(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.
(IBC, Amsterdam - 4.A61g) Sky News has selected the OBE-C100 encoder platform for a number of encoder upgrades. This includes encoders in street-furniture and bureaus as well as expansion of their internal IPTV network for the election.
Sky News were able to achieve a low latency, crucial for interviews with guests and quickly reporting election results. The OBE C-100 platform allows customers to choose from pre-defined hardware or use their own hardware allowing Sky News to customise the chassis of the C-100, choosing suitable off-the-shelf components (e.g low power, high density) for their needs, reducing space and energy consumption. The encoders for the expansion of their internal IPTV network had an exceptional density of 40 channels in 5U.
“Using an Open Broadcast Encoder on commodity hardware has enabled Sky News to design and implement cost effective, flexible solutions, ranging from low latency contribution video to internal IPTV channels.” said Chris Smith, Technology Development Executive at Sky News.
“The C-100 has let Sky News push the boundaries with encoding - they have adapted it for many new use-cases.” said Kieran Kunhya, Managing Director of Open Broadcast Systems. “
(IBC, Amsterdam - 4.A61g) Pelmorex Media Inc., the parent company of The Weather Network and MeteoMedia, TV networks in Canada, has selected Open Broadcast Encoder (OBE) for its HD localisation upgrade. This upgrade allows Pelmorex to deliver an HD feed with local weather graphics to viewers across Canada.
Running entirely on off-the-shelf Intel hardware, OBE allows for significant cost savings and flexibility over traditional hardware encoders. At its end, the deployment will be one of the largest uses in North America of software-encoders for broadcast contribution.
Six OBE C-100 encoders were used at the Glastonbury Festival to transport high quality HD broadcast feeds over IP from six stages to London, marking the first on-site IP delivery at Glastonbury. These feeds were then used on the web and Connected Red Button services. Using BBC Newsgathering’s expertise in using IP and commodity equipment in the field, the C-100 encoders ran as software on existing Intel-based hardware with the feeds transported over an on-site IP connection.
London, UK: Open Broadcast Systems is pleased to announce that it is opening a new headquarters in Vauxhall, London. With easy access from Central London and the rest of Europe, the new HQ will allow Open Broadcast Systems to be closer to its customers. Based in a purpose-built teleport, the new HQ provides space for corporate expansion as well as providing a showcase for software video transport over IP in an actual broadcast environment.