All-IP Operations: The Next Great Advance for Professional Media Facilities
Thanks to ongoing technological development, internet protocol (IP) networks today can accommodate the immense bandwidth and exacting performance demands associated with the real-time transport of modern media formats. Moreover, today’s IP networks bring inherent benefits over serial digital interface (SDI) based systems; improved flexibility and scalability combine with the IP networks’ ubiquity to yield robust performance and enable cost-effective implementation.
By shifting from SDI to IP, organizations within the media and entertainment industry position themselves to leverage many earlier advances in IP and information technology (IT) — including economical commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Ethernet switches and servers — and to achieve greater agility in managing and moving professional media.
Media processing software that rides on COTS switches and servers will facilitate the future rise of virtualized video production plants. The virtualized environment allows new services to be added dynamically and economically while supporting the elasticity and scaling of services and the compute and processing resources underlying them.
Rather than “reinventing the wheel,” engineers across the media industry have focused on leveraging IP infrastructure for real-time, media specific applications and tailoring it to enable and optimize the handling of media essence and related data over IP networks. Using their unique understanding of media, engineers are now building on earlier work to create standards and specifications that offer a clear path toward all-IP broadcast infrastructure.
The SMPTE ST 2110 Professional Media Over Managed IP Networks suite of standards is a significant outcome of this work. Built on the Video Services Forum (VSF) Technical Recommendation for Transport of Uncompressed Elementary Stream Media Over IP (TR-03), ST 2110 is facilitating the industry’s movement toward one common IP-based mechanism for the professional media industry.
The SMPTE ST 2110 standards suite specifies the carriage, synchronization, and description of separate elementary essence streams over IP for real-time production, playout, and other professional media applications. It allows for agnostic carriage of various video and audio formats, and it facilitates the use of the same carriage mechanism regardless of factors such as resolution, bit depth, frame rate, and number of channels.
Standards within the suite, which SMPTE continues to augment, make it possible to route elements separately and bring them together again at the endpoint, with component flows — independent streams of audio, video, and metadata — remaining synchronized with one another. This advance simplifies both the addition of metadata such as captions, subtitles, Teletext, and time codes as well as the processing of multiple audio languages and types. With greater simplicity comes more flexibility and efficiency in handling media and metadata.
Likewise supporting the industry’s embrace of IP, IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) serves as a common,
very precise time base that can be carried point-to-point on IP over Ethernet networks through switches and servers. PTP is essential to the real-time handling of video, and it plays an integral role in the SMPTE ST 2059 standards suite that defines the interoperable use of IP based media equipment and supports interoperation with conventional genlocked SDI equipment. As media organizations begin to deploy IP-based solutions, the SMPTE ST 2022-6 Transport of High Bit Rate Media Signals over IP Networks standard (colloquially known as “SDI over IP”) provides the means to make an incremental move from SDI to IP. Together, these SMPTE standards provide both a roadmap and a toolset for the migration to all-IP infrastructure. With an understanding of these standards — and notably, the SMPTE ST 2110 standards suite — media organizations can migrate in a manner that is non-disruptive to operations and employees.
SMPTE, a founding member of the Joint Task Force for Networked Media (JT-NM) along with the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA), European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and VSF, has teamed up with the Audio Engineering Society (AES), Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), and IABM for the IP Showcase at the 2018 NAB Show. The IP Showcase educates wand energizes NAB visitors to embrace the huge business and creative potential of IP, plan effectively, and ultimately build a more flexible, efficient, and innovative broadcasting industry. At this year’s IP Showcase (booth C12634), more than 60 manufacturers will demonstrate the benefits and practicality of moving to IP workflows, all leveraging the new SMPTE ST 2110 standards and AMWA Networked Media Open Specifications (NMOS).
The industry’s move to all-IP will transform the way content is created, managed, and distributed. Great things lie ahead for those media organizations that implement an informed transition to all-IP operations.