SVG Sit-Down: Primestream’s Claudio Lisman and Alan Dabul on New IP, Bonded-Cellular Recording Applications
Solutions integrate multiple sources, multiple formats into production, management, delivery workflow
As the live-production and sports-broadcast industries have been transitioning from baseband to IP in recent years, Primestream has been developing new IP and bonded-cellular recording applications to serve evolving needs.
With Primestream’s new IP Ingest App, users can easily capture streaming, camera, and broadcast sources — HLS, MPEG Dash, RTSP, NDI ProRes, and SMPTE 2022 streams — in single or multiple self-contained file formats and then transcode these feeds live into house formats — XDCAM, UHD, AVC, H.264, DNxHD, ProRes — to quickly integrate that content into a production, management, and delivery workflow. Users can preview live recordings inside a web browser and edit while capturing with a growing timeline and file.
Primestream also offers a complete IP Network Operations Center with recording, media-asset management, edit integration, publishing, and archiving under a single software solution. Their IP Network Operations Center allows users to monitor multiple NDI or HLS sources in a single monitor, as well as record, log, edit, and produce in real time.
Primestream has also embraced the increasing popularity of bonded cellular for live contribution. Although current traditional recording setup requires extensive hardware to ingest a bonded-cellular live transmission, Primestream’s new Mobile2Air and Xchange workflow streamlines this process and reduces costs. Reporters and video contributors can instantly use their device to record, edit, add voiceover, log, and securely upload broadcast-quality content with embedded metadata. In addition, Primestream HLS and NDI capture via Ethernet enables advanced and optimized workflows, such as live edit during capture, real-time transcoding into preferred video codecs (XDCAM, AVC, H.264, ProRes), and logging incoming feed in real time.
In addition, Primestream has also been upping its artificial-intelligence game. Primestream stores AI data in its native format and presents the data in the Primestream Elastic Data Viewer, which can be customized to display any combination or sources and filters, dynamically altered, or display different types of results on a multi-track timeline against picture.
SVG sat down with Primestream CEO Claudio Lisman and Director of Product Alan Dabul to discuss why they see IP-based production as the future, how the company is embracing bonded-cellular contribution, its growing role in production, and additions to Primestream’s portfolio of solutions to serve the evolving needs of sports-content creators.
Can you tell me a bit about the Primestream’s new IP and bonded-cellular recording applications?
Lisman: I come from the compression world and have seen a major migration. Today, using compression and bonded-cellular devices, we can achieve better quality than we used to [achieve] with a truck and 7-meter antenna years ago. Up until now, the way bonded cellular has worked is, there is someone with a remote transmission device, the transmitted content is delivered to a receiver, and you have to pull all the SDI outputs off the receiver. You have to have a router and monitors to manage the video. Then you ingest the baseband [feeds], and, from there, you can finally start to edit and to manage your assets.
However, we have brought a simplified solution to the market. We can take multiple channels — IP, NDI, HLS, or RTSP — right from the Ethernet port of the receiver. We can monitor multiple sources without the use of video monitors or a routing switcher. And, while we are ingesting the stream, we are converting that stream in real time into house formats like AVC, H.264, XDCAM, DNXHD, or ProRes. We provide a growing file to the editor right on the spot without ever having to touch baseband video.
We are gaining a lot of traction right now because we can transcode IP sources live in real time, so that we can make those sources available in a production environment right away. That way, you can instantly start cutting highlights, publishing to social and so on without having to take the time to go back to baseband.
How are you integrating with bonded-cellular solutions like TVU and LiveU?
Lisman: You can have multiple LiveU or TVU receivers. LiveU produces an NDI stream, which we ingest directly into a network switch so that signal is available to the whole production environment as well as the master control without ever touching baseband. We call this an IP Network Operations Center. In a traditional baseband [configuration], you would need multiple routing inputs and outputs before you could even start production; in the case of TVU, we do the same utilizing as a source their HLS Ethernet present in the receiver unit.
