The advent of low-cost, long-range wireless links such as those from Ubiquiti Networks have revolutionalised internet connectivity for many, especially in remote areas. This case study will look at a 37 kilometre (23 mile) high data rate wireless link using the OBE C-100 Encoder and Decoder platform to deliver broadcast quality bidirectional video over IP.
Week’s 7 and 8 have been merged (again) owing to various trips abroad. One highlight was being able to visit the Mobile TV Group UHD/HDR truck. This truck was doing Basketball for FOX Sports and we learnt how they are working on testing HDR for various broadcasters. We also show how UHD streams were managed and the challenges with cable overload and managing 2SI (sample interleave) vs quadrants.
Nice to be able to visit this pic.twitter.com/MVpxcQ1PWW— OpenBroadcastSystems (@OpenBroadcastSy) February 16, 2017
In Week 8 we started testing SMPTE 2022-6 with our colleagues @skynewstech:
We’re learning a lot about how to deploy software 2022-6 streams ourselves in a multivendor environment. More on this at our NAB BEITC speech "Don’t Just Go IP, Go IT".
London and Trezzano, Italy, 28 February 2017 – Open Broadcast Systems today announced it has appointed Video Signal to distribute its software-based encoding and decoding solutions across Italy.
Founded in 1994, Video Signal is a specialist distributor and integrator for production and video post-production technology. It is able to offer customisation to its customers across the region, delivering a bespoke system depending on unique requirements. It has managed large audio and video system deployments and multiple analogue to digital transitions.
Video Signal will manage deployments of Open Broadcast Systems’ advanced broadcast software, which enables reliable and uncompressed contribution over IP. The products, running as apps on standard IT hardware enable broadcasters and services providers to easily transition to IP. It also enables simple monitoring of all types of IP feed in one place,
“Our customers are increasingly looking to make the most of IP technology and the cost and resource efficiencies that brings,” commented Alessandro Trezzi, Founder, Video Signal. “Open Broadcast Systems’ technology enables video content providers to do more and quicker, thanks to those savings.”
“We are pleased to be working with Video Signal. It has unrivalled expertise and knowledge in the Italian market, meaning we can trust our solutions in the team’s capable hands,” added Kieran Kunhya, Founder, Open Broadcast Systems.
About Open Broadcast Systems
Open Broadcast Systems is revolutionising the provision of advanced broadcast technology, moving the industry towards a flexible, cost efficient, software-driven future. Its cutting-edge and end-to-end encoding and decoding software is accelerating the delivery of premium content over IP, improving quality at the same time as reducing costs. High quality solutions developed by Open Broadcast Systems deliver services to millions of people every day, including many major sporting and breaking news events.
Its products adapt to the pressures and challenges of the modern broadcast environment, agile solutions can be developed and installed in extremely short timeframes, without compromising on quality.
For more information, please visit http://www.obe.tv
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At Open Broadcast Systems, we have a lot of repetitive business processes that essentially involve the same simple tasks every day or every week. We like to follow the famous Japanese continuous improvement process of Kaizen, made famous by Toyota, where every employee from the factory floor worker to the CEO can suggest and enact improvements to their work to improve efficiency. But in the era of automation, we want to do more - we want to improve processes by several orders of magnitude and then have them done automatically. This lets us run with a much lower administrative headcount compared to similar companies, as well as move more quickly.
One of the hardest processes to improve was our ordering processes for Blackmagic cards. Owing to recent GBP currency fluctuations, our supply chain has had regular price changes, most of which we automatically calculate from USD or EUR and pull into spreadsheets.
However, all Blackmagic equipment from the UK distributor is priced using a master PDF price list pictured below:
It is, of course, easy for humans to read this datasheet but for a machine, it has a confusing mix of pictures, description, and a large number of subcategories of device. Note how there could be a single heading to list the subcategories or just a single device type. None of this is easy for a computer to understand.
Initially we tried basic PDF extraction tools like pdfextract but they struggled with the complex table structure. But then we found Tabula, software used by journalists to parse released documents. It was able to understand the document structure very well as we can see:
From there it was some very simple python scripting to extract prices and loading all this data into our supply chain spreadsheets. We can now run this as a batch job every day and have nicely updated prices.
We want to do this for as many business processes, from the simple to the complicated. However, we lack a lot of things to really make the most of automation:
Most of this week involved visiting FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source European Developers Meeting, where we were organising the Open Media track in conjunction with colleagues from the EBU and OpenHeadend.
We had an all-hands company meeting in Brussels on the Friday hosted at the lovely Radisson Red Brussels complete with crocodile meat for lunch nearby. Interestingly, the hotel was solar powered from a Tesla PowerPack.
During the week, we spent a long time chasing and bisecting a Blackmagic playback bug on very long-running streams that occurred between two driver versions. We also started the number crunching to produce various reports.
FOSDEM itself had many interesting speakers, but for us the highlight was Gerolf Ziegenhain from the DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH. This was an incredible insight into how DFS manages Linux and other software that is safety-of-life critical. You would (understandably) think this is a very bureaucratic process but the speaker was able to eloquently explain the mix between the business requirements and the heavy technical knowledge DFS has. For example, they desolder and replace diodes on NVIDIA Graphics cards to improve reliability. Yet at the same time, it takes years of testing to roll out a new software release.
