Think back to the magical time when peer-to-peer file sharing came into the collective consciousness. Suddenly, you could browse your friend’s entire album collection and download what you wanted, trade songs, and make massive group playlists. Filesharing birthed a new, massive wave of remix artists over the next twenty years. It was great fun, and it completely transformed the way the music industry does business. Imagine the same flexibility and possibility applied to live broadcast networks, with the ability to cut to any source in your entire network from any other source in the network, without lag and with perfect clarity, and with minimal changes to your infrastructure once your equipment has been upgraded to be IP video compatible. It’s a new level of system flexibility that opens up a new world of shots and options for broadcasters. That’s the promise of IP video for broadcasting.
What NewTek’s IP Video NDI® Does
IP-based video allows each machine in an IP-connected environment to act as a stand-alone source, and to act as its own switchboard of sources. Every live streaming source can be cut into any other live broadcast in any machine connected to the IP video environment. For live event producers, it opens a huge network of opportunities to add video from a diaspora of sources to create the richest live streaming event possible. By offering extremely high speed encoding through something like NewTek’s Network Device Interface - NDI® protocol that “manages” the streaming signals, you can get instant live broadcast quality of whatever stream you’re employing for the broadcast while the secondary feeds are still available, but their bandwidth needs instantly shrink to make room for the bandwidth required to broadcast the live feed in high definition. This all happens digitally, through the use of standard Ethernet cables, and requires no equipment upgrades.
These systems have long been available in the AV world, but are a new concept in the world of live broadcasting. Encoding speed was the singular limitation for live broadcasting, and now that encoding speeds seem to have caught up with the quality expectations of broadcasting, IP-based video is looking like the future of broadcasting, with SMPTE 2022:6, ASPEN and NDI® standard as the gateway from broadcast to IP-based video.
Overcoming Broadcast’s Limitations with IP Video
The bottom line of broadcast is that it requires too much physical equipment and upgrades to be sustainable in the world full of ever-widening broadcast needs. Connectivity is a physical matter – including patch cables, separate management systems, and so forth. You are limited to a certain number of sources because of the limited availability of line-ins in equipment. Not to mention that any time a new picture standard comes on the market, upgrades from the old standard can often be time-consuming and costly. IP-based video is a royalty-free system that requires no additional physical connection upgrades, and can be off the ground and running with tools as small and simple as NDI-integrated web cameras.
NDI® Protocol and Latency
There is simply not enough bandwidth in the world to send every feed in a huge network in full resolution all of the time, but that’s the magic of the NDI® protocol. The hyper-fast speed at which feeds can be encoded to make more room for more bandwidth means you still get the video resolution you’re looking for without lag. It is so fast in some cases, that streaming networks were asked to slow down their feeds to match cable latency. The speed that seemed impossible even a decade ago to make IP video possible is here, and in the form of well-established Ethernet cables -- still just as capable as they were at delivering robust levels of data as they were in the days before reliable WiFi.
Saving On Equipment Costs & Installation Time
IP-based video will save you money, and the bottom line is always the final word in any decision upgrade equipment. While there will be some equipment upgrades that will require some investment, the NDI-based system allows you to take a more complete advantage of all of your channels, as your control, power and video cables are all one small CAT6 Ethernet cable. That’s a powerful savings when you multiply it across all of the equipment in a live broadcasting rig.
Customers are also allowed the freedom to design systems without burdening the the structure with excess cables. There is much greater flexibility on-site to add equipment to your setup without having to drag miles of cable to the location.
Get Ahead of the Curve with IP-Based Video
IP-based video falls into the category of something that is pretty much guaranteed to happen, as the video conferencing and AV worlds have streamlined it into a reliable, necessary tool for doing business. Now, modern encoding speed allows it to become a necessary and useful tool in the world of live broadcasting as well. With the mammoth and rapidly-expanding costs of producing live video, reducing costs with a highly flexible and adaptive system is the only thing that makes sense. And with over 700 million users cutting cable last year, it’s obvious that users are looking for other sources of live broadcasting besides traditional vertical sources. Adapting will be key to meeting these cable-cutters’ needs for broadcast entertainment.Photo Credit: RIEDEL Communications Flickr via Compfight cc