Cobalt Digital: Taking a Scalable, Space Efficient, Cost-Effective Approach to Terminal Equipment – Suzana Brady on KitPlus TV

Suzana Brady talked with KitPlus TV about Cobalt Digital’s commitment to manufacturing openGear cards that are flexible and secure. Look for Cobalt at the IBC show in Amsterdam in December 2021. For more info, visit the Cobalt Digital website.

Matt Robbins:
Hello, and welcome to the show supported by Media Proxy. Today, we are continuing our series of openGear discussions and are delighted to welcome Suzana Brady from Cobalt Digital. Hi, Suzana. Welcome to the show.

Suzana Brady:
Hello. Thanks for having us.

Simon Tillyer:
It’s a pleasure now, Suzana, we tend to catch up with you at NAB each year, which obviously despite everyone’s best efforts is not to be this time. Now, before we, we delve into the new exciting products, you would’ve been showing everybody, for those that may not have come across Cobalt Digital in the past. Give us a quick overview of what you do.

Suzana Brady:
Sure. Cobalt Digital was founded 24 years ago in 1997. We’re going to have our 25th anniversary next year, so we’re excited about it. We were founded and it was too based in Champaign, Illinois in the United States. We were 1 of the 2 founders, we were one of the founders of openGear along with Ross Video. So some people don’t know that we were the only other company besides Ross to manufacture our own openGear frames, branded for Cobalt Digital. So we’ve been very excited to, to have been part of this since the very beginning, and we have dozens and dozens of openGear-based products. Today we design and manufacture pretty much edge devices for live video production and master control that support any anywhere from 3D to 4K, IP, HDR, all the fun stuff out there. We are also one of the founders of the RIST Consortium. RIST stands for reliable internet stream transport, and I can talk about it more once I get to one of the products here. We’re very active participants on RIST and today we pretty much serve the broadcasters, the mobile production trucks, sports venues, governments, corporate education, medical, We are in always expanding into new markets with all the broad product line that we have, so, and of course the highlight is that we really believe in scalable, space efficient, flexible, cost effective approach to terminal equipment. And this is why, you know, the openGear form factor is such a good fit for what we do.

Matt Robbins:
Fantastic. And actually, that’s very interesting because I, for one was another one of those people that didn’t realize that you were a founding member of the openGear project, so to speak. So yeah. Interesting, good stuff. Now you, what you, what would you have been showing had we met up and then it’d be? Let’s go through some product announcements that you would’ve, you would’ve given us.

Suzana Brady:
Sure. We had been planning all kinds of interesting announcements for NAB. So unfortunately here we are, you know, going to plan B and doing all virtually, which is, which is also great. One of the first things we’re announcing was our RIST main profile security option. RIST, as I said before, is this reliable internet stream transport group. They come up with specifications for low latency distribution over the internet. The one of the first specifications was called simple profile. The set, second set of specifications that came out last year was named the main profile and that includes stream encryption and security standards. So, we were able to build in the encryption and authentication to the Cobalt compression line. Both are encoders and decoders now offer this feature and which really allows broadcasters to protect their content without having to have all the separate security devices, so it’s a built in feature for the compression line and we are excited to announce that we’ve got that ready now on our products. So, on the bridge itself, we know that video contribution over the internet has been a reality for a long time, maybe 10 years.

Matt Robbins:
Yeah.

Suzana Brady:
With security, yeah. Security and encryption now, I mean, certainly it allows broadcasters to save an Opax by using, you know, existing internet connections instead of all the costly, dedicated lines. However, using the internet as a studio to studio link or as a contribution link has it’s security implications.

Matt Robbins:
Yeah, of course.

Suzana Brady:
The content being out there and traveling through all this other equipment that’s not under the broadcaster’s control, you know, is an issue, has always been an issue. So we decided with the RIST group to solve this market need and add security to satisfy the, you know, content owner requirements.