And our logger interface works directly with IP, so you can see all the IP sources coming in, as well as all the different logging actions. In soccer, for example, you can click the offside button on our touchscreen logger, and it will automatically create metadata and a sub clip. You can have that become a highlight, and, by pressing another button, you can transcode to formats for social and digital publishing.
We have created an application that covers recording, logging, and publishing all based on an IP technology.
On the product side of things, how has Primestream’s technology roadmap over the past few years been building to this point?
Dabul: We have an entire unique framework for capture and for playback, and that’s what this technology was built on. Throughout the QuickTime 7 transition, we rebuilt the framework for 64-bit, QuickTime-less capture, which we introduced for SDI about two years ago.
Around that same time, we also introduced IP-based ingest into that framework. The unique thing is that, with the same framework, we can now build custom applications and workflows. We make it very flexible so that the same IP system can also [incorporate] SDI, NDI, and HLS signals. Within one solution, you can have baseband coming in from one direction, remote sources coming in from HLS outside of the facility, as well as NDI; if you want to, you can proceed with an SDI replacement within the facility. The technology is flexible enough to bring in all those different sources within the same platform. We’re not just gluing an old SDI technology and a new IP technology together; it’s all brand-new architecture that enables both of those workflows.
How does this help to enable hybrid SDI/IP environments for content-creators that are gradually transitioning from baseband to IP?
Dabul: The same solution can control both your SDI and IP [workflows]. The system knows that, for example, Source A is SDI router input one and Source B is an NDI camera source. Based on [whether] it’s an SDI source or an NDI source or an HLS source, [the system] knows how to present that preview stream to the client, and it knows how to do the routing and switching for the SDI. The system is always aware of what type of source is being used and presents it to the user correctly. The user just needs to say, I want to record race car one, go, and race car two could be coming in from SDI, and the system knows how to handle both of those within the same solution.
Where do you see this workflow being deployed in the near-term?
Lisman: We are working currently to introduce the system in multiple applications with drones, and we are already working on a pilot right now. We are already seeing a lot of traction in drone-coverage applications where drones transmit IP via bonded-cellular and we monitor and record them.
How is Primestream leveraging artificial intelligence to enable facial and object recognition to your users?
Lisman: We recently worked with a major sports league to digitize 70,000 hours of content, but the metadata had to be entered manually during the digitization process. Now we can automate that process with our new Elastic Data Viewer AI engine. [In auto racing, for example,] the car number or the driver’s face will be automatically recognized, so we’re going to be able to enrich sports archives with all this additional metadata.
Dabul: Again, it’s all about flexibility on the product side. One of the key, unique [things] about Primestream is, we always try to create as flexible a workflow as possible. Similar to what we did with the IP sources, where we make it general enough to be able to handle any type of source.
We’ve done similar things with our AI integrations. The Primestream Elastic Data Viewer is prepared not just for artificial-intelligence data but also any kind of time-based metadata. Sports organizations and facilities have all kinds of time-based metadata like transcripts, logging services. This is a single platform that can import facial recognition from an AI system, bring in staff’s data feeds, bring in audio transcriptions that are coming from human sources, and so on. It’s all about grabbing all of that data, then presenting it simply and clearly to the user.
Dabul: And artificial intelligence isn’t perfect, so with the Elastic Data Viewer, you can get multiple AI engines to provide facial recognition and then cross-reference those results with the transcript. You can actually match multiple AI engines with human data as well — all within a timeline view. You have a lot more accuracy when someone’s reviewing that content.
How do you see these developments playing into Primestream’s overall strategy as a company?
Lisman: There’s obviously a huge transition going on right now. We used to have just a few channels, but today you can watch live sports on almost any screen. There are going to be more and more transmissions, and all of these events are going to have to be delivered reliably. We want to be a part of this transition with the provision of technologies that can facilitate the workflows and do things in a simpler, more effective way. We want to continue bringing innovation to the field so that the industry can benefit by reaching larger audiences on more platforms.