A nother year, another new format – or ten! Broadcasters are now surrounded by a sea of formats. Everything from HD-SDI, streaming formats, 4K/UHD and last but by no means least the many variants of IP based transport mechanisms like J2K or SMPTE 2022. It’s an increasing challenge for the industry to handle the mixture of all these sources especially when distributing content to the many output channels a broadcaster needs to address on a daily basis. Adding custom graphics and branding to the video forces us to have multiple versions of the same clip, eating up storage space and increasing the need for video management. Meanwhile broadcasters are often still stuck having specialised devices for singular tasks – video server for video, graphics servers, audio systems and vision mixers to name just a few. This isn’t anything new but a solution is urgently needed as we’re seeing these new formats arrive constantly.
This is a problem that Vizrt has been addressing for several years. We’re very successful with the multiplatform distribution of graphics and Viz Engine is a proven content playback system. Our mantra in R&D has always been to enable a broadcaster to do as much of a live production with as few components as possible. This will eliminate errors and needless redundancies of having many different systems doing similar tasks in the control room and master control. Through these basic concepts and the understanding of how an efficient broadcaster should ideally operate, we’ve created a new video, graphics and audio workflow centered on Viz Engine as a powerful video playback system for any format.
Standard hardware components
What we’ve created is not some mysterious black-box that engineers will be eyeing sceptically while it resides in their server room. Using standard PC hardware, the Viz Engine is a highly reliable video playout server – something that has been proven through countless installations around the world.
Viz Engine functions as a multi-channel playout server for HD and 4K, while also allowing streaming IP video in and out. It allows Vizrt’s world-class graphics and video to be composited in real-time and output in a wide range of content formats for use online, on mobile devices or live on-air. With Quantum’s StorNext 5 based SAN, we have centralised clip playback, there’s no need to transfer files. Growing clips can be played back live on-air. The system is also expandable – multiple GPUs can be added for complex graphics and video production. We’re also able to use the same systems for end-to-end J2K and SMPTE 2022 which allows us to provide solutions in the transition to IP-based infrastructure or to a hybrid world of SDI, streaming and new IP-based internal transport mechanisms.
We’ve implemented this system with one of the biggest 24-hour broadcasters in the world–in this case running in a central SAN. This setup allows for all Viz Engines (in this case ten) to simultaneously play many channels of growing files instantly. It can be controlled from any of our applications or integrated third party vendors – it supports VDCP amongst other things.
Flexibility for any production
The system isn’t just suited to major broadcasters but is scalable for any size broadcasters. We designed the video capabilities of Viz Engine so that anyone using it – there are tens of thousands in broadcaster’s server rooms right now – can easily upgrade current systems to play back video and graphics simultaneously.
Using Viz Engine as a video server gives broadcasters maximum flexibility in their investments. Since every Viz Engine can function as either a graphics rendering system and a video playback server, broadcasters can customise their own workflow. Two Viz Engines today could be running a virtual set, then repurposed tomorrow as a video and graphics playback system. This becomes very interesting when you apply the technology to video walls. Now you’re able to have all the graphics, video clips and live video feeds sourced into the video wall from only Viz Engine. This also means that every Vizrt control software is now a video playback system. This includes Viz Trio, Viz Pilot, Viz Weather and even Viz Multichannel and Viz Ticker in mastercontrol.
Part of the newsroom workflow
As with any playout system, specific video and graphics capabilities are also critical to performance and positive user experience. Analysing how a system can function in a newsroom highlights key capabilities. Sophisticated video features and search capabilities mean that journalists can edit graphic templates, search and edit video content, place graphics on a timeline and build a playlist all on a single interface inside virtually any newsroom control system. Our advanced Meta-Graphics workflow enables journalists to add graphics in their native newsroom control system, ultimately allowing content edits right up until the moment it is played on-air. Putting power directly into the hands of the user creates better and more inspired programming.
Live format conversion
Another important aspect of Viz Engine is its capability to be used as a live format conversion tool. If you’re broadcasting in 4K and you need to pair down to an IP stream for mobile phones you can send the entire broadcast signal through Viz Engine and the system will convert content in real-time to any required format. This is a huge benefit to broadcasters saving both time and money in format conversion while gaining speed to air.
We wanted to build the best possible video and graphics workflow for broadcasters. And with the new Viz Engine, we give them something that changes the idea of what a video server should be. Combine this with the studio automation capabilities of Viz Mosart or the channel in a box abilities of Viz Opus and broadcasters will be set for the future of broadcasting, no matter what that may be. StorNext 5 is tightly integrated with Viz Engine and Viz One from Vizrt to provide a seamless, complete end-to-end workflow environment. Together, Quantum and Vizrt create and deliver proven solutions for the most demanding workflows in the entertainment industry.
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