Unique Transport Protocol Cuts the Contribution/Distribution Costs in Multisource, Live-Action Productions
Broadcast engineers and operators are always looking for ways to cut the cost of contributing and distributing video between the network and affiliates or
between the field and master control – especially when it is not practical to have a production truck on site. The traditional approach is to use a telecom connection or satellite circuit, but the problem with that approach is that it is quite expensive.
At NAB this year, broadcasters will be looking for better, more efficient ways to contribute and distribute video. This is especially true for sports broadcasters and those who produce live television, who regularly deal with backhauling live, high-action, multicamera, multisource audio and video. A far less costly alternative to telecom or satellite is to send video through the public internet or unmanaged networks, which are practically free. This technology exists today and is already helping major networks save money.
A Unique Transport Protocol
What makes this approach possible is a patented transport protocol that provides reliable, broadcast-quality video transmission over 3G/4G cellular, LAN, Wi-Fi, satellite, and the public internet with dynamic, two-
dimensional forward error correction, automatic re-requests (ARQ), and up to 100 percent redundancy. Its two overarching applications are 1) contributing and distributing video through the public internet and 2) using the bonded cellular method during remote-integration (aka REMI) productions to backhaul live video to master control from multiple cameras in the field synchronously with perfect genlock and audio lip sync.
Using this protocol – which incorporates IP bonding techniques, precision timing over bonded cellular and the public internet, and adaptive bit rate encoding – broadcasters see almost no dropped packets during transmission because of multiple layers of redundancy. First, the protocol automatically recovers dropped packets through forwarding error correction. Then, if the errors are too long or too deep, or there are too many of them in a given group of frames, then ARQ kicks in to
request the missing packets. Finally, the protocol also has a built-in level of redundancy. Together, those elements make for the ultimate in reliability across all possible IP-based networks, including the public internet. Besides providing high reliability in any environment, this one-of-a-kind transport protocol lets users record, store, and forward HD contents at low bit rates. Furthermore, it provides the biggest pipe to transport video content by bonding up to 11 IP connections, including eight cellular, two LAN, and one Wi-Fi. The LAN connections can be a telecom circuit, public internet, satellite, and more. These benefits translate to greater speed and agility for broadcasters.
Many broadcasters have requested a full-bandwidth return video and audio transmission path to help facilitate interviews and send program or teleprompter feeds from master control to the field. To answer that need, this protocol will soon transport video and up to eight channels of audio bidirectionally. There are plenty of bonded cellular solutions out there, but one of the things that makes this solution special is its patented high-gain, long-range antenna technology, which eliminates cross-coupling and interference compared to consumer USB modems. Just like with traditional wireless, not all radios and antennas are created equal, and any good wireless link
requires the best possible RF radio combined with the highest-gain antenna. In bonded cellular, having a high-gain antenna means the signal is more likely to get picked up by a cellular tower. In the Real World, This technology is already in use with resounding success. The best example of the protocol’s magic: A&E’s highly popular “Live PD,” a groundbreaking docuseries that capture and streams live video of police officers on patrol in six jurisdictions around the country.
“Live PD” is a REMI production that, on a typical weekend night, runs as many as 36 live cameras feeds back to a New York-based control room at A&E headquarters with perfect genlock and lip sync. The major challenge was how to produce this live cop show cost-effectively and home-run all those cameras from multiple police vehicles simultaneously – sometimes from a police car in a high-speed chase going 130 miles per hour.
With so many feeds, traditional satellite or microwave links are not only cost-prohibitive but they do not provide the necessary mobility and flexibility for such a production. The “Live PD” crew relies on bonded cellular with this one-of-a-kind protocol to achieve what no another system could: simultaneous transmission of as many as 36 live video streams at a time up to 3,000 miles away, with perfect multicamera gen-lock synchronization and perfect lip sync across all cameras.
It’s a major feat of broadcast engineering, because in a live TV broadcast. there’s no time to correct synchronization and lip sync issues on so many cameras. The protocol operates on a system provided by VidOvation in partnership with AVIWEST. The ” Live PD” crew uses 36 bonded cellular transmitters. including one for each of two HD cameras in every patrol car and two additional camera operators.
Additionally, there are four high-gain, external antenna units installed on each patrol car so the bonded cellular transmitters in the trunk can receive a strong and resilient signal. Throughout the three hour show two nights a week, the transmitters feed up to four video channels and eight audio channels of live. high-quality video back to the control room in New York from every patrol car in all six cities. In the control room, a receiver. decoder and distribution platform receive the live video feeds and dumps them into an instant replay system to receive analysis and metadata. From there the system delivers the video to air for the live broadcast. Genlock input on the transceivers – the only ones in the industry with multicamera genlock capability – are instrumental in maintaining synchronous cameras and take care perfect lip sync.
The Bottom Line
Sports broadcasters or others looking to increase reliability while cutting transport costs would do well to consider the protocol discussed in this article. If the technology can work for an unprecedented, challenge-ridden REMI production like “Live PD,” imagine what it can do for live sports and events. And for news agencies and networks, who were unable to do multicamera news shoots in the past because of video and
audio synchronization issues, they now have the option of producing a live remote production using multiple cameras while maintaining genlock and lip sync
As seen in the NAB Show special edition Broadcast Beat: http://magazine.broadcastbeat.com/
Thank You, Ryan Salazar and the Editors of Broadcast Beat