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.
(This is quite a technical blog post but projects like this are the reason we’re able to deliver broadcast infrastructure faster, at lower-cost and better than anyone else. For some background visit: http://www.slideshare.net/kierank12/implementing-uncompressed-over-ip-in-software-and-the-pitfalls)
At Open Broadcast Systems we push £200 Blackmagic video boards in ways the creators didn’t intend. We add functionality that people continue to tell us can only be done with specialist hardware with price tags ten, or even a hundred times more.
We also have an SMPTE 2022-6 (SDI over IP) stack written entirely in software, designed for use with standard Network Cards, something which surprised many visitors from hardware-centric vendors to our booth at IBC.
Amsterdam, 31 August 2016 – Open Broadcast Systems, an advanced broadcast technology visionary, is launching a suite of products to deliver software-defined live broadcast at IBC.
The products, running as “apps” on standard IT hardware, will enable broadcasters and services providers to easily transition to uncompressed IP by converting video both from legacy formats such as ASI and SDI to next generation formats and vice-versa. It also enables simple monitoring of all types of IP feed in one place, making it possible to move to future technologies today.
Open Broadcast Systems is also launching a 4K uncompressed-over-IP multiviewer, using a 40Gbps network. This demonstrates a technical-first, showing uncompressed-over-IP being processed on off-the-shelf hardware, and will enable broadcasters to monitor existing and next-generation IP feeds at a much lower-cost than before.
Open Broadcast Systems OBE C-100 encoders and decoders running as software apps on commodity IT hardware delivered a number of important broadcasts over IP during the EU Referendum for Sky News.
A low-depth, low-power IT server located in street-furniture outside 10 Downing Street encoded a number of referendum events including the Prime Minister’s final speech before the referendum, coverage from Sky’s Political Editor throughout results night and the Prime Minister’s historic resignation. Sky provided the Prime Minister’s final speech and subsequent resignation as the UK pool feed, meaning the country saw these historic events delivered end-to-end using IT infrastructure. Feeds were decoded at the Sky News centre using IT hardware running the OBE C-100 decoder app.
(Stand H16, BVE, London) Open Broadcast Systems is pleased to announce it is making an uncompressed-over-IP software update available for all its existing decoder (IRD) products, which adds a missing piece in the puzzle for customers to move to IP-based production. This will be the first IRD in the market to have a native uncompressed output, without the use of a converter SFP. Visitors to Stand H16 at BVE will be able to see it in action - an "IRD" that consists of entirely of standard server components.
Initially this will be using the SMPTE 2022-6 standard but as a software product is easily upgradable to support whatever flavour of Uncompressed-over-IP a customer decides to use. Precision Time Protocol (PTP) is also supported as standard, using the capabilities of the Linux® kernel. Coupled with newly added ASI support in the OBE range of products, customers can now have equipment capable of handling existing ASI all the way to future uncompressed-over-IP.
“This is usually the part where a hardware manufacturer has a picture of their custom-built circuit board and chassis”, said Kieran Kunhya, Managing Director of Open Broadcast Systems. “We’re not like that - we use off the shelf components that you can buy on Amazon to transport uncompressed video over IP. Our customers will tell you that using off-the-shelf components provides amazing levels of flexibility, letting them roll out deployments in record time and have pieces of kit capable of doing more than one thing. It doesn't matter whether you're a small operation or delivering the highest profile content in the world, IP will revolutionise the way you do things.”
(Stand H16, BVE, London) Open Broadcast Systems is pleased to announce its development and open-sourcing of a VC-2 HQ encoder and decoder. VC-2, formerly known as Dirac Pro, is ideally suited for mezzanine compression of video allowing HD to be transported using Gigabit Ethernet or 4K down Ten-Gigabit Ethernet at an ultra-low latency. As a core component in all of our products, FFmpeg 3.0 is the destination for this code, allowing any manufacturer to use and improve VC-2 encoding and decoding.
At the Broadcast Video Expo in London, we will be showing a low-latency encoder and decoder running on a wide range of hardware, from a software encoder you can fit in the palm of your hand, to high density blades, ideal for remote production.
Apart from being patent-free VC-2 has another trick up it’s sleeve compared to codecs not designed for video like JPEG2000. It doesn’t just have low generation loss, it has zero generation loss (thanks to its symmetric quantisation). Provided the downstream encoders are configured correctly (same bitrate, same slice-size etc.), there will be only a single encode generation, a unique feature in the industry.
VC-2 is also much more lightweight allowing reduced power consumption and encoding of higher resolutions without tiling and only requiring a modest bitrate penalty. However, in our implementation we’re going much further than many hardware manufacturers who are implementing only the simplest variant of VC-2.
Credit must go to BBC R&D for implementing high-quality, freely available, reference implementations and writing a clear specification.
Our implementation can be found in FFmpeg 3.0 which is available at http://www.ffmpeg.org
One of the great things about having rack-space in our new office is that we can now support open source projects using our equipment such as FFmpeg and Libav. They are critical parts of our software as well as underpin much of multimedia processing in the world today.
Fuzzing, is one of the ways in which we can improve the quality of the decoders when exposed to corrupted input. It involves randomly or systematically corrupting the input of a program in order to make it crash. The heartbleed vulnerability was one of the most famous bugs found via fuzzing .
Google, notably fuzzed FFmpeg and Libav at a relatively large scale, leading to a thousand fixes. But after seeing crashes in the H264 decoder earlier in the year, with real-world events such as packet loss and video splices, it was clear that something was wrong. One possibility is that Google only fuzzed progressive H264 content using frame threads and didn’t include interlaced content nor tried decoding in the lower-latency sliced-threads mode. Or that the codebase changed significantly enough to introduce new bugs.
Using basic tools like zzuf and later on the more advanced american fuzzy lop and a single quad-core server (in contrast to Google’s 2000 cores), the following unique bugs were found, a few of which caused easily-triggerable, real-world crashes.
H264 Frame Threads
H264 Sliced Threads
Thanks to @rilian for providing fuzzing scripts and thanks to those who investigated and fixed the bugs, Michael Niedermayer in particular.