Roundtable Discussion – openGear Live & Online Sept 29, 2020

openGear Live & Online on Sept 29, 2020, featured discussions with 6 openGear Leader Partners about the cutting edge projects they’re working on, how their products are used, and what signal processing technologies are coming in 2021. During one of the sessions, Cindy Zuelsdorf hosted a roundtable discussion with the 6 partners to find out what interesting projects they’ve worked on in the last 6 months and how they overcome the challenges of those projects.

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Cindy:
The question we’re going to dig into today is… I was wondering if you could tell me, tell our audience, our attendees here, about an interesting or challenging application that you’ve worked with in the last few months. And just talk about the technology, maybe the problem and what you’ve solved with it. And so, Jesse, we’re going to go to you first.

Jesse:
All right. Thank you. Over the past few months, we’ve been working with one of our system integrators on a redesign of a famous audio symphony building up in San Francisco. And it’s a historical infrastructure that couldn’t really…it’s not a Greenfield installation, you’d be retrofitted. So there’s a limited amount of fiber available. So what we did was connect the control room down to the stage and a few other locations on premise via CWDM. For the most part, there was a lot of 12 GSDI going back and forth from PTZ cameras. And then there was quite a bit of AES audio, audio analog, gigabit ethernet, the Gen lock requirements. So we leveraged our OG-4600 card, which supports everything I just mentioned and including serial data GPIO, it’s a very capable single card solution that we leveraged to connect all of the pops, all of the areas that needed the signal IO on premise.

And we also leveraged Ross CWDM Mux card to go along with the installation. We wanted to keep everything openGear. So through that, we also leveraged some of our distribution amps for analog audio and AES and gen lock and a composite analog DA we have. So we were able to meet all the requirements in openGear, and it was about as dense as a solution as you can get. So small footprint available for us to do the work, and we met that requirement and we also leveraged as few as fibers as possible. So there’s a expansion capabilities within this venue. So it was a pretty exciting project for us to be part of, and we’ll have some articles out before too long.

Cindy:
So can you talk about roughly how many fibers you did end up using in that project?

Jesse:
I believe it was less than 12, for tag 12. And there was quite a few pixels that we actually furnished the SFPs, 12 GSF SFPs for use in some third-party cameras and Panasonic PTZ cameras. And then we muxed that to take advantage of CWDM. Those were all CWDM SFPs that we put into the cameras. So there’s quite a lot of signal requirements that we fit within 12 fibers.

Cindy:
And so you had CWDM SFPs and the cameras and about how many cameras in this set up?

Jesse:
I believe it was 12 cameras.

Cindy:
So they correspond with the fiber.

Jesse:
Well, I mean we can get all 12 of those cameras over a single fiber and still have six wavelengths to work with. Per fiber you got 18 wavelengths to work with. So it’s quite capable. And then the openGear card, which we’ll have some slides on later is 412 GS per board, and you also have, eight audio channels by directional and gigabit ethernet serial. All the signals I mentioned earlier are available over single fiber out of that one card. So the high capacity on all in one card set in openGear.

Cindy:
The on-prem symphony system is interesting, and maybe we can update the openGear Ultimate Applications Guide with that application because that’s really great. Jesse, thank you so much.

Let’s go to Ciro. Same question for you Ciro, tell us about a challenging application or interesting technology that’s come up recently that you got to work on and what the problem was and how you solved it.

Ciro:
So what I want to talk about is HDR, and more specifically a cell HDR1 which is a part of ATSE 3.0, and we are involved in that although what can’t give names. But it is sad that there was this big deal when you went from SD to HD and then everybody could say that it was great, it was great. Now what’s next is not that big of a jump. I mean, as people want to think that is, but the thing that is making a difference, visible difference that people can see in their homes is HDR. And there’s this very interesting technology called Cell HDR1, where you take the HDR signal and you create from it an SDR signal with metadata that allows you to recreate the HDR signal. And the cool thing about that is that, that signal is then compatible with legacy stuff.

So it’s just like when a call TV shows up, right? For you who are like analog engineers, you remember this black and white and they call a sub carrier And if it wasn’t called a set, you didn’t get to call a sub carrier, same idea here. You’ll have metadata in the stream and if you don’t know what that is, then you don’t know what the HDR is. Anybody should get the nice SDR stream that you can play. So it’s very nice technology, it is the standard and the standards for mapping it are ready or have been ready for a while. So in the base band world is 70 21 await, which was actually shared by one of my colleagues here at Cobalt. And in a compressed stream is for both the H264 and HEVC that is carried in what’s called the SEI message, supplemental enhancement information message.

