IP Based Remote Production


Ed Calverley TV-Bay Magazine
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Over the last few years Suitcase TV has been getting involved in remote production at the software layer, and I want to talk about some of the ways we have been getting involved in remote production, including a specific trial that we did last year with BBC Sport for the Euro 2016 tournament in Paris.

Before I get into the detail of remote production, I need to review some of the basics of IP-based studios.

What enables a lot of the capabilities of an IP Studio is something called JT-NM reference architecture, which is the name of the joint task force established by a number of large organisations in 2015 to document what they believed to be the core elements that any fully IP-based studio would need to operate successfully with no SDI in sight.

That JT-NM document is what drives a lot of the standardisation work that's being done to solidify SMPTE 2110, but perhaps as important, beyond that. SMPTE 2110 is actually the satnav rather than the final destination.

A couple of years ago, SMPTE 2022-6 established a basic, all-in-one standard for SDI over IP, and it's as simple as that. You take an SDI feed, encapsulate it in real time, and transport it over IP. Job done. The all-in-one approach means that video, embedded audio (if there is any), and any data is all transferred simultaneously. However, that results in a lot of blank signal, which is essentially empty space that could be used for information, and that is wasteful and not as data efficient as it could be.

As I see it, the other issue with SMPTE 2022-6 is that if you wanted to funnel the all-in-one feed to an audio mixer, it's a problem because it's a very high bandwidth feed.

So one of the first steps on the roadmap to an IP Studio is to separate audio transport so that those workflows can be done in a different way, which is where TR-04 comes into play, which still uses video in the same way but could include embedded audio; but perhaps the better solution for an IP Studio is TR-03, which fully separates the essence, meaning that the audio is kept fully separate from any video or metadata.

TR-03, along with TR-04, have been around for a few years, and a lot of the work around SMPTE 2110 is based on standardising those two concepts and is now in the final draft stage that will form a definitive, documented standard. Until now, they have just been recommendations that have been under close scrutiny and regularly tweaked to determine precisely how they should be implemented. There have been slight changes, but the important bit is that interoperable systems using these protocols exist already. They are here, and working, now, and plenty of manufacturers produce technology and services that support the new SMPTE 2110 standard already, which comprises the majority of what an IP studio is built on.
So what, exactly, is an IP studio?

For a start, JT-NM recognised that for an IP studio to be viable, you need separate transport streams for video and audio essence because of the need to feed different elements in a system, and all of those essence streams have to be referenced to a common time source. Systems of this nature are referenced over a network using PTP (SMPTE 2059), which replaces traditional genlock reference and LTC house clock methods. PTP enables transport streams to take advantage of the new protocols, which in turn means that the protocols, collectively, enable you to build an IP-only studio instead of SDI.

But what, I hear you ask, is the point if all you're doing is replacing SDI interconnections with IP?

If that's all you think you're doing, you're missing this point. Moving to IP-only is just the first step. To effectively enable an IP-based system, you need automatic device discovery so that anything plugged into the system is detected, recognised, and configured automatically without the user having to mess around with configuring often-confusing IP addresses.

An IP-based studio should also allow for hybrid workflows, and what I mean by that is a hybrid of real- and non-real time workflows. It's not about replicating traditional linear workflows, but it is not about ignoring or abandoning such workflows, either. An IP studio needs to be able to do both.

And once everything is in a network, you need to be able to track media processes and actions against time, which is where the PTP clock comes into its own. For example, if you're recording the switching decisions in the studio so you can link up iPhones in an edit suite later, PTP tracking is extremely valuable for tracking the volumes of associated metadata.

And it's been said many times before, using these protocols means that you can build an IP studio with readily available, commercial off-the-shelf hardware and standard IP switches. However, you do need to work closely with IP switch manufacturers to ensure they understand, or can be made to understand, the needs of broadcast video, which is not always the case.

Now to achieve this, organisations like the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) has developed a collection of protocols called Networked Media Open specification (NMOS), primarily IS-04, which looks at registration and discovery within an IP studio environment, but again, that's one step.

So, what's the next one?

