Traditional production of live events uses SDI cabling with coaxial connectors for video and audio transmission. SDI installations are solid and secure which has granted their hegemony over 25 years. With the arrival of Ultra-High Definition (UHD), broadcasters are facing a new infrastructure upgrade and firmly evaluating IP to overcome the scalability and flexibility limitations of SDI. Moving the live production network to an IP world would allow them to leverage commercial-off-the-shelf networking gear, packet network signal aggregation and format agnosticism benefits, and latest Software-Defined Networking (SDN) technologies. On the other hand, mirroring SDI’s deterministic behaviour in a best-effort IP environment requires additional security methods to be implemented. The industry is working together to develop these protocols and agree on common IP media interfaces that guarantee vendor interoperability which is essential to truly seize IP benefits.
Different organizations have been working since 2013 in standardizing a video-specific protocol that addresses IP limitations in live production environments, guaranteeing media integrity and allowing different vendors to interoperate. These organizations include SMPTE and VSF which have released the following standards to help companies transition from SDI to the new IP media infrastructure:
- SMPTE ST 2022-6 is the first published protocol to support transmission of SDI signals over IP networks. Though new considerations have been made to adopt a more flexible approach, this early adopted standard is still relevant for installations where SDI and IP coexist. The related SMPTE 2022-5 and SMPTE 2022-7 implement error correction and redundant transmission to protect video signal transmission.
- VSF TR-03 allows for elementary audio, video and ancillary data streams to be individually forwarded through an IP packet network. This VSF recommendation leverages the Real Time Protocol (RTP), Precision Time Protocol (PTP) and SMPTE 2059-1 standard for low-latency transmission and frame-accurate synchronization. The related VSF TR-04 recommendation allows SMPTE 2022-6 streams to be the RTP payload of a VSF TR-03 installation for SDI and IP hybrid deployments.
- SMPTE 2110 suite of standards builds on the previews to guarantee interoperability between different vendors through the whole IP live production workflow. SMPTE 2110 is the industry preferred candidate for broad adoption of IP technologies in live production and as format-agnostic, it is prepared to support future 4K/8K UHD and HDR services.
Above previously introduced latency, integrity and synchronization challenges, another bandwidth aspect needs to be considered in 4K live productions. True UHD TV video signal bitrate is approximately 12 Gbps. Given that most currently available networking gear integrates 10 GbE ports, video compression is a desirable feature to optimize IP bandwidth usage. SMPTE 2110 supports compressed video signals as the RTP stream payload and different mezzanine codecs can be implemented to this end. Among them intoPIX TICO and Sony LLVC are visually-lossless, low-latency codecs whose compression rate allows for several 4Kp60 signals to be sent over one single 10 GbE link.
Professional media equipment manufacturers are looking to deliver IP-based products that optimize broadcasters operations when producing 4K live events. Advantech enables them with a broad choice of adapters, switches, appliances and systems to integrate IP media interfacing into different live production equipment.