Evertz’s Magarelli: Keeping Pace With Customer Needs Is Key to Success
Virtualization, 4K, and IP are the main focus in the company’s NAB 2016 effort
Evertz will once again have a big presence at the NAB Show with a booth that can’t — and shouldn’t — be missed in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Visitors to the booth will be able to check next-generation products that Evertz CEO Romolo Magarelli says are focused on four key messages.
“First, we’re trying to show that virtualization is here and we are technology leaders in our space, which covers on-premises, cloud, or hybrid operations,” he explains. “Whether it is virtualized processing for real-time audio/video-processing function or for playout and media-asset management [MAM] in the cloud, we will have a lot of coverage with virtualized technology across the booth. We are also driving the fact that we have the widest and broadest collection of 4K tools for the broadcast market. Thirdly, we are reinforcing the fact that we continue to lead IP-infrastructure transition and will introduce second-and third-generation products to prove it. And, lastly, we are in a world of Big Data, and, with all these IP infrastructures, we have the simple plumbing built in to move this data. We are introducing an analytics solution to help our customers navigate, tune, and avoid issues with their new complex scalable and virtualized systems. Those are our four areas of focus this year.”
The new products this year (and the established ones) are the result of constant feedback from Evertz customers for new features and capabilities.
“Over the past three or four years, there are more requests for system-level solutions that are nimble and flexible, as our customers are doing more with less and also need to be able to build systems more quickly but without huge capital-planning cycles.”
The Evertz IP Embrace
To that end, the company has been at the center of the IP rollout for its customers, providing massive IP-based systems. But, while those systems are opening up new ways to transport audio and video signals, they are also opening up new challenges.
“When something goes wrong, it can be difficult to figure out what is going on,” Magarelli explains. “And that is one of the reasons we are introducing InSITE at NAB, a data-analytics solution that provides the ability to have deeper visibility into large, complex systems. Basically, we create structured metrics and provide visibility from unstructured system-wide logs.”
This includes data from any third-party solutions, he adds, and will hopefully provide customers with the insight they need to manage their systems. It will also allow the Evertz team to peek in remotely to help guide the process.
“It’s the kind of product offering,” he adds, “that makes broadcast-equipment suppliers different from traditional commercial off-the-shelf [COTS] router manufacturers.
“The question for a content owner,” he continues, “is, if you have to make a value proposition and your decision is based on how much time your system needs to be up and running, the quality of service is important. And the broadcast market, to the COTS market, is like a pimple. But, for [Evertz], if something goes wrong, we jump. If the heart of your system goes down, you need to make sure there is a surgeon near by or at least the exact medicine you need to keep alive.”
The transition to IP is happening as the industry is also transitioning to next-generation UHD production and distribution formats.
“We’ve been leading the charge on 10 Gbps and on the UHD side that just slips right over the top of that 10 Gbps infrastructure,” he says. “In fact, for local small or medium-size productions, there is also no need to consider the use of compression for 4K or even 8K. The customer can stay native and avoid the cost, latency, and complexity for these size productions. [However,] I do think that, for large-scale distributed campus/WAN and remote-production leaders, a J2K mezzanine approach is, in fact, a good approach with direct archiving capability and the sheer volume of remote productions at scale.”
Also on display at NAB 2016 will be DreamCatcher, the instant-replay system introduced in 2012.
“It’s a platform that has a lot of legs to it, and our customers are going to be really impressed with where it will go in the next two to five years,” says Magarelli. “It’s been exciting to see how it has been accepted, especially in fixed installations; we are doing really well in that market.”
Establishing a serious DreamCatcher presence in the remote-production market, however, continues to be difficult, because instant-replay operators who have made their livelihood on getting the most out of an EVS replay server need to be comfortable with moving to DreamCatcher without putting their careers at risk.
“We’re trying to make it easier for current operators to transition. It’s been a slow and steady thing,” Magarelli points out. “There are a lot of emotions involved and also workflow things that are realities that we have to get through.”
ASPEN and Beyond
The move to IP is also creating a need for greater interoperability with equipment from different vendors. One reality of the current marketplace, Magarelli notes, is that technology and production professionals are moving forward with new technologies at a speed that outpaces the standards bodies.
That is one reason Evertz has led the charge on ASPEN (Adaptive Sample Picture Encapsulation) since last year. The open framework makes it easier for uncompressed video, audio, and metadata signals to pass between equipment from more than 40 partners, including Sony, Vizrt, ChyronHego, and Ross Video. SMPTE published it last week, a move that will allow even more manufacturers to participate in the efforts.
“We’ve been providing some guidance for both SMPTE and the Video Services Forum for an encapsulation approach that provides a simple TR-03/ASPEN unification. I hope it is embraced as we feel this will benefit the industry,” says Magarelli. “Ultimately, though, we will also support whatever standard makes our customer compete better. We don’t want them to be nervous about how they need to move forward to compete with their new competitors.”
One example on display at NAB 2016 will be a demonstration of unification between ASPEN and the AVS TR-03 format that also allows uncompressed live video-over-IP transport (more than 30 companies are involved in development of TR-03, which has not yet been completely vetted).
“The industry needs to get bigger than just the ASPEN or TR-03 folks,” advises Magarelli. “We are helping to build that bridge, and it’s perfect timing for it.”
Bringing It Together
The effort of Evertz and nearly every other manufacturer in the industry is to ensure that customers are in the best position to define their own future.
“You can’t really paint the industry with one brush,” Magarelli explains. “A high percentage of [content creators and distributors] are making 80% of their revenues on a low number of channels and 20% of their revenues on their other channels. So they need to treat the operations with the higher revenue different than the operations with the lower revenue. And they need to be elastic so they can spool up channels and technology quickly. We need to make sure we have architectures that can allow our customers to take advantage of a hybrid approach. But you can’t underestimate the capabilities of this industry or its knowledge base.”