SVG Europe Sit-Down: arkona technologies’ Rainer Sturm discusses remote production and the future of IP

Rainer Sturm, CEO, arkona technologies GmbH

Formed in 2011, arkona technologies is focused on the design and development of best-in-class video signal processing IP-Core solutions for professional applications in Broadcast and the ProVideo business. In particular, the team has designed and engineered the V__line series and V__matrix platform of video and audio and networking infrastructure and processing products, which are exclusively licensed to arkona’s partner company Lawo. Our conversation with CEO Rainer Sturm commenced with a look ahead…

What do you see as your biggest challenge going forward into 2018?

Biggest challenge for 2018? Realising all our planned developments for more and more IP-based applications, and getting enough people trained on our new technologies.

Has the increase in remote production affected your business?

Of course it has! Remote production and distributed production are the main drivers behind our joint strategy towards complete IP-based video and audio infrastructure solutions. We already had that in mind when we setup our strategic partnership with Lawo few years ago, and success stories like the full IP-based infrastructure for the European Championship last year in France or various remote production applications at the Olympics in Rio are definitely driving our business.

How will IP technology progress over the next six months when it comes to sports broadcasting?

It’s simply getting more complete and more consistent, moving away from just the transport aspect of video and audio signals over IP towards a complete production infrastructure. But it might need a few months more for most of the engineers to get the control aspect [to be] consistent as well.

What makes your V__matrix solution so special?

The completely IP-based, software-defined modular design. The V__matrix C100 blades are directly attached to the network. C100 in frames are just sharing power, so it doesn’t matter if another C100 blade is sitting in the next slot in the same frame or far away in another frame connected to network – the network forms an infinitely scalable backplane. The solution is fully controllable in all aspects by control systems – for example, Lawo’s VSM.

In addition, unlimited scalability within an IT infrastructure means that if you need more video or audio processing power, you just hook up some more C100 blades to your network, which is very different from the boundaries of a traditional SDI router.

Resource-sharing and optimum resource utilisation is made easy – just load the according virtual module applications on the C100 blades. Furthermore, the system provides by far the highest density of functionality on FPGA footprint due to our highly efficient Firmware/Software-Design.

V__matrix, Control System, IP Switches, PC-Workstations – that’s all you need for your whole infrastructure and broadcast operation centre. And this allows to furnish any infrastructure design – local, remote, distributed and even cloud-based.

Same question relating to V__remote4… What advantages are there for sports broadcasters?

SiA selected a V__remote4/V__matrix/VSM solution for the IP Remote Production infrastructure for producing games in the Proximus League

This is the perfect solution for WAN remote production applications. It has a hybrid design with built-in switch that offers everything you need from SDI-to-IP encoding/decoding to a comprehensive set of glue features. I call it the Swiss army knife for remote production.

Have you a sports-related case study you can share with us?

Our IP solutions are in daily operation at multiple small- and large-scale real-world applications, including sports. For example, SiA, the production company of Belgium Telecom Provider Proximus, selected a V__remote4/V__matrix/VSM solution to furnish an IP Remote Production infrastructure for producing all games of the Proximus League, Belgium’s second football league. The setup comprises three flight cases that travel around the country to connect all cameras, microphones and commentary boxes in the stadia with the Remote IP Production infrastructure in two MCRs in Brussels. They are capable of producing two matches simultaneously, each in two languages. With the combination of several V__remote4 that connect to the stadia, Lawo Nova73 audio routers and mc2 consoles, and Lawo’s VSM Broadcast Control and Monitoring System, the Proximus installation proves that with arkona’s and Lawo’s IP solutions tomorrow’s visions are already reality today.

One more example: NEP Australia also chose Lawo and arkona V__matrix technology as the basis for their new IP-enabled production ‘Hubs’ in Sydney and Melbourne, and multiple IP-enabled production trucks. NEP’s Hubs enable multiple concurrent outside broadcasts and will be the world’s largest networked broadcast centers. Based on an internet protocol (IP) core, the Hubs allow for remote, distributed production, meaning cameras and microphones will be located at the venue, with the majority of the production team based at the Hubs. Designed for large multi-camera sports broadcasts, they will accommodate Australia’s most-followed football codes – Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Rules (AFL) – as well as A-League football (soccer) and other popular sports from 29 venues across the country.

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