Podcast: IP Showcase at 2018 NAB Show - Part 1
Aimée Ricca sits down with Michael Cronk of AIMS, Wes Simpson of VSF, and Willem Vermost of EBU at the 2018 NAB Show to discuss the IP Showcase.
Aimée Ricca: 00:13 Hi, and welcome to our series, Informal chats with industry leaders. So that you can get to know them, and the technologies they use better. We are here live at NAB show and we can hear the excitement in the air.
Aimée Ricca: 00:27 We are here with Mike Cronk of AIMS, Willem Vermost of EBU, and Wes Simpson of VSF. Thank you for joining us today. You are in the middle of setting up the IP Showcase, right?
Mike Cronk: 00:40 Absolutely.
Aimée Ricca: 00:41 Is it almost set up?
Mike Cronk: 00:42 It's getting there
Aimée Ricca: 00:44 Okay. So this is the third-second, I'm confused. Help me out. How many years-
Mike Cronk: 00:50 It's about the second year. So the IP showcase, as we call it the IP Showcase started NAB 2017.
Aimée Ricca: 01:07 That is a lot of acronyms.
Mike Cronk: 01:09 It is a lot of acronyms, but essentially the entire industry got together for the first time at IBCT 2016, and we call it the IP Interoperability zone. We changed the name to the IP showcase in 2017 and we are still moving forward.
Aimée Ricca: 01:25 So, can you tell us about- for someone who has never been to the IP showcase, what are they going to experience when they go there?
Mike Cronk: 01:35 They are going to see really the entire industry coming together over fifty vendors. The industry organizations that I talked about as sponsors, they will see live production NIP. They will see demonstrations of the benefits of IP and IP is a tremendous technology that holds a lot of promise for industry, it's being deployed and being used really quite a bit all over the industry and they will get to see the reference sights we have a lot of documentation on that as well.
Mike Cronk: 02:04 They can see how IP can help them. I, as a broadcaster, prepare for the future
Aimée Ricca: 02:11 So there's a lot of different parts of the IP showcase, can each of you may be starting with Wes, can each of you tell us what your favorite part of the IP showcase is?
Wes Simpson: 02:21 Well, for me proper operation of an IP base meeting network is all based on timing. If you don't have a good clock going to all the different devices out there you're not going to get good results. So, just like a traditional studio has a whole timing network built to support it, with an IP base system we can do the timing internally to the media network. We don't have to have overlay network, we used a technology known as precision time protocol. And to me that's exciting, that takes an incredible amount of work to get all the pieces cooperating together and really focusing on proper, real time synchronization of video and audio for our viewers.
Aimée Ricca: 03:11 And Willem, what is your favorite part of the IP Showcase?
Willem Vermost: 03:15 Well the favorite part is that we have over fifty companies, I mean not just proprietary things, it's open standards and this is what customers do want. They want to mix and match the things that they want to use in their own set up. So it's wonderful to see that these many companies got together and really do it- that's really good.
Aimée Ricca: 03:39 So why do we think we are seeing so much interest in professional media over managed IP networks?
Mike Cronk: 03:47 Well I think there's a number of benefits that it brings. Number one is there is scalability, there's the ability to run really any format through that IP network very easily, so when you think about the future and should we go UHD, all of that can be handled by this network without having to change out your infrastructure- that provides a highway to virtualization and other functions that can really help a broadcaster and really enable a type of cloud environment down the road as well.
Mike Cronk: 04:21 So, it has a tremendous amount of benefits and I think that's why there's so much interest in it.
Wes Simpson: 04:27 Well also I think that there is a tremendous interest in the industry to make things easier to set up and tear down. We've had a long history of having to spend months to connect different devices together to achieve anything useful on a media network. Today with an IP base system you can literally change the software, upgrade the firmware and be doing a completely different production system that you had been viewing twenty-four hours ago.
Willem Vermost: 05:06 Another example could be changing from HD to UHD. With SDI you need to rip out everything- cabling included and people don't want to do that anymore and IP delivers this service really wired-several broadcasters also in Europe are looking at this technology to use it.
Aimée Ricca: 05:24 So can you provide some examples, ways that it's gaining momentum. Use cases in real world now?
Mike Cronk: 05:34 Sure, I'll take one. Mobile production is an excellent example and mobile production especially is trucks prepare for UHD but if you try to take a traditional SDI technology and build a truck that can handle thirty-two cameras for a major soccer, or say in the states for an NFL football game, or the Masters or something like that. It just takes four SDI routers, about one-hundred and forty-eight rack units of stuff, tons of cabling- you can do the same thing and it cumbersome, you can do the same thing with many trucks involved started to ploy about ten rack units of switching. And the connections are firing at more signals through the fiber, it allows you to scale to places we weren't about to do and handle some of these higher speed formats so we are seeing that in multiple trucks in Europe and Switzerland. The UK and a number of them as well in the US. So that's one example.
Willem Vermost: 06:40 Well one of the proven concepts in Belgium surely does well was a very good one. You can go with smaller equipment to places where this is where you would have never been able to go before. So it enables a lot of other things that you can show into the vision. So from a production value it's quite interesting as well.
Wes Simpson: 06:58 The other thing about an IP base system is that we can do everything that we need to do on a common network. Before we used to have a separate network for file management, we had a separate network for when we were delivering streams over the internet to people, when we were going over the top so to speak and today with a single common infrastructure we can achieve all those different end benefits without having to have all these separate islands of technology we can all merged together and work with the same common infrastructure and we can save a lot in the long run in terms of having to reinvest and recreate equipment you can simply use the same infrastructure over and over again regardless of you what you are trying to deliver.
