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Ask the experts Q. Are integration issues likely to be removed in the near future, and what will be the drivers for change? Ultimately the resolution of integration issues - and a key driver to the migration to production platforms built on standard IT infrastructure - will be financial. These are difficult times generally, and specifically for broadcasters, who not only have to compete with a fall in overall revenue caused by changing consumption habits but the need to satisfy these changing habits with new demands on content delivery. Broadcasters need to do more with less, but expectations for production and technical quality remain high. I expect there will be relatively few single-vendor, monolithic, production facilities deployed in the coming years. In order to achieve the required level of flexibility required of a modern production facility, a greater use of IT-based systems for signal processing as well as control/management is essential. Equally as important is the use of open communications standards/protocols and material exchange standards to achieve predictable integration. There is much frustration with broadcasters who find that they have to arbitrate between two manufacturers to ensure a complete, seamless integration, and paying for this privilege will not be tolerated much longer. Financial constraints are driving a quiet evolution, but it’s a revolution in the right direction. Q. We expect the cloud to feature heavily at the forthcoming IBC, will cloud based computing assist the migration to the type of IT based facilities you describe here? I expect that ‘cloud’ will continue to be a popular buzzword at IBC 2012, but this is more a supply side focus than one derived from the actual needs of production companies and broadcasters. To most in broadcast ASK OUR EXPERTS 42 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE the cloud is still a nebulous term, a technology innovation searching for an application. Make no mistake, the cloud offers great opportunities for broadcasters and content owners and should be considered seriously in any technology strategy. The inherent collaborative capability it affords makes it a logical place for production to sit, and new revenue streams are also achievable. For example an archive content owner may choose to post a content catalogue on-line via a portal equipped with a simple mechanism to search, select, retrieve and deliver material. This opens up simple and low cost business-to- business and business-to-consumer revenue channels. However, wholesale use of the cloud for production does have barriers, most notably the bandwidth requirement and related costs. Moving video content from a production office or location to the cloud for processing (e.g. editing or transcoding) and back again is cost prohibitive. The bandwidth requirement, particularly for HD content, is so expensive that the cloud model just doesn’t make sense. I expect there to be a number of hybrid solutions in which some functions such as asset management and browse editing are provisioned in the cloud, with other more heavyweight tasks such as rendering performed on the ground at the production facility. During design, systems architects should analyse which system components are best placed in the cloud and which are deployed at the production facility. The inherent use of service-orientated architecture in cloud provision is likely to drive a similar design mentality in deployed systems. This in itself will drive change. Q. We have talked about Convergence and Clouds, what about the other C-word, Consolidation. Will market consolidation drive the take up of all IT based production platforms? POST YOUR QUESTION ONLINE: Search ‘tvbay’ Tel. +44 (0)1635 237 237 Email. questions@tv-bay.com The vendor/supply side market will unquestionably consolidate significantly in the next 5-7 years (a little more slowly than in other industries – obviously!). Frankly, I don’t know many people who would take a different view. It is inevitable that some big IT supply companies will move into the broadcast space, and that will drive an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions. As to how that consolidation will manifest is not quite clear. There have been some fairly big mergers and acquisitions in recent years but they have had a tendency to be within the industry. The big IT vendors operate in relatively low risk multi-billion dollar markets and are unlikely to spend hundreds of millions, or even many tens of millions, in an acquisition that provides access to a market of only a billion dollars. In relative terms, broadcast is not a huge industry and it is more likely to be the current big beasts that have most to lose from consolidation. This may in itself drive a more open approach from manufacturers. Q. We have talked about the on- going IT and broadcast technology convergence, how does your company Blue Lucy Media support this? The ethos of cost-effective, software- based tools and high technical quality production values runs right through Blue Lucy Media. Most of the management and delivery team have spent the majority of their careers on the broadcaster side of the fence, so that gives us more than insight into day-to-day and longer term strategic issues, as well as the problems broadcasters and content owners face. We have found ourselves getting more involved in overall systems integration as much as the design and build of our ‘off the shelf’ service-based video processing components, which is exciting. We have some new technical and business innovations being announced in the run up to IBC, all of which are very much focused on serving the business needs of modern broadcasters.