VITEC – IP encoding and decoding for IPTV in remote production, contribution, distribution, and full motion video – openGear Live & Online, 21 April 2021

Bryan Reksten:
So about VITEC. I want to give a little bit of background. I’m not sure how much folks know about VITEC, but we are a global company. We are around the world, as I said. I’m located in our U.S. Headquarters in Atlanta, and Richard is in our main office in Paris, our corporate headquarters. But we have offices all around the world from U.S., Europe, Asia, and we are a private company. So we were established in 1988. We just celebrated 33 years on April 1st. So the data fact I learned this year was that we were founded on April 1st. So we’re 33 years and we have over 350 global employees and over half of those in R&D. So we really are an engineering driven company, striving to be the best in engineering.

And we started out with codecs and again, delivering IP streaming solutions. And then we’ve just been progressing forward from there. And even with IPTV, we recently announced a patented technology. We call it Multicast-To-The-Edge that allows multicast delivered without a browser plugin, which was pretty innovative for the market that we’ve recently introduced.

Additionally, VITEC has grown quite a bit through acquisitions. We had a number of acquisitions the last couple of years with a T-21, an IP tech that were more focused on the broadcast and in this encoding and decoding IP streaming. But recently at the beginning of this month, we actually just announced a very big acquisition for us, which was Exterity, and its series IPTV providers. So this really is positioning us to be an IPTV provider across the world. They have a very strong presence in corporate and hospitality in Europe and Middle East, and we expect to bring some of that expertise into the U.S. as well. So, we’re excited about that acquisition. It’s taken our company from being really solid size across 16 different countries. That’s exciting for us.

So I want to share a couple of success stories as well. Just a little bit of background, as an example of some of the things that we’ve done. We’re in a number of different markets. Like in broadcast, we work with everything from our encode, decode solutions are in facilities. And we also like NBC. We were the IPTV provider for their NBC News, where prior to us, they were using RF technology, needing multiple monitors and things. And we helped develop the app IPTV solution that allowed them to pull those monitors off, use desktop, use the IPTV on the desktop so that they could access content, have multiple view browsers and just really be able to access real-time news immediately in a much more efficient manner for them as an organization.

And we’ve since have been able to install that across multiple broadcast outlets. On the enterprise side, we do lots of different things, work with different companies. I put Kia in there as an example, because I think that’s an interesting one. Where Kia is more of a manufacturing facility here in Georgia, but they use our digital signage as a way to IPTV, and digital signage is a way to communicate to employees on their manufacturing floor, because most of those employees don’t have regular access to email or other tools that most businesses would rely on. But they’re able to push out KPIs and communication to all their employees, very easily creating on demand content, depending on what’s going on that day on their shop floor. Military side, we’ll get into that a little bit. Actually, Richard will be covering a couple of case studies with NASA and CDC.

We have a lot of our solutions across the military, around the world with different organizations are proven to be secure. And I’d say they’re so secure I’m really not allowed to talk about a lot of them. So that’s always the challenge with some of those, but we have a lot of experience working with different military and government organizations. And then lastly, venues is one that traditionally in the IPTV side, really in digital signage side is an area that we’ve gotten into. I heard you mentioned earlier, Cindy, that we’ve got the Kansas City Royals where they’re going to be talking about that a little bit for us. We actually did the IPTV installation with the Kansas City Royals, and one of the things they really liked about our solution was that it’s very simple for them to use, and that they can say just set it and forget it.

And it’s a great way for them to communicate and build fan engagement. This is just a great market for us that we’re very proud of, in some of the installations that we’ve done. I want to move on a little bit to some of the VITEC product families, just to give you an a overview before Richard dives in. As I mentioned, we’ve got encoders and decoders, and in multiple form factors from portable to ruggedized for harsh environments, and then also the openGear format, which we’ll talk about a little bit more today. And we do offer the lowest latency, most advanced codecs and highest quality video to support any kind of workflow. IPTV and digital signage, which I mentioned earlier, or I just mentioned was obviously venues, but also corporate environments. We’re really seeing a lot of responses.

Mostly now as companies are opening up. I’m in my office today, which I think I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been down here in the last year. But businesses are starting to open up more. And this is a great way for them to be able to communicate to their employees using digital signage and using their existing IP network in order to communicate with their employees, and we’re seeing a lot of interest in that as well. We’ve got media servers and transcoders, real-time transcoding of IP video, and we’ve got a broad range of products there. And one of them that we’ll be talking about a little bit is our newest channel length IP distribution gateway. And we’re going to talk a little bit about that and how it fits an example workflow, and one of the applications that Richard will talk to today.

