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HPA Tech Retreat: ABC, AWS, Diversified, and Game Creek on the Opportunities and Challenges of Moving to IP


HPA Tech Retreat: ABC, AWS, Diversified, and Game Creek on the Opportunities and Challenges of Moving to IP Eliminating proprietary hardware, speeding innovation, and shifting to the cloud are some of the benefits By Jason Dachman, Chief Editor

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - 7:00 am

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Although video has been distributed over IP on the internet for decades, professional-production and -distribution infrastructure is still dominated by traditional baseband technologies. However, moving to IP promises an array of benefits, including shifting away from proprietary hardware, accelerating innovation and upgrade cycles, and transitioning on-premises infrastructure to the cloud. At the HPA Tech Retreat's opening day of TR-X sessions, technology execs from ABC News, Amazon Web Services, Diversified, and Game Creek Video discussed the evolution of video-distribution infrastructure to IP and how IP broadcast facilities and organizations are deploying IP-based workflows.

Each speaker on the panel - which was moderated by Mike Cronk, Grass Valley's VP of Core Technology and Chairman of AIMS (Alliance for IP Media Solutions) - offered a prime example of how their respective organizations are blazing the trail for IP-based and cloud-based media workflows: Disney/ABC will be opening a new IP-based facility in 2024, Game Creek Video has several IP-based trucks on the road (one of which served Fox Sports' Super Bowl LIV production), AWS is working with Fox Corp. on a cloud-based production/delivery platform, and Diversified served as integrator on WarnerMedia's new IP-based CNN facility.

Disney/ABC's IP-Based Production Facility Coming in 2024 Disney plans to shift its New York operations (ABC HQ, WABC News, offices, production facilities and studios) to a new, totally IP-based facility in Manhattan's Hudson Square neighborhood - set to open in 2024. In the meantime, the company is integrating IP-based solutions at its Upper West Side facility.

Mike Strein

Mike Strein, Director, Engineering and Technology, ABC TV Network/ABC News

On transitioning to IP: At the Upper West Side [facility], we have about a dozen SDI routers within our plant now that we're slowly replacing with video over IP. Obviously, one of the things you get in video over IP is scale. When you have SDI, you really can't do anything much bigger than 1152 1152. We are now replacing the [older routers] and [transitioning] to an Evertz EXE [router] that is slowly [growing] Right now, it's about 2800 2800 and getting bigger as it goes along.

On the timeline for the new Hudson Square IP-based facility: The big news is that we're building a new facility in lower Manhattan. The timeline is key; it's not often you get a timeline of this [length]. We started this planning a year or two ago, and we're looking for occupancy in mid 2024. That means you have to do the build in 2023, and you have to make the engineering decisions by 2022. That gives us a few years to plan out what we want to do in the new facility, and you don't get to do that quite often.

On how IP infrastructure can enable cloud-based workflows: Essentially, the concept is, if you have an on-prem facility, how can you set that up to use the cloud to move into an off-prem environment? And then how does orchestration and resources and security go around all that? The on-prem facility will be all [SMPTE ST] 2110 with PTP and multicast, but how do you move that into the cloud? Those are the conversations we're trying to foster, and that's why we're talking to people like [AWS] and a lot of other people we might not have normally talked to in the past.

Game Creek's IP Evolution Leads to History at Super Bowl LIV Game Creek Video has rolled out more than a half dozen IP-based mobile units and recently worked with Fox Sports to produce Super Bowl LIV in 1080p HDR (upconverted to 4K HDR for distribution) using an IP-based truck.

Paul Bonar

Paul Bonar, VP, Engineering, Game Creek Video

On why the company is transitioning its trucks to IP: The main reason we ended up going with [IP] was because of the amount of monitors and feeds we had. There were just so many. We built the main [NFL on Fox] truck [Encore] in 2015, and we now have put five trucks with Lawo 2110 [IP router with an Arista switch] on the road in the last six months. The amount of monitors required means that you just can't do it in baseband.

On the Super Bowl LIV production: We didn't do full IP [at Super Bowl LIV]. The primary truck was using Evertz [IP routing], and that was where everything went through, but the secondary truck was still baseband, and, on the follow trucks, we were doing SMPTE ST 2110. So we had a combination of everything coming together connected via fiber.

On the challenges of moving to IP: It also comes down to profitability and being able to get the job done and not having failure. You can't have failure whether it's the Super Bowl or on a small fishing show. There are so many things you have to deal with [for IP]: everything from cooling to power to space to noise. But I believe it's the right way to go.

Fox Heads to the Cloud With AWS AWS recently inked a multiyear deal with Fox Corp. to create a new cloud-based media-production/delivery platform that will distribute content to MVPDs, affiliate stations, and OTT providers (marking the first time that a single platform will be used to deliver both traditional broadcast and direct-to-consumer streaming services).

Clare Southey

Clare Southey, Specialist Solutions Architect, AWS

On the Fox deal: Fox is planning to move its entire broadcast infrastructure to the cloud quickly, and it's partnering with AWS to do that using a software-based workflow. Fox is looking to move everything - l
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