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System Integrators Recommend Considering Hybrid IP Production Workflows

With the advancement over IP-based systems being implemented into productions of all kinds, the debate of just how to do that is ongoing.  It seems that there is no clear answer and that the solution best suited for each broadcaster is dependent on every circumstance imaginable.  One of the biggest fallacies is the cost-benefit to switching to an IP-based workflow.  Some believe an IP-based workflow is more cost effective than the more common SDI versions, but according to James Careless with TVTechnology, that’s not entirely true.  We’ve seen the advancements first-hand with NewTek’s NDIHX products for more provincial end-users but professionals have noticed it’s benefit as well especially with NDI Software.  However whether amateur or professional some might prefer the safety of working with something they’ve already been using and will stick to the SDI-based equipment they’re used to.  In this article Careless gets insight from various insiders who understand these workflows better than most and they believe IP-based workflows are the future, but still have some room for improvement in it’s implementation.  The general sense from this article, IP equipment should be implemented piece by piece into an SDI-based workflow causing the creation of hybrid solutions for many broadcasters.

“In fact, I would say that 100 percent of what broadcasters are asking for is IP-based, whether it be for the entire system, core routing or remote islands” added Jim Conley, senior vice president of engineering/CTO at Communications Engineering Inc. (CEI) in Newington, Va. “They want to go IP-based to some extent even if they are renovating an existing facility, rather than building something new.”

It’s not just the Ethernet-connected desktop computers that are IP-based. Multiviewers and other IP-based devices that interconnect easily to SDI production infrastructures using gateway devices (aka IP/SDI converters), are in widespread use, according to TV Technology Columnist Karl Paulsen, CTO at Diversified in Kenilworth, N.J.

“This is why most current ‘IP broadcast facilities’ today are actually hybrids,” Paulsen said. “That is, they use both IP-based and SDI-based equipment.”

Saving money is the main reason broadcasters are asking system integrators such as ASG, CEI, and Diversified to build all-IP plants. “They’ve heard that all-IP plants are cheaper to build, because they can use low-cost commercial off-the-shelf [COTS] servers, storage devices, and input/output switches to run their production facilities, rather than expensive, dedicated use proprietary SDI equipment,” said Van Hoy. “Broadcasters don’t really care about the technological advances IP can deliver over SDI.”

Van Hoy added that the broadcasters’ perception about IP being cheaper than SDI is theoretically correct. In an all-IP production environment, COTS IP-based equipment does cost far less than its SDI equivalent; while performing the same functions equally well, or better. “You can even build a ‘virtual machine’ from IP-based COTS servers to handle playout and transcoding, rather than using dedicated SDI-based hardware,” said Conley. “When you are done with it, the IP-based servers used to create the virtual machine can be repurposed on demand as workflow and workloads require them.”

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By Edward Blumenthal, December 7, 2017