And then they have the STI cards, converter software, some of those things. I’m the marketer in the organization, so I talk a lot, but we have a lot of engineers that love the science. And these are really, to me, in some of these applications, this really gives our engineers a chance to innovate and be creative with the technology that we have in the IP streaming and knowledge that we have in experience. And some of these areas are when we’ve worked with customers and do some of these type of applications, it’s really a great opportunity for them to just show what they can do. And then, so just kind of very high level on openGear, our platform. I think everybody on here knows what openGear is.

I don’t think I need to sell anybody on the openGear platform, but for us, this is our first year as a leader partner. I think we introduced our first openGear cards about a year and a half ago. And so we’ve been introducing it to our customers. And what we found was, our customers really liked this option. So they had been using some of our other form factors before, but we have found that our customers do like having this option of openGear and being able to get the advantages of the open standards and the redundant power supply, shared interface, all those things has been a really great thing for our customers. So that’s about the extent of my technical knowledge. And so we’re going to pass it off to Richard, who’s our Senior Product Manager for this product line. And he’ll go through some of these applications.

Richard Bernard:
So hello everyone. So yeah, I’m Richard Bernard taking care of the video delivery system within VITEC. As part of the lineup, we do have, of course, plenty of cards. openGear activity was started two years ago within VITEC. People likely know us for our systems in the portable appliances. And so out of it, we decided to join the openGear ecosystem to offer more flexibility, more ease of use, and also redundancy. It was very important for us to provide as part of our appliances. And so we kind of used a raccoon box and spit out those in open gift cards. The switch was pretty straightforward, I would say. So we are very happy about that. And that opens up a lot of new possibilities within broadcast enterprise and federal. The application we target are mostly point to point. 4K HDR contribution or SG contribution, remote production, and of course, IPTV distribution. So looking at Encoder Cards, we provide three cards today and we started with the Diamond OG, which is a SDI watch and energy encoding, or a one time 12G 4K encoding card HEVC 264.

And it can deliver up to eight stream output 4:2:2 10 bits, really dedicated to either contribution or IPTV distribution. Then thanks to acquisition, we also had the two T-21 9261 EB, which is our card dedicated mostly for direct web. We can direct to webinar application where you will be a small TV station, and you would like to straight to go to CDNs, Acoma, YouTube, Facebook, and different kinds of service, where you will provide a URL streams to different kinds of customer for large distribution. And these boards are those SDI capture, one channel, but send it to multiple targets. Very flexible encoder for those we knew it. And so this year we are launching the diamond HX OJI, which is a 4K, multi-channel HD encoder.

It supports HDMI mainly, 4K P60. It’s a similar platform and encoder than the Diamond OG, but with HDMI and DVIA capture with two HD, encoding at the core. Initially, that was our first openGear card. Our intent was to deliver something. What we didn’t have as part of our lineup, which is high density, medium density, decoding capabilities. And so the SD coder is a kind of a IRD IPI idea, which there still with DVSA input about to decode 4K HEVC, as well as HD 2264 in 4:2:2 10 bits, and with the IB traits required by some contribution application.

So what we like about openGear on top of the reliability, but also redundancy and shared networks are the things that are very much video driven. It’s the fact that it offers density. So for example, using 10 of our cards, you will be able to include 40 HD channels. The same will be done with the same cards. You will be able to do 10 4K channel encoding, in a 2 IU. So that’s pretty dense. And then the same could be done on the decoding side, meaning that you will be able to decode 10 4k UHG channels directly using the direct. And of course, thanks to the flexibility and the permeability of mixing cards, you can do a full duplex application with, for example, here, we can go up to HD encoding, decoding channel in one single chassis. So this is really what we like, and what our customers like is that they can of course get a dense solution.

Even if they don’t use everything initially, they can also save slots, but also it offers flexibility. For example, Ross delivers an ADI to 2110 converter card. Those can be used in conjunction with our board to offer right-away 20 channels. So if we look a little bit more on the Diamond OG card, so it’s a 4K encoder. We at VITEC are very much focused on codecs. And so we drill down to the latency and managed to go down to 50 millisecond end to end with our encoder decoder in terms of, 4K channels with 32 channels and transport protocol is pretty wide.

