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NAB 2024: Blackmagic Design, SMPTE 2110, and Video Over IP

In this interview from the Blackmagic Design booth at NAB 2024, Blackmagic Design's Bob Caniglia and Streaming Media's Shawn Lam discuss how Blackmagic is enabling producers to convert 4K and HD signals to SMPTE 2110 so they can move content across IP networks, with their new open-source 2110 IP codec and new 10 gig port-equipped Blackmagic Design cameras that support it like the PYXIS 6K and the URSA Cine 12K.

In this interview from the Blackmagic Design booth at NAB 2024, Blackmagic Design's Bob Caniglia and Streaming Media's Shawn Lam discuss how Blackmagic is enabling producers to convert 4K and HD signals to SMPTE 2110 so they can move content across IP networks, with their new open-source 2110 IP codec and new 10 gig port-equipped Blackmagic Design cameras that support it like the PYXIS 6K and the URSA Cine 12K.

Shawn Lam: I'm at NAB 2024 in the Blackmagic booth with Bob Caniglia, and today we're going to be talking about SMPTE 2110. So there's a whole rack here of products, but before we go too deep in it, let's have a bit of an overview. What is the SMPTE 2110 standard?

Bob Caniglia: It's a way to move video across IP networks. Last year we introduced a couple of products that help people take video and turn it into a SMPTE 2110 signal so that you can send it through ethernet and then bring it back to baseband, to a monitor or to a display or into an edit system. We started with HD products last year, but one of the things that we wanted to do was move 4K signals the same way. A lot of people have 10 gig ethernet backbones. We created our own IP codec so that we're able to move 4K down 10 gig. This year we have some new products that have the 10 gig ethernet built in to move the data across.

So you can come out of the camera's 10 gig, you can go to our new audio monitor. We have a new IP converter here that's converting those signals back into baseband so you can bring them into a switcher or whatnot. And we also had it create our own ethernet switch, but the switch is really designed for video. It's not really your traditional ethernet switch. It's a switch designed for video so that you have that front display. It's similar to a video router because we realize that not everybody's IT-centric, but they want to be able to move images over long distances. And this is a great way to do it. The compression that we're using, this 2110 IP codec that we've created, is going to be open source so anybody can add it to their products.

Shawn Lam: And so what that means too, right--because there's different flavors of the standard--that it's not one that's already supported by someone else. Other companies have to join in on your open source codec. So if there's other hardware out there or software, is it not going to work with the Blackmagic ecosystem at this point?

Bob Caniglia: At this point, which is why we created a bevy products that you get started now, but let the others come to us. But it's going to be a free codec so they don't have to license it.

Shawn Lam: Starting off with the cameras, which cameras support the 2110 flavor that you guys have?

Bob Caniglia: Sure. So the new PYXIS 6K camera and the new URSA Cine 12K have 10 gig ports on them already. And we also have the other devices to turn it in from one to the other. So we have a couple of new boxes that came out at the show that you could plug the SDI in and then turn it into the SMPTE 2110 to move it across to another receiver, for lack of a better term, so they can monitor it somewhere else. We have a lot of components there so you can get going, so it's not like you're stuck. You can use it. And again, those SDI signals could be anything. They don't have to be our camera.

Shawn Lam: So talk to me a bit about the compression that's on that signal because it's not an uncompressed signal.

Bob Caniglia: It's not uncompressed, but we're using about eight pixels. It's very, very light compression. If you're doing 30 frames or less, there's zero compression. And when we have to do 60 frames per second, it's negligible. And one part of this SMPTE standard is that it's not supposed to be heavily compressed. So we conform to the standard, but we created this codec to make it a little bit more nimble to move these 4K images down 10 gig without having to expand to 25 or 100.

Shawn Lam: What are some of the use cases? Who's likely to adopt SMPTE 2110 products that you guys have?

Bob Caniglia: A lot of broadcasters could use it if they're doing remote work. I always say that when we come to this show, we find people that are going to use it for something we didn't even think of. But even in houses of worship, they want to move the signal across campus to somewhere else. They could use that and know that they're not going to get a degraded signal on the other end. And we're hearing a lot of good conversations now about different use cases that people have, but really it's just anytime you need to move a signal from one place to another that you can't run a cable to and you can do it through the ethernet, we have the ability to do that now.

Shawn Lam: Is there much latency to talk about in this workflow?

Bob Caniglia: It's very, very latency free. And that's the other thing: it needs to do that. You can't have lots of delay; otherwise things get out of sync and whatever. Like I said, eight pixels is nothing. And you have the ability to actually lock the router and some of our other products so that you can lock them to the IP clock so that everything stays in sync and then you don't have any drift.

Shawn Lam: And so the 10 G standard, I mean that's supported by just standard CAT-6 ethernet cable, which is fairly inexpensive and ubiquitous, right?

Bob Caniglia: And a lot of people have a lot of 10 gig infrastructure already. This doesn't require them to move to a new level, like 100 or something like that. Now the actual router has two 100 gig ports in there. So if you do need to go into a bigger network, you can do that. But it's also 16 ports of 10 gig, which is just plenty. So what we did here with the ethernet switch, is to basically make it look like our router panel so that it works the same way where you go to the in and you pick a source and you can dial through and find out what you have, and then you can send it to a destination or you can pick the output where you want to go. So, say I want to send this deck to this monitor location, and then I can take that, and I can also change the input that's going to go to this destination, and then I hit Take and it moves to that. And again, that is a very video-centric sort of workflow, and it doesn't involve IP addresses or anything and some software program that you need to use to actually move the signals around. This is a very familiar way. It works the same way as our source and destination here as opposed to the in and out that we're using for delineation. And then you take it just like you would take it here on our router.

Shawn Lam: And the big difference is HD-SDI on the back, internet on the back.

Bob Caniglia: Right. And so obviously the HD-SDI is only going to go up towards 300 feet away, but this could be wherever, depending on where you're sending the signals and what you have connected. Now this IP converter here is going to take in four camera feeds, and turn them back into basebaned from wherever they are, but it also provides power over ethernet so you're able to actually power that device. So our studio cameras are going to get an update so that they can accept this compression, the 2110 IP compression so that you can use this as a way to feed four of those studio cameras and you're going to get those signals back, including the roundtripping of the program output to get all the full camera control and whatnot that you're used to. So it's just the next evolution of working and be able to do four in one rack unit is pretty great. And then again, you can go through it and look at the different signals, whichever ones that we have hooked up at the moment. There we go. So you can see what's coming in on those signals and then what's on the actual outputs too, depending on where they're going. So it is just a way to make it more video-centric for people not having to really think about the whole IP structure. We're kind of doing the heavy lifting for them and making it just user-friendly because it's only good if you can actually make it work.

Shawn Lam: Thank you very much, Bob. This has been a look at the Blackmagic Design SMPTE 2110 products at NAB 2024.

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