So you can carry this thing in both ways. And it gives you an end to end workflow that’s compatible with both SDR and HDR, it’ll do everything in HDR, and then we admit something that’s compatible with both at the other hand. And cobalt makes actually two cars that do that. We have the baseband side on the 9904, and we have the compressed side on the encoders and decoders that do 21 awake to say and vice versa. And one very interesting thing that’s not intuitive is that if we are transporting HDR, going down to SDR, transporting HDR over a compressed link, going down to SDR and throwing the metadata gives you a bandwidth advantage, which is not intuitive. There’s a bandwidth advantage. So we published a paper on SVG SportsTech Journal with the numbers on that with some study with the actual measurements.

So you can check out a summary version of that paper in the SVG SportsTech Journal and you can get, it can download a complete version, a very detailed version with all the plots and all the little details from the white paper section of the cobalt website. So that’s the technology that we are very excited about our customers on deploying. And since I cannot not talk about risks, but there’s a thing called that you send it over the internet, right? I’ve got to plug it because I work on that stuff.

Cindy:
All right, Kevin at VITEC, tell us about an interesting or challenging application or technology we’d love to hear.

Kevin:
It’s really great to be here today with these esteemed colleagues and talk about what we’re doing here. Anybody who knows me and most people here do know me for a long time, knows that I’m a fairly aggressive individual. And when I get my hands around the ankles of somebody or something, I don’t let go for a very long time, either it dies or I die. So today I’m going to take advantage of this venue, and I’m actually going to talk about really three, and I’ll try to slide in for what I consider to be significant fun events that were…or openGear was front and center. The first is football games are won on the line of scrimmage, a bunch of big guys on two sides. The biggest of the big guys that makes a whole, what’s a little guy like me shoot through the hole and the little guy’s a star, right? Open gear in this example is alignment, right? It’s this big block that lets you put in these cards from different vendors for different applications to solve many complex problems. I’m going to talk about this election cycle we have going on right now. And there are two basically political parties in America that are sort of going at it, right?

And we were involved with two of them on the talk about one of them, because it was the funnest of the event. So this is the Republican national convention. And there is a Fort called Fort McHenry, which is outside of Baltimore, famous, famous, famous for the star Spangled banner, talking about the fireworks and in the morning, the smoke settles and the flag is still there. So vice president Pence was speaking from there over to the white house and there was contribution all over the country. And VITEC was a huge part of that entire convention. And so we had 16 encode channels at the Fort McHenry facility, and there was 1000 feet of Cat5 cable.

I’m sure that there were some junction points made at some point from the openGear frame, which was an OGX frame with 16 of the 9261 encoders sitting in there pushing SRT across that single line from that controller card in there a thousand feet of RG45 and a radio shack antenna tower with a mask going up in the air with a line of sight microwave ethernet link from the Fort McHenry facility over to the White House, actually the parking lot behind the White House.

And at that parking lot behind the White House, we had 20 of the decoders in a single frame providing the pool feeds for all of the news organizations globally. So the origination was on the 9061 encoders through an openGear frame across the longest ethernet cable with a very rickety antenna line of sight microwave. And we measured the packet lag with packet loss through the whole advent. Average packet loss was over 10% on the microwave link and we didn’t drop a single frame of video over four days of transmission. So it was a successful testimonial. I’m sorry Ciro, we didn’t use risks there we’ll use risks soon. This was SRT. This was good old fashioned interlaced ABC pushing 10 megs per stream across a microwave IP link. So, that’s option one… That’s the first event. And I’ll speed this up not as if I’m not going fast enough to begin with.

So one of the techs strategic partners who provides broadcast services, the company was recently acquired by another broadcast services company. We were a major contributor to the entire NFL draft. We had openGear frames at places you can’t believe, including Roger Goodell’s home. And in Roger Goodell’s home, he had the OGX frame with a lot of decoders. And those decoders that were sitting in there where our director web OTT decoders, and we were poaching streams from HLS, from RTMP, from SRT, from Zip sim, you name it. And there was a lot of a stream forwarding as Richard calls it, I call it network protocol translation. That was a big part of that. We were doing a lot of Zixi to SRT, SRT to Zixi, Zixi to RTMP, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So that cross-pollinization of all of the formats, these protocols and containers and underlying codex. The codex are the easy part, it’s the socket connections, It’s the protocols and it’s the recovery that really makes the difference.

Cindy:
Aaron and Seth. Add Sencor.

