With September upon us and the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness rapidly approaching, the broadcast industry marks the end of summer by decamping to Amsterdam for the annual IBC show.
For the first time in living memory, the weather was kind and the sun shone for the entire duration of the show, which much to the pleasure of the Beach bar, resulted in more networking and less time spent crowded around computer monitors in dark and overheated exhibition halls.
This was the first IBC I had attended as an independent and there seems to be a changing of the guard at the show, with less of the familiar broadcast faces at the show and lots of new younger faces helping to keep the show attendance of 54,000 on an upward trend.
Not only was there a changing of personal, there was also a significant change in how the content is being delivered.
A/V-over-IP was the theme of the show. Before A/V and IT systems started merging together into one overall network, organizations typically managed each system separately. Data signals were routed through IT’s servers and sent out to end users over Category 5 cables, video traffic was contained within its own platform and ran over coaxial cable and phone calls transited a private branch exchange (PBX) system before being carried to the desktop via an old school Category 3 cable. The systems were usually managed by different groups, with no crossover in equipment or expertise.
At this year’s IBC we are starting to see those disparate systems gradually coming together, and a single cabling backbone is often the launch pad for companies interested in converging their A/V and IP networks. However, without the traditional broadcast manufacturer’s embracing A/V-over-IP we will never see the true benefits of a single cabling backbone.
Key manufacturers to make A/V-over-IP announcements at the show included Sony, who is developing a Networked Media Interface for their products and those of third parties under licence. (http://www.sony.co.uk/pro/press/sony-pr-ibc-2014-networked-media-interface ). Sony products outfitted with the interface are due around July – September 2015. Ten companies have signed to support the effort to create compatible chipsets and modules including Cisco, Everts, Juniper Networks, Imagine, Vizrt, Matrox and Rohde & Schwarz DVS.
For Sony, they are hoping that history is repeating itself, as they were instrumental back in the late 1980’s of introducing SDI to the broadcast industry, which was standardised by SMPTE in 1989 and went on to be the de-facto broadcast standard.
Sony are also introducing as part of this interface its own compression technology to support 4K 60p transmission over 10 Gbps Ethernet. The creation of a SMPTE Registered Disclosure Document for this codec technology is currently in process. But more of 4K/8K UHDTV1/2 later.
So of the (10) ten companies that have signed up to Sony’s interface, what products are they proposing ?
Altera Corporation – manufacturer of programmable Logic Devices (PLDs), reconfigurable complex digital circuits. www.altera.com . They did not exhibit at the show.
Cisco – Hosted by the EBU (stand 10.F20), the All IP Live Production demonstration provided by BBC R&D, Cisco and Tektronix emphasised how multivendor live production architectures are today feasible, practical and easy to use by existing staff. The multi-format live production in the IP domain replicated the BBC’s solution for the recent Commonwealth games in Glasgow, with much of the outcome, like DTT transmission in T2, being HEVC enabled.
Cisco – were also on the Snell booth showcasing integration between Snell’s broadcast specific solution and Cisco’s off-the-shelf, enterprise and carrier-grade IP routers. In addition to integrating with existing file-based infrastructure and workflows, IP routing bridges the gap between current production workflows and cloud-based broadcast infrastructure. The use of familiar Snell router control surfaces and systems, between traditional SDI and IP routers provides near seamless integration from an operator perspective.
Everts - The EXE-VSR, with 46Tb/s of switching capacity in 40RU, revolutionizes the facility router. With 2304 10GbE ports, the EXE provides unmatched flexibility and scalability for video transport over IP. Using SMPTE-2022-6, the EXE non-blocking switch fabric supports up to 13,800 uncompress HD-SDI signals. When compression technology (JPEG-2000, H.264, or MPEG-2) is utilized, the number of video stream can reach the millions. With the combination of Evertz SDVN and the EXE as the core, facilities become more agile to handle new HD/SD services, new delivery platforms and new video formats (i.e. Ultra HD 4K and 8K).