The heart. The heart of an IP studio consists of, instead of a video router, you have an IP switch, hence the need to ensure you get one from someone who understands broadcast. Ideally, within the IP fabric, you need registration protocol and a time reference, which can now be built into the switchers. They no longer need to be separate processes.

So as devices come online, they register into the switch, perhaps discover the timing reference of the system so they can capture at the right rate, notify what multicast streams they are making available to the system, and identify streams of others services that are flowing into the IP system and get everything up and running.

In the near future - and I'm talking the very near future - the entire studio system should take any device in, recognise it, configure it and proceed automatically. SMPTE 2110 will enable video and audio data to take different paths through the system, which will introduce different latencies, so time-stamping against those PTP clocks will be essential to enable audio and video synchronisation.

But let's talk about remote production.

There are already IP-based remote production facilities deployed in broadcast trucks, typically for high profile events, even the deployment trucks themselves is still an expensive proposition, not just for the logistics of the truck itself, but the associated on-site engineering and support. IP or not, it's still costly.

Our focus at Suitcase TV is how to leverage IP techniques to do remote production in a different way. As I implied, the biggest cost for remote production has always been people, who quite rightly need to be fed, housed and watered. Most like to be paid, too. However, if we can pay some of them to be just as productive and creative from a central location, it saves a considerable amount on production costs, and possibly saves a few marriages, too.

The upshot of the costs savings translates to the ability to actually do more productions, but on a lower budget, and it's difficult to find a downside to that.

But isn't remote production a case of just bringing back a load of signals from an event site to a fixed, central gallery in a production centre?

Well, yes and no. it works, but it's not really "true remote production". As we see it, it's just a case of transporting all of the sources, but as the number of source signals increase, so do the costs, and it can soon become very costly. It makes sense, for example, with high profile sporting venues that have installed dedicated fibre links, but for the lower end production market, it's not really practical, and sometimes economically feasible, to relocate all the signals.

The idea, which has been proven in practice, is to locate a significant portion of the traditional onsite crew typically required back to a central production facility, or reassign them to another production, hence more for the money.

However, moving the heavy iron such as a vision mixer to the event site, so high bandwidth signals can be processed there rather than be transported back to a remote production site, reduces the link bandwidth transport costs.

That sounds like a solution, right? Well, it can be, but there's a major problem with it. That old nemesis, latency. The operator at the remote production centre, who is making decisions on when to switch between sources, can be looking at images at least four frames, and often more, from the past. This clearly won't do for live, fast-moving sports or events of any kind.

Of course, for some events, a few frames delay on the switching is not going to worry anyone too much, but with so much happening so quickly these days, sport or otherwise, we believe it's better to screw latency right down to the absolute floor if possible. You can't get rid of latency entirely, and anyone who says they can also has several million pounds in a dormant bank account, just waiting for you to claim. The only truly real-time video is analogue, and we got rid of that years ago. Even SDI has latency, it's just very small.

So, to fully unleash the massive benefits IP-based studio and/or remote production, we have to embrace it fully, and that means dealing with its inherent latency. How do we manage it? How do we mitigate it to enable frame-accurate remote switching?

We've done it by taking the sources; making lower resolution proxy versions of them; time-stamping them accurately against that PTP timeclock; and send that information back to wherever the operators are for display on a user interface that incorporates some rational delay.

Coupled with that, we introduce some buffering at the event site, where all the high resolution content is stored uncompressed in memory (not committed to disc because that would reduce quality) which is fed into vision mixing and audio processes - but with some time offset, which means that when the operator switches between sources at the point they're seeing the action onscreen, there's ample time for that switch message to get back to the event site and connect to the appropriate multi-cast stream that's running in a delayed mode, and with that compensation be switched on the correct frame.

Of course, that final mix is several frames behind real time, which means that with the addition latency on the fibre link back to the studio, the final programme contribution is clearly well behind. How do we resolve this and make it usable for the operator?

Simple, right?

Actually, to us. It is. And it should be to you, too.

We resolve it by doing another mix using the proxy sources we've stored locally, but we're doing it in software. By using the proxy sources it's easy to simulate the time switching so that the programme operator perceives the changes happening immediately, but the real, high resolution, switching is happening at the event site just a few frames later.

