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Stagebox planned for Commonwealth Games and MoTD

Stagebox, the BBC's new camera-back IP connectivity device, is entering the BBC's production chain with May's local elections, closely followed by the BBC's coverage of Glastonbury, Radio One Big Weekends and The Commonwealth Games next spring.

Stagebox, the BBC’s new camera-mounted IP connectivity device, is entering the BBC’s production chain with the upcoming local government elections being the first to benefit, closely followed by the BBC’s coverage of Glastonbury, Radio One Big Weekends and The Commonwealth Games next spring.

The technology will also find its way into remote production of sports, including BBC feeds of post-match interviews for insert into Match of the Day and – planned – stand-up positions outside key World Cup stadia in Brazil 2014, for remote production in the UK.

A number of third parties have been announced supporting the product. These include Suitcase TV, Quadrus (which routes the signal directly into Avid environments) and Shotoku Broadcast Systems.

The latter can feed control of the camera head through Stagebox and back to the BBC over IP and will first be used during the local election coverage in May.

Stagebox, which will cost around £6,600, combines video and sound compression and transmission technologies from Xilinx and India’s CoreEL Technologies, and is being sold through Bluebell Opticom, which is also managing the relationships between third party vendors and the product’s manufacturers.

A rack-mounted version combining four Stageboxes is being organised – and therefore capable of 4K production.

According to BBC R&D’s Nicolas Pinks, the BBC plans to migrate its entire production systems over to IP networking.

“We believe IP is going to be it,” he said. “The internet is a huge enabling technology and we think our production workflows will move beyond taking camera footage toward capturing data sets. We have got some big ideas about how we might want to tell stories in the future. So if we captured lightfields – more information than a single camera – such as high dynamic range, GPS coordinates, surround sound audio and ambisonics audio, you can create a much broader picture than we can achieve today.

“You can’t do that with SDI or 4K – these are rigid standards. IP is incredibly flexible, so you can build something that will capture an awful lot more information than just a traditional broadcast camera link,” explained Pinks.

“Stagebox is the first step of many ways in which we can capture all sorts of different information, bring it back over the internet to our production offices to tell stories completely differently.”

He added: “Linear workflows driven by SDI will change. We hope that by introducing this to the market we will see more big broadcast companies bringing out open standard IP networking product.”

For more details on Stagebox, see our earlier story.

Adrian Pennington