Everts - The 3067VIP10G offers multiview functionality with up to 32 inputs of processing and up to 2 output, all via 10G streaming physical interfaces. The 3067VIP10GJ2K-HW displays inputs at any size, aspect ratio and position. 3067VIP10GJ2K-HW device accepts JPEG2000 encoded inputs as sources; and encodes the mosaic output as a JPEG2000 signal over IP.
Everts -' "top of rack" IP Gateway products provide simple migration from SDI to 10GE. The 570IPG and EQX-IP18-IPG along with the 3000REM provide a simple way to incorporate IP into any project where SDI is present.
Juniper Networks - manufacturer of networking equipment. www.juniper.net . They did not exhibit at the show.
Imagine Communication – The Platinum IP3 large enterprise router offers limitless expansion options, exceptional on-air protection and a path to an IP routing future, Platinum IP3 is ideal for a range of applications — from Outside Broadcast trucks that require large-scale routing, to multichannel video programming distributors, large national broadcasters or network hubs that require 1,000s of I/O.
Image Communications - The Platinum™ SX Hybrid multiviewer is designed for baseband or hybrid applications with monitoring of both traditional baseband video and IP signals.
Image Communications - Selenio MCP3 is a next-generation, modular solution that presents an all-new approach to networking and signal processing in this converging baseband/broadband arena. The industry’s first integrated media convergence platform, Selenio combines traditional baseband video and audio processing, compression and IP networking features — all in a single, space-saving 3RU frame. An intuitive, web-based GUI enables effortless configuration and effective troubleshooting for superior operational efficiency.
Image Communications – Selenio X100 – Intelligent Dual-Channel Frame Synchroniser and converter. Featuring two inputs to two converted outputs, the Selenio X100 delivers a wide array of analog and digital real-time baseband video and audio processing capabilities, along with the exceptional quality and dependability that have been the hallmark of the popular, award-winning Imagine Communications series of 1RU processors.
Macnica Americas – is a semi-conductor distributor with expertise in design services, IP, applications support and logistics. http://www.macnica.com/ .They did not exhibit at the show.
Vizrt - not too much detail from Vizrt aparts from the attached press release on their web-site, that duplicates the Sony announcement. http://www.vizrt.com/news/newsgrid/42044/Sony_and_Vizrt_collaborate_to_launch_Networked_Media_Interface
Matrox – The Matrox Maevex video distribution over IP solution consists of the Maevex 5100 Series encoders and decoders that can extend or record up to 1080p60 video and audio over a standard IP network at user-defined low bit rates for excellent quality and minimal network bandwidth consumption. The Maevex encoder streams or records high-quality video and audio and uses the H.264 video compression standard. It can stream to Maevex decoders or any device or PC that supports the required network protocols. It can also record to a shared network or NAS drive. The robust Matrox PowerStream™ software is included with the hardware and is used to remotely discover, manage, and adjust the Maevex network and lets administrators conveniently define multiple stream parameters and balance network bandwidth consumption and quality. The Maevex API is also available to enable programmers to integrate current features into existing applications or create new, independent PowerStream-like software to meet their specific needs.
Rohde & Schwarz – not too much detail from Rohde & Schwarz. Focus appears to be on the 4K encoding and testing.
Xilinx – is an American technology company, primarily supplying programmable logic devices. They did not exhibit at the show.
Not surprisingly absent from the list of initial signatures is Grass Valley & Panasonic. Grass Valley announced at IBC their IP enabled future, by showcasing the new NVISION 8500 Router IP gateway. The NVISION 8500 Router IP Gateway input/output card converts and packetizes real-time, uncompressed, baseband video for multidirectional transport over 10 Gb Ethernet networks. SDI signals are then packetized and can be readily distributed over an IP network. Frame-accurate switching from SDI to IP guarantees signal integrity, and the non-blocking architecture of the cards ensures access to all cross points within the NVISION 8500 Series router.
Panasonic continue to focus on making news gathering simpler by introducing the new AJ-PX800. The camera comes equipped with a standard LAN/Ethernet port for wired network connection and an optional wireless function too. This enables the use of functions such as proxy preview and camera remote control from a PC, Mac, tablet device or smartphone. 4G/LTE network connectivity is also supported, allowing broadcast stations to edit recorded data immediately, enabling faster news turnaround and opening up live stream capabilities.