Aaron:
Yeah. So I think, for Sencor it’s been a lot of a mix of both adopting some new technologies in the state of the world. It’s been a good opportunity for us to catch some new development, spend some time on some new things, but also do a lot of just niche changes and things like that to help our customers move along and keep up with the times. But one of the biggest ones that I wanted to highlight that I’ve been working on is this CA descrambling. This has been a really hot topic for all of our European friends, just being able to descramble these new feeds, the EBU is mandating that all of our receiver decoders and satellite in a lot of IP links be scrambled with this new type of technology.

So it’s giving content providers a ton of control over who is actually receiving and able to actually descramble their content. And being that it’s a pretty large departure from Base one and even Base two scrambling algorithms. We’ve been scrambling to actually get the technology put into all of our openGear receiver decoder cards. So that’s been a really big push for us and I think we’re really poised to be able to support all of our customers here in the next month or so as a live events and stuff like that really start coming up with this technology. 

Seth:
Great, yeah. Building of what Aaron said, Sencor has a very full featured line of receiver decoders, and already cover all the standards pretty much from a to z.

So we’re really focusing on those niche applications and needs of customers in order to make our products fit into their designs and networks better. One of the other little development features we’ve done recently for a large corporate customer wanting to simplify things with their employees being able to quickly and easily log into devices, adding corporate login support like tacacs to the products through the openGear chassis and into the card. Web UI gives us a lot of flexibility, makes it really easy to manage a large installation, to authenticate people and even keep track of what they’re doing and what they’re changing in the decoders and gateway products so as to make sure nobody does any funny business there.

Aaron:
Network security is important and always is.

Seth:
So those are two little things we wanted to highlight today for you all.

Cindy:
And so have you seen a change or an uptake in the live events type of installations or systems going in right now? What changes are happening with live events right now for you?

Aaron:
I think they’re definitely picking up. I mean, obviously at the state of things, things are done a little bit differently, but definitely the security of all of those live events is even more so important just because everybody’s watching from home. But remote production is a big deal, of course, with the new systems being built there. And again, the space here is just one of those things that’s getting pulled into, enhance that security and give them more control, not only in remote situations, but even in their normal standup live events and stuff like that.

Seth:
Allowing broadcast engineers to do their work from home or remote offices or outside of the typical office environment that they’ve been in certainly is a hot topic right now and is something we’ve been responding to quickly.

Cindy:
We’re going to go to Bill at Ross video and Bill, tell us about some interesting technology challenges, some stories out in the trenches right now with you.

Bill:
Thanks, Cindy. I’m going to go a bit higher level. Well, actually we have quite a bit experience now with multiple customers struggling with the same challenge. And that is how do my life production in this COVID reality we are living in now? In some cases it was an onsite production and others it was a combination of onsite and remote or Remi where the feeds are brought to a central facility to produce the show. The big wrinkle that was introduced by COVID is everybody’s working at home. The talent often, multiple hosts in different locations, the director, the producer, the various operators, et cetera. How can everyone do their role from anywhere to produce a show like it was done before in the studio? That was the goal. Well, the solution remarkably started with a DashBoard of all things. The same one used an openGear, which we used to connect, configure and monitor all of our Ross’ equipment over IP.

So check all the equipment could be used remotely from anywhere, which is the case for our entire portfolio, openGear partner equipment, and any DashBoard enabled partner devices. On top of this Ross’ products and solutions are easily operated through remote applications, VPNs, video conferencing apps like teams, zoom , go to meeting or Skype. Now it was just a matter of migrating tools and customer setups in a way that didn’t impact how they did their work, which was accomplished via some DashBoard setups scripts and a few simple custom panels. Then we had to ensure that the all customer team would be able to communicate between different locations, exactly how they would have in studio. This required bringing in an Intercom system. Most of them already designed… Are designed to be used remotely, and many customers already are working with their favorite Intercom partner, but that was a key part of the solution.

Finally, we leveraged the large openGear ecosystem to help customers replace third-party equipment that didn’t work well remotely or to satisfy specific needs like in coding, decoding solutions that were available from all key openGear partners. Many of our solutions use cards from Aja cobalt, Sancur and VITEC, for example. The customers could also access all this equipment solutions via a web browser with specific setups that mimic what they were used to using in their studio. The end result is the production team was able to get a high quality, low latency video into their production environments from remote contributors, with a very simple setup. As with any new process, there were a few small issues to work out. Troubleshooting, training and setup was all accomplished remotely via team viewer.

