IP Workflows for Video – The New Productivity Shift
Similarly, the move away from SDI to IP-based workflows isn't about a single specification or industry-imposed technology shift like the move to 4K resolution. IP is a resolution agnostic format that is a fundamental change in the way video is produced.
The traditional mindset of broadcasters is to liken the difference between SDI and IP to replacing one cable for another. This is understandable. Essentially, they both connect something to something else in a workflow. But the difference reaches far beyond just connection—it’s like comparing a walkie-talkie to a smart phone.
The Reality and the Promise
There are several underlying reasons why IP-based workflows will forever replace SDI for video workflow.
IP makes a production part of a network infrastructure, which is connected to every computer and cell phone in the world, and more–think light bulbs and toasters! This is unprecedented in human history. Additionally, SDI runs parallel to the infrastructure but cannot talk directly to other devices connected on a network. IP can.
Professional broadcasters are being squeezed to produce exponentially more video while maintaining high quality on ever-shrinking budgets. Nowhere is this more apparent than in live sports production, where demand for content is so prevalent that companies that once produced 10 shows a year are now being asked to produce 100 or more.
Imagine the costs. Imagine what you have to pay your crews. Imagine your best talent getting away because you can’t pay them what they’re worth. Imagine trying to maintain quality standards with high turnover among your crews. Imagine.
An IP workflow allows you to maintain your best production talent in a central location that receives camera feeds remotely from wherever the action is. This is how production companies are scaling now as the demand for high quality video continues to rise. It is already happening and it will continue to drive demand for more efficiency on the broadcast side of the IP framework.
Finally, IP workflows will continue to democratise our trade whether we like it or not. The advantages are too numerous and enormous to mention here. Some have yet been imagined. Think of an individual producer, who can only afford four camera inputs today, having access to more cameras than he could possibly ever use—accessible from anywhere in the world. Multiply that by every company in the world that needs to create quality video to communicate regularly and be successful. With this type of productivity shift, the possibilities are staggering.
The Challenge Ahead
The other big challenge facing the industry with IP-based workflows is how to make the transition efficiently and with as little disruption to your current infrastructure as possible. Some industry proposals are looking at new camera connectivity standards, replacing one cable with another. Some require installing super-high bandwidth networks. Some require both. These are potentially expensive predicaments for producers that lead one to believe IP-based workflows are still a work in progress, several years away from having any significant impact or relevance.
But what if you could reap the benefits of a bi-directional IP-based workflow using the SDI cameras you currently own and without changing or upgrading your network infrastructure? What if there was a way to take what you already have invested in and transform it into a robust and powerful IP-based workflow right away? Without making any significant new investment in anything?
It doesn't seem possible really. But that is a problem we’ve been working on solving over the last 10 years. We not only see the future but we believe we are making the future. And the future is far closer to fulfilling this promise than most people realise.
Big change is underway. It’s what I love about our industry and what we do. It's never boring.