Easing the transition to IP for live production

For the broadcast industry the transformational benefits of using IP for live production, including greater flexibility, more efficient workflows and the ability to embrace creative advances, including 4K and beyond, are becoming increasingly clear. But for many the transition to IP-based live workflows seems a complex and daunting prospect. And that is leading to some questioning if not ‘if’, then certainly ‘when’, they will make the change.

So why are they so worried?

At the forefront of many broadcasters’ and OB facilities managers’ minds are concerns over a lack of interoperability. Nobody wants to make an investment in infrastructure that’s not going to integrate easily with existing technology or future investments; it’s a headache that can cost time and money to fix. On top of that IP brings a change to workflows and best practice ways of working that currently many broadcast engineers simply don’t have the skills to manage. These can seem like challenging feats to overcome but both are manageable with the right partners and the right support.

Let's take interoperability first

While some manufacturers have built their approach around closed, proprietary systems others have listened. We’ve put partnership at the heart of our approach to developing the Networked Media Interface in order to build in interoperability. Working with 42 other companies with a wide range of products needed across the whole live production workflow, from Juniper to Altera, Cisco to Fujitsu, we’ve made it truly easy to find solutions that will work seamlessly together.

We also know that broadcasters don’t always want to start from scratch with all new native IP products. Many will want to continue to use SDI, as well as IP, for at least the next few years. And ripping and replacing all your equipment is sometimes just not financially possible. So we’re enabling broadcasters to take a hybrid approach with our NXL-318FR chassis and NXL-IP40F boards that convert regular SDI A/V signals into IP signals and vice versa. Broadcasters can have IP based live production at the core, with legacy SDI devices at the edge. These can then be replaced over time to network IP devices, ensuring a smooth transition.

So now the right tools are in place, how do broadcasters train their staff to be able to use them?

We’ve helped broadcasters through many transitions throughout the years, moving from film to digital cinema, from SD to HD, and we know that having the right skills in place to manage change is vital. This is perhaps even more pertinent with IP Live, where the skillsets do represent a shift away from the norm. But the reward here is even greater. Because bringing in the skills traditionally associated with software engineers will not only enable broadcasters to utilise IP technology effectively, it will future proof their businesses and the careers of their engineers.

While our Live System Manager, an integral part of the Networked Media Interface, does a lot of the hard work for you, from IP address setting to configuring devices, there are still some new skills to learn. Broadcast engineers will need to get to grips with network technology fundamentals that apply to live production including:

  • Network protocol stack and message flow
  • The structure of packets and frames
  • Network routing and switching principles
  • Multipoint and multicasting technology
  • Knowledge of virtual networks (VLANs), including how to describe access and truck port modes, configuring and monitoring local area networks (LANs), describing native VLAN concepts and working with Inter-VLANs

As well as IP Live essential requirements such as learning about SMPTE ST 2022 standards, the LLVC codec and ensuring synchronisation.

With the right support these skills aren’t difficult to learn. That’s why we’re working closely with broadcasters and other organisations to help them through this change. Whether it’s through one to one support, with our accessible e-learning courses or the certification course that we’re developing with our Networked Media Interface partners, we can help you fill the skills gap.

While the movement to IP for live production is transformational the transition doesn’t need to be complex. And by taking a hybrid approach broadcasters can start small and learn about IP Live production as they make the transition. If you’re looking to make the change get in touch with us directly here, or sign up for our latest IP Live news to hear more about our offers and solutions. Sony Professional Services is here to back you through your transition to IP for live production.

Contact us to discuss your requirements