It’s time for the broadcast industry to get used to cloud, so says Grass Valley’s Tim Banks.
He tells TVBEurope that if 2020 was a year of awareness in terms of what’s possible with cloud enabled technology, then 2021 was about acceptance, and 2022 is about adoption.
“But actually there aren’t three distinct phases,” he adds. “Once you get into adoption, that increases awareness so you have ever expanding concentric circles. You ask, what could be possible next, and then you go into your next round of proof of concepts.”
Grass Valley is busy embracing cloud, particularly through its cloud-based platform GV AMPP. “That’s part of the opportunity we see and that’s part of the edge that we feel Grass Valley has because of the breadth of our portfolio,” says Banks. “We can offer a solution or a number of solutions to the challenge of ‘how do you produce more for less?’
“Broadcasters are transitioning at different paces,” he adds, “and they’ve got different planning horizons, different budget cycles, different positions in terms of their respective refresh and so that’s where we see the GV Media Universe has a unique strength. It says what we’re offering is an open and connected ecosystem, which means that you can transition to a cloud-enabled platform at your own pace. So if you still want to stay on prem today, continue to invest in the latest GV technology, but be safe in the knowledge that it will connect into a cloud-enabled workflow and ecosystem.”
All of this means that companies like Grass Valley need to begin adopting a hybrid of both hardware and software-based technology. Banks believes this is where the appointment of Andrew Cross as the company’s new CEO will come into play. “Andrew is a visionary, and a technologist,” he states. “And whilst he’s pragmatic, he’s also impatient. He’s a breath of fresh air. When you’re going through this kind of scale and scope of technological change, to have a technologist at the helm, who really understands the product and development process, as well as the problems that we’re trying to solve is phenomenal. That’s who you want to be leading the way.”
Focusing on Qatar 2022
As well as cloud, the team at Grass Valley have been working on their camera hardware. Last year the company introduced its LDX 150 camera, described as Grass Valley’s highest performing live broadcast camera. It includes native IP capability, integrated JPEG XS, and support for triple speed UHD. “With all of the different formats and different compression technologies, in the past the camera’s response to that has been to add additional external boxes, which is completely contradictory to everything that we’re trying to do in terms of power, weight, space, sustainability,” states Banks. “If you can integrate natively an IP output straight from the camera head into an IP network, cloud-enabled or just over fibre, it opens up the realm of possibilities like never before.
“So for the Beijing Olympics, for instance, we had NEP in the Netherlands providing services using the LDX 150 cameras with JPEG XS compression. Instead of having to build a studio on site in Beijing, they built a studio in Amsterdam, and all of the field feeds came back to Hilversum. Instead of sending over 20 to 30 people to Beijing, they sent six. It’s mind boggling the kind of opportunities there are available now.”
The camera and AMPP took part in two proofs of concept at last November’s FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar, a precursor to this year’s FIFA World Cup. “One was cloud-based remote production and the other was 5G enabled workflows, and the LDX 150 was the kind of centrepiece of that.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that there’ll be a significant number of 150s on site in Qatar later this year because of the requirements for centralised production. The capability that integrated JPEG XS compression enables is a key technology in that kind of application,” concludes Banks.