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Cloud workflows, NVMe and AES67 lead our 2019 predictions...

Over the course of the last year, HDR and IMF have become more commonplace, thanks largely to the demands of OTT providers, Japan’s NHK network have launched their first 8K channel (and Samsung have an 8K QLED TV for you to watch it on), and the world’s first 5G network has launched in Doha. How are these changes going to affect workflows in 2019? What technologies do you need to keep a keen eye on? What should you be researching as you emerge from the post-Christmas fug? We asked our experts to weigh in…

 

Liz Sunter
Mass storage migration

VR, AR and 8K are all set to become increasingly mainstream in 2019, and all of them require a huge amount of throughput and storage. In response to this, we’re likely to see more and more facilities move their storage to offsite datacentres, and access their footage via the cloud. So many, in fact, that those datacentres themselves are actually going to have to make changes to the way they work.

“8K creates an exponential storage demand,” says technical specialist Phillip Boettcher. “This is one of the reasons we think adoption of NVMe and other next-generation storage technologies will really start to affect traditional HDD markets in 2019. Datacentres in particular are increasing their use of Flash-based storage, as it’s faster, denser and more energy efficient than HDD, so reduces power consumption while allowing them to fit more petabytes into the same physical space. Keeping datacentres at a manageable size and in line with environmental standards while delivering the capacity the industry now requires is arguable the biggest challenge large-scale storage providers face.”

“Another factor that’s helping cloud services gain momentum is the ease of cloud playout,” says technical specialist David Skeggs. “Launching an OTT channel using the cloud is much easier because the data’s already in the cloud/datacentre, the content distribution network is present, and your overheads should be much lower. And the ripple effect of that is that broadcaster are asking ‘if we’re transmitting from the cloud, why aren’t we ingesting to it?’ and pushing up how much of your workflow can actually be moved to the cloud. We’re seeing a lot more applications and workflows being designed to support cloud workflows first.”

 

Tighter integration with the cloud

Cloud platforms like Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure have gained traction in every area of production and post over the past few years, and we’re excited to see how this develops in 2019. As an Avid Elite Partner, we’re particularly excited by Microsoft and Avid signing a strategic partnership, and are developing our own datacentre and workflow solutions to ensure that any customers who want to incorporate Microsoft Azure into their pipeline receive the best possible knowledge and support.

We’re also seeing increasing support for cloud workflows from our more traditional storage vendors, too, with Quantum in particular increasing the cloud compatibility of their StorNext system, allowing closer integration between traditional media storage workflows and emerging cloud solutions, and enabling existing MAM systems to leverage cloud storage more cleverly than they were previously able to.

However, there is one barrier to effective cloud integration: cost. “At the moment, you have to invest in physical onsite storage, which is expensive and brings with it a lot of ongoing running, maintenance, and expansion costs,” says Phill. “When it comes to cloud storage, the rates offered by companies like Azure are extremely competitive, but the cost of ensuring you have enough bandwidth to get things in and out of the cloud in a timely fashion can spiral quickly. However, we’re reaching a point now where these costs are more or less comparable, and it’s worth considering both as your facility develops. Technologies like IBM’s Aspera, which help facilities maintain control over the speed, cost and security of large volume, high priority file transfers, are definitely something we’re recommending our customers look into this year.”

 

The unstoppable NDI

Video and audio over IP workflows have been big talking points for a few years now, but both look set to reach new levels of maturity and adoption in 2019. The NDI workflows we’re seeing are getting larger and more complex, with key customers adopting it for large-scale, international sports broadcast, and others building whole broadcast studios around the standard. There’s no sign of this growth slowing this year.

“In a lot of these cases, trying to get these workflows off the ground without NDI would mean a huge infrastructure investment, whereas NDI is a bit more flexible, more affordable upfront, and much simpler,” says David. “And the ecosystem around it has definitely grown, with plug-ins for Media Composer and Premiere Pro arriving, plus new offerings from a number of manufacturers, including Sienna.”

That would be NDI developers Gallery Sienna – their recent offerings include Cloud for NDI, NDI Router and NDI Processing Engine solutions that have all been tested and proven with AWS, Azure and TenCent, and a new CG Engine which improves cloud-based virtualisation.

 

IMF makes its mark

We’ve been talking about IMF for slightly longer than is fashionable, but with an increased demand for IMF deliverables from OTT providers and tools like R&S CLIPSTER and Transkoder maturing rapidly, we’re fully expecting this to be the year that everyone gets as into IMF as us. Drop your details into the form below to arrange a workflow discussion with the team!

 

Netflix accreditation, anyone?

OTT providers are big drivers of change at the moment, demanding high quality, future proof deliverables that push production and post companies to invest in the latest technology, be that Dolby PQ, HDR or IMF.

“Netflix drive the industry in a big way when it comes to delivery standards,” says audio specialist Matt Ward, “and Dolby is part of that, so we expect to see demand for Dolby certified rooms grow this year.” As an accredited Dolby Atmos Mastering Suite dealer, we spent much of 2018 helping our customers convert stereo rooms to Dolby 7.4.1 or higher so that they can continue to take on high-end projects. Drop your details in the form below to find out more about how we can help you in 2019.

Audio description recordings are also part of Netflix’s delivery spec, which is a great leap forward for those with visual impairment, but does present some challenges to traditional audio workflows. Pro Tools isn’t necessarily the best solution for that job, so we’re working with our customers to help them find the right workflow, for example dual booting Pro Tools and Nuendo to take advantage of the latter’s ADR tools.”

 

2019: the year of AI?

While AI may be thought of as the perview of Silicon Valley tech giants, it actually looks like it’ll be making inroads into broadcast in 2019, with AI predicted to pick up some of the more mind-numbing ingest and cataloguing tasks associated with high-volume genres like reality and factual programming. QC, asset description and transcription are all tasks rumoured to be getting but AI interventions in the near future.

 

AES67: what is it and how does it work?

“This is going to be a massive topic this year,” says Matt. “Some really exciting AES67-compatible products are surfacing, but you need to understand that not everything that says it’s AES67 compatible can talk to each other – for example, only some Dante devices can run in AES67-compatible mode, and even those operate under restrictions. For our video customers, there are restrictions on how AES67 talks to SMPTE 2110, and a lot of the detail isn’t quite ironed out yet.

“You absolutely can’t blag your way into an AES67 workflow, and trying to dig your way out if an implementation goes wrong is painful. 2019 needs to be the year you dig in, do your research and spend time have conversations with engineers about how you can set this up and make it work in the long term.”

Look out for more on AES67 on our blog soon; in the meantime, pop your details in the form below and one of our team will get in touch to advise on your current options.

 

And don’t forget…

If you do want to work in 8K, or deliver VR and AR content, it’s highly likely your existing setup won’t be the most efficient. Recording and mixing immersive audio for VR is still an incredibly niche business, with one of our big hopes for this year being that a frontrunner emerges in that field. And while we don’t currently have a working 5G network in the UK, tests at home and the arrival of the standard abroad both mean that we’re likely to see manufacturers rolling out support this year, and you’ll want to start plotting the future of your on-location workflow accordingly.

 

Want to know more, or let us know what you’d like to see in our demo room in 2019? Fill in the form below, or get in touch with the team on 03332 400 888 or at broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For the latest  news, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebookand Twitter.

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