With this method, any link latency can be handled. And we have another process, using the same proxy version approach, for processes like graphics.

We did exactly this in a trial with BBC Sport during Euro 2016, and it was flawless.

All this ultimately means is that what goes to air in an IP-based world is exactly what the operator intended, exactly when the operator intended it.

And in a fast-paced world, you never get a second chance to make a first intention.


Tags: iss126 | remote production | IP | jt-nm | smpte 2110 | suitcase | Ed Calverley
Submitted by Ed Calverley Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
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Submitted by Joseph Long Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Back to Basics with IP Video Production
Michael Waidson Its difficult to attend an industry tradeshow or read a publication without seeing discussions about the technological changes that will impact the broadcast market in upcoming years. These changes include 4K/UHDTV, High Dynamic Range and High Frame Rate video but the transition to an all IP video workflow is regarded as a disruptive technology change that will demand new skill sets and infrastructure.
Tags: iss127 | tek | tektronix | ip | test | Michael Waidson
Submitted by Michael Waidson Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Power linking just got better
Yasushi Wada Sometimes batteries can be interesting and this year with IDX is one of those years with not only improvements in the V-Lock range there are significant changes within the 7.2volt area. Firstly and for the very first time in Europe the updated Power Link battery system the IPL range will be shown on the IDX stand at IBC
Tags: iss127 | idx | battery | power | v-lock | vl-2000s | ipl-150 | ipl-95 | Yasushi Wada
Submitted by Yasushi Wada Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Immersive Audio
Jon Schorah - new In 2012, the Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign burst onto the scene, initiating a new wave of public interest in sense-enveloping immersive experiences. 5 years later, the consumer reality is mixed with some very public let-downs like Google Glass (which is coincidentally enjoying a re-birth at the time of writing, now as a technical tool in the workplace), and other technologies such as Dolby Atmos® becoming almost commonplace experiences. What does this mean for the audio professional and how is the near future shaping up in 2018?
Tags: iss127 | immersive audio | dolby atmos | dts-s | auro-3d | oculus rift | nugen | Jon Schorah - new
Submitted by Jon Schorah - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Managing colour from aquisition to delivery
Ollie Kenchington

Start with calibration

The right colour management process can be the difference between being certain of what the end results are going to be, and having to spend time fixing things in post production.

Tags: iss127 | calibration | colour | x-rite | xrite | colorpassort | colorchecker | Ollie Kenchington
Submitted by Ollie Kenchington Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Supporting creativity and driving better workflows
Rod Aaron Gammons For decades videographers and filmmakers have been pushing the boundaries when it comes to creativity all with the aim of delivering a visually spectacular and engaging experience to viewers. For the most part they rely on artistic vision and innate skill, but over the last few years technology has been playing more of a role in enabling that creativity, like cameras, sound and lighting.
Tags: iss127 | rotolight | led lighting | aeos | Rod Aaron Gammons
Submitted by Rod Aaron Gammons Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Production Communications in a Shrinking World
Gary Rosen Communications today is a critical issueno matter if you are producing broadcast television, doing a live festival or rock concert outdoors, setting up a musical on the West End, or producing a local school play. Over the last few years, the proliferation of cell phones and other wireless devices has made it clear that most people prefer to communicate untethered.
Tags: iss127 | pliant | comms | intercom | duplex | Gary Rosen
Submitted by Gary Rosen Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
State of the Nation - part 2
Dick Hobbs - new This is, of course, the IBC issue of this splendid magazine. Much of the rest of its pages are filled with what you will see there, or (in some cases) what vendors and their marketing communications agencies want you to see there.
Tags: iss127 | ibc | 5g | dejero | liveu | Dick Hobbs - new
Submitted by Dick Hobbs - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Why the IABM matters
Peter White The broadcast and media industry is going through a once-in-a-generation transformation right now. Broadcasters and media companies are facing unprecedented challenges with enormous opportunities opening up for the winners. To grasp those opportunities though, broadcasters and media companies need a new generation of agile, cost-effective technology to power their operations to enable them to spin up new services in moments, to repurpose content and serve viewers on their device of choice, wherever they are and whenever they want it.
Tags: iss127 | iabm | standards | Peter White
Submitted by Peter White Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Class - Treat your virtual machines like cattle
Bruce Devlin - new

The AWS Summit 2017 in London

For several years I have felt that I should attend the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in London, but never quite found the time to do it. After an exhilarating and educational day, I will now regret that I didn’t go sooner.

