WHEAT:NEWS TV Mar 2016 - Vol 3, No.3
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At Home With AES70
Nothing says IP audio quite like a new AES standard. More than two years ago, the AES gave us AES67 so we could move audio signals in and out of various IP audio systems regardless of brand. Now, a new AES standard ratified earlier this year, AES70, offers us a rudimentary control standard for IP systems.
This could be useful for remote broadcasts in particular, as AES70 will provide an IP audio solution for exchanging basic logic commands between the console/desk at the studio and the outboard gear and other elements in the remote truck or van.
AES70 is based on the Open Control Architecture (OCA), which is essentially a library of specific control functions such as ON/OFF, level control, and so on. With this standard, manufacturers will have a common set of commands to facilitate control between a third-party device and their IP audio networks.
It has the potential to expand workflows by providing add-on capability to comprehensive, end-to-end IP audio networks like WheatNet-IP. The WheatNet-IP audio network is a complete studio environment with control surfaces, software, control panels, widgets, GUIs, audio controllers, and all the elements needed to run a broadcast facility today as a single integrated system – plus, all the logic needed to control those elements. AES70 promises to open up a path for interoperable control between existing network elements and third-party devices not supported by the WheatNet-IP. Inevitably, that can only broaden and simplify workflow and make the road to IP smoother for broadcasters who are making the transition from HD/SDI to IP.
Of course, it will take some time before AES70 can be integrated into the studio environment. As with all standards, we’ll want to test it out in real world scenarios. Ultimately, our goal is to give broadcasters greater control over their workflows.
Wheatstone was part of the AES X210 task force responsible for establishing the AES70 standard, and was one of the first to add AES67 (to its WheatNet-IP audio network). You can check out the newly published AES70-2015 standard for audio applications of networks - Open Control Architecture.
Your IP Question Answered
Q: I’ve heard that WheatNet-IP has the goods on control. Is that true, and how so?
A: Very true. All of the I/O access units that make up the WheatNet-IP audio network come with universal logic (GPI input/output) for interfacing various external switches, indicators and devices for control purposes. These access units, called BLADEs, also have hardware and software logic ports for routing and controlling devices anywhere on the network. This means you can send any GPI input to multiple GPI outputs or marry GPI inputs/outputs to an audio source and have them follow that source through the system. We designed WheatNet-IP so audio is routed along with control on the same cable. When routing the audio of a microphone to a console fader, for example, the START button logic is routed right along with it. Logic ports can output to closures for machine control, on-air lights, mic tallies, and the like. They can also receive closures from external sources such as satellite feeds, remote mic panels or triggers from your production automation system. It’s all the control you can imagine in one integrated environment.
IP & Flying Unicorns
There is no shortage of interesting people in this business. We Skyped Boxer Systems CTO Marc Risby in the U.K., and had a most interesting conversation about our favorite subject, IP for production, and something we thought we’d never cover in this newsletter: flying unicorns.
WS: File-based IP has been fairly well established. But when we talk about live production, that’s still the last bastion of HD-SDI. How’s that going in the U.K.?
MR: I was on a panel discussion talking about that very thing two days ago (at BVE). It’s slow-moving. IP is a large commitment; there are a few IP islands and POCs starting to appear and quite a few (HD-SDI and IP) hybrids.
WS: What do you think is holding things up?
MR: Someone said recently that there’s no point in replacing a round cable with a square cable, and that pretty much sums it up. There has to be some significant cost savings to go video IP. Yes, there’s more flexibility with IP but just replacing something that’s baseband with IP doesn’t always save you money. The problem with video is you need to move to a large telco IP switch that’s 10 gig or 20 gig or 60 gig, and that’s expensive. The math works better for audio IP because you can use 1 gig, off-the-shelf switches. This is what attracted us to WheatNet-IP (Wheatstone’s IP audio network, which Boxer now offers) -- the cost but also the flexibility.
WS: How do you think IP audio networks like WheatNet-IP will be used by TV broadcasters?
MR: We’re talking to a lot of people about remote production. It’s early days yet, but we’re finding that people want to keep as much as they can back at the home base, and IP link the camera or the audio feed back from the field. The idea is to move fewer bodies around. We’re especially noticing interest in this for the lower-league or minority sports broadcasts, which had been too costly to cover until now.
WS: Let’s talk standards. I understand there is a huge amount of interest in AES67 by U.K. broadcasters, who are also following the adoption of AES67 in the TR-03 recommendation as well, right?
MR: Yes. It’s starting to move. AES67 is fairly well understood, but people do still get confused about Dante and Ravenna. They are not all the same!
WS: What do you think is the big motivation for adopting standards?
MR: One of the reasons is to move to the next format, like 4K. But not everyone is going to agree on how best to do this. I use the Henry Ford horse analogy to describe how we often come up with standards, but in our case it’s not just a faster horse. We ask the first person what they think the standard should have, and they say it has to be a common form factor; it has to look like a horse. The next guy we ask says it has to be resilient, so we put a horn on the horse. And the third guy says it has to be faster, so we put wings on it. What we end up with is a flying unicorn. Were going to end up with lots of standards for IP – it will very much depend on the use-case.
WS: (Laughing). You’ve obviously been in this business a while, Marc.
MR: I have, about 25 years. I’ve been at Boxer for a couple of decades. My background is actually in audio and TV. I got picked up by Sony out of college and was the audio liaison to the video group and the video liaison to the audio group. What I’ve found over the years is that the two technologies complement each other. Sometimes audio‘s ahead – and that’s true with IP – and other areas, video advances. I share the knowledge between the two and am looking forward to doing that with this new Wheatstone audio IP network line.