The broadcast industry has a lot to learn from this, many still think that IT hardware can’t be used for mission-critical purposes, yet as I fly to my weekend break in Berlin, it is IT equipment keeping me safe in the skies:
Final keynote showing how German Air Traffic Controllers use Linux for mission critical processes. pic.twitter.com/yHnsVQ3uvq— OpenBroadcastSystems (@OpenBroadcastSy) February 5, 2017
So, that didn’t last long...we’ve merged weeks three and four owing to various trips abroad.
We were pleased to attend the European Broadcasting Union Production Technology Seminar (EBU PTS) to hear about how broadcasters are looking forward to Ultra-HD and High Dynamic Range productions in the future, something we are also working on with a number of clients. Day Two culminated in the unique opportunity to watch Planet Earth II in UHD, WCG and HDR using a state of the art projector:
Day three was also very interesting since it was about IP production. We had a standards update about SMPTE 2110 from Wim Vermost. His key point was it must be implementable in software, unlike the current proposals which are heavily skewed to hardware implementations.
In a later session, we also heard from Sky UK about its plans to move its News and Sport MCRs to IP, in what appears to be the first public outing of this project. This ambitious project is something we have been working on with Sky for a while and our encoders/decoders form a significant proportion of the IP connected devices on the network.
The presenter described a workflow we are closely involved in, a reporter speaks at Downing Street, that feed is encoded and transported over IP, it’s then decoded to SMPTE 2022-6 uncompressed IP at the studio and routed as pure-IP. Furthermore, this is a workflow that is entirely based on standard IT hardware, something industry “commentators” claim to be many years away.
In an unrelated development Sky also announced that it was planning to deliver its channels over IP, a major move for a nearly 30-year old satellite platform. We’ve been working with IPTV pioneers such as Free in France for many years delivering major channels to millions over IP. The technical decisions that Sky take remain to be seen, whether they take a traditional managed IPTV approach or an OTT approach and how this affects the viewer’s experience. Interestingly, the move to IP means that a number of our team can become Sky subscribers for the first time since they aren’t able to have satellite dishes at home.
Like any New Year’s resolution the difficult part is keeping going especially during London’s freezing wind and rain this week. But nonetheless, here is our Week 2 in review blog:
We believe that over the coming months, we will see more and more broadcasters adopting an IP approach. You can read our opinion on this, and why actually you should be going IT, in CSI Magazine: http://www.csimagazine.com/csi/broadcast-moves-to-IT.php
We started working on our paper and presentation for the NAB Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology Conference (BEITC), which will offer our insights into this field.
We’ve also fulfilled one of our customers’ biggest requests: branded server stickers. These are now available free-of-charge for existing customers and our products will now ship with these.
We were pleased to also be retweeted and liked by some famous British entertainers.
Firstly, a warm welcome to 2017! We thought we’d share the weekly goings on here at Open Broadcast Systems, both in our main London office and the rest of our team distributed around Europe.
Our French Partner Ekla Ingeniere installed 2x HD C-100 Decoders at the Globecast SERTE, the main French broadcast switching centre. This decoder has the capability to be software upgraded to 4x simultaneous HD decoders..
We worked with Ekla this week to integrate this unit into SERTE.
We might be a software company but we’ve have developed a complex supply chain with parts from dozens of suppliers travelling around the world to numerous systems integrators. Things like customs delays and upstream supplier lead times has at times led to longer lead times than we hoped in 2016. Therefore, at the end of 2016, we started taking steps to reduce lead times, with some units now available within a week of order. In 2017, our goal is for all mainstream chassis to be available within a week.
This week, some of our more technical work has included:
We started planning for our trip to FOSDEM in Brussels at the end of the month.
We have also started planning our NAB booth and demos.
And, of course, the first week of the year means paperwork :(
Open Broadcast Systems teamed up with the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers (SMPTE) UK Section to host an event looking at IT in broadcast. Being close to Christmas, it also featured mulled wine and mince pies, of course!
The main aim of the evening event was to tell the audience of broadcasters and manufacturers that broadcast data-centres can look exactly like an IT data-centre already, and work extremely well. Many people within this industry, especially the traditional broadcasters and manufacturers, find that hard to believe but actually an IT approach comes with a number of major advantages and is already being used for numerous broadcasts.
Scotland, October 2016- BBC Scotland used Open Broadcast Systems’ software-defined encoders to deliver HD over IP content direct from the BBC Festival Fringe. The content was delivered live from George Herriot’s School during the Edinburgh International Festival.
Two OBE C-100 encoders were used to deliver high bitrate live feeds to both Pacific Quay in Glasgow and New Broadcasting House in London. The OBE C-100 is an IP-based encoder and decoder for the contribution of news, sport, and channels.
The encoders were also used to deliver contributions live to BBC Breakfast in Salford, as well as being used for delivery to the BBC1 HD transmission systems in London of three The One Show programmes.