NDI: Connecting the World through Video

NDI: Connecting the World through Video

IABM Journal

NDI: Connecting the World through Video

Wed 20, 04 2022

Since it was first launched in 2015, NDI has enabled people to work creatively in the increasingly IP-based workflows that dominate the industry with ease. Designed from the outset as a royalty-free software standard, it provides a protocol for IP transmission and live production using standard Local Area Networks (LAN), enabling users to quickly put together networks of connected devices at high-quality broadcast standards.

It enables audio and video-compatible products to communicate, deliver, and receive video over a computer network in a low-latency, frame accurate manner, bringing a plug and play sensibility to all sorts of creative workflows. These can include anything from switching in a live production environment to, with the addition of NDI Bridge last year that allows the protocol to operate over a Wide Area Network (WAN), collaborating on creative projects across countries and even continents.

Moving video from Montreal

This was one facet of the way that Moment Factory, a Montreal-based multimedia studio, used NDI when it was working on a multimedia experience for AT&T and global architecture firm Gensler to be installed in downtown Dallas, Texas.

A 31.7 meter, 6K resolution, Media Wall is the focal point of the AT&T Discovery District, displaying real-time data over 18 million pixels and 864 square meters to blur the line between the physical and digital world. As NDI is source agnostic, the technology allows Moment Factory to combine generative content capsules from any real-time engine while providing a visually seamless experience for the spectator. NDI Bridge also enabled people to collaborate effectively over an IP network even when they cannot travel to a project site for reasons such as scheduling, budget, or as was the case here, a pandemic. The whole project ended up being delivered with just one person on-site in Dallas, 1,700 miles away from the base.

Enabling streaming from Singapore

NDI also enables organisations to take advantage of streaming content opportunities in new ways. In Singapore, iFAST Corporation, a wealth management fintech platform, was also affected by the pandemic and found itself with a large conference and training room at the heart of its headquarters that simple wasn’t being used. It decided therefore to turn it into a high-end TV studio and production facility for its own B2B streaming operation, iFAST TV. Working with APAC technology integrator Ideal Systems, it has turned the space into a state-of-the-art 150sqm (about half the area of a tennis court) IP-based end-to-end 4K studio that provides broadcast-quality content while being optimised to be operated by non-broadcast professionals.

Again, NDI is key to the success of the new facility. The studio is based around a TriCaster 2 Elite, which includes multiple functions including providing virtual sets. Into this are hooked a mix of cameras via NDI, either NDI-native PTZ cameras or camcorders running BirdDog NDI converters. These are all run using standard ethernet cables which, as they use PoE (Power over Ethernet) as well, further reduces cabling and studio clutter. Indeed, each cable for the PTZ units is effectively a 5-in-1 cable providing power, control, tally, video, and audio.

Impressively, there is no legacy SDI equipment or cabling in the entire facility, a feat which was only possible thanks to the deployment of the world’s first NDI-native teleprompter and the world’s first NDI-native studio monitors from Telescript.

This is very much the shape of things to come as the transition to IP gathers momentum and legacy technologies are jettisoned across the broadcast and associated industries. This is all being accelerated by the move towards cloud-based workflows, and NDI is instrumental here as well.

Making 5G mobile content with Sky Germany

In November last year, Sky Germany, in collaboration with O2, presented the top match in the Liqui Moly Handball Bundesliga between SG Flensburg-Handewitt and Füchse Berlin via O2’s high-end 5G network this week. Even more impressively, the production was executed fully in the cloud with Vizrt’s Live Production Solution covering switching, graphics, and sports analysis tools all deployed in AWS. The workflow was made possible by NDI Bridge, which enabled the team to bring the programme feed from the cloud back to Sky HQ in Munich.

The workflow included a mixture of broadcast and mobile phone cameras, that used a deliberately simple 5G transmission path (powered by LiveU) to move the action from the stadium into the cloud. In the cloud, the NDI-enabled Vizrt solutions worked seamlessly with LiveU, ensuring that the production was near zero latency, scalable, and featured exactly the kind of enhanced quality that enables broadcasters to make the game come ever more alive for audiences.

At its heart, NDI enables the movement of video, audio, and data across any network, whether that be global, wireless, mobile, or local, and between cameras, mobile devices, production equipment or desktop machines. But it also does a lot more than that. It unlocks the ability to collaborate around the world, it helps bring broadcast quality video to a whole new market, and it enables successful and cost-effective native cloud workflows. In other words, it enables more people to create more content in the way that suits them than ever before, no matter where they are in the world.


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