Cinegy workflows made the bold statement in its IBC 2014 advertising that SDI was dead, but then as a software workflow company, they have an interest in promoting AV-over-IP based solutions. At the show they launched version 10 of their 4K IP-Based Broadcast Solution, featuring Cinergy Multiviewer, Route and Live.
Dyvi Live announced at the show that Gearhouse Broadcast has selected its IP-based production systems to enable real-time remote production in the UK and Australia.
I’ll talk more about remote production later.
Blackbox Network Service was exhibiting at the show and unlike broadcast manufacturers are approaching the AV-over-IP from an IT perspective, but they do seem to understand the demands that the broadcaster industry works to.
The one thing that most delegates appeared to agree on was that AV-over-IP was essential if 4K/8K (UHDTV1/2) was going to be successful. The current iteration of 4K products rely heavily on ganging (4) four HD-SDI streams together. This has the effect of reducing capacity of the routers, switchers and video servers by a quarter and then relying on the technology to frame accurately switch all four feeds simultaneously. The bandwidths required for transporting four HD-SDI signals, even with MPEG-4 compressing is around 90MB/s, whereas a single 4K HEVC stream is around 30MB/s currently and dropping by the day as HEVC encoding algorithms improve. Like it or not for 4K/8K (UHDTV1/2) to become established AV-over-IP will become infrastructure of choice.
On the 4K acquisition front, Grass Valley were joined by Hitachi with their new SK-UHD4000 Ultra HD camera, using 2/3-inch sensors and taking a traditional B4-mount broadcast lenses. Unlike the Grass offering with three (3) 2/3” sensors, Hitachi have opted for four (4) 2/3” sensors, that’s two (2) green and (1) one red and (1) one blue. As with the Grass Valley camera, the Hitachi offering address the depth of field issues that productions have complained about when using single chip, large sensor cameras for live 4K sporting productions.
4K Cameras (Single Chip – Large Sensor).
Panasonic finally launched the much vaunted 4K Varicam and as you would expect with a camera that has taken nearly three (3) years to develop, it is a stunning piece of technology. With a price around $60,000 US for the Varicam 35 head, recorder and EVF it is going to be interesting to see who is going to buy this camera. While it is aimed strictly at the higher end of the market, this camera is almost twice the price of a Sony’s F55 and more than $10,000 dearer than the Arri Amira. At $60,000 for a camera that still needs an external recorder to be able to capture RAW, it really is going to have to appeal to those studios and shows that are already using the Arri Alexa and that is going to be a big ask. Only time will tell if the price will be justified.
Panasonic also launched the HC-X1000 Ultra HD 4K camcorder. A prosumer camcorder that can record 4K 60p/50p video on an SD card and equipped with a compact Leica Dicomar 20x optical zoom lens.
Sony introduced yet another 4K camera, this time aimed squarely at the documentaries market place. The PXW-FS7, is a shoulder mounted unit with adjustable viewfinders designed specifically for run-and-gun operations and use in harsh environments. With a $10,400 price tag and the ability to shoot 4K quad Full HDi in 60fps and super slow-motion 240 fps HD, at up to 14 f-stops, this camera is going to be very attractive.
AJA’s CION 4K Camcorde was at the show, but still isn’t shipping. AJA’s CEO stated that the camera would only ship when it ready. Footage was posted on-line and displayed on the AJA booth and it looks good.
Blackmagic’s URSA was once again generating a lot of interest and at $6,600 list, it’s going to have some takers.
Arri Amira announced UHD support, by opening the gate wider on the sensor and up-ressing from 3.1K to 4K. This is going to appeal to TV productions looking to have the Arri Alexa look to their programmes and future proof their assets for UHDTV broadcast.
