With the EBU Network Technology Seminar held online-only for a second year running, the organizers took the opportunity to take attendees behind-the-scenes to see how IP and cloud technologies are being leveraged at different EBU Members. Highlights included a tour of Radio-Canada's new all-IP headquarters in Montreal, presentations that showcased VRT's experiments with virtual production based on game engines, and a progress report from SRF's new IP-based facility in Zurich, exactly one year after it first went on-air.
Live and virtual
A standout moment of Tuesday's programme was the live tour of the new Maison de Radio-Canada in Montréal. Presented from one of the news studios in the facility, it included visits to several parts of the building and interviews with some of those who are now working there. One takeaway was that, for editorial and production staff, whether in TV or radio, the workflows have generally not changed with the move to IP. And while there has been a learning curve for technical staff, IP is bringing undoubted flexibility.
Earlier in the day, speakers presenting VRT's work on hybrid cloud production took the opportunity to demonstrate the Flemish broadcaster's work with game engines. During the presentation, from an entirely virtual studio, viewers had a chance to see the behind-the-scenes setup when the virtual environment was switched off temporarily.
The first live productions from the new SRF building in Zurich began on 15 June 2020. Like Radio-Canada, the Swiss broadcaster chose to adopt SMPTE ST 2110 for its IP-based infrastructure. The decision has worked out well for them so far, with no outages in the first year of operation. Several lessons were shared at NTS 2021, such as the value of having a single orchestrator for the whole network and the advantage of narrowing down the number of configuration options, as is done through the creation of "bouquets" of audio streams.
This year's event touched on a very broad range of topics, with the Day 1 sessions looking at cloud, hybrid and on-prem approaches, while Day 2 touched on topics as diverse as mixed reality productions, quantum computing and media cybersecurity. Closing the event, a series of three technology briefings took a deep dive into how cloud-based virtual machines are built, open-source approaches to deploying media applications in the cloud, and the latest developments for measurement and testing of ST 2110 and other live IP standards. There was also a sneak preview of the forthcoming version 2.0 release of EBU LIST, adding several new features and a redesigned user interface.
EBU Members can access videos and slides from NTS 2021.