The world of live production is changing rapidly, and a lot of experts in the field are speculating as to how working environments of the future might look. It's hard to predict where technology will take us, but one of the hottest talking points over the last few years has been IP workflows. If you don't know what this is, don't worry. We'll cover it in more detail later on in the article, but to put things simply, productions with IP workflows use networks for data transfer, rather than traditional SDI or HDMI cabling.
This technology is completely revolutionary, and one of its undisputed global leaders is NewTek. The company has been responsible for some significant steps forward in the world of IP video workflows and protocols with the NDI standard a benchmark for connecting production systems. It might sound like an intimidating, technical topic, but we'll do our very best to strip things back to the essentials and help you make sense of it all. Let's dive in.
Working with video over IP can open up a wealth of possibilities.
So what is an IP workflow anyway?
Before we get into the specifics of NewTek's NDI standard, it's worth focusing on what an IP workflow is and why they can be so beneficial for live productions. IP stands for 'Internet Protocol,' which refers to a set of rules that govern the formatting of data for transfer via a network. Again, it sounds complex but really doesn't need to be. All you should know is that working with video over IP can open up a wealth of possibilities by having all the elements of your production connected over a network.
For example, multiple workstations – let's say these are vision switchers – can be connected as part of an IP workflow. Even if they individually only have a certain amount of video channels, a network allows access to every single channel on both switchers instantaneously, which opens up a world of new possibilities. This type of workflow has been used for a while in post-production capacities – as we've discussed in a previous article – and live productions are almost identical. The only difference is that instead of sharing stored items of media, you're able to share live sources.
This is pretty incredible, and comes with a raft of benefits for teams working on live projects.
A photo posted by Boxer Systems (@boxersys) on
Benefits of cutting the cord
You might be asking yourself: "What are the advantages of IP workflows over good old SDI or HDMI?" It's a fair question, and these standards have been around for a long time and are extremely reliable. The issue is, there isn't really anywhere left to go with them. Sure, it's possible to for a switcher in one city to cross to a video feed from the other side of the world, but it's expensive and often quite delayed. When harnessing the power of the Internet, there are no such limitations.
There's also more practical factors to consider, such as cost or convenience. Running long lengths of cable isn't always easy or even possible in certain situations or venues, and cutting the cord (or at least cutting back to just an ethernet cable) will save a lot of time and effort. Similarly, although the outlay for an IP-compatible rig may seem high, you'll save over the long term without a need to upgrade as frequently.
NewTek has always been at the forefront of IP video.
NewTek NDI and the future of IP
Now that you have a broad understanding of how IP workflows operate and the benefits they provide, let's take a moment to talk about NewTek. As a company, NewTek has always been at the forefront of IP video, pioneering the technology more than 10 years ago with products like the original TriCaster – a now-legendary piece of live production equipment. Not content to just manufacture pieces of equipment, NewTek has pushed IP workflows forward with NDI, a standard that aims to unite different brands and provide a framework for continual growth and development in the field.
Essentially, NDI is an open source standard for connecting pieces of technology across a network. Any device that is NDI-enabled can talk to everything else on the network, and best of all the standard is completely open so that anybody can use it.
A photo posted by NewTek (@newtekinc) on
Reaction from the industry has been hugely positive, with Sue Skidmore, Head of Partner Relations at Adobe stating that: "NewTek NDI for the Adobe Creative Cloud plug in delivers the efficiency that content creators need to help them do great work in today's fast-paced production environments. It also opens the door for editors and producers who want to bring the streamlined power of Adobe Premiere Pro CC into their live production workflows."
Well, that's it for our overview of IP workflows and an introduction to NewTek NDI. In our next article, we'll look a bit more closely at how different pieces of equipment can work together with this standard to make live productions bigger and better than ever before. Until then, contact DVT if you have any questions or would like to know more.
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