Changes are happening in the live production sector of the media and entertainment industry. Broadcasters and other production companies from across the planet are embracing next-generation technologies and architectures, outfitting their facilities and production vehicles with IP-based solutions that usher in new levels of cost efficiency and agility, as well as ease current and future upgrades to higher-quality services.

Imagine Communications is at the center of this activity.

In the past few weeks the company has publically unveiled multiple commercial deployments, which represent a sampling of recent successes among live production houses that are upgrading facilities to confront near-term challenges and seize long-term opportunities created by rapidly shifting video consumption patterns.

In April, for example, Imagine Communications announced that Globo, the largest broadcaster in Latin America, had turned to Imagine to equip an outside broadcast truck for Ultra High Definition (UHD) production in time for the two-week international sporting event being conducted in the Brazilian broadcaster’s home country this summer.

The next-generation broadcast truck is the first UHD- and IP-capable production vehicle in Latin America. It also marks the commercial debut of the Imagine Communications Platinum™ IP3 15RU router, a compact, space- and power-saving version of the award-winning IP3 28RU router.

A major objective of Imagine Communications’ work with Globo in Brazil is to provide the broadcaster with a pathway to IP. Mauricio Felix, director of infrastructure and projects at Globo, speaking at an ImagineLIVE sports-focused Power Session at the NAB Show in April, cited a few benefits of IP in a live production environment:

"IP brings a lot of things to the table. It brings speed, it brings flexibility and also we can leverage the standards of the IT industry, which is a lot bigger than our industry."
— Mauricio Felix, Globo

New IP Live Test Center

Imagine Communications collaborated closely with Sony to ensure that Globo’s new OB truck would be capable of broadcasting the images and sounds of the upcoming summer games in UHD over an IP-based infrastructure. I

n addition to working with Sony in the field, Imagine Communications recently demonstrated its support for furthering the advancement of IP-based production environments by participating in the launch of a dedicated IP Live Studio at Sony’s Digital Motion Picture Centre Europe (DMPCE) at Pinewood Film Studios near London.

Imagine Communications is a long-time member of the Sony IP Live Alliance and has demonstrated interoperability with Sony’s Networked Media Interface (NMI) in both live and lab settings. The Imagine solutions deployed in the IP Live Studio are Selenio™ Uncompressed over IP (UCIP) processing, the recently introduced hybrid IP EPIC™ Multiviewer (EPIC MV) and the Magellan™ SDN Orchestrator, a software control system for managing hybrid SDI-IP environments. Representatives of the company were on hand at the opening of the DMPCE facility, which took place on June 17th.

The new IP Live studio will provide hands-on familiarity with IP-based live production environments and further the advancement of IP in live settings through training and testing and by demonstrating multivendor interoperability, says Norbert Paquet, Strategic Marketing Manager at Sony Professional Europe, in a recent press release:

"Seeing is believing is a particularly apt axiom for the media and entertainment industry. Our new facility at the DMPCE provides broadcasters and production companies with up-close evidence of the power and feasibility of an IP-based live production environment. The participation of Imagine Communications and other leading manufacturers is critical to the overall success of this initiative."
— Norbert Paquet, Sony Professional Europe   

Productivity & Versatility for the Long Haul

Today’s technology buyers are increasingly savvy. They understand that a rapidly evolving technology landscape makes it imperative that they purchase live production solutions that will not be obsolete in a few years. They need solutions that can fulfill today’s requirements, as well as seamlessly adapt to handle whatever market dynamics might erupt over the next few years.

Clark Media had an eye to the future when it teamed up with Imagine Communications to build a next-generation mobile production unit capable of switching between HD and UHD resolutions essentially on the fly, says Gary Snyder, president and engineer at Clark Media:

"With so much still up in the air concerning the latest technologies, I wanted a platform that would be state-of-the-art when things solidified. After seeing the IP3 at NAB last year, I knew Imagine was up to the challenge."
— Gary Snyder, Clark Media

In addition to investing in a production vehicle that would still be a workhorse five to seven years into the future, Clark required the flexibility to accommodate the production needs of current clients as they navigate the transition from HD to UHD. Particularly attractive to Snyder was the ability of the Imagine Platinum router at the heart of his OB vehicle to store and instantly retrieve a variety of configurations. This enables a mobile production company to essentially shift between HD and UHD in a matter of minutes to meet the exacting requirements of each customer.

An OB Truck Quartet

Flexibility was also a chief objective of NEP UK, a leading mobile sports production company that partnered with Imagine Communications for a fleet of outside production vehicles. The new trucks, capable of HD, 1080p HD and 4K/UHD production, as well as easily switching between HD and UHD resolutions as assignments require, deliver the versatility that Rob Newton, director of engineering and technology for NEP in the UK, says is vital to his 

company.

In addition to Platinum routers, the NEP deployments also featured Selenio™ MCP units fortified with HD-UHD up- and down-conversion capabilities and the Selenio 6800+ modular unit for signal processing, monitoring and distribution. Imagine Communications’ extensive processing, routing and compression solutions work together seamlessly to create a state-of-the-art environment for supporting UHD in a hybrid SDI-IP environment.

"Our success as a business depends on high utilisation of our assets, which in turn means they have to be extremely flexible. Imagine Communications gives us that flexibility, with the capability to instantly switch formats without worrying about synchronisation and routing issues, and without adding latency that would be a nightmare in live production."
— Rob Newton, NEP

Wrap-Up

Steady technology advances and consensus-gaining standards continue to bolster the capabilities of generic computing and networking platforms as suitable hosts for live production operations. The seamless integration of SDI and IP signaling planes that allows for a gradual and cost-efficient transition to next-gen architectures is also contributing to the transformation of today’s live production landscape.

Imagine Communications, as evidenced by this sampling of live production deployment wins and interoperability announcements, is at the forefront of this transformation. Working with partners, broadcasters and production companies on nearly every continent, Imagine Communications is bringing together the critical components of tomorrow’s live production facilities today.

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