You’re watching the big game, the biggest one on the entire globe. It’s live. Your team has control of the ball. The player nears the goal. He aims. He kicks. The ball is …..frozen on your screen mid-air. For sports fans, that’s frustrating! For broadcasters it’s a disaster that could result in devastating revenue losses and a decrease in fan engagement. Loss in distribution happens, but loss of content in a live control room is simply unacceptable under any circumstance.
Not so long ago we owned the entire production infrastructure and building on SDI was simple, robust and reliable. There really was no need for technical monitoring other than for overall integrity. Today though, with the emergence of remote contribution and production, there is huge dependency on third parties for internet connectivity, cloud compute and orchestration. And being new and evolving on a maturity curve, IP isn’t as simple as SDI, albeit capable of greater robustness and reliability. These factors completely change the need for deep monitoring. The use of Precision Time Protocol (PTP), the nature of IP streams themselves, and the necessity to manage the network bring the need for transparent yet deep probing and monitoring, not just to alarm on failure, but to provide data to forecast failure and outage before it hits the live game Production Control Room (PCR).
TAG Video Systems is the provider of a 100 per cent software-based integrated IP multiviewing, probing and monitoring solution that gives broadcasters the ability to track signal health and avoid little glitches as well as huge catastrophes. TAG first introduced an IP solution in 2008; today the company’s Realtime Media Platform supports over 150,000 probing / monitoring points worldwide with a suite of tools that addresses all aspects of live production including ground, cloud, hybrid and remote contribution and production. In fact, we’ve surpassed over 200 million monitoring hours in the cloud!
TAG’s Realtime Media Platform goes to Qatar
The Realtime Media Platform provides interoperability, portability and agility, making it the perfect monitoring solution in any live event environment. And that’s not just hearsay – the platform’s recent gig as FOX Sports’ monitoring and visualisation provider at the most widely viewed single sporting event in the world should be proof enough. But FOX was so pleased with the Platform’s performance in Qatar that the broadcaster sent it to work at the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.
“FOX Sports tapped TAG for many reasons including the system’s ability to run on COTS servers and its proven interoperability with all other equipment,” explained Peter Wharton, chief strategy officer at TAG. “This was an amazing example of vendors working together towards the goal of delivering a successful and ground-breaking project for a customer, on so many levels.”
FOX Sports selected the TAG Platform for all their control rooms and operations multiviewers, monitoring the integrity of over 1,200 sources driving 150+ displays. The platform was also an integral part of a revolutionary live-production system that broke tradition by being built as two separate and redundant systems in a totally different form factor.
Leveraging IP and SMPTE ST 2110 technology, the system was able to move to all fibre, reducing the size and weight of the kit significantly. With a full control room, 40 tech-based racks, and 10 venue racks, the system travelled fully pre-wired and ready to go upon arrival. The 8-foot-tall tech-core racks were built on top of shock-mounted airplane pallets. To fit in an airplane cargo hold, Kevin Callahan, VP, field operations and engineering at FOX Sports, and Douglas McGee, consulting engineer for system design, came up with the idea to have custom racks that fold in half while fully wired to fit under the cargo hold height restrictions. The joint event system is the world’s largest transportable SMPTE ST 2110 live production flypack, able to be flown and quickly setup between major events, as evidenced in Qatar and Glendale.
The TAG multiviewer and monitoring platform enabled FOX Sports operators to see everything in the ST-2110 IP workflow as well as JPEG-XS and UHD. In addition, the entire network was managed by a remote IT team.
The TAG system played nicely with the other vendors on the Qatar project, including Diversified and EVS, to ensure that every one of FOX Sports’ financial and operational goals were met. They wanted a highly portable system that could quickly be transported on commercial planes intact and fully wired for easy deployment at the next event. This innovative system left Doha, Qatar after the last football match and was up and running in plenty of time for the Super Bowl in Arizona.
TAG‘s pure software solution on commodity hardware allows FOX to improve the system as technology advances and new formats emerge. The system provides the network with built-in room for growth to keep pace with rapid changes in the industry as their business needs evolve and workflows change, while saving capacity, resources and costs, all without changing hardware – a perfect example of keeping pace with the rapid technology changes this industry throws at broadcasters on a consistent basis.
The bottom line is: Whether it’s football or American Football – it’s good to have TAG keeping score.