Friday, 20 January 2017

ISE Speaker Session: Future control room design

The control room as we know it is changing, and this change is being driven by a number of different factors. Firstly, there’s the issue of performance. With the control room being relied upon for an ever-increasing number of tasks, it’s important that each room is kitted out with versatile, high-performance equipment. The wellbeing of operators also needs to be taken into account — control rooms can quickly become unbearably cramped and full of equipment-  and crucial steps must be taken to make it a more work-friendly environment for everyone involved.

The solution for combatting these problems begins during the control design phase, taking the function of the room, the space and the technology options into consideration. This is what I’ll be discussing in more detail at the Integrated Systems Europe trade show, which takes place next month in Amsterdam.  I’ll be hosting my presentation, titled ‘Future control room design: the role of technology’, between 15:30 and 16:00 on February 9th in the Commercial Solutions Theatre. It would be great to see you there for what’s sure to be an enlightening half-hour session.

If you can’t make the presentation, Adder Technology will be at ISE for the duration of the show, where we’ll be demonstrating the new Adder CCS-PRO8 command and control switch and the AdderLink XDIP to our visitors. We’ll be at stand 10-P122, so come find us and say hello.

Friday, 6 January 2017

The networked production hub

IP connectivity is moving into broadcast production facilities at an increasing rate. —. And it is accelerating what is already a strong trend: the idea of the studio complex as a collection of resources which can be allocated as required, on a production by production basis.

So a centre could have several studios and multiple control rooms, although the number of control rooms might not equal the number of studios, and there may not be a direct association between studio and gallery. Rather than provide each control room with a large, fully-featured production switcher, there could be a set of shared switchers with particular resources – in terms of M/E banks, I/Os and DVEs – to be allocated as required.

Camera channels, graphics generators, prompters and more: these can all be shared and pulled on a production by production basis.

The implication of this is that all the hardware will reside in a central machine room with video and audio connectivity – now perhaps over IP – to the studio and control room which requires it. Which implies some means of connecting the control for each device as needed.

The modern solution is to use the Adder IP-based KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switching system. Essentially this allows any user interface – keyboard, video and mouse or trackpad – to be connected to any processor. The signals are carried over the existing IP network, with no lag in control and with full on-screen image quality.

The graphics operator, therefore, is connected by a single user interface to whichever devices have been allocated for that production. The studio engineer can switch quickly between monitoring and controlling servers, routing switchers and more. The whole production architecture can be established from a single workstation.

The system is doubly secure. Only people with the correct credentials have access to the KVM switch, and there is no need to let people into machine rooms because control of all devices can be remoted to where you are working. IP-based KVM boosts productivity and increases availability of the hardware.

Saving space on location

The outside broadcast can be regarded as extreme television production. Most of the time you are working live, with no chance of a retake (hard to rehearse a football match). The production is demanding, with 20 or more cameras in use, plus multiple replays, graphics, fast turnaround editing and more.

This has to be achieved not in a large and comfortable studio but in a space-contained truck. Clever designers use expanding vehicles to create more working space, but the unavoidable fact is that space is always going to be tight, and between jobs the truck has to fit within size and weight limits to be driven on the public road.

Despite the space constraint, there has to be room for a tiny desk for the truck’s engineer-in-charge. From this desk the engineer has to establish the required architectures and workflows for the production, and monitor all the systems, from switchers to servers. Those systems may not all be in the production truck: there may be auxiliary vehicles, for replays, for multiple edit suites, sports statistics and more. All determined by the scale of coverage and event.

Given the space and weight constraint, the engineer really needs to be able to access everything from one point. The simplest, fastest and lightest way to achieve this is with a networked KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switch. At the touch of a key the engineer will be able to see what is happening on any device in the whole system.

While solutions exist for monitoring multiple systems, these are separate devices (taking space and adding weight), and still only tend to report issues rather than letting the engineer get in and sort the problem. With a KVM switch the engineer can directly attach to any individual device, as if the laptop had been picked up and walked to the right part of the racks.

The Adder IP-based KVM system uses networked IP to switch and extend computer signals, which means there is no need for any additional cabling: it runs on the cabling already connecting the equipment. The high quality system means that the user experience is just as it would be if plugged into the back of the box: pixel perfect display and no lag on the keyboard or mouse.

It is simple, clean and most of all provides enhanced user ergonomics, minimising equipment and weight where it is most critical.

IP KVM: Keeping on top of Post Production

Post production is getting more complex. The routine tasks of editing, visual effects and graphics, and colour grading are becoming more sophisticated. Even soap operas are carefully graded, and many programmes now have rich visual effects.

On top of that, there are new formats. While a programme may be broadcast in HD, it will often be shot in 4K, and an Ultra HD version may be created for the archive. Even higher resolutions are on the near horizon, with NHK committed to live 8K Super Hi-Vision coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Along with greater resolution, we are also seeing an extended colour gamut through the use of high dynamic range: 10 or more bits per colour rather than eight. Some are also experimenting with higher frame rates: Ang Lee’s latest movie was shot at 120 frames a second, for example. This results in a challenge: more people, and therefore more software applications, need to access the content, but at the same time that content is taking up much more storage space.

In the past, the practice was to move the content to the operator, meaning that post houses had to invest in powerful, capacious networking to move material from one workstation to another. With a greater emphasis on collaborative workflows and more time pressure than ever, we now need to consider moving the operator to the content and seamlessly merging the physical and virtual worlds.

The solution is to provide each operator with access to the processors running the appropriate software and loaded with the right project. Once that part of the work is complete, the operator moves to the next project. Using Adder’s IP-based high performance KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switching technology, the operator can instantly switch between processors, real or virtual. Because the Adder solution routes KVM over an IP network, there are no restrictions in the set-up or future changes, with perfect screen graphics, instant switching and no lag in the user/computer interface actions.

The IP network means the system can support enough clients and access points for even the largest post house. Both PC and Mac systems can be connected – Adder is unique in providing good Apple video format handling – so an editor can switch between editing platforms at will. The system provides huge operational efficiencies, with maximum utilisation of suites and staff and minimal loss of time waiting for files to be moved across the network.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The power of IP

The power of IP
Article: The power of IP changing the Broadcast landscape

Though most broadcasters are still moving towards complete adoption of IP technology across the broadcast workflow, the benefits of the technology are broadly recognised and its presence is providing the industry with a powerful proof point for its wider adoption.

IP-based keyboard, video, mouse (KVM) technology is such a proof point and is used in various industries and applications, from command and control, energy and military, to transportation, medical and banking.

Jamie Shepperd, Group Marketing Manager at Adder has been speaking to Kit Plus about what broadcasters can gain from implementing IP technology as a whole, outlining how it works in outside broadcast, in the gallery and in post-production. Read the full article hereon page 52.