Sony White Paper: Virtualization and Orchestration in IP Live Production Systems

The technical expertise required to transform your production

For a long time, the content creation and TV broadcasting industries have been in an evolutionary path of technical and business transformations. However, in recent years broadcasters have experienced business challenges very different from those of the past:

  • The growing demand for more content
  • Increasing competition for viewers and consequently pressure on traditional revenue streams
  • Rising costs on rights acquisition for premium media events
  • Pressure for workflow efficiencies and optimized production infrastructure

These challenges have resulted in broadcasters’ strong demands for: managed operational costs, higher productivity, better use of resources, more sophisticated production values and the adoption of newer technologies for higher quality content (UHD, HFR, HDR, WCG).

Solutions to these challenges are beginning to take shape with the transition from SDI to IP technology. The broadcast and media production industries are now looking forward to using products and services based on SMPTE ST 2110 and its companion AMWA NMOS standards and specifications, for multi-vendor interoperability of compliant products and systems.

The next paradigm shift in the IP Live evolution is the introduction of Virtualization and Orchestration.

Sony is making live production more agile, flexible and cost effective with its end-to-end IP Live solutions based on these open standards and specifications. The IP Live Production system optimizes the use of studio facilities, control rooms and Outside Broadcast operations with remote production and sharing of production resources.

Virtualization means that the operations of Remote Production across facilities, venues, and Outside Broadcasting (OB) can be greatly expanded through resource sharing, centralized monitoring, and device configuration and control, with its consequential increase in production activities.

The purpose of this White Paper is to give an overview of Sony’s IP Live Production system which enables end users to create shared production environments and build dynamically configurable networks under automated production workflows, along with scheduled resources and services, resulting in a full virtualization of resources on-demand.

Sony’s Vision: High Quality Live Production From Anywhere

With the continuing demand for the creation of more live content, broadcasters are facing the challenge of producing very high-quality remote events utilizing the processing capabilities of their broadcast center. This enables content creators to maximize their production efficiency and minimize costs so they can produce more events within the same budget. In addition, by extending the processing infrastructure – originally designed for the main production center – to remote venues and production sites, considerable savings can be achieved by provisioning as many sources as needed through resource sharing operations.

The figure below depicts three different scenarios that illustrate Sony’s vision of high-quality live production from anywhere enabled by the IP Live Production system.

Figure 1: IP Live enables various kinds of solutions for Optimized Workflow Efficiency

Intra-facility production by resource sharing
The IP Live Production system enables studios, control rooms and the production equipment to be shared within a facility for a more efficient use of production resources. In addition, it is highly scalable, IP switch vendor agnostic, and complies with international industry standards and specifications: SMPTE ST 2110, AMWA NMOS and EBU Tech3371 and JT-NM TR 1001 recommendations.

The combination of control room(s) and studios(s) can change dynamically under the control of an end-to-end facility management system. This system can change all aspects of the production resources (e.g., system format, resolution, booking of devices and services under a production schedule), as well as control of all network elements. Also, changes of tally and/or device name indications are accomplished using the broadcast controller in accordance with the operational actions directed by the facility end-to-end orchestrator.

Remote event production and distributed inter-facility production
The use of IP Live for remote productions leads to a reduction of production staff at the remote site – with more events/shows produced on the same day by the staff that remains at the main broadcast center.

The recent introduction of Sony’s HDCE-TX30 (IP camera extension adaptor) enables full control, returns, intercom, and tally information of the remote cameras without CCUs. This is accomplished with compliance to the SMPTE ST 2110/AMWA NMOS specifications, and with no operational compromises at the remote site. Also, full protection of the transmission flows is guaranteed using SMPTE ST 2022-7 (hitless failover feature) between the remote sites and the main production facility.

In the case of more elaborate inter-facility productions with resource sharing, the facility management system can treat multiple production locations as extensions of the resources and processing capabilities in existence at the broadcast center.

Inter-connected OB vehicles as part of resource sharing in OB production environments
The benefits of IP Live remote production can be extended to the connection of OB vehicles at the remote venue enabling the sharing of resources between home and away OB operations.

Production facilities at the remote site can access any sources in the network, increasing the number of camera chains, slo-mo feeds or switcher resources. This is accomplished using the network orchestration and SDN control system.

The entire group of IP media streams can be routed to any destination using the broadcast controller in combination with the facility management system and the network orchestration and SDN control system.

Sony’s IP Live Production Platform

With SMPTE ST 2110 and AMWA NMOS standards now fully implemented into Sony’s live production products, a new strategic partnership has been established with IP media network specialists Nevion for the creation of a new end-to-end IP Live Production Platform that fully integrates these standards with the technologies of Orchestration and Virtualization within a multi-layered software solution. The resulting solution platform can be seen in the figure below.