Tags: iss127 | aws summit | azure | Bruce Devlin - new
Submitted by Bruce Devlin - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
A 360 degree view of fashion
Michael Parsons Im often asked, what do you do when the students arent around?, and the simple answer is, as it would be from any university technical support member of staff, I get involved in passion projects and these help me to stay up-to-date with the kit and keep my hand-in with video filmmaking.
Tags: iss127 | 360 | vr | portsmouth | university | nokia | ozo | pxw-fs7 | avid media composer | Michael Parsons
Submitted by Michael Parsons Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Cellular, Satellite or Fixed Link - how do you choose
Lorna Garrett Having a choice is a good thing. Take apples, for example. While one may look pretty much the same as the next, we know that the subtle differences between varieties can make a huge difference in how we choose to use them some are best for pies, some better for cider, and others just perfect for eating from the tree.
Tags: iss127 | liveu | garland | tranmission | uplink | cellular | Lorna Garrett
Submitted by Lorna Garrett Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Multi-camera fly-away for live music production
Aaron Dunleavy A specialist in multi-camera concert films and music documentaries, Toward Infinity began working with Trickbox TV around 18 months ago. Run by Producer, Director and Editor Tim Sidwell and Producer and DP Jeremy Mason, Toward Infinity is a creative collaboration that works with top flight venues including: Royal Albert Hall, Wembley Arena, the O2 Arena, Shepherd's Bush Empire and the London Forum, with artists in all genres.
Tags: iss127 | trickbox | multicamera | flyaway | Aaron Dunleavy
Submitted by Aaron Dunleavy Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Strays - Telling a dark tale
Aaron Dunleavy Independent filmmaker, Aaron Dunleavy, has used the backdrop of his hometown, Blackburn, to create a new short film as part of Channel 4 and Arts Council Englands Random Acts programme. The initiative - delivered by Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle), HOME (Manchester), and True North Productions (Leeds) - commissions bold, innovative expressions of creativity from young creative talent, and was a new and welcome challenge for Dunleavys third short film.
Tags: iss127 | strays | blackmagic design | vfx | ursa mini | grade | grading | Aaron Dunleavy
Submitted by Aaron Dunleavy Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
The importance of storage
Jonathan Smith In recent years, viewing habits have shifted dramatically; online video is becoming the preferred option for the younger generation. But its not just millennials who are cutting the cord with broadcasters and traditional platforms increasing numbers of people from all age groups are abandoning cable and instead enjoying TV online. In response to this growing trend, platforms such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer are rushing to invest in fresh digital content, in a bid to satisfy their ever-increasing audiences.
Tags: iss127 | limelight networks | cdn | pops | Jonathan Smith
Submitted by Jonathan Smith Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Image processing with Ikegami
Michael Latzch What do you see as the trend thats most impacting the image-processing sector at this moment in time?
Tags: iss127 | ikegami | hdr | vr | 4k | ptz | Michael Latzch
Submitted by Michael Latzch Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Atomos Ninja Inferno REVIEWED
Daniel Peters Bristol-based Daniel Peters is one of a new breed of indie filmmakers discovering that you dont need big budgets to create filmic shorts. Often working solo, shooting and editing his own work, he creates the look and feel of bigger productions with only limited resources. His commitment to the craft is so great he had to sell much of his own gear to fund his most recent short film Deserted in Paris, after he went over budget due to lost locations and actors pulling out.
Tags: iss127 | atomos | inferno | ninja | review | prores | dnxhr | gh5 | fs7 | lut | Daniel Peters
Submitted by Daniel Peters Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
A bluffers guide to image stabilisation
Mike Colyer One of the greatest challenges I face when designing a Special Camera system is how to minimise such vibrations, be they the very passive such as vibrations from a human wearing a camera system (10 20Hz), or more pronounced (try strapping a camera to a race car!).
Tags: iss127 | stabilisation | eis | ois | Mike Colyer
Submitted by Mike Colyer Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
50 years in and the show must go on