Aimée Ricca: 07:45 So, one thing we haven't mentioned is SMPTE ST 2110, and obviously most people know that's the standard for IP as it- as we are talking about it here so what role do standards and industry organizations like SMPTE play in bringing this innovations to the market in an effective manner.
Wes Simpson: 08:12 Well to me they are absolutely key. Without a standard you won't have the ability for different manufacturers to work with each other. You have to have a way for 'company A' to generate a stream that 'company B' can receive and process. So without standards we don't have an industry. And, 2110 took a lot of effort but in the long run it's a flexible, expansible standard that handles uncompressed media today, we're hard at work at compressed media including compressed audio, compressed video.
Wes Simpson: 08:47 So as that standard continues to evolve we will be able to have more and more interoperability between all the different suppliers of equipment and suppliers of software and suppliers of technology and we will end up with an ecosystem where just like you can today with SDI you can take a camera from 'Manufacture A' and a recording device from 'Manufacture B' and hook them up and have them run, the same exact thing will happen and is happening today with IP-based systems due to 2110
Mike Cronk: 09:21 Yeah, and I would just echo what Wes said, I have a role with AIMS but I also work for Grass Valley so I'm a vendor as well and I can remember back at let's say IBC 2015, so awhile back, there were a number of proprietary things out there in the market. It wasn't really sure what would be a standard, or even if there was a standard would it be adopted and multiple, multiple major networks customers were like we're not going to spend anything, we're not going to go to IP , there's a lot of benefit but we can't until there is a standard.
Mike Cronk: 09:54 And I think that's what has really brought the industry together you know one of the proof ways that the IP showcase- but it's also the whole SMPTE ST 2110 standard in terms with how fast that came together, so Wes said it was a lot of work and there were a lot of people in those committees, but we all worked very hard because I think there's a common understanding of how important it is to get to a standard, that enables opportunity for vendors, from the broadcasters perspective as Willem said best of three- I can choose the things I want, I know they are going to work together, it's just fundamental.
Willem Vermost: 10:23 Well and as a customer you don't want to just dive into one thing you want to mix and match. Just to be sure that you have the right investments so an open standards is very critical for these environments.
Aimée Ricca: 10:35 So, this next question is a little bit of a compound question-
Aimée Ricca: 10:39 How do these innovations benefit consumers as well as the industry?
Mike Cronk: 10:45 I'll take a stab at that I think that consumers want more content wherever they can, anywhere. And if you look at broadcasters their content creators. So the job of a content creator is to fulfill that need of the consumer and be able to very flexibility create content, make it personalized, all those types of things. That requires a system that is agile, that can handle any format and really without IP you can't automate things and do the types of things that can handle all the formats, as we talked about before going from an SD to HD, that was a multi-year type of thing, planning out your plant and then you get there and if it's UHD, you go "uh-oh, I have to re-do that again."
Mike Cronk: 11:27 With IP you can work so much faster and so it's behind the scenes from the consumer but this is the technology that enables broadcasters to deliver the content the way to consumer wants it. So, I think it's important to them.
Wes Simpson: 11:39 I think also for consumers that we are delivering more choice of content. There's a lot of talk out there about peak TV in the US with you know, four-hundred plus scripted television programs in active production today. Without some of this technology you wouldn't be able to afford to do that, you wouldn't have the distribution channels, you wouldn't have the production facilities, you wouldn't have all of the different things that are working together to give consumers more choice. So, not that the industry is saving that much money, what they are doing is they are doing more with the same amount of dollars, they are producing a lot more content for the same-with the same number of people and the same number of devices so that's a tremendous benefit for consumers who like choice.
Willem Vermost: 12:28 To echo this a little bit, so broadcaster should be on Facebook, on YouTube and those are all little specific edits just to be sure , like for instance on Facebook if you scroll, the first five seconds are important, on YouTube it's the middle of the movie. So there's a lot more editorial work and the only way to ultimate this is just to use the right thing.
Aimée Ricca: 12:51 What should we as technologists be doing to harness SMPTE ST 2110 and IP to bring the experiences to consumers?
Wes Simpson: 13:02 Well for me one of the key things is that you have to be open to learning new things. The same- people are coming at this market, this suite of technology from pretty much two different backgrounds; we have people who have been heavily invested in video technology for the past twenty or thirty years in their career and we have people that have been invested in information technology and IP networking for a number of years, you know, dozens or whatever. Both of those groups need to learn new things, people that have a traditional broadcast background need to learn more about information technology and how IP networks, work. And people who are in IP networking need to understand that video isn't just another pay load, it's probably one of the most demanding signal that you can put on an IP network today.
Wes Simpson: 13:55 Hundreds and hundreds of megabits or gigabits worth of traffic in a single stream that has to be very carefully managed through a network. And then together both those groups need to learn the new technologies, they need to understand the subtleties of how those different types of signals can impact a network, how a network can impact the signals and they have to learn these new standards that are literally be published just today. We're having brand new things coming out on a monthly or even a weekly basis so to me that's the key for being able to harness this technology that people have to be open to learning and seeking out that education.
Mike Cronk: 14:38 I think another key piece of it is, is to start now-you maybe you can start small but learn, get your hands dirty, if you will-start to use it. And as you do that you begin to see the benefits, "Oh I could do this"- and when my boss comes to me and says, "Well I really need you to be able to reconfigure that studio in less than an hour," it's a tool that allows you to maybe do something like that but you need to know it, understand it before you get the confidence to making those break throughs that I think will happen.
Willem Vermost: 15:07 Well that's what we usually give as advice to the members we say well, if you do something start small and start with a multi-disciplinary team. People open to learn from each other. That is the only thing we really need.
Aimée Ricca: 15:22 Excellent, well thank you and I appreciate you-especially in the middle of the NAB set up, taking the time to come down and talking to us about IP and the IP Showcase and what it is going to do for the future of the industry.