IBC2015 Q&A: Evertz’s Mo Goyal on ASPEN protocol, NBA Replay Center, and the Move to IP
Evertz hit IBC this year to highlight the ASPEN protocol for IP facilities that it unveiled at NAB earlier this year and has seen increased adoption since. ASPEN was developed to further Evertz’ efforts to deploy Software Defined Video Networking (SDVN) solutions and has been submitted to SMPTE for publication as a Registered Disclosure Document (RDD 37). Evertz took the opportunity in Amsterdam to highlight its increasing list of ASPEN user and vendor adopters, including Abekas, ChryonHego, Discovery Communications, Game Creek Video, Hitachi Kokusai Electric Limited Inc., NEP Group Inc., PacketStorm, Ross Video, Sony, Tektronix, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, and Vizrt
Other top news items at the show include Evertz’ role in the NBA Replay Center, which was a IBC2015 Innovation Award finalist at the show, it role in the launch of AMC Networks 10GbE playout facility using Evertz Software Defined Video Networking (SDVN) solutions (the first of its kind, according to Evertz), the release of the EQX10 10RU router (up to 180 x 180 IO plus X-LINK in a single frame), and the support for HEVC encode on its Next Generation Ingest Platform (3080ITXE) and Universal Encoding Platform (3080UEP) through a firmware upgrade.
SVG sat down with Evertz Director of Product Marketing Mo Goyal to discuss the progress of the ASPEN protocol, how he sees the success of the NBA Replay Center impacting future projects, and the industry’s seemingly inevitable migration to IP-based workflows and facilities.
The NBA Replay Center, which was built around Evertz’s Dreamcatcher IP-based replay technology, was shortlisted here at the show as a finalist for an IBC2015 Innovation Award in the category of Content Creation. Do you foresee future replay center projects on the horizon?
The NBA leveraged Evertz’s IP-based replay technology for the innovative replay center, developing a dynamic system that meets the needs of the game by improving the performance of NBA referees and reducing the average time of reviews to enhance the fan experience.
We have seen it actually in a few international entities looking to do that. They’ve see what we did with the MLB [replay center] and the progression to the NBA, and they realize that they need to have similar systems because as the events are going on, social media has become a factor and the questioning of officials has become a lot more prevalent. I know we were participating in a trial with the NRL in Australia who was looking to do the same things, as an example. So we modeled the system based on the same NBA, but there are challenges of the different game: a rugby game versus a basketball game. But the fundamentals are still there. They realize as a league that they need to have a centralized replay center in order to manage it. They are leading up to the sort of proof of concept trial, they had a number of events that were championship games and stuff like that in which there were some controversial moments. So they began considering this. I think it’s a model that definitely does apply to a lot of the leagues. That model is something that can be scaled down to handle different sized events but fundamentally is appealing to any league.
Over the past few months, we have seen multiple new OB trucks launched that are built around IP-based routers, including NEP’s SS-CBS and Game Creek Video’s Encore units. Do you see this trend continuing and what role can Evertz play in advancing this philosophy?
We have had truck vendors come by at the show looking at [launching IP routers in OB trucks]. Really the big thing for them is that it’s about cost and it’s about scale. In Game Creek’s case and for some of the larger trucks it was a quite easy sell [the idea of an IP router] because, for the US Open you are looking at a very massive [router]. To do the US Open with baseband they would basically need two 1152 routers and then have some sort of combination. That isn’t viable. And as Pat Sullivan said, they are only going to grow. So those two, both NEP and Game Creek were designed for a large kind of event. But now we are also seeing next tier of mobile vendors looking at it. They know IP switching is coming down from the production switchers and everyone is talking about needing IP 4K cameras. They see that the industry is moving to IP, but they’re concerned about whether the price points make sense.
So we are reacting to that. When we introduced the EQX26 that was targeted for the mobile-production environment. We are now reevaluating what the next size will be to bring down the price points and make them a lot more comfortable for those vendors. In convincing them to go IP, they want to make sure that they are [accounting for] the SDI portion [of the production]. We can shrink that because you’ll only be bringing SDI in today for the cameras and to the switcher. But the multi-viewer, Dreamcatcher, all have IP interfaces, so you can build that into [the truck]. So I think we are seeing a migration to [OB truck providers] saying it actually making more sense in terms of the financial case. If they were to buy a core baseband router but can buy an IP core and still have the capabilities today at very similar price points but having a great potential of doing other things it’s a no brainer.
So when do you expect Evertz to launch IP routers sized and priced specifically at this next tier of the truck market?
That’s a development thing. So right now we’re seeing that the need for the next size. So right now we started off with targeting facilities with 2000 x 2000 [SDI routers] and there’s a handful of facilities that are going to do that. The next level’s 1000 x 1000. So what’s the next level, it’s about 500 x 500 SDI. So I think once you get to that point, then you basically are modeling to take the 500 x 500 but you’re also likely to pull in the 300 x 300 because they’ll see the scalability that they will be able to get by going to that platform.
How have you seen the industry respond to the ASPEN protocol you released at NAB earlier this year? What role do you see it playing the future as the industry migrates to IP-based facilities and workflows?
This is one of the big things we are talking about at IBC this year and part of the reason for that is there was a great deal of misconception and questions whether ASPEN was a proprietary format. And the answer is no. The reason why we’ve done it is we’ve publicly talked to the end users and they understood that this makes sense for them. It’s very quick adaptation, it meets their needs to go over to IP. So we published as an RD-37 and it’s now public domain. So people can now implement it and it’s published. We are trying to promote it as much as possible within the community, and show use cases. Now, it’s really our job to start promoting ASPEN. We are now publishing white papers to get that information out there and doing more interoperable [demonstrations] to show the benefits of it and the fact that it is open. So I think the industry is obviously embracing it. With the list that we have [of users] and the reaction we’ve gotten from the other vendors is that this makes sense and is easy. Because of that I believe it will spread through the industry a little bit more effectively. And not just through us but through other partners and end users. And that’s the other key element is you have the end users saying this works. So I think that’s really the big way, that’s the one way of getting the industry on board and clearing a lot of the noise. So I think that is a big statement there that there is a strong supporting community behind it.