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AV and broadcast: industry differences

We’ve previously covered among other things, the similarities between AV and broadcast applications and the commonalities in the knowledge required; however, there are also some differences between the two worlds.

Riedel’s product manager Christian Diehl notes: “In traditional AV, there is not so much emphasis placed on redundancy concepts. In live sports events, for example, a failure could result in loss of audio and/or video to a live global audience. But even if the devices are getting cheaper and more common, it is still about signal transmission technology and you need a specific skill-set to be able to deal with it. With more and more going to IP, those skills are far more common and easier to come by than the skills needed for broadcast.”

“The integrator needs to understand how to capture and distribute video,” believes John Spiro-Colwell, product manager at Crestron. “They have to integrate capture and content management systems which might be quite difficult. While the concept of interconnecting disparate sources and sinks has been around for a long time – such as composite-to-component or S-video-to-HDMI – it becomes difficult to visualise in a virtual world. In addition, there are many layers to the systems, so a system that takes in H.264 may be not compatible with another system that also takes H.264 because they use different containers.”

Jamie Shepperd, group marketing manager at Adder Technology too sees the importance of integrators bringing with them, and developing, their video skills and understanding.

“Installers need an understanding of video when there’s a requirement for a certain level of quality in terms of output – that is, producing something of broadcast quality,” he says. “An integrator’s IT skills come into play where you have to string together multiple disparate systems to create your AV production workflow.

“The lines are blurred between the two,” he continues. “While broadcast is about creating the content, AV skills are focused more on delivering it to the right place. In broadcasting, there is a strong adherence to common standards and as a result there are many stages in a typical workflow. In AV, there is more flexibility and agility because technology moves quicker. This enables users to create and deliver content more speedily. However, where we will see a change is, as IT converges more with broadcast and AV, it brings with it more of those standards that must be applied.”

Andy Fliss, director of marketing at tvONE too emphasises the importance of understanding video. “Integrators need to understand how to generate high-quality video that can be distributed over unstable internet connections,” he points out. “True broadcast studios do not face this challenge, nor do projects in traditional in-house systems.”

“Yes, there are issues around bandwidth management in a live environment,” agrees Spiro-Colwell. “The integrator has to make sure the network can handle the kinds of traffic associated with a live broadcast. While a download can compensate for a one- or two-second interruption in the data flow, a live stream cannot. Users are very aware of stutters, glitches and other anomalies in live video.”

Sean Brown, senior VP at Sonic Foundry adds a third voice to the discussion of networks and bandwidth.

“Any live or on-demand video broadcast system that relies on the internet brings with it the inherent problems of network congestion,” he says.

“These problems are of minor concern in a higher education environment, but are of paramount concern in a global corporation. Also, delivery to various operating systems and platforms as well as mobile devices is critical for these applications at the reach that clients demand. However, these issues are increasingly under the auspices of the video content distribution manufacturers. Choosing to partner with an enterprise video manufacturer who has comprehensive solutions for the delivery of content is the best way to ensure that an integrator’s expertise is properly leveraged into a successful and happy customer.”

James Keen of Tripleplay Services also makes the point about the importance of integrators selecting the right companies to work with.

“The main challenges we see with organisations trying to use AV as a broadcast technology are fairly typical of the industry – ensuring the network is reliable enough to deliver the content and determining how and where the content will be deployed,” he notes. “We also see that, often, the technologies used are standalone and require complex integration work to achieve the results the business wants. You need to be able to capture, stream, record, deliver, archive and share the content being broadcast, and ensure it is secure, safe and simple to access for the end user. Choosing the correct technology partners is vital – which means ensuring the same company can provide all of the above. If they can also manage your network, that’s great; if not, they need to understand that network to ensure they get the best result for the enterprise.”

“We are in the nascent stages of enterprise broadcasting,” claims Brown. “Right now, the average enterprise is satisfied if their lecture halls, auditoriums, training rooms and boardrooms are equipped to broadcast. In the future, they will demand that any desktop, laptop or mobile device be added for live and on-demand global presentations. Furthermore, they will expect all of these videos to be indexed, safely archived and instantly retrievable from anywhere. Comprehensive capabilities to support the creation, collection, indexing, management, broadcast and retrieval of videos will see specialised video content management systems that will be a part of the core IT infrastructure of all institutions. Partnership with one or more of these providers will be critical for integrators to take advantage of this bright future.”

“This market exists now, and it’s getting bigger all the time,” says Diehl. “It will be important to offer products that are flexible enough to be used in broadcast as well as pro AV. No one can truly say who is converging with who – is broadcasting merging with AV, or is AV merging with broadcasting? What is for certain, though, is that video is getting to be everywhere and people, companies, networks, teams – all will need to have the tools to be able to work with it.”