Incredibly everything was done by remote by Ross’ staff, also working from their homes. What was amazing is how the whole process was seamless, and it was… And we got such amazing feedback from the customers. So they really liked the solution. They really felt like they were backing their studios yet everybody was working out of their homes. They were amazed that this could actually be done and they could put a live production out there.

Cindy:
Bill, awesome information right now because what you’re talking about with Remy and just having to do those live productions, where you have the producer and director in different places from the talent and getting that all together. And I really enjoyed the part where you were talking about how the Ross’ video teams like in parallel or in step with the customers, because you guys are at home too, while you’re creating the solution. Can you tell me a little bit more about how the DashBoard configuration works or how you did that?

Bill:
There’s a combination of resources we had in DashBoard writing some scripts. Each operator had their own way they organized their screen and the buttons they wanted to press and all this other stuff, and in sometimes they’re in other people’s equipment and all that and they wanted to mimic the exact same thing and in DashBoards. So we helped them out with that. We also leveraged our rocket surgery team to create specific layouts, triggering mechanisms, all that sort of stuff in that graphic fashion on DashBoard that they could use. So in the end, they got a portal into something that looked like what they were using before. And we got the latency low enough that really, they truly felt like they were in the studio, which they’re really amazed at.

And the other thing to remember, when this all started in March and April, the customers were scrambling and we were scrambling, cause issues came up because, I mean, as I’ve mentioned in my… In what I was talking about, this is not simply a Remi situation because everybody’s working from a different location in their home, many times hundreds of miles away.

So it’s more like a distributed Remi, like a distributed team doing a remote production. And so there were a lot of things to be solved and technologies were leveraged, things that Kevin alluded to with SRT and all that stuff. We leveraged quite a bit of quite a few solutions to help enable this.

Cindy:
All right, we’re going to go to Bryce with Aja video and turn it over to you, Bryce.

Bryce:
Thanks very much, Cindy, great to be with you today and thanks to both yourself and Bill for making these kinds of opportunities possible for everyone. So Aja has really dived in quite deep with openGear over the last few years. We have a bunch of infrastructure products, fiber products, and then one of our most successful rangers has been our range of scan converters, which are known as OG-ROI cards. And the ROI stands for region of interest. And this ties into the little tail I have for you today in terms of a client of ours that reached out from Australia. So AFL is the Australian Football League and they were looking to deal with the fact that sports wanted to continue, that there was a desire to be able to centralize like a lot of people are doing around a remote center. So they actually built something called the ARC for a Australian football league, a review center.

And what they’ve decided to do was to utilize our ROI cards to help the refereeing that was going on. So both at the center and being inside an openGear frame as we’ve all talked about, the mental scan converters can also sit there alongside IP products from other vendors, and that’s the whole point of openGear, right? You get to choose and mix and match. And it’s greatly helped their ability for refereeing. It’s helped with their ability to actually monitor that blown in material right there on the field for the folks having to do the refereeing. So you’ve got a big range of capabilities on both ends. And so gravity media was the system integrator there. And what they have done is effectively utilized this to create a working environment for those that are still doing these sports events. Right there, even though it’s a smaller audience and then centralizing the control with another openGear chassis back at the center in with a smaller group of staff.

And then from there distributing that finished signal to folks watching all over the world in OTT. So it’s openGear, really bringing all sorts of great solutions together. And the whole point in these ROI scan cards is not just the ability to basically zoom in on a portion of the original signal, but the cameras are going to be all sorts of different types of cameras maybe running in different frames, that type of thing. So it helps bring everything into the production delivery format as well. Right? Cause you can set the raster size you’re going to whether it’s 720 or 1080, you can bring those frame rates under control. And it’s this combination of our products, your products with some of the other vendors here today, bringing it all together. And again, just to rack frame size. So they were able to handle tons of different cameras this way.

They’re able to bring it all together and where they’re all centralized and DashBoard central control made it very easy to rack the stuff backwards and forwards. And they’d been thrilled with the results here because they’ve had to have less people on site. And the other key thing is everyone looks at Remi is how do you control this stuff? And the fact that DashBoard and our software and that type of thing is basically available through web browser has been a huge benefit to everyone. So I think that’s a great success during the time period. You know things have been challenging for everyone, but the ability to have an ecosystem. And I’ll talk about that further today in our session a little later, cause we were also bringing Dante to STI, bridging with the new product we announced on Thursday. So I look forward to introducing all our viewers today to that a little bit later. And Bob Huddleston joins me to talk about that during our session.

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