There’s a line in an online NDI promo video that says “harness the inevitable,” where every source also becomes a destination thanks to IP — unlike the linear source-destination topography of SDI.
Network Device Interface (NDI) is a high performance standard that allows anyone to use real time, ultra low latency video on existing IP video networks. NDI moves live digital media around with existing software applications, computing devices, and networks using what you already have.
NDI is a brand of Vizrt Group. In 2019, visual storytelling technology company Vizrt acquired NewTek, a specialist in IP-based, software-driven live video production solutions. The acquisition created a large company in the broadcast space dedicated to enabling IT-based video production.
The combined companies emerged as a driving force in the transition to IP video for live production with NDI and SMPTE 2110, with each serving different needs. The company set out to deliver flexible workflows for all levels of production and software-based products and services for media, sports, entertainment, education, enterprise, and esports.
No Specialist Equipment Required for Plug and Play
Ideal Systems is an Asian systems integrator for broadcast, cloud and professional audiovisual. Ideal Group provides a spectrum of services including consultation, design, installation, integration, as well as operational and maintenance support of technology infrastructure across the APAC region. In addition to system solutions, it provides cloud, software and interior design services individually or as a combined service offering.
Fintan McKiernan is CEO of Ideal Systems South East Asia. “NDI fits well for all three areas of our business: broadcast, Pro AV and the cloud space. It’s a killer technology for us,” he said in an NDI YouTube clip.
“Using NDI opens up a whole host of opportunities for broadcasters and Pro AV companies, and it does that by making the networking of video infrastructure more cost effective, more flexible and much easier to use.
“Let’s take the example of a small studio you might be setting up for an event. A traditional AV company comes in and they’ve got an SDI video switcher and all the baseband cable and coax, and an SDI multiviewer. This is all specialist equipment coming in and all of it is expensive, and they’ve got a couple of broadcast engineers and they’ve got to find the guy who can terminate BNC on an SDI cable…
“Then picture the same scenario with a competing AV company doing the same event and setting up a studio next door,” said McKiernan. “They come along with their NDI infrastructure and they just plug network cables into everything. The multiviewer is on a computer. The mixer is on a computer. And basically everything is really standard; there’s no specialist equipment.
“It’s quicker to set up, and totally flexible. The more you get under the hood of NDI, the more you see those benefits. And it’s that flexibility and user-friendliness that gives great advantages in today’s AV and broadcast world,” he said.
“So what are the problems with NDI? Well, this is the big secret with NDI: it’s too simple! And it’s going to put system integrators out of business, because you just basically need someone who can use general IT skills. So that’s the problem. That’s the secret of NDI: it’s too simple. Don’t tell anybody!”
A Hybrid NDI/SDI Newsroom Infrastructure for Malaysia
TVS is a regional TV broadcaster based on the Island of Borneo. It recently selected Ideal Systems to design and build its next generation news studios and Newsroom Computer Systems (NRCS) in the Malaysian state of Sarawak.
In a first of its kind, the news studios and MCR runs on a redundant hybrid SDI/NDI (IP) infrastructure designed by Ideal Systems as part of a larger system that delivers TVS’ vision of creating a new digital media hub in Sarawak.
The cloud-enabled NDI infrastructure includes Newtek TC1 and TC2 Elite NDI integrated switchers for the news studio and multi-purpose studio, with Kiloview NDI converters. The baseband infrastructure, signal processing and routing utilize the latest software-defined Ultrix routing and multi-viewing solution from Ross Video.
On the solution design, Updesh Singh, Director of Technology at Ideal Systems said; “Our robust hybrid system architecture has a NDI signal for every signal baseband path. All signals are active, and TVS can use any signal they want when they want it. All signals can be used as stand-by to each other, or even for different purposes in the signal chain.
“The idea was to incorporate change management into the solution so engineers and operators who are used to SDI baseband can start using IP signals by actually understanding the differences and advantages of using either. Some unique workflows are being created that combine best of both worlds.
“Our hybrid SDI/NDI design is incredibly robust and creates a newfound confidence in operators who are free to unleash their creativity on the content without any fear as the system is highly flexible and offers unrivalled redundancy.
“The future roadmap will add cloud-based broadcast infrastructure and signal processing hence using NDI was a vital foundation for system future-proofing. This will allow TVS to quickly and easily add and manage more content, more signals, more channels and new media platforms by leveraging the elasticity of their IP architecture,” said Sing.
TVS CEO Suhaimi Sulaiman said, “For TVS, the most important thing is the quality of our production. Of course, we also want glitch-free broadcast and a reliable system.”
The studios are equipped with 4K ready Ikegami cameras with HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) mode for HDR picture output. The studios use VizRT’s on-air computer graphics capabilities including VR and camera tracking systems to support AR for immersive storytelling and news coverage and are also NDI-enabled.
The solution from Ideal integrates the NRCS and key systems including MAM (Media Asset Management), PAM (Production Asset Management), playout and automated quality control into hybrid NDI workflows for the newsroom operators. The NRCS, MCR playout, Studio Playout, PAM systems are all software-based and are provided by SI-Media to support over 40 news journalists. The software runs on SI-Media’s latest YES platform, which is a micro service architecture with docker applications running on HTML clients — all of which can be cloud-enabled.
Live news reports are delivered over IP cloud using Dejero Engo bonded mobile transmitters as well as Live Plus applications from Dejero for high reliability live video from remote locations allowing for live news reporting from anywhere in Malaysia or beyond and also supports remote news anchors during Covid-19.
TVS is the first Sarawak state-owned TV channel in Malaysia. Its mission is to cover the latest updates from around the world with a concept that will enhance the TV viewing experience.
New Era as Software-Defined NDI 5 Video Standard Arrives
NDI has announced version 5 of its free software protocol for video over IP. NDI 5 promises to deliver efficient, IP-based video delivery over existing networks.
NDI’s optimized codec and transport protocols also provide integration of NDI audio into software-based audio workflows, be they across a local network, in the cloud or hybrid, RUDP transfer — making WAN and WiFi connections more resilient, and full support for Apple-based devices as well as improved Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro support.
“NDI is designed to harness the massive creative potential of software and networks, allowing anyone to work with video — and have fun doing it,” said Dr. Andrew Cross, president of Research and Development for the Vizrt Group. “All devices in the world are already connected. Now with NDI 5, you can easily build shows and share video between them, for free.”