NAB perspectives: sports workflows and the Internet of Frames

Data and video over IP is enabling EVS to deliver real remote production solutions to sports broadcasters, writes Adrian Pennington in the second part of an NAB overview. The company is launching Xplore, a professional application of its IP and cloud-based C-cast content retrieval and distribution technology for which the first announced customer is HBS.

HBS will employ Xplore to help broadcast rights holders deliver a second screen experience around the 2014 World Cup.

Using a web interface, remotely located news and sports production teams can review all the content that is recorded on the main server, preview all clips and take decisions instantly. The viewing media is proxy and once clip decisions are made, the hi-resolution version will be transferred over. This process makes all of the material recorded on the main server available to broadcasters for the first time, allowing them to remotely build packages for mobile, tablet, PC or other interactive experiences and using material that wasn’t aired in the linear feed.

Production workflows are evolving from a localised, tightly integrated and highly controlled process to one where production and post may occur collaboratively and with creative individuals scattered around the globe.

100Gb networked collaboration

The ability to work internationally and remotely using very high resolution media continues to be demonstrated in a series of intriguing projects at CineGrid, a community of networked collaborators which uses the 10Gb fibre network Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF), originally designed for high energy physics research.

Recent experiments have included remote collaboration with media at 4K 60p, realtime stereographic, realtime film restoration and live uncompressed 4K 10-bit streaming over IP between Prague and San Diego.

At the NAB Technology Summit, CineGrid co-founder Laurin Herr showed film of a demonstration held last December in which a director in San Diego directed an actor against green screen in Amsterdam with live composites rendered by a super computer at another site in Amsterdam in real time.

“One of the main learnings in all of this is the importance of the human networks that underpin the fibre networks,” he said. “Collaboration is a human activity, the social dynamics are very important to consider and not trivial to solve.”

In remote collaboration, he said, it’s not enough to have face-to-face telepresence but necessary also to have additional channels for context such as screens which make it clear that what your colorist is looking at, I am looking at.

“The U.S government is rolling out 100Gb networks and while there are still placed where there are bottlenecks such as the last mile the direction is clear that students have to learn how to work over these networks because that is the the world will work in the future.”

And what we will watch all of this extreme imaging on? At NAB Cisco’s director of new initiatives, Simon Parnell, imagined a science-fiction style television that will occupy the space on our walls.

With video on the wall like wallpaper and a video-chat screen embedded on a nearby wall, the goal, he said “is to have a collective experience as well as an individual experience that links with all the devices you have”.

Cisco envisions a new home environment where video is playing at its correct real-world size as a frameless, unobtrusive, ambient and ultra-HD experience.

A linear soccer feed perhaps ringed with multiviews of different camera angles directed by the viewer with realtime social media feeds and 3D telepresence with friends would add spice to proceedings.

A world’s first exhibit at NAB of a four metre wide Ultra-HD video wall by Chinese vendor Leyard proved it may not be science fiction after all.

The Internet of Frames

At its NAB press conference Quantel CEO Ray Cross outlined an intriguing take on the internet of things, a concept generally understood to refer to the increasing number of objects becoming embedded with sensors and gaining the ability to communicate.

The Internet of Frames, as described by Cross, is a radically new approach to the storage of moving images. Based on the architecture of the Internet, it is infinitely scalable, built on indexing and exploitation of the relationships between individual images to enable content creation. This approach eliminates the need for complex media asset management systems; every frame inherently knows its relationship to every other associated frame.

The Internet of Frames makes any image available to anyone, wherever they are, in whatever form suits them best. It achieves this by treating every image as an individual address, using sequential, rendition, synchronisation, descriptive and creative relationships to access images.

What does this mean for practical life? In future, to create a TV facility, all we will need is a laptop computer and a credit card, and we will be able to work with any media, anywhere and publish it in any form – anywhere, without ever needing to know where any of it is stored.

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