP-based production

The EVS booth at NAB 2015, as it is every year, was jam-packed not only with next-generation server and sports-production workflows but also with sports-broadcast professionals from around the world. And for good reason: the company’s products are at the centre of many of today’s sports productions and also at the center of plans for tomorrow’s. The question now is what, exactly, will that future look like, as such technologies as 4K and IP connectivity rise and become market forces?

Nicolas Bourdon, SVP, marketing, EVS, said that the demand for 4K currently is driven less by the need to produce and deliver an actual 4K product to consumers and more by its use in HD productions for things like zoom functions during replays.

“Most of our customers today are not ready for 4K broadcasting and instead are focused on efficiency of workflows,” he explained. “The move to IP will come faster than the move to 4K, as it will allow content to be easily exchanged between different places and sites. And 4K will come naturally when bandwidth has increased and there is a real business model.”

Customer emphasis on workflow efficiency has the team at EVS developing and enhancing products like the Epsio family of live-graphics, virtual-effects, and paint solutions.

“It’s about live-content enrichment and more emotion,” said Bourdon. “We now have more data-gathering functionality in the Epsio family as external data can increase the quality of live storytelling. So Epsio is now completely open to incoming stats and data and can aggregate it into the video.”

He added that integration of stats and data from providers like Opta or Deltatre can allow EVS to increase the value of content. And third-party developers were on hand at NAB 2015 to show how user-generated content and stats can also be integrated into the EVS workflows via tools like C-Cast, an EVS platform that is becoming a cloud-based solution not only for delivering content to viewers but also for content contribution. About 50 companies have created APIs to give new functionality to the C-Cast system.

“C-Cast is much more than a second-screen tool to distribute multicamera clips,” said Bourdon. “It is also about contribution and aggregating content from the servers.”

With companies like Burst or LiveLikeVR building third-party applications for C-Cast, EVS can make the most of its new 90,000-sq.-ft. facility in Seraing, Belgium. The facility is about four times larger than the previous EVS corporate campus, which had staff spread over different buildings. Now the teams are all under one roof, improving internal communications and also allowing third-party companies to come in for a few days and make sure products are integrated properly with the EVS technologies.

“We will also have a Fan Zone in the new building to show the different experiences,” added Bourdon.

IP technology will no doubt be a key to opening up those new experiences, and, on a broader level, EVS is well aware of the promise that IP-based technologies hold for its future. The complete lineup of EVS products taps into the power of IP, as does the DYVI IP-based production switcher, a system that continues to develop in new and exciting ways. The latest advances include 4K functionality as well full timeline control, with an unlimited number of timelines per scene with multiple tracks, offering the smoothest back-to-back recall and unique re-entry capabilities at any resolution.

For all the IP hype at NAB 2015, however, there are still dangers lurking.

“There is a race now of talking about IP and running into it without understanding the challenges for the customer,” said Bourdon. “Today, we need to listen to the customers, and, here at the show, there are a lot of companies working on the key words so they can be the winner of IP or 4K, but customers want solutions that are efficient and allow them to reduce costs while providing better programming for their audience.”

Topping the list of dangers is a move toward proprietary IP systems as manufacturers look to own the whole production chain. EVS could find itself sitting in the middle of that danger because its products need to be able to work with many different types of third-party products, such as routers, editing systems, and playout systems.

“Openness is our key,” said Bourdon,“and our technology and R&D teams are taking a different approach as our customers want to be extremely flexible.”

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