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NAB Perspectives: Media Links’ Canavan Talks Video-Over-IP, Live-to-File Ingest

April 28th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Jason Dachman

Media Links was firmly aboard the “at-home–production” bandwagon at NAB 2015, highlighting its video-over-IP platform for remote production and live-to-file broadcast application.

At the show, Media Links demonstrated the real-time delivery of high-quality, low-latency 4K and 3G/HD-SDI content required to support remotely produced events. In conjunction with EMC, For-A, and a high-profile network provider, Media Links also demonstrated live-to-file ingest of uncompressed HD-SDI video encapsulated with SMPTE 2022.

SVG sat down with Media Links President Tom Canavan to discuss the company’s role in the growing number of live at-home production for sports and how this model is being used for major and mini events alike.

How have you seen interest in live IP production rise among your sports clients, and what role can Media Links play in this model?
The trend of IP is exploding, and the rate of change is increasing. Media Links is very well-positioned, because that’s what we’re all about and what we’ve done since the company was founded. We focus 100% in video-over-IP transport and switching. Our customers are talking about [at-home production], and we have participated in it through our work on the Olympics, where several networks did some of that on a more moderate scale. We are in the midst of the architecture for the World Cup and the Asian Commonwealth Games.

And then certain low-profile events are done exactly that way. [At-home] production is something our customers are talking about. We can do that today, we have the technology, and we’re showing it in a demonstration form here at NAB. We are taking local camera feeds as well as simulated playback feeds, multiplexing them into our product either uncompressed or J2K to the simulated network-broadcast site.

Can you tell me about the live-to-file demo you have here at the booth?
Something else we’re doing [that] is generating a lot of interest is what we call live-to-file: encoding once at the venue, sending it to the broadcast center, and being able to pull off the stream directly into a workflow for editing. No additional encoding, no additional steps, being able to get it right into the process. An example of that would be highlights for live sporting events., being able to get it right into the workflow for editing and final packaging and get it on the air right away.

What about on the 4K front?
4K is certainly a theme of the show, and we are highlighting our own role in that. Again, many of our customers, the networks in particular, are, let’s just say, undecided about 4K. Certainly, nobody really wants to invest in it, but the reality is that it’s out there, and we’re ready for it. We are showing single-stream J2K transport for 4K, which is, as far as we know, unique, and our product is ready for it now.

We are still doing the quad-split at the moment, but other technologies need multiple streams to deliver, for instance, two quads to be combined into 4K. We’re doing it over a single 1-GBps stream for J2K, and we’re showing it on high-quality broadcast monitor here at the booth, so customers can see the quality of it.

Why do you think live sports production has been so quick to embrace this at-home model for remote production?
I think there are a number of factors. It’s certainly technologies like J2K and J2K interoperability, which we got an Emmy for, along with the efforts of the VSF [Video Services Forum] and some of our colleagues here. It is the quality of our product that allows that production contribution to happen. But, ultimately, our technology needs to serve the business, and our customers are needing to drive costs down. With the explosion in sports coverage, [networks] like SEC and Pac-12 can’t afford to do smaller events with A-level trucks the way you do the NFL football. So how do you address the business needs of bringing these productions in at a cost that can be supported, and the answer is [at-home] production. So the technology coupled with the business need is really what’s driving it. All of this is a response to business needs and being able to do these events in a more cost-effective manner and now the technology being able to support it. So it’s the confluence of technology being able to do something that the business demands.

[With] the explosion in sports events to be covered, [there are] various tiers where you can’t cover at the same level you cover an A game. News is different. News has been using Skype now for years and proving to the world that, to the viewer, somebody coming in on Skype from Afghanistan is great because they are out there in the field delivering breaking news. But sports is different.

Media Links will have a presence at the Rio Olympics next year. Do you see the trend of at-home production continuing there?
I certainly would be able to say you’ll see a lot less people onsite. I think you certainly will see transformations in maybe the number of events that are covered, event hours that can be covered because these [at-home] production technologies allow that to be done. NBC covered curling in the Sochi Olympics remotely from Stamford, CT. So I think you’ll see even more of [that] in Rio. As these events go on, you’re going to see a greater and greater transformation, and Media Links will definitely be part of it.