Big thanks to everyone who made it to our IP event last week, not least Daniel Boldt (Head of Software Development, Meinberg) and Nikolaus Kerö (General Manager, Oregano Systems) for their insightful presentations. If you need to refresh your memory, you can download the slides here.
PTP (Precision Time Protocol) is fundamental to the success of any media over IP exercise, and it was reassuring to see technicians and engineers from so many facilities show up to find out more – it’s always difficult to predict how interested people will be in something so deep in the weeds, but IP workflows have gained an incredible amount of traction over the last year, and it was fantastic to see so many people engaging with the future of their facilities.
Say goodbye to genlock
The full slide deck is available here, but to bluntly recap things: PTP replaces genlock when you’re working with media over IP.
In an IP-based workflow, you’re dealing with packets of data, not a synchronous stream of video on a dedicated cable, so traditional syncing methods won’t work. PTP sidesteps this problem by effectively ‘virtualising’ genlock, and using packets of data sent over the IP network to sync devices which are on it.
PTP is a safe bet
PTP is not a new technology; it’s been around for over 15 years, primarily in stock exchanges and other gambling dens, where the precise time of a transaction is incredibly important. The current version, PTP v2, was ratified in 2008, and is also know as IEEE 1588-2008 and SMPTE 2059.
Its move into production and post circles is recent, but it’s gaining acceptance quickly – Belgian broadcasters RTL have seven studios in Brussels that are linked up this way, and Germany’s WDR have also invested heavily. One of the reasons for this rapid rise is that, because internet protocols are so ubiquitous, and have so many applications in industries which are much larger and established than our own, there are already a number of affordable solutions available. We’re not waiting for manufacturers to catch up with demand, and we’re not paying exorbitant prices for niche hardware – readily available off the shelf solutions will get the job done.
Revolutionising OB at Sony
If it wasn’t initially developed for the media industry, what kind of benefits can PTP really deliver? Well, for one thing, Sony’s most recent research has found that you can half the weight of an OB truck by wiring it for PTP and IP transfer rather than relying on SDI, simply because it requires so much less cabling. This makes your OB setups faster, easier and cheaper to produce and to run.
And of course, there’s the fact that you no longer need to keep your equipment in one place. PTP will sync any device on your network, even if it happens to be on the other side of the country at the time, rather than in the studio with you, and it’ll work for both audio and video production.
Want to know more?
As always, you can get in touch with our team on the details below, and they’ll be happy to answer any additional IP questions you may have. We’re also running a tech breakfast on 31st January around AES67 and IP workflows for audio production, which might be of interest, and one on the fate of SDI on 13th February.