Broadcast Beat Magazine 2018 NAB Show Edition - Page 86

- Professional Media over Managed IP Networks standard) to become proven and interoperable in a demanding interactive environment. Many would say we’re not there yet, and I see this con- tinuing to be a hot topic at NAB. Complex graphics is yet another area where it’s still very commonplace to need the assistance of a powerful GPU to render real-time, 3D images. However virtualizing GPUs brings its own chal- lenges. So, if you want high-end reactive channels with complex graphics, there are still technical and operational barriers which will take time to overcome. A Managed Approach For most playout chains, the automation system is the central touch point for operators and it should be the center of all workflow integration into traf- fic and MAM. All this is done in the automation layer, but underneath this layer you need to con- trol the entire technology base that you’re using today. That might be best-of-breed video servers and graphics systems that are still on the books and performing well. We believe that that same automation system should be capable of being completely virtualized so that your organization can move into the future as and when it makes the most sense to your business. Ultimately, the choice of what, when and how to move to an IP and virtualized infrastructure becomes an engi- neering decision and shouldn’t affect the rest of your workflow, or your operators’ user interfaces. Why jump to a completely new system when you can have a managed evolution that allows you to mix technologies on the same platform regardless of where it is deployed? For example, you could decide that channels 1 and 2, your prime channels, still need dedicated, best-of-breed equipment. For channels 3, 4, and 5, your thematic channels, you might be ready to take the risk of moving those all into a virtualized environment. Kicking the IP and Virtualized Tires at NAB When you take a look at the processing that playout involves, there are a significant number of functions required, depending on the complex- ity of the channel. Broadcasters will continue to look at whether or not vendors’ products have the necessary features they require in software, 86 • Broadcast Beat Magazine • for example how they deal with watermarking, SCTE insertion, complex audio processing, Dolby, multi-lingual support, etc. In our experience they are looking for a “rounding out” of functionality so that they can see, and believe, that IP and vir- tualized platforms can actually deliver everything that was previously possible when things were done in boxes cabled together with coax. As we move towards IP and virtualization, there is a risk that a broadcaster can become completely dependent upon a single vendor within that environment, and this is another key reason why they’re all keen to see interoperability tests done. After all, it is true that the dependencies between vendor and the broadcaster become much great- er in an IP and virtualized world. If you found yourself suddenly needing a new function in your playout facility and your chosen vendor isn’t ready to deliver that solution in their software environment, then you can’t simply go to another vendor and say, “please can you plug something in”. If 2110 doesn’t work in that instance, then it becomes an issue. SMPTE has been doing some excellent interoper- ability lab tests, as has the AIMS Alliance at events like NAB and IBC. Here large-scale interoperabil- ity demonstrations bring various manufacturers together —both on the production and the play- out side—to prove that they could all exchange video over 2110 and that it’s still possible to bolt together a multi-vendor solution. Thinking “Inside” the Box Let’s not lose sight of the fact, however, that swapping BNCs for RJ45s is ultimately still swap- ping one cable for another. Perhaps another development worth considering is not swapping cables at all if you don’t have to. One of the things we’ve done, given that Pebble Beach Systems isn’t a 3D graphics or audio processing special- ist company, is to partner with other specialist companies. When we talk to most broadcasters, we find that persuading the graphics depart- ments to change technology is one of the big- gest challenges. Given the importance of on-air presentational style, the graphics people rightly have a whole lot of sway in terms of influencing the playout environment. So, whether you’re a Viz house, a Pixel Power house, or a Ross house,