And something very important in our board is that we support, let’s say, a wide range of transport protocol protection, including Zixi, SRT, Pro-MPEG and soon Rist. Something to be noted in very important regarding Zixi that our boards encoder, but mainly decoders for point to point applications does feature the licensing cost involved in the use of this technology. So we know it has been some sometimes complicated for customers to, to get the right price for your application. This is included. You have nothing to pick, try to use our boards.

So the board features two gigabit on the port. One is shared thanks to the, the one at the back of the chassis. So it’s really helpful to manage all the boards, especially when you have 40 HD channels to monitor. And you have another port at the back on the rear, your cards for the streaming capabilities. The board is interesting in the fact that you have some hardware provision, especially for 2110, with SFPK available. And again, 10 cards can be fitted in. So this is the new card we are introducing. It’s really very much to compliment the solution in terms of iOS. We had the SDI even composites, and now we have HDMI capture, DVI capture, meaning RGB, but also DVID. And the board can do one time 4K, two time HD with the same couple of 18 tons of density, but also in terms of internet box. By the end of the year, we will provide a new radio card, which would be only a GMI HTMI capture.

Okay, so we were really willing to share with you some of the application we are working on with openGear, and we we need to discuss about channeling, which is part of the worst solution, but this is the glue in between our encoder and decoder solution. The channel link is a scalable gateway for live IP routing from source. So an encoder to destinations or decode their software or hardware. And it’s definitely something crucial for us to have in our solution. So here you can see the nice and easy to use a web interface, which is the dashboard currently used in the product. So, as I said, this product is definitely used for, to manage and routes IP streams from one point to the other. What it does is only network what we call network protocol translation with optimized latency.

So it’s changed for example, UDP 30-32 UDPS. Those are the two protocols. We will increase it during the year, and we’ll continue to grow the support. And really, we put a big focus on latency because as I said, we very much work on codec, both on the encoder and decoder, and we don’t want that to gateway damage or decrease the performance of our systems. It’s diagnostic to codecs or it’s about encryption. Obviously when you go around the internet, you don’t want to contend to be valuable to anyone. It’s a variable as a server or virtual machine, and provides a good input and output traffic. What is I need to do way because we use in the past, was our gateway and we know how complicated it can be to integrate in your own IT infrastructure. So we try to simplify as much as possible, the access of the stream.

So it includes multidestination capabilities, meaning that you create one destination and several clients can connect seamlessly. And the same, you don’t want to open as many ports as the connection you have in. So we implemented a way that if you open one IP box, you will be able to connect all the streams available for your customer on your application. Application, still focused on contribution, remote production, IPTV distribution in enterprise, but also meter in government.

So just a brief overview on how it’s used. So you would create your sources. You create your encoding fields coming in your destination, where you want them to be accessed, or while you want to send them. And then you are able to route them quite easily through the interface. So it’s really easy to use. And we also provide the monitoring that allows us to see what’s going on in the single view. Okay, so some applications and use cases link to the product that we just discussed. So the first important one is of course, the IP team, TV distribution at VITEC. We also have software and Bryan talked about it like a P distributions of tracker, easy TV. And of course, to have the feeds on the network, you need an encoder. And so our encoders are definitely used to capture basements fields and send them as UDP multicast over the network for remote viewing, but the default viewing by the different actors on the network.

So this is one aspect to, to view it, but at the same time you do want, and now it’s even more important. I will say with the situation we are here, we are in most of us, I think are from home for good or bad, but it’s important for the enterprises to be able to provide feeds out of the land networks and the enterprise network. It was important before already to share feeds from one side to the other. It was done sometimes with really expensive things, dark fibers, things like that. Today, with internet and the technology that is available, you are able to do that through the internet and the same can be done to send feeds to your office. So those are the things that we are targeting. And also here, the remote sites, we use decoders in openGear chassis to a low density and be able to display those feeds on monitors, but also provide them as UDP multicast to the audience using string form running.

So this is one of the use case that we have been willing to share. And here it was a NASA Orion space shuttle. The mission is supposed to go to The Moon and possibly to Mars, and VITEC was selected thanks to its SD coder, which was key because it nicely managed to adjust changing or bit rate, frame rates and video source. This happens a lot when the physics coming from that far, obviously you have a lot of things that can impact the quality, the bandwidth available. And so decoder’s duty is using that sense, but at the same time, they’re also winning to offer our density, poor redundancy and string to film. And so openGear definitely was of interest because we managed to integrate our decoder inside those chassis to offer density, reliability redundancy, but also the capacity in the future to expand the capability and the number of feeds that will be decoded.