JVC - A prototype model of the new GY-LS300 compact handheld camcorder was being shown at IBC, featuring JVC’s exclusive Super 35mm 13.6MP 4K CMOS image sensor, developed by JVC’s sister company, AltaSens, for 4K 24/25/30p recording. The camera uses Micro Four Thirds lenses, originally developed for DSLRs to deliver cinema-quality images in a compact camcorder, and also accepts a wide variety of stills and video lenses for filmmakers who have already invested in expensive lenses (converters available for PL-mount and other lenses). This first prototype has an advanced codec and on-board recording system, providing 4K imaging on standard SDHC/SDXC UHS-I U3 memory cards, and its dual codec system also delivers simultaneous recording and streaming for both HD/SD and HD/proxy files. The camera features the 4K CAM logo and marks the start of this new camera series from JVC.
Non – 4K Cameras
Sony – announced the end of life for its PMW-500 SxS Shoulder mount camcorder and the handheld PMW-200. Both are replaced by the PXW-X500 and PXW-X200, with will included XAVC encoding, as well as all the formats their predicators supported.
JVC - the GY-HM600/GY-HM650 handheld, GY-HM850 shoulder mount and GY-HM890 studio models – will be demonstrated both on the stand and during regular live stage presentations. With the latest firmware upgrade (v.3.03), both the GY-HM600 and GY-HM650 handheld camcorders now deliver 1080p 50Mbps recording in Extreme High Quality (XHQ) mode, i.e., virtually lossless H.264 recordings with high bit rates of 50Mbps, and feature an enhanced Auto Focus System with selection of focus area. The upgrade also offers advanced streaming functions for the GY-HM650 camcorder, including ZIXI data transfer technology and additional bit rates in various resolutions
Ikegami ultra-high sensitivity camera in UnicamHD series was also on display at the IBC 2014 Show. The HDK-5500 ultra-low-light 3 CMOS HDTV camera is a docking style multi-format portable camera system, designed for use in day and night applications. It features three 2/3 inch 1.3M high speed multi-sampling CMOS sensors, with a minimum illumination of 0.001lux with 78dB gain up (at 50 frames per second). This portable camera shares the same fiber and triax adapters and base stations with the Unicam HD series, and is equally suited for shoulder and tripod-mounted applications. The HDK-5500 permits shooting with available illumination at night and in dark locations such as very dark audience areas without adding external lighting. This camera will be displayed with a unique external recording unit ATOMOS Samurai Blade.
Ikegami’s HDL-4500 shares the same high sensitivity front end with the HDK-5500, but packaged as a compact one-piece box style camera for POV applications which require extremely low light operation at least some of the time.
Sony BVM-X300 4K 30” OLED finally has a launch date and price. March 2015 & $39,000. It is a stunning piece of technology, but at that price I’d expect it to be. My only concern is that 30” might be too small, with Dolby having set the standard in post / grading suits with their 42” display.
The fear is that some post houses are starting to purchase consumer UHDTV and initial tests are that the colour imagery is very good and mets the Rec. 2020 specifications. If they get used to these displays, which cost from $5,000 upwards, why would you purchase a $40,000 display.
Dolby Vision – Earlier in 2014, Dolby introduced a new technology, Dolby Vision™, that’s designed to bring that “in Dolby” experience to images. Dolby Vision on your TV will mean images that are brighter, with better contrast and richer colours. The technology produces more vibrant, true-to-life images that are more like looking out of a window than looking at an LCD screen.
Dolby & Arri were at the forefront of arguing that it wasn’t resolution that customers wanted, but more realistic images on their displays. Some cynics had argued that as both Dolby and Arri did not have any 4K technology available in the near future, this was a staling technique. Unfortunately for Dolby, Arri blinked and announced the UHDTV support for the Amira, this agreeing with the rest of the broadcast industry that resolution is important.
That said, the Dolby Vision displays do look good. I wish they would grade poorly the content on the non-Dolby Vision display to make the contrast between the two displays look so different, they don’t need to do it the Dolby Vision pictures looked stunning.
With Sony’s BVM-X300 not scheduled to launch until March 2015 and coming in at $39,000, Dolby are likely to remain the market leader, because they have defined the size of critical viewing monitors in post-production facilities with their 42” display. Couple that with the fact that only a small percentage of projects are currently 4K / UHDTV1 and those that are, are typically being off-lined at 2K/HD resolutions.