John Smith -new At IBC we always look forward to meeting old faces and new. For those more recently acquainted with the broadcast industry, you may not realise IBC was born half a century ago in London. In 1967 the show, held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, attracted just 32 exhibitors and 500 delegates. However, its popularity grew and the exhibition quickly upgraded with a move to the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, followed by the Wembley Conference Centre, before moving to Brighton.
Tags: iss127 | medialinks | ibc | amsterdam | John Smith -new
Submitted by John Smith -new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Top Tips on becoming an IBC Jedi
Aaron Dunleavy IBC is upon us once more. The doors of the RAI will open for the European electronic media and entertainment industry to scrum together to gather inspiration, keep abreast of developments in tech, and generally take the temperature of the industry. 
Tags: iss127 | ibc | mtf | lenses | adapters | Aaron Dunleavy
Submitted by Aaron Dunleavy Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Implementing an IP workflow
John Smith -new The eventual move to incorporate IP into your infrastructures is an inevitability. However, with justified concerns about interoperability and uncertainty about which vendors are best placed to help organisations achieve their IP media networking and content delivery goals, is it any wonder there is hesitation about moving forward? Broadcasters very wisely, don't want the pain without the gain!
Tags: iss126 | medialinks | ip | mdp3020 | gateway | John Smith -new
Submitted by John Smith -new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Integrated and automating marketing campaign production
James Gilbert ITV, as an integrated producer broadcaster, creates, owns and distributes high-quality content on multiple platforms. It operates the largest commercial family of channels in the UK and delivers its content through traditional television broadcasting as well as on demand via the ITV Hub. ITV has the largest share of the UK television advertising market and its family of channels attracted a total share of viewing of 21.4% in 2016, the largest audience of any UK commercial broadcaster. ITV's main channel is the largest commercial channel in the UK, delivering 99% of all commercial audiences over five million.
Tags: iss126 | pixel power | itv | marketing campaign | James Gilbert
Submitted by James Gilbert Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Lighting - the stuff you do not see
Tama Berkeljon Lighting is the stuff you don't see that makes a difference in what you do see. How the audience feels about a character and whether the scene is scary, tense or upbeat are communicated by the quality and placement of light. Lighting can take the drama to a whole new level - think about film noir with all those shadows on the wall.
Tags: iss126 | outsight | ghost in the shell | led lighting | Tama Berkeljon
Submitted by Tama Berkeljon Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Ad servers and switching solutions
Peter Blanchford Hardware-based ad servers and switching solutions have been around for a long time and, broadly speaking, do the job just fine.
Tags: iss126 | starfish technologies | ad server | ts splicer | ts switch | gop | Peter Blanchford
Submitted by Peter Blanchford Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
IP Based Remote Production
Ed Calverley Over the last few years Suitcase TV has been getting involved in remote production at the software layer, and I want to talk about some of the ways we have been getting involved in remote production, including a specific trial that we did last year with BBC Sport for the Euro 2016 tournament in Paris.
Tags: iss126 | remote production | IP | jt-nm | smpte 2110 | suitcase | Ed Calverley
Submitted by Ed Calverley Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
TV Futures
Jane Lawrence When I was younger my dad used to encourage me to be a Jack of all trades and a master of none. One of those clich© things parents hand down to their children. However, as I have grown and gone through different stages of education I have found this little piece of wisdom has followed me. Don't get me wrong, being amazing at one thing is a great skill to have, but for me having a good understanding of everything is also vital.
Tags: iss126 | tvfutures | ccitv | portsmouth | preditors | Jane Lawrence
Submitted by Jane Lawrence Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Media Production Show and other news
Duncan Payne So, the 2nd Media Production Show has been and gone. Hands up who went to Islington by mistake? I know at least two people who did. Their secret is safe with me! For me, the sign of a great trade show is when I come away really enthused about an innovative use of existing technology or a brand new product. When I find something that combines both these things, then I'm a very happy man.
Tags: iss126 | adamantean | finance | leasing | mps | ptz | sam | Duncan Payne
Submitted by Duncan Payne Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine