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BBC R&D’s studio of the future

13 September 2013
BBC R&D’s studio of the future

One of the most intriguing future technology demonstrations in the show is the BBC R&D IP studio project. The result of two years of effort split between London and Salford, it carries a high value status within the BBC, and makes clever use of things like precision time protocol (PTP).

“It is all about how we can use internet technology in new ways in TV production in particular,” said Peter Brightwell, lead R&D engineer.

“TV has used file-based techniques for a while, but not much has been done in the area of live. We carry loads of new formats that have to be mangled down an SDI cable,” he added.

“This requires work, but the internet is pretty versatile so we can make use of this and the fact that we’ve got really big networks to stream the work directly on IP hardware.”
The show demo focuses on multi-resolution, and streaming 4K and HD resolutions along with content from a mobile. A tablet is used for the control surface, and there is clever use of web APIs. The system will also handle live streaming at appropriate resolutions.

“The other important thing is that as we scale these things out you need to find things as they appear on the net,” said Brightwell. “You want to be a basic plug and play thing.

“A lot of this is about improving the stability of what we have done so far, like getting latency down,” he added. “We have got much more work to do on how we manage loads of sources from different places, and identifying what is available – things like addressing schemes and identity schemes. And we are using PTP as a more accurate way of distributing time than is usual with the internet and NTP.”

The stand demo run by Rob Wadge deals with data in the same way as the audio and video elements are handled.
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