Most post houses I spoke to view the monitor dilemma as the SD to HD transition revisited, namely they want to future proof their facilities, but the majority of their day-to-day work is in the lower resolution format, so the monitors they choose, must satisfy those clients requirements.
Ikegami expanded its portfolio of image display products to encompass the full range of operational requirements from high-end Grade One broadcast reference monitoring to general production applications. Four new monitors will be introduced at IBC2014: the high-end HEM-2570W and HEM-1770WR are both high-performance Grade-1 OLED monitors with 12-bit display processing which contributes to true colour reproduction and deep black, plus the production-grade HLM-1751WR and HLM-1705WR. These will augment Ikegami’s existing range of monitors which include the production-grade HLM-3250W/HLM-2450WB and the HLE-2153G/HLE-1853G affordable 3G standard monitors.
Sony announced a new advanced control panel for the MVS-8000X and MVS-7000X multi-format switchers. The modular architecture allows for a wide variety of layout options.
The AV-over-IP is also driving remote production and a number of potential solutions were being showcased at the show.
The EBU hosted a live IP demonstration using Stagebox, a BBC R&D developed camera mounted unit that transmits HD video and audio with gunlock, timecode and tally using standard IP protocols.
The demonstration also featured a Cisco Nexus 3548 switch, combined with the Tektronix hybrid Sync Pluse generator / PTP Grandmaster delivering facility reference signals and ensuring a stable timing source.
Trilogy Communication was showing its Gemini IP intercom system.
Sony in conjuncture with HawkEye were demonstrating a suite of ‘Intelligent Production’ tools that allowed a single 4K fixed camera feed to be used for a HD production, by having a single operator remotely controlling a HD cut out. This was showcased at the US Open tennis in New York in August 2014.
Quickline were demonstrating their network efficient and cost effective ways to capture, transmit, repurpose and deliver high quality media for both Live News Gathering and Store & Forward broadcasts.
The unique design of the Quicklink system is geared to enabling broadcasters and others to broadcast live or transmit video content over a variety of network options ranging from 64K upwards, these include Sat Phones, Satellite DSL, SDL, ADSL WiFi, ISDN, VSAT, Ka etc.
Ross - openTruck is an innovative initiative that provides a standardized yet customizable way to design a new generation of affordable mobile production vehicles equipped with the power and technology necessary to deliver high-definition content. Trucks built using the openTruck initiative will deliver a predictable production experience and outstanding results—all the time, every time. Whether you’re in network broadcast, Internet delivery, or OTT and VOD services, openTruck is exactly what you need.
IT giant Oracle has agreed a deal to acquire storage firm Front Porch Digital.
Systems integrators and broadcast kit manufacturers TSL and IPE have agreed a merger. The proposed deal, which is expected to complete by the end of the year, will see IPE’s IDS line of Integrated Display Systems added to TSL Products’ portfolio of broadcast equipment.
The companies will also combine their systems integration teams.
Once the deal is concluded IPE’s Colin Judge will become managing director of the combined systems integration company while Chris Exelby will head up the products company.
The product divisions will retain their brands but the firms have yet to decide on a name for the combined systems integration company.
The proposed merger follows a conversation between the companies at NAB about an OEM deal between their product divisions.
As I previously mentioned, the show this year felt like the changing of the guard. The IT companies are seeing an opportunity to gain a significant foothold with the AV-over-IP revolution that is starting to happen. The questions for broadcast manufacturers is whether they can change again to keep their products relevant, as the new players and the demands of the 2nd device establish themselves. I personally spent more time in Hall 1 this year than I’ve ever done before.
UHDTV is certainly now establishing itself and major broadcasters are having to consider how they address this, otherwise they will be left behind by the NetFlix, Google’s and Amazon’s of this world.
The only concern is that 8K / UHDTV2 is not that far away and are customer going to get their ROI from 4K/UHDTV products before they are superseded?
We now have (6) six months to digest where the broadcast industry is going before we reconvene in Las Vegas for NAB2015 in April. The one thing you can say about this industry is that it never stands still.
Freelance Sales & Technical Consultant
Hatstands Broadcast & Media Productions
Dated 18th September 2014
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!