So here, the feeds are directly received from the shuttle, and then decoded over baseband video to mission control and all the different monitors available, but also for a while did again and multicast of other network. So another use case also linked with the HD coder. So the CDC highly relies on the IP video to keep everyone informed what’s going on and current conditions around the world. They have an extensive use that API technology. And so of course, bandwidths can start to get kind of important. So they were willing to switch to HTVC and they selected our Ice encoder to manage your feeds or in demand sites, coming from mostly meeting rooms. And then there was a need to route those through different locations, as we were describing the IPD distribution use case. And this was done was channeling, and then decoded a remote site by the decoder. So again, selected for high channel density, the HEVC capability it offers, but also the low latency of the complete solution.

So at VITEC, we also focus on contribution. I will say like regular contribution of a site, but mainly over the internet too. Of course, since we are focused so much on codec, we offer low bandwidth the JVC. We’ll try to, or low-latency codecs. We offer the different protocols that we discussed to ensure that we are resilient to low c networks. And of course, we protect the content with AES to ensure that the feeds are remained protected to any attacks or so that the the content stays in the end of the provider.

So those are the different kinds of protocols we can see. So from transport to DPDS, so this of course cannot be used over the internet. It does not survive. Then you have RTMP/HLS. This has been widely used mostly in Asia to fix five TMP, because this is the only connected support. It’s reliable, of course, but at the price of very high latency. And so this is not a codec we favor, of course, for any contribution application today, HLS is another one, but still, even though there was several attempts to reduce the latency, we don’t use it widely on our side. So we are mostly providing ProMPEG, Zixi, Srt, and risk protocols as part of our product. And we absolutely want to stay out of the protocol world. We want to support everything. The customer has a specific workflow, and we want to support them all.

ProMPEG is nice. If you need one way protection, because the latency can go down drastically, but does not work on the internet because of the congestion that you would find. Zixi, we have been using it for years. It’s definitely highly reliable, very optimizing stem of a bandwidth usage. In fact, if you look at it, if you send a UDP TS and music systems, sometimes, and most often the Zixi stream is using less bandwidth. It’s a problem, but it does because it’s through neural packets and it has some figure of our mechanism and bonding capability. Of course, it requires a license which may be an issue for customer. But again, we include that in our product. SRT, of course open source. It has been widely deployed now, and because it’s free, it’s more and more deploys and use. It’s reliable. I have been with, but it works.

And then risk reduction adoption is definitely growing and we are part of it or so, and we are supporting it in some of our products. We are very interested in the roadmap features announced, and we are definitely looking into that. So this is another use case linked to remote production and especially remote commentary. Here, this was with Eurosport in Europe, Discovery Channel. The application was to comment, live events remotely from home, meaning that you would have an event here that was mainly for the Olympics, which are concerned, but they will hopefully be held this summer. But then it was useful for the Tour De France, for U.S. Open or long hours and different events that Eurosport provides today.

And the goal was to ensure to provide the fields. It did it to a remote commentator so that they can change, they can comment with their own language, so that of course you can send a feed to different location, different countries. And so monetize more, obviously what you paid for the different rights that you use and send it to different countries. So this project started before COVID, but obviously with COVID, it turned out to be a real success and definitely needed for them. It was no go to bring commentator at the broadcast studio, sharing headsets, this kind of thing.

So it was definitely a great way for them to have their events commented in different languages easily. So how does it work? We do have a feed which is included through our low-latency encoder. Then we distribute it with a channel link. We are using SRT, and the feed is sent to different commentator, mostly in Europe today. And they are using software players. Software players is not optimal in terms of latency, obviously, but of course, in terms of usability and deployment, it’s way more easier to send the software than sending a outwork here.

So that was the reason of the choice. The player does feature a very, very nice thing, which is live latency monitoring. This is really nice for the commentator because they know that the exact latency from the capture to decoding on their PC specific platform. So this is really helping them to make sure they are in sync and that the feed taking two seconds to arrive. From capture to the display on the software play of the commentator, it is about 300 milliseconds. So it’s definitely a great achievement. They do the comments live. Then the audio is sent back to the broadcast studio. And then I did to the main feed for distribution to different content providers.

Cindy Zuelsdorf:
If people want to know more about you and VITEC, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Bryan Reksten:
They can reach out to us. They can contact us directly out here, of course, and then also VITEC.com. They can reach out. We’ve got a contact us, and it’ll get sent to the appropriate person, whatever region that they’re in.

Cindy Zuelsdorf:
Thank you so much, Richard. Thank you so much, Bryan.

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