Accelerating Remote Links

  • By David Kirk

Accelerating Remote Links

Contributing Editor David Kirk reports on the current trends in IP-linked remote OB production...

Smaller in size and visitor headcount but decidedly more focused than usual on the core business of broadcasting, the April 2022 NAB Show retained its dominance as a springboard for new product announcements even after a three-year Covid-induced gap. The remote links category was no exception, with an accelerating rollout of UHD tools.

ABonAir’s new AB4000 is a UHD wireless video link for applications such as sport, news, remote production, studio, cinema and live events. It is designed for large wireless deployments over unlicensed frequency bands. “The AB4000 delivers 4Kp60 video through 12G SDI or HDMI interfaces,” says ABonAir CEO Eran Igler. “It overcomes wireless interference by acknowledging every received pixel and verifying its content before decoding, using a wireless-optimized H.265 codec. It supports shading/painting and pan/tilt/zoom camera control, and is compatible with cameras from manufacturers such as Blackmagic Design, Hitachi, Ikegami, Panasonic and Sony. An integrated intercom and tally light support multi-camera productions. The AB4000 has a plethora of features that are essential for wireless production, such as CCU, intercom, tally, one-to-many, many-to-one, replay support and transmit/receive mode change. As a veteran vendor in the market, we understand the need for a simple and an intuitive setup.”

AVIWEST has joined the DEEPTEC (Delivery over Energy-Efficient Processing and Transcoding in Edge Computing) project consortium with TDF and IETR to develop a sustainable fully virtual live streaming over 5G networks. DEEPTEC is a two-year collaborative project supported by the Images & Réseaux team, funded by the Brittany region and the Metropole of Rennes. AVIWEST is providing the company’s latest transmission technologies: the new PRO460-5G bonded cellular transmitter, its SST (Safe Stream Transport) technology and its SaaS StreamHub receiver deployed in multi-access edge computing. The PRO460 is a 5G compliant mobile video encoder and transmitter designed for live video production. It incorporates a UHD H.265/HEVC hardware encoder and enables multiple encoding and transmission workflows from up to four HD sources or a 4K UHD source. “The PRO460 supports perfect video synchronisation and lip sync across multiple cameras at a venue to guarantee seamless camera switching and efficient video editing in the remote production studio,” says co-founder and CEO Erwan Gasc. “In addition, the PRO460 supports low delay and high-quality video delivery from the studio to the field units, allowing the delivering of teleprompt information or a studio feed to the field. A bi-directional audio intercom is also integrated for communication between the field and the studio.” The PRO460 embeds six worldwide compliant 3G/4G/5G cellular modems plus antennas. Transmission can also operate on other networks such as WiFi, BGAN satellite, Ka or Ku band satellite, IP leased line or the internet.

Comrex showcased its newest remote contribution solution called Gagl at the 2022 NAB Show in Las Vegas. Gagl is a cloud service that delivers conferenced audio from multiple contributors in high-quality. It allows between one and five users to send and receive audio from computers and smartphones. Participants can connect and send audio by simply clicking a link using any common web browser. Their audio is conferenced (if there’s more than one user), and delivered to a Comrex hardware codec such as an ACCESS or BRIC-Link. All participants can hear other participants, and the codec can send audio back to them. Gagl could be used as the hub for a round-robin reporting program or for a “morning zoo” radio show to support multiple simultaneous connections at once. Because it offers low latency, it’s appropriate for call-in talk radio. Gagl could also be used to allow a single contributor to connect back to the studio from a computer or smartphone. Designed with audio quality in mind, Gagl provides stable connections with limited bandwidth. Gagl uses the Opus audio encoder, with a bit rate that delivers both voice and music in excellent quality. Gagl also delivers audio directly to a Comrex codec with all the stability enhancements, pro-grade audio connections, and features that hardware codecs provide. With a simple user interface, Gagl is easy for users with any level of technical expertise to use. Gagl works with Comrex hardware IP audio codecs including the AES67-compatible ACCESS NX Rack IP audio codec and ACCESS MultiRack multi-channel IP audio codec as well as the BRIC-Link series. The next addition to the BRIC-Link codec line was also featured at the 2022 NAB Show: LiveShot is a bonded IP solution for live video.

Dejero’s EnGo 265 is a new mobile transmitter designed for use by television news teams and live events broadcasters. Offering resilient connectivity to go live quickly from any location, it can achieve a latency of 0.5 seconds over bonded cellular connections. This allows natural discussion between a studio presenter and field reporter during talkbacks. ‘GateWay mode’ provides wireless broadband internet connectivity in the field, enabling mobile teams to transfer large files, access media asset management and newsroom systems, and publish content to social media. “Newsgatherers depend on backpack transmitters to tell stories from the field - there is no second chance when broadcasting live, so transmission reliability is paramount,” comments Yvonne Monterroso, Director of Product Management at Dejero. 