WS: That’s what I was hoping you’d say. Thanks, Marc.Marc Risby is the CTO of Boxer Systems out of Harpenden, U.K., which provides sales, systems and solutions for audio and video. Boxer Systems is now a full service integrator and provider for WheatNet-IP audio networks, a complete environment networking audio consoles and talent stations with monitoring and system control. BBC, ITV, Technicolor, and Liverpool FCTV are among Boxer’s clients.
WheatNet-IP for TV: Associated Connections
- Corus Entertainment (Peterborough, ON) purchased two E-1 control surfaces and I/O BLADEs as well as Glass E virtual mixer and audio drivers for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Rogers Broadcasting (Toronto, ON) added an EDGE network unit and audio storage/playback and drivers to an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- CISF-FM (Surrey, BC) purchased two IP-12 digital audio consoles, an E-1 control surface with Glass E virtual mixer and two M2 dual channel mic processors.
- Cogeco Difussion (Laval, QC) purchased an L-8 control surface for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- CKQB-FM (Ottawa, ON) added an I/O BLADE and NAVIGATOR software upgrade for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Laura Ingraham (Washington, DC) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console, an M4-IP four channel mic processor BLADE, a TS-4 talent station, several GP panels and software drivers and NAVIGATOR software upgrade.
- CBC (Toronto, ON) purchased two MADI I/O BLADEs.
- Blackburn Radio (Wingham, ON) purchased three Screen Builder apps and upgraded to the new NAVIGATOR software.
- Rogers Broadcasting (Winnipeg, MB) purchased an I/O BLADE for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Rogers Broadcasting (London, ON) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
- Corus Entertainment (Cornwall, ON) upgraded to the new NAVIGATOR software and added new drivers and router controller for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Blackburn Radio (Sarnia, ON) purchased an E-1 control surface.
- Zoe Communications (Eau Claire, WI) purchased an Aura8-IP eight-processor BLADE and L-12 control surface.
- Hubbard Broadcasting (Phoenix, AZ) added I/O BLADEs to an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- CKUA-FM (Calgary, AB) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console and L-12 control surface for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Leighton Broadcasting (Fergus Falls, MN) added two I/O BLADEs to an existing WheatNet-IP network.
- Bell Media (Gatineau, QC) purchased two SideBoard control surfaces.
- Leighton Broadcasting (Perham, MN) purchased an IP-16 digital audio console.
- HP Services (Toronto, ON) purchased an EDGE network unit.
- Durham Radio (Oshawa, ON) purchased two SideBoard control surfaces.
- CBC (Iqaluit, NU) purchased 13 I/O BLADEs as part of a WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Good Karma Broadcasting (West Palm Beach, FL) purchased an IP-12 and two IP-16 digital audio consoles for a new studio build-out.
- Meredith station WGGB -TV (Springfield, MA) purchased a D-8EX audio console for a second control room combining with an existing control room with D-8EX console.
- Sinclair’s WSTM-TV (Syracuse, NY) purchased a Glass E virtual mixer for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Oregon Public Broadcasting (Portland) added a MADI interface to an existing TDM router for future IP interface.
- Newsweb Radio (Chicago, IL) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
- Curtis Media (Raleigh, NC) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console.
- Bauer Media (Oslo, Norway) purchased MADI and I/O BLADEs as well as audio drivers for an automation upgrade.
- Entravision (Los Angeles, CA) purchased two L-8 control surfaces with BLADEs to expand an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- RTE Ireland (Dublin) purchased four additional I/O BLADEs as part of a WheatNet-IP audio network expansion.
- Ocala Broadcasting (Ocala, FL) purchased an IP-12 digital audio console for an existing WheatNet-IP audio network.
- U1 Radio (Schwarz, Austria) purchased E-1 and LX-24 control surfaces with I/O and mic processor BLADEs as part of a WheatNet-IP audio network.
- Alabama State University (Montgomery) purchased an R-55e console.
- WAAC-FM (Valdosta, GA) purchased an R-55e audio console.
- Bayshore Broadcast (Owen Sound, ON) purchased an Air-1 console.
- Markel Communications purchased an R-55e console.
Wheatstone Audio Processing
- KSE Radio (Denver, CO) purchased two FM-55 audio processors.
- WXLO-FM (Boston, MA) purchased four M2 dual channel mic processors and a VoxPro 5 digital recorder/editor.
- Beasley Broadcast (New Bern, NC) purchased an M1 mic processor.
- Corus Entertainment (Ottawa, ON) purchased a FM-55 audio processor.
- Leighton Broadcasting (St. Cloud, MN) purchased three FM-55 audio processors and a TS-4 talent station.
- Leighton Broadcasting (Perham, MN) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
- Bell Media (Ottawa, ON) purchased an AM-55 audio processor.
- Rogers Broadcasting (Kingston, ON) purchased ten M1 mic processors.
- CKNO-FM (Edmonton, AB) purchased an M1 mic processor.
- Leighton Broadcasting (St. Cloud, MN) purchased two FM-55 and AM-55 audio processors.
- CHLC-FM (Baie-Comeau, QC) purchased an FM-55 audio processor.
- Rogers Broadcasting (Toronto, ON) upgraded three VoxPro 5 digital recorders/editors.
- iHeartMedia (Seattle, WA) purchased a VoxPro 5 digital recorder/editor.
- Saga Communications (Des Moines, IA) purchased a VoxPro 5 digital recorder/editor.
- iHeartMedia (Los Angeles, CA) purchased three VoxPro 5 digital recorder/editors.
- Bell Media (Montreal, QC) purchased two VoxPro 5 digital recorder/editors.
- Sirius XM Radio (New York, NY) purchased a VoxPro 5 digital recorder/editor.