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Taking a step towards a fully-fledged 5G broadcasting environment

Partners of an EU-funded initiative have completed the first technical phase of setting up an Internet Protocol (IP)-based studio by integrating multiple products from various sources.

Digital Economy

Thanks to the rising demand for premium content like live sports events and various services such as video on demand and mobile TV, the media and entertainment industry is focusing on how to reduce production costs while increasing efficiency. The EU-funded VIRTUOSA project is addressing exactly this issue. Proposing the virtualisation of network and production resources that is powered by 5G technology, the project is set to make media production more cost-effective and scalable. VIRTUOSA partners have recently completed the first stage of their initiative at project coordinator Nevion’s Service Operations Center in Gdansk, Poland. This stage covers “the integration of multiple products from various vendors, with most of the work done remotely because of the COVID-19 situation,” according to a press release on the project website. “The first phase of the project involves setting up an IP-based studio, built on industry standards (SMPTE ST 2110 and NMOS) and integrating equipment from multiple vendors,” it adds. These include video cameras, a vision mixer, servers, a multiviewer, an audio mixer, a media analyser, time and frequency synchronisation gear, and software-defined media nodes. As noted in the same press release, project partners have transferred their system to the facilities of project partner Institute for Broadcasting Technology (IRT) in Munich, “where tests will be carried [out] to ascertain the compliance of the complete set-up to industry standards.” Quoted in the same press release, Markus Berg from IRT comments: “The set-up is the fundamental building block that we will be using to create the 5G remote production planned for later phases of the project. The compliance to standards is a key part of the tests, and very important for IRT, as an internationally renowned research and innovation center for audiovisual technologies.”

Reduced production costs

The VIRTUOSA (Scalable Software Defined Network Architectures for Cooperative Live Media Production exploiting Virtualised Production Resources and 5G Wireless Acquisition) project will run until August 2021. It “will enable virtual connections of any studio, control room and on-site production across multiple locations, and live feedback from the audience straight into the production chain via 5G acquisition,” as explained on the project website. “It will allow media production facilities, equipment, resources, and talent to be shared across locations, supporting Cooperative Live Media Production with real-time transport and processing of live media over IP with up to 100Gbit/s.” Project partners believe that their initiative will cut live media production costs by 30-40 %. VIRTUOSA’s network architecture uses IP technology, software-defined networking technology, network function virtualisation, high-performance computing and cloud computing. Virtualisation, which refers to the process of creating a software-based or virtual representation of applications, servers, storage and networks, reduces IT expenses while boosting efficiency. With an IP-based remote production system that uses 5G, broadcasters will be able to set up on-site more quickly and effectively almost anywhere. Examples would be handling breaking news or covering live sports events that require tracking over significant distances, like cycling or road running. For more information, please see: VIRTUOSA project website

Keywords

VIRTUOSA, live media, broadcasting, virtualisation, 5G, Internet Protocol

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