Simon Tillyer:
So Suzana, when people might not need a dense, full rack of say 20 cards, is there like an alternative cut down version they can go for?

Suzana Brady:
Actually we do, Cobalt, I believe we’re the only openGear partner that offers a compatible enclosure. So basically we offer an enclosure where we can fit up to 2 openGear cards. So instead of having a 2 rack unit with 20 cards, you can have just a small enclosure, which is the size of a third of a rack unit. So you essentially can put 3 of these enclosures next to each other on a tray and have 2 cards per enclosure. So all of a sudden you have 6 cards on a 1 rack openGear-compatible frame, as opposed to having a 2 rack unit with all 20 cards. So that’s unique to Cobalt and it comes with dual power supplies and our, you know, and all the other advantages support to dashboard and everything else just like an open year traditional frame. But instead it allows you to carry 2 cards instead of 20. So that was a good question. Thank you.

Matt Robbins:
Yeah. And this actually going back to the RIST thing, you know, that is probably directed at your bigger broadcaster, but it’s also going to be very important for your smaller broadcaster with less, you know, less cards, you know, what the less density requirement, but that RIST solution is that unique to you guys as well?

Suzana Brady:
Yeah, that’s, the RIST basically distributes and shares the specifications. And we went and we took the specs and developed our own solution based on that. The specs are available. It’s open to the market because that’s the way we like it. But yeah, the solution is very specific to Cobalt. And I don’t know, I haven’t heard that any other manufacturer is providing the exact same type of security and authentication both at the same time in an openGear card yet. I haven’t heard the RIST type of encryption basically uses a strong crypto with industry vetted methods based on the VSF TR6, which is the specifications that the VSF puts out, which is based on DTLS. And I don’t think anyone has done this development yet. Just, I think it’s just Cobalt right now.

Simon Tillyer:
Now we, we’ve heard that you were about to release a new 2110 product at NAB. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Suzana Brady:
Yeah. We, one of our big announcements was our new openGear base, indigo ST 2110. The product is a highly integrated ST 2110 factory option basically that adds native sent 2110 support to Cobalt’s existing, a couple of our existing cards, are on main popular cards. The, these are the 9904 UDX, 4K, and the 9905 MPX, which is our multi pack, it supports up to 3 G signals and the 9904 UDX, it goes all the way up to 4K. So the indigo includes multiple 25 gig ethernet interfaces basically to support uncompressed 4K. The advanced features of the 9904, 9905 that have been on the market for a while, which include up and down cross conversion, audio routing, color correction, 3D like processing the 9904 also has support for advanced HR, HDR by technicolor. So now we have all those features combined with the new 2110 option. So it really, now the door is open basically for the advanced processing and this cards to be available also with IP inputs and outputs, eliminating the need for any, you know, external gateways. It’s a much simpler way of doing it.

Matt Robbins:
So you’re always going to be developing new products, you’re always be developing new openGear cards, I’m sure. Please tell me that, maybe we can come and see it, IBC, or, you know, if you’re going to be there, are there going to be any new announcements for that coming up in the future?

Suzana Brady:
Yeah, yeah. We actually have the sales and marketing team has weekly meetings with engineering because there’s always news like pretty much almost on a weekly basis between upgrades and features and new products or new spinoffs of existing products. So we have other interesting things planned for IBC. So far, we’re planning to be there, we’re planning to, we have a nice booth at a nice location. We’re finishing the final touch-ups for the show and hopefully it’s going to go on and we’re going to be able to see our friends and colleagues, and customers that, you know, obviously this December.

Simon Tillyer:
Excellent. Thank you very much, Suzana. And you can find out everything that Suzana has been talking about and loads more, I’m sure at cobaltdigital.com. And don’t forget, this is just one of our lineup of openGear interviews. So watch out for the rest coming up soon from a number of key openGear partners. Thanks Media Proxy for their support K plus TV. And thank you for watching. We’ll see you next time.

For more info, visit the Cobalt Digital website.

Ultimate openGear Applications Guide - click here