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The State of PTZ Over NDI

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Finally, I heard from Ron Linares, manager of the AJT Systems division at Daktronics, a maker of video displays, scoreboards, digital billboards, dynamic message signs, sound systems, and related products. The company is a well-known manufacturer with more than 50 years of experience under its belt, and its website describes its reputation succinctly: “From your local high school scoreboard to video systems in major league stadiums, and roadside LED signs to iconic digital signage in Times Square, Piccadilly Circus and around the world, there’s a good chance you see our products every day.”

Linares says that Daktronics is currently using NDI to output broadcast graphics and input live camera video for analysis from its graphics playout product LiveBook GFX. The company supports two channels of its graphics render engine running simultaneously on a small form-factor laptop with output over NDI.

“With NDI,” Linares says, “we are able to play graphics out of our laptop-based systems and feed production switchers directly over existing customer IP networks, eliminating rack-based systems or costly, space-consuming outboard conversion gear. By simplifying our system to only a single laptop we are able [to] set aggressive price points for our products that are truly broadcast-ready gear, but start at $5000 for a turnkey hardware/software solution.”

Simplification really seems to be the theme that Daktronics is emphasizing with moving customers to NDI. “Weeks of planning, wiring, training and preproduction are a thing of the past. NDI is part of that,” Linares explains. “Where we would spend time in the past connecting SDI is now gone and replaced with the satisfying ‘click’ of a CAT6 cable, quick-check that NDI video is flowing through to the TriCaster and we are ready to broadcast!”

NDI and PTZ

Of course, many companies are using NDI in PTZ and similar robotic control operations. PTZOptics is one. It offers a lineup of eight different NDI-compatible cameras ranging from 30x zoom, full PTZ cameras (Figure 6) to tiny zoom-only box cameras.

Figure 6. PTZOptics 30x NDI|HX Network Broadcast Camera

Sony’s BRC-X400 PTZ IP 4K camera (see Figure 2) is the company’s first foray into IP 4K PTZ cameras with NDI capabilities. Panasonic offers four PTZ cameras, from the entry level AW-HN38H to the high-end AW-UN70 4K model. It also makes the AV-HLC100 Live Production Center hardware switcher.

Of course, NewTek manufactures NDI PTZ cameras to complement its assorted other NDI equipment. Like many of the other manufacturers in this article, its cameras also support HDMI and SDI in every model for maximum flexibility.

More companies that offer PTZ NDI gear include BirdDog, Marshall Electronics, Lumens, and JVC. Each of these may have its own unique spin on the features of the PTZ camera, but the most important common denominator is the inclusion of NDI.

NDI, while still relatively new, is a force to be reckoned with. The biggest broadcasters may still be taking baby steps and just testing the waters of NDI, but they will all have to move to some sort of IP protocol eventually. So far, it seems that NDI is winning the battle for hearts, minds, and rack space.

[This article appears in the July/August 2019 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "The State of PTZ Over NDI."]

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