Figure 2: End-to-end IP Live Production Platform

This platform consists of:

  • An enterprise-wide facility management layer – Sony’s Live Element Orchestrator.
  • A broadcast control layer – Sony’s IP Live System Manager.
  • An orchestration and SDN control layer – Nevion’s VideoIPath.
  • A portfolio of hardware/software media creation products all equipped with IP interfaces complying with SMPTE ST 2110 and AMWA NMOS.

More details on the control and processing layers of the IP Live Production Platform are given in the following sections.

Facility management system – Sony’s Live Element Orchestrator (LEO)
This management layer is a powerful and customizable live production orchestration software which performs the dynamic aggregation, configuration, monitoring, workflow automation and scheduling of production resources and services (including multi-vendor products). This layer is responsible for the Virtualization of production environments on demand with a reduction of downtime during system changes, hence conducing to improvement of productivity in content production.

This provides overall system management and monitoring of an IP-based production system by supporting major industry protocols, for both Sony and third-party products and services.

This layer performs orchestration and execution of changes of the enterprise-wide system with configuration and control of machine room resources – which can be shared among multiple studios and production sites (creation of a service).

The system changes can be carried out according to program schedule or ad-hoc and communication with 3rd party scheduling services is also supported.

Broadcast controller – Sony’s IP Live System Manager (LSM)
This layer provides routing, registration and discovery services of IP devices, tally and name management of production resources, as well as logical and physical matrix management of equipment network connections.

It is an advanced broadcast controller with full compliance to SMPTE ST 2110 and AMWA NMOS standards. It supports also SMPTE ST 2059 for PTP timing and synchronization to PTP Grand Master generators – listing the Genlock status of all the devices locked to the PTP Grand Master.

From a system configuration perspective, the broadcast controller manages the functions of audio and video routing like traditional A/V routers with assignment of control buttons and configuration of graphical layout according to user preferences. In addition, it carries out redundancy settings, as well as device, end user, and workgroup registrations.

The user interface is comprised of a comprehensive display of all connected devices with status information (including PTP status and filtering) on a customizable control GUI with a view of button layout with icon bitmaps and text descriptions.

A network topology view indicating status of IP switches and connected devices is also provided for network control and monitoring.

  • Orchestration and SDN control system – Nevion’s VideoIPath.

This layer provides, amongst others, the dynamic allocation and provisioning of network resources using an SDN control function, as well as service assurance capabilities, including the monitoring of network elements and connections, the provisioning of path redundancy, and dynamic network re-configurations when needed for maintenance for fault recovery. Furthermore, with its ability to support SDN control for both LAN (e.g. broadcast facility) and WAN (e.g. remote productions and contribution links), it enables the creation of IP production environments not only within a single facility, but also in an enterprise network environment spanning vast geographical regions

There are essentially two ways of controlling the data flows in an IP network: automatic routing (e.g. IGMP/PIM), i.e. leaving it to the network to route the packets; or software defined networking (SDN), where the flows are controlled via a software system.

While IGMP/PIM has been adopted by many IP-ready destination devices (requesting connection to source multicast streams), SDN provides significant advantages in the performance and orchestration of transport resources in large scale, multi-site, media networks.

Nevion’s VideoIPath can exercise dynamic control over all network elements (IP switches, routers), available devices and media flows – not only considering present requirements (i.e. for productions currently taking place), but also planned needs (i.e. for scheduled productions). This ‘look-ahead’ capability enables more effective decisions over the routing and bandwidth reservation of media flows.

VideoIPath supports the communication between its SDN control software and the network’s routers/switches by means of established industry standards such as Openflow, Openconfig, and NETCONF among others.

Sony’s IP Live Production Platform makes use of VideoIPath’s orchestration and SDN control system through a comprehensive communication between LEO and LSM.

Conclusion

Sony has been serving the broadcast and media production industries since 1958. Since then Sony has contributed extensively to advances in technology, helping in the continuing transition to new formats, storage and infrastructure: from analog to digital, from SD to HD, 4K, and 8K, and from SDI to IP.

With its rich experience in the design and deployment of IP Live Production systems throughout the world, Sony is now ready for the introduction of the next evolution in technology for media production: virtualization and orchestration.

Sony, in partnership with Nevion, has created the IP Live Production Platform which offers powerful, centralized, system configuration and monitoring capabilities of flows, PTPs, and network elements. It maintains the current user experience in live production applications while also offering a unique portfolio for IP-based solutions for content creation workflows which are flexible, scalable, reliable, and exceeding all the capabilities expected from the SDI world.

In summary, this platform enables cutting edge solutions for shared production environments with configurable networks under automated production workflows, resulting in a full virtualization and orchestration of resources on-demand.

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