NEP’s first single-truck-unit with IP-based routing easily adapts to different formats and standards, creating greater flexibility.
By: Joe Signorino, Vice President of Systems Integration, NEP US Mobile Units
I would say NEP is the US outside broadcast (OB) market technology leader in IP-based systems. 1080P, HDR and 4K were topics of daily discussion at NEP several years back, so the move to IP was firmly on our radar. However, we had to time it right to create a format agnostic system that provides a robust path into the future.
We introduced our first IP-based systems three years ago and have been building on the technological advantages, new equipment options and standards adoption ever since. We have produced some of the world’s largest mobile systems but couldn’t effectively build many of them to the required size in baseband or SDI. So, initially, the main advantages of IP were focused around the size or scope of the system, extended multi-viewer capabilities and connectivity.
Adopting pioneering technology like IP for a new and very large-scale project requires quite a bit of engineering design and homework. It was important to find equipment manufacturers who were willing to partner with us to move forward with IP. Equipment and control system availability were very limited at the time, but before long we identified the companies we wanted to work with. In the end, our first IP outside broadcast truck, SS-CBS, was an exciting and successful project that received tremendous support – so much so that our following two IP trucks and now EN3 are evolutions of that first vehicle.
EN3 is our fourth IP system in the US. It is our first single-truck-unit OB and our first SMPTE 2110 deployment, and we’re progressively incorporating IP in our current designs and implementation. Some details of the ST2110-20/30/40 standard are still being worked through, which limits our equipment choices today, but things are changing rapidly. In our business, new systems deployment is not necessarily driven by the availability of technology as much as by client and event needs.
In EN3 we provide a number of new system features, such as our first production switcher with ST2110 IP connectivity to the IP switch – eliminating several gateways and cable – and more extensive use of ST2110-30 audio flows through the system. Other equipment that meets client requests can be directly connected via IP as it becomes available.
Control systems are a major part of a unified solution: while you may pass video signals through some IT systems, creating an SDVN system that meets the requirements for a mastering-quality live production and recording environment is quite different. One big issue is providing the proper and sometimes familiar interfaces for all of the operating positions, including router control panels and touch screens, so (if needed) it can be business as usual. There is little room for layers of menus or command line code in this fast-paced environment.
That’s why we have strived to provide IP applications that look and feel familiar while being fully customizable. Our new system user interfaces allow key personnel to configure their own areas and permit a more distributed setup workload. Control systems of this nature require an enterprise-class IT network as a reliable backbone to support today’s network-centric environment.
With EN3 we have further optimized workflows, work spaces, airflow and noise control to provide a comfortable, efficient environment with fewer moving parts, thereby reducing setup and strike times. This, combined with the ability to store and recall setups, is a real time saver. If our clients can move between shows and production teams while trimming an hour or even 30 minutes here and there that can prove to be a considerable savings and better experience for everyone.
Visit EN3 on our website to learn more about this exciting new mobile unit.