The migration of video networks to Internet Protocol (IP) technologies has been one of the most talked about – and misunderstood – topics in broadcasting for some time. Years of uncertainty have finally been settled with the industry’s adoption of SMPTE ST 2110 (or ‘IP 2110’), making ‘any production, anywhere’ a reality, and offering scale and flexibility that until now were hardly imaginable.
For all the excitement, however, this new standard is not a one-size-fits-all solution, or necessarily even the right approach for every client or for all events. Consistent with NEP’s relentless focus on smart use of technology, we are at the forefront of this new broadcasting era. We’re devising custom IP solutions for clients, enabling broadcasters and producers who can benefit from IP technologies to do so.
Along the way, we’ve garnered several world- and country-firsts – either because other methods couldn’t meet the client’s needs or provided sub-optimal results, or simply because we had a brand new way of looking at a broadcast challenge, and our client, vendor and supplier had the imagination and confidence to partner with us in making it real.
Now that the industry is working in a number of formats – 3G, SD, HD, 4K – IP enables true interoperability, and therefore scale and flexibility. “It’s literally turned how we look at production on its head, and our ability to drive additional value and scale from people and equipment for clients, regardless of location,” says Scott Rothenberg, NEP Group’s SVP of Technology and Asset Management.
Several NEP projects demonstrate that principle in action, explored in the following pages. Each of these solutions has been crafted for the specific project, the broadcaster or producer’s business objectives and to work within a particular geography.
Client consultation underpins NEP’s process of identifying and developing an optimal approach, which might not require dramatic change. So, while interoperability is a big win for the industry, IP isn’t essential for every broadcast truck, studio or flypack — for example, with smaller events, where it isn’t possible to drive scale or it is inefficient to retrain crew on a new technology. We also appreciate that some broadcasters will, and should, continue to work in the conventional fashion; therefore, for the foreseeable future NEP will maintain a mixed-use facilities model to accommodate them.
IP is the best solution when it achieves better use of assets. “If we can do two shows out of one control room on the same day; accommodate multiple broadcasters’ programs simultaneously; or make a couple small systems or one large one out of the same equipment, that drives down production costs per unit – even though the upfront costs to NEP in developing and deploying this technology are more than they would be in conventional broadcasting approaches,” Rothenberg explains.
Even before SMPTE 2110 was adopted the broadcasting industry grappled with technology’s furious pace of change. Leaping into this new era may feel overwhelming – that’s why NEP has been leading the transition to SMPTE 2110 so clients don’t have to develop that expertise, and can instead focus on their core business of creating compelling content for audiences.
“Technology is critical for us, but we want it to be in the background for our clients,” says Rothenberg. “This is a technology change, and that’s why you turn to a technology company that’s ahead of the change to support you through it, and ensure you benefit from it.”
NEP understands clients are trying to create compelling content and display it to viewers, so the focus is on the technology needed to make that happen, while giving clients the tools to tell their story. And with a global presence, NEP can make those same resources available anywhere in the world. For example, the teams producing an international tournament are supported by the same tools and workflows, and, therefore, all events have a consistent look and feel regardless of where the individual events are located.
NEP’s skill in combining IP technologies with the practices and working styles of individual clients is clearly building efficiencies into broadcasters’ production plans and schedules. “Smart use of technology – rather than technology for its own sake – is what NEP is about,” Rothenberg concludes. “Innovation with a purpose is our philosophy on this new broadcasting frontier.”
NEP is leading the way in customizing SMPTE 2110 solutions to meet clients’ individual geographic, event and business needs.