Complete, not 'component': What it means to have a genuinely interoperable solution for IP live

There’s little doubt among the broadcasters we speak with that IP offers game-changing benefits to live production environments, just as it has over the past decade for recorded media. The opportunities at stake are clear: the bandwidth to make stunning remote productions a reality; the operational freedom to reshape facilities based on the needs of any given project; the flexibility to incorporate whichever formats you choose.

Although its capacity limitations can’t stand up to IP (and will compare increasingly poorly, as IP network capabilities continue to multiply year-on-year), broadcasters value SDI for the inherent interoperability it provides. As Thomas Edwards at Fox put it: “The nice thing about SDI is that you can plug one vendor’s SDI output into another vendor’s SDI input, and everything works.” It’s our job to demonstrate that customers aren’t facing an ‘either/or’ decision to sacrifice the shared standards of SDI for the technological benefits of IP. They can have both.

Over the past five years we’ve been working with our customers, partners and competitors to ensure we collectively make good on the market need for open standards and interoperability. We’ve participated in a joint taskforce with the EBU, SMPTE and VSF to explore how best to reach a truly-fit for purpose solution, rather than merely relying on existing contribution standards. We’ve also led the Network Media Interface Alliance – which today includes 42 vendors across the live production space – to build a common approach into our respective products and technologies.

As manufacturers, however, we should be under no illusion: the onus is firmly on us to prove that we’ve collectively delivered a complete, robust, and – above-all else – truly open solution. Only then will broadcasters confidently place IP at the heart of their live production workflows.

Norbert Paquet
Strategic Marketing Manager, Live Production

Networked Media Interface

Our resulting solution – the Networked Media Interface – is being used by TV Globo, CNN Adria and the Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Centre to enjoy the benefits of IP while ensuring full compatibility with their legacy investments. We believe this approach carries three particular strengths:


  • A complete spectrum of standards, not isolated strands of interoperability. The majority of conversations around standardisation to date have focussed on SMPTE 2022-6, a protocol for Audio and Video mapping. While this is of course crucial for live production, it is only one part of the picture. The other ‘planes’ of interoperability – timing, identity, discovery and registration, flow control, flow switching and compression – are just as important. Our Networked Media Interface acts as a standards framework across 12 aspects of the live production workflow, ensuring SMPTE 2022-6 is the beginning of a genuinely open approach, not the end of it


  • Designed with the specific pressures of live production environments in mind, both today and for the future. The second flaw in any interoperability claim focussing solely on SMPTE 2022-6 is that it limits the scope of live productions at Standard or High Definition; it was originally developed as a contribution standard and lacks support for 4K. To truly deliver on the promise of IP, our Networked Media Interface allows customers to be genuinely format agnostic, covering High Dynamic Range, 4K, 8K and beyond


  • Incorporating innovations from other industries, to the benefit of Broadcast. The IABM’s director of technology John Ive has said: “Rather than reinvent the wheel, it has become more cost-effective for broadcast companies to ride on the back of the IT industry’s investment in R&D.” It’s certainly true that customers can lower their up-front technology spending by incorporating ‘consumer off-the-shelf’ products into their production workflows. However, we’d go a step further than simply championing the immediate CapEx savings on offer: by sharing a robust set of standards with the IT industry (rather than building a standalone ‘walled garden’ of broadcast-specific protocols) our Networked Media Interface ensures customers will benefit from future developments driven by the huge focus on IP innovation in ‘sister’ use cases


If the industry merely makes interoperability a shared goal or distant ideal, broadcasters will resolutely postpone their adoption of IP, fearing fractured workflows and vendor ‘lock-in’. By delivering the Networked Media Interface alongside our IP Live Alliance partners we’re pleased to provide customers with a genuinely open, robust and ready platform for embracing the transformational benefits of IP Live.

Interested in finding out more about the Networked Media Interface and our approach to interoperability? Visit our solutions page for more information.

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