| Subcribe via RSS

NAB Perspectives: Adtec Digital’s Johnson on the Push Toward HEVC, UHD

April 24th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Karen Hogan

Looking to bridge the gap between MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 — and even pave the way for HEVC — Adtec Digital showed off its EN-30 encoder platform at NAB 2015. The EN-30 dual-channel HD/SD-SDI contribution and distribution encoder supports ATSC, DVB, and ISDB applications via IP, ASI, and optional DVB-S/S2/S2X RF transport and can even deliver an over-the-top (OTT) stream directly to a content-delivery network.

But that wasn’t the only news at this year’s show. SVG sat down with Ron Johnson, VP, sales and marketing, to discuss how Adtec is embedding Zixi technology into its EN series of encoders and decoders to send high-quality video over managed and unmanaged Internet connections, as well as how the company continues to prove itself in the UHD space by demonstrating how its technology can take four quadrants from a UHD camera in 3840x2160p60 and maintain the four quadrants in sync.

What’s new at the show this year for Adtec Digital?
We’re putting a big emphasis on the new platform that provides continuity of business operations for our customers. When you invest in any kind of architecture, what you hate to see is parts’ [going] away and you can’t keep it running. … We’ve got some new platforms where we can guarantee the availability for many years to come, and it will allow us to keep them upgraded with functional units without having to worry about anything. There’s been a lot of worry with some of our customers, and the [EN-30] gives us many new features.

One of the things that we’ve worked to do is put the ability of the unit to encode at one point, gather information and send it to another location — [for example,] a studio — over the public Internet. We’ve worked out a relationship with Zixi where we’re actually putting the Zixi product in our encoder devices and people can use that to transfer their video for a lot of their live events over the public Internet.

We also have a lot of people using it for sporting events in colleges and universities. They have their own internal Internet, and they want to broadcast into the campus environment over IP, but they also want to send it to the students so they can watch it on their phones and their tablets. So we’ve added the ability to support OTT technology, where we can send it directly to a content-delivery network.

Of course, you could have instances where your Internet connection is breaking up — that’s one of the things that you can come back to with Zixi. We have two ways now that we can leverage content out to the masses point-to-point, with Zixi or from the broadcast point (usually the studio) to the content-delivery network.

Are you finding that your customers increasingly are the universities, the networks, or the truck guys?
We cater to all of them. Truck operations continues to be very strong for us, but we’ve always been strong in institutional environments; we’ve been selling there for 30 years, and we’ve got a good reputation. What we find is, the people that bought our stuff years ago, before we worked a whole lot with the major networks and the truck operators, brought standard-definition content/MPEG-2 into their network, sometimes to a transmitter. They’re coming back and buying high-definition gear now. We have some products that do MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 in the same box at the same time; a lot of clients will broadcast in standard definition [and] high definition.

Truck operators are a steady business; they’re constantly evolving. But what the networks seem to be doing is adding new services. [For example,] you have MTV, MTV2, and so forth, and the same thing has happened to ESPN — different versions of the networks — so they get more equipment.

NAB is always big trends show. What do you see as the biggest trends currently affecting the market?
Well, [one of] the two biggest, bar none, is HEVC. The question’s going to be when that happens. I don’t know when it will be fully deployed for true commercial operations. You see some people offering some things now, but no networks are going to drop H.264, which we’re probably the pioneers in doing. We pushed that so hard. … A couple of big sports networks [switched to H.264] and loved it. Actually, the small sports networks tried first, but, when they tried it, the big guys followed. We think the same thing will happen with HEVC. We think [the big networks] will go on a trial basis, and it may even be a small network again that tries it first. Sometimes, they do it because they don’t already have the infrastructure or hardware [in place]. They’re buying new stuff anyway, so maybe they buy HEVC and try it out.

We also see more density applications where [producers] in the field, instead of doing one stream, back doing multiple camera shoots [and sending] multiple feeds. We make a multiplexer. One unusual thing about Adtec is, a lot of people making encoders/decoders don’t make multiplexers. We do, so we’re able to combine multiple feeds in and send it back over satellite or over fiber on a single wire or over the air. Those are two big trends: density applications where you have multiple cameras coming in and HEVC.

You mentioned IP earlier. How is Adtec addressing that trend?
IP has actually been going on for us for some time. It comes back to the colleges and universities: they had the infrastructure for IT at a lot of these institutions. I mean, MIT had the super Internet highway way before everybody else. So, years ago, we got in [IP]. Now what we are seeing is smaller institutions — even private schools — are getting pretty big Internet connections. … It’s definitely evolving.

The other [trend to mention] is the way we do 4K. We can do 4K, 8K, 12K — it doesn’t matter. The technology we use is something we developed years and years ago on the encoding side [and] allows us to synchronize multiple units, so there’s technically no limit to what we can do [in] synchronizing individual streams. [At the front of our booth,] you can see the monitor playing: it’s actually four different images glued together seamlessly, and we can do it with 10 images, 12 images, it doesn’t matter.

What were your goals for NAB 2015?
Our objective is to provide a good, solid platform so that we can allow our customers to continue their business operation using Adtec. We want to be interoperable with other people’s encoders and decoders. We try to do that, but one of the things we want to be the king of is saying that, more than any other contribution manager, we’re going to provide support and hardware to keep you going for the next several years because you [have to] bridge this gap from MPEG-2 to AVC to HEVC. Some people are going from MPEG-2 to HEVC. They’re still MPEG-2, so we’re going to provide continuity of business operations for them. That’s our objective.