SVG Europe Sit-Down: BroaMan’s Tine Helmle on remote production, OB evolution and training needs
Optical digital fibre-based network technology specialist BroaMan was incorporated in January 2012 by the founders of Optocore GmbH. The company provides products that are dedicated for using a fibre Infrastructure to integrate video, audio, intercom and other data on a redundant low latency system. Within that scope are, of course, technologies that are designed for use with IP solutions throughout the broadcast industry. As Managing Director Tine Helmle explains in an interview that covers a variety of areas, IP is good news for the company.
Has the growth of remote sports production using IP technology made a difference to your activities?
The growth of remote sports production using IP technology has turned out to be a very positive aspect for us and it has strengthened our market positioning. BroaMan is one of the main global suppliers for remote production and fully IP based systems. We started using Ethernet for transport in the year 2003. At that time, few, if any, other manufacturers had IP based products. Since then, we have continuously developed our technology and have now achieved the most advanced cost effect and reliable, plug and play fibre infrastructure on the market for IP based systems. For this reason, many broadcasters have decided to choose a BroaMan system. These include Swedish Television, SVT and ITV in the UK. Both have large BroaMan systems specially designed for IP based remote production.
Along the same lines, has there been a decrease in installation within OB trucks for your equipment?
No, the opposite is the case. Right from the start, the request for our equipment to be installed into OB trucks has grown and grown from year to year.
The reason for this is clear. Our products and technical solutions exactly fulfil the requirements of the builders, customers and user of OB trucks. Our IP based network infrastructure offers multiple formats such as SD-SDI, ASI, HD-SDI, 3G/6G/10G/12G video, audio, intercom and other data, being ready for 4K and beyond. This all comes in just a one Rack Unit device, the MUX22.
Having small, lightweight, one RU devices saves space, power and weight, which means the owner of a truck will have compact, yet powerful, systems while at the same time achieving huge cost savings in fuel and energy. Another key feature for OB vans is that our products are not supplied with a fan. That, of course, means there will never be any fan noise in the truck. Moreover, all our products operate on an extremely low level of power consumption. Again, the result is long term cost savings.
So, what [in what ways do] BroaMan products differ from other IP based systems? Our smart design results in very high bandwidth and a very low set-up time. And it’s made simple and user-friendly – you don’t need to spend money for an expensive IT specialist working days or weeks to set up the system. Just plug and play. The system is easy to operate and handle.
Apart from IP, are the demands of sports broadcasters and production companies changing when it comes to your range of equipment?
I think broadcasters want smaller and decentralised units. They look for fibre infrastructure including not only video, but also high quality audio and other data in just one system They want a system, which is compatible with all industry standards and an interoperability with many different formats. This is exactly what BroaMan systems offer.
With an increasing number of venues installing fibre, what kind of advice are you providing to those sites?
This represents great progress – the evolution that more and more venues now install fibre.
It is the most cost effective and reliable transport that we have seen during the last 20 years on the market. We have over 25 years of experience with fibre networks. Our recommendation is always, during construction or renovation, to simply put fibre everywhere. That’s because fibre can transport everything and with electrical isolation, you can decide at a much later stage what to transport, or even change a system for future needs. This increases flexibility immensely. You can use it when needed and you can open networks, rings or point-to-point connections – as I said maximum flexibility. I wish to see more experts of fibre transport in the industry in general, but I really believe that the number of them is steadily growing now.
Do you see engineering educational courses turning out the graduates with the skills to meet the challenges ahead for your part of the industry?
We see young skilled engineers coming now to the market, with knowledge of general IP. They have a good knowledge of data IP and networking. However, with video and audio streams, the situation is different from data, so also other skills are needed. Still additional expertise in fibre as a medium for video and audio transport is needed. This is an area that needs further training.
Are there any such projects that stand out as being particularly challenging – and how did you overcome that situation?
Most big broadcast installations are challenging and usually have individual needs. For exactly this reason, we’re offering from the beginning both modular and customised solutions, which are very well accepted by our clients.
Are there any plans you are free to discuss?
Our system is entirely IP based with additional video and audio engines. Therefore, we can transport almost unlimited bandwidths, up to 240 Gigabit per single fibre, and as many fibres as you want.
BroaMan is the leading specialist for transporting, routing and distributing video, audio, intercom and IP signals via fibre. Of course, fibre is the best solution for long distances and high bandwidth for any signal. And with BroaMan, switches are built in – so there are no extra devices necessary, including hubs or routers. This saves costs and reduces technical complexity. Another benefit is the built-in redundancy and a latency which is very low and does not increase when adding switches or having long distances to cover.