Companies are beginning to address the increased complexity of IP with solutions that integrate all components of an IP video network infrastructure — program acquisition from satellite, terrestrial and physical media sources in native IP, encoding, formatting, quality control/monitoring, scheduling, management and distribution via multiple media formats to the range of devices in the marketplace.
A tremendous amount of complexity must be encapsulated into such systems. But, when properly engineered and managed, modular solutions mitigate costs and often integrate with legacy infrastructures. Instead of complex, expensive installation of less flexible and less configurable equipment for video networks, IP solutions provide economies of scale in addition to bandwidth optimization.
The new media broadcast center
The new media broadcast center no longer conforms to the old paradigm of tape-based workflow, where there are multiple repetitive tape-based ingests from acquisition to production/preparation to transmission and/or archival. Tape-based workflow is hard to manage and track, and is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process with QC required at every stage. Where a traditional tape-based process follows a push-based workflow of steps being processed in a serial fashion, the newer file-based workflow methodology is more of a pull process, with an IP-centric workflow that allows different steps of the process to be simultaneously performed. (See Figure 1.)
New media broadcast centers are designed to support file-based workflow where content is ingested once and made available to all work centers simultaneously. The design is centered on IP-packet technology flowing on an IT network and accessing a central shared-storage facility. The central storage facility houses all media content, including essence, metadata and other associated content. Once content is ingested, it is transformed into a file format, metadata is aggregated, and assets are bundled into a package for delivery to central storage. Typically, this bundle is a SMPTE-standard MXF wrapper. The wrapper may contain a number of different streams of essence that are encoded with one or more varieties of codecs and tied to an associated metadata wrapper that describes material contained within the MXF wrapper.
Work-center access to central storage is allowed on an independent basis, based on previously established operational workflow rules. Automated processing is managed by a MAM system, which enforces and administers the rules. An all-IP, all-IT network architecture with file-based workflow brings efficiencies the media broadcast center can benefit from. Among these benefits are: centralized and on-demand scalable computing; fast/dense networking; scalable storage; reduction of over-provisioned and under-utilized resources; and virtualization and parallel processing.