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Suitcase TV Proves IP Production Concept at Euro 2016

IBC 2016, Stand 2.C10 – In parallel with the BBC’s coverage of the UEFA Euro 2016 Championship in Paris in June/July 2016, Suitcase TV Ltd, a leading broadcast technology developer, successfully trialled an all-IP remote production of the championship using its Iphrame Remote centralised production system.

The overall Iphrame system provided video and audio switching/mixing of remote sources in Paris controlled by operators located back at the BBC Sport production centre at MediaCityUK in Salford. Unlike other remote production architectures which bring back multiple source feeds, Iphrame performs high-res mixing onsite allowing the bandwidth of the IP-link to be significantly reduced.  Low-resolution proxy feeds were generated for all sources which were transferred over a layer 2 IP link to operator workstations and multiviewers at control positions in Paris and in Salford.

Key to the operation is Iphrame’s TimeLock functionality, which ensures all sources and processing is accurately timestamped using PTP reference clocks. The latencies, which are unavoidable with any remote or IP-based solution, are carefully measured and compensated for. The TimeLock functionality enables control surfaces to operate using timestamped proxy feeds at a known time-offset so that switching decisions can then be performed remotely in high-res on the exact frame the operator intended. Iphrame even provides an instant simulation of the mix generated from the proxy feeds, giving the operator an instant visual response as if they were controlling a local device.

Suitcase TV Vice President of Products Ed Calverley said, “This trial showed that it’s unnecessary to return all sources because switching can be accurately done at the event location. However, simply controlling a mixer remotely is not enough. Additional sources will often be needed from a facility local to the operator. For the Euro 2016 trial these were handled by adding a second down-stream mixer process in Salford. Appropriate processing offsets were applied to allow for the latencies in the contribution link. Most importantly though, we were able to configure the system so that both mixers behaved as one, simplifying the complexity into a single control surface.” 

The Paris sources included four studio cameras, two outside sources and one graphics source (Key+Fill). Sources in Salford included two local VT sources and one graphics source. Full-resolution, uncompressed switching/mixing was done in Paris with the output passed back to Salford as a compressed contribution feed (over IP). The feed was decoded in Salford and passed into a second downstream mixer which combined it with local sources to produce the final transmission output.

Suitcase’s iphrame enables operations from multiple control surfaces that can be located on any available network connection – and control is not limited to a single operator. According to Calverley, what emerged from the trial were interesting questions about shared control and the ability of individual operators to have a dedicated preview mix depending on how a system is configured.

Calverley said, “As budgets continue to be cut, broadcasters have to look at remote production as a matter of necessity. However, we believe that remote production isn’t an either-or proposition. Keeping operational staff at a production centre creates greater efficiencies and gives rise to new working practices that enable broadcasters to generate more live content for less money, therefore providing audiences with the variety they crave.”

A variety of bitrates were tested during the trial, but the total bandwidth required for connection to the remote location was typically around 60Mb/s for normal operation. Connectivity to a remotely located operator was under 20Mb/s.

Suitcase TV can be found at IBC 2016 on Stand 2.C10. For more information, visit www.suitcasetv.com, or to arrange a meeting at IBC, email IBC2016@suitcasetv.com.