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NAB Perspective: GV’s Cronk on the Transition to IP, 4K

April 14th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Ken Kerschbaumer

Grass Valley’s NAB 2015 booth offers attendees a chance to see not only next-generation 4K camera systems but an end-to-end IP production chain that is proof positive that the technology of tomorrow can sometimes arrive sooner than one thinks. Mike Cronk, SVP, strategic marketing, sat down with SVG to talk about the new offerings from Grass Valley, the challenge of moving to IP, and the future of HD in a 4K world.

What are some of the new offerings that are generating the most excitement among the people visiting your booth?
There has been a lot engagement with customers on IP now that we have an end-to-end lineup of IP connectivity, and business discussions are happening in earnest. And then there is the 4K-production story and also the ability to do HD slo-mo in either 4X or 6X. And we also have the new Focus 70 Live, an entry-level camera that is getting a lot of attention as it can do 1080i or 720p.

Where do you see the Focus 70 Live fitting into the market when 4K seems to be all the rage at this show?
It’s a workhorse camera that does not have the eLicense model, but, from our perspective, it can get a lot of play in studio applications as it’s great for a well-lit and controlled environment.

How do you think the transition to 4K will compare with, say, the move from SD to HD?
It won’t be exactly the same, but I think it will be an equally long transition, as it is all about capital budgets and how much people can switch over to 4K. But HD will be around for a while, and, like the earlier transition, people will buy something that will protect them for the future. And that is the point of having the upgradable cameras. The 4K market won’t be the highest-volume market in 2015, so people can buy something today without being stuck in the future.

IP is a big story this year for Grass Valley, but not everyone has a greenfield site that can take advantage of your end-to-end strategy. How do you see the industry transitioning from baseband to IP?
Well, there are the greenfield sites or new trucks that will want to have both IP and 4K. But the majority of the market has an HD and SDI infrastructure, and the migration to IP will happen slowly. So we have modular SDI-to-IP cards and IP-to-SDI cards, so the transition can happen. And the LDX camera server for IP has SDI input/output, and the Summit server for Dyno also supports IP but has the pin connectors for SDI signals. So you can buy a card today and hook up for SDI and then tomorrow hook up IP. It makes it a very incremental move.

And remember, a lot of broadcast plants have been using IP for file-based workflows or communications. And we have put a lot of time into making the move to IP seamless for the operator and engineer so that configuring an IP router is like configuring an SDI router.

There has been much talk in recent years about how IT and IP technologies would change the NAB Show and the companies that dominate it. But that hasn’t seemed to have happened.
You can learn a lot from history. There have been many waves of IT companies coming into broadcast, like SGU, IBC, or EMC. And they all found their niche. But our core competency is customer intimacy and understanding the application. We would be foolish not to embrace IT and the spending curves IT technologies are riding, but a lot of the expertise we have is worth something to our customers, and that has been proven time and time again during the various transitions. So we will leverage the IT technology that is there and invest in how to make it really work for broadcasters.