SVG Europe Sit-Down: BroaMan MD Tine Helmle on the rise of fibre and sports stadium impact
Such is the impact that BroaMan has made in broadcast infrastructure circles that it is difficult to believe the company was founded as recently as January 2012. Established by the founders of optical digital fiber specialist Optocore, BroaMan has cultivated a portfolio that includes cost-effective converters offering low power consumption and high density, complete distribution and routing networks, and bespoke systems.
Managing director Tine Helmle sat down with SVG Europe to discuss the latest additions to the product range, the rise of IP-based workflows, and the changing needs of the sports broadcast market…
How would you describe overall activity levels for BroaMan in 2015, compared to 2014?
Activity levels have largely been confined to the broadcast, studio, installation (theatres or public buildings), OB van and production company sectors. Of these, it is probably production companies that have requested more BroaMan systems than in 2014.
In terms of BroaMan as a company, we have spent a great deal of effort on marketing and establishing the brand as being the most solid and cost-effective solution to transport video, audio and data over fibre.
To what extent have you seen adoption of the BroaMan platform among sports broadcasters, in particular? What are the advantages that it can bring for broadcasters working on this kind of high pressure, time sensitive application?
For sports broadcasters we also sell stagebox connectivity into OB vans, as well as audio and video broadcast infrastructure for stadiums (providing connectivity to venue broadcast centres). Advantages include: small size and light weight of very powerful units; plug & play solution – no need to set anything up, just roll a stagebox and go; the ability to run all necessary signals (SDI video, audio in multiple formats, intercom from different brands, data) on single fibre (this can be standard SMPTE 311m fibre) over a very long distance; software which monitors status of each single fibre transceiver and every single channel; and future proofing for 4K UHD productions.
What is the latest addition to the BroaMan product range?
Mux22 is an application engineered device which offers every signal that is needed in the professional environment in a small 1RU chassis. It supports all main intercom brands (Clear-Com, RTS, Riedel), MADI, AES/EBU and analogue audio, and is now also available in a redundant version, offering more resilience.
How do you perceive BroaMan’s market position developing as IP-based workflows and remote production begin to gain traction?
We’ve put Ethernet for control into our devices since 2003, and since 2006 have put Ethernet in all our devices. We believe that IP-based workflows could be the future. However, at the same time the transport of video/audio over Ethernet is hardly possible unless maybe for very small systems where reliability, flexibility and latency don’t matter. Because of the nature of video/audio, those signals must [depend on] dedicated standards such as those defined by SMPTE and AES.
For a while, it was difficult to put both Ethernet for control and video/audio on to a single network, so companies tried to convert video/audio to Ethernet to have everything on a single network. Fortunately, modern technology with its dark fiber tunnels now makes it possible to have both Ethernet for control and dedicated low latency ultra-high bandwidth video/audio on the same network.
BroaMan is here at the very forefront; we have successfully installed many systems with 600G+ bandwidth plus Ethernet for control on a single network. This allows entirely IP-based video/audio workflows and remote productions while at the same time delivering ultra low latency, 100% reliability, redundancy if needed, and easy installation.
We see an increasing amount of major sports venues ‘fibre-ing up’ and preparing for a more networked future. What steps is BroaMan taking to help such clients make this transition?
BroaMan shares technical knowledge as a fibre equipment pioneer. We have spent over 25 years on educational efforts, introducing fibre to all markets. BroaMan is also a specialist in networks. As a completely unique feature, we are offering the world’s best audio network (Optocore) while BroaMan offers specially tailor-made and scaled solutions if the client requires them.
It is clear that people are no longer afraid of fibre [and are aware that] a fibre infrastructure is more cost-effective than copper. We just continue to try and show as many advantages as possible, not only from the technical perspective, but also the financial point of view too.
If you had to nominate one recent project that exemplifies what BroaMan can do for sports broadcasters, what would it be – and why?
I would say a major sports league in the USA (we are not permitted to divulge the name). BroaMan equipped ALL stadiums (there were 30 of them) with point-to-point systems consisting of two Mux22 devices in each case. Each system transported video, intercom and data between the goal cameras and the equipment rooms.
Finally, what can you tell us about forthcoming projects and plans?
In terms of projects, a couple of major TV [broadcasters] in Europe are equipping their OB vans with BroaMan stageboxes. Meanwhile, we plan to extend the product line with further solutions for production and rental companies.