LiveU 360° is a subscription-based service combining hardware, software and IP connectivity. 360° Essential and 360° Premium are optimised for specific markets (news, sports and other live productions) and can be upgraded at any time. “There has been unprecedented change in the past year and the accelerated move to the cloud and remote workflows has opened up new possibilities for live broadcasting,” says LiveU’s Chief Business Officer Guy Yaniv. “Now more than ever, customers need live video solutions that are easy to navigate and flexible to adjust to their rapidly changing needs and budgets. LiveU 360° enables customers to respond faster with an adaptive subscription-based service which covers every aspect of producing live content in a fixed monthly payment.” LiveU has also introduced an all-in-one 5G field unit for live news and sports coverage. The LU800 supports up to four frame-synchronised feeds using IP bonding of up to 14 connections with up to 4Kp60 10-bit HDR transmission as well as up to 16 audio channels. “With the return of live sports, 5G is able to play a significant role in live production and contribution, comments LiveU’s CEO, Samuel Wasserman. “The LU800’s smart 5G-bonding technology enhances the sustainability of video quality in sports stadiums and other venues, taking advantage of the increased bandwidth, lower latency and greater speeds offered by 5G networks.” LiveU now offers a complete contribution, production and distribution system. Multi-camera production streams are fully managed by the LiveU Central cloud-based management platform and automatically fed into LiveU Matrix IP content management and distribution.

Magewell’s new Ultra Encode universal live media encoders  feature H.264 and H.265 (HEVC) video compression for live streaming delivery, letting users choose their preferred balance between broader viewing device compatibility and higher quality/bitrate efficiency. The new encoder is compatible with a range of streaming protocols including RTMP, RTMPS, RTSP, RTP, HLS, and SRT (Secure Reliable Transport, developed and open-sourced by Haivision). Configurable presets enable easy streaming to YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Twitch or custom targets, with select protocols allowing simultaneous streaming to multiple destinations. “While our Ultra Stream encoders continue to be extremely popular for users with fairly straightforward live streaming needs, integrators and high-end production professionals may require advanced capabilities such as additional formats or protocols and higher bitrates,” comments Magewell CEO and CTO Nick Ma. “Ultra Encode delivers these enhanced features in an exceptionally versatile platform that is ideal not only for live streaming but also for other professional applications such as AV-over-IP and local or remote production.” Ultra Encode HDMI and Ultra Encode SDI offer a choice of HDMI 1.4a or 3G-SDI input and loop-through interfaces. Both models can encode and stream content up to 1080p60 at up to 16 Mbps. The Ultra Encode HDMI also accepts 4K HDMI inputs, down-converting them automatically to HD. Embedded audio is complemented by line-level analog audio input and output connections. The encoder can be configured and controlled through a web browser or via HTTP-based APIs.

Quicklink’s Remote Studio-in-a-Box is designed for creating full remote controllable HD studio productions. It provides a bi-directional video/audio link between contributor and broadcaster. Vision, lighting and sound can be controlled remotely using a web management portal. The Studio-in-a-Box includes an 8.4 inch touchscreen monitor, Panasonic pan/tilt/zoom camera and lighting. An operator can remotely control the zoom, focus, exposure, aperture, pan and tilt. The Panasonic camera also allows remote control of camera brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, sharpness, gamma, white balance, backlight compensation and gain. Brightness and colour temperature of the inbuilt lighting can be controlled along with up to five DMX-512 lights. Requiring only an internet connection, the Remote Studio-in-a-Box allows the contributor to perform single-button operation. Panasonic PTZ camera, lighting, microphone, headset and carry case are all included. Quicklink also offers Remote Studio, a 1 RU product that allows remotely control of HD productions using the operator’s own Panasonic PTZ camera and DMX-512 lighting.

Teradek’s Bolt is a low latency (less than 1 millisecond) wireless video link that transmits uncompressed 1080p/60 4:2:2 video up to 600 metres over the unlicensed 5 GHz band. Three Bolt versions are available, defined by their transmission range in feet (300, 600 and 2000). All models are multicast-capable, supporting up to four receivers). Features include timecode and metadata pass-through. Integrated 3D LUTs output custom graded video. Custom LUTs can be loaded via the Bolt Manager and selected on individual Bolt receiver OLED screens. Real-time cross conversion can be performed from HDMI to 3G-SDI, or vice versa. All Bolts include real-time standards conversion of resolution and/or frame rate control within the receiver. Among recent upgrades, Broadcast mode (for Bolt 4K MAX) allows an unlimited number of paired receivers to be used.

TVU Networks’ TVU One 1080p HDR and 4K HDR mobile IP pack transmits live video simultaneously over multiple aggregated connections, including cellular 3G/4G/LTE/5G, microwave, satellite, BGAN, WiFi and Ethernet at sub-1/2 second latency. “Remote production enters a new phase with a TVU One transmitter that delivers HEVC/H.265 efficient video compression, patented IS+ algorithm for superior transmission reliability, true 60 FPS frame rate, 10-bit HDR support and the ability to send at 100 megabits per second over a 5G cellular infrastructure,” comments Marketing VP Eric Chang.

VITEC claims its MGW Ace Encoder to be the world’s first HEVC/H.265 hardware encoder in a professional grade portable streaming unit. Applications include live news broadcasting, point-to-point contribution of HD video, and live streaming from or within sports venues. The encoder can handle up to 16 channels of audio as well as time-synchronised playback. It accepts 3G-SDI, HD-SDI, SD-SDI, DVI, HDMI and composite video as well as analog and digital audio (embedded and discrete). An on-board hardware scaler can be used for real-time downscaling, cropping and frame-sampling. A built-in video matrix enables routing of video sources to both the HEVC and H.264 compression cores for simultaneous H.265 and H.264 streaming over IP or DVB-ASI output. Zixi stream protection technology is included, designed to protect video, audio and metadata on networks with up to 30% packet loss or data corruption.