|Page (1) of 1 - 01/12/09||email article||print page|
Fujitsu's Dan Dalton talks about the broadcast encoding solution
CBS' Evening News with Katie Couric recently began broadcasting in high definition. The network turned to Fujitsu Computer Products of America, Inc., which used their IP-9500e MPEG-4 AVC encoder, in conjunction with Sencore's MRD3187A Decoder, to deliver high quality HD, while using half the bandwidth.
With the demand of HD content on television growing, CBS met the challenge with an all-new HD control room to begin delivering the news to viewers in high definition. Dan Dalton, Fujitsu's Director of Development, recently took time out to discuss the technology with Digital Media Net.
Digital Media Net (DMN): Tell me about the IP-9500e MPEG-4 ENCODER
Dan Dalton (DD): "The IP-9500 MPEG4 AVC encoder is a breakthrough technology in Broadcast Video Encoders. It enables broadcasters and affiliates to encoder their live HD video feeds and transmit them across DVB-ASI or IP based systems with exceptional video quality at half the bandwidth of MPEG-2 compress streams. This allows broadcasters to transmit full high definition (HD) feeds in systems currently used for standard definition (SD) feeds which save money and resources. Fujitsu also offers a sophisticated IP (internet protocol) based transport that uses sophisticated forward error correct (FEC) and automatic re-request (ARQ) that enables broadcasters to transmit their content over public internet for additional cost savings. In addition, Fujitsu's Low-Latency mode allows broadcasters to produce high quality live interviews from remote sites in full-HD, with less than 300 milliseconds of total encode/decode latency. This eliminates the bothersome pauses and delays between reporters often found in live remote interviews.
DMN: How does it work with the Sencore MRD3187A Decoder?
DD: Fujitsu's HD video encoder compresses the live HD feed into an MPEG-4 digital transport stream. At the receiving end of the transmission, the Sencore MRD will decompress the digital stream into the original high quality HD feed, including all audio and embedded data that accompanies the feed. The combination of the Fujitsu IP-9500e encoder and Sencore MRD3187A decoder also enables seamless transition of multiple feeds through today's broadcast backhaul and switching equipment. Additionally, Sencore has implemented the Fujitsu Low-Latency mode to enable live remote interviews with very high quality at low transmission bandwidths. This is the configuration that CBS has deployed so successfully for their coverage of the Democratic and Republican Presidential Primaries, as well as their coverage of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Debates, [all in HD].
DMN: A smaller size is always positive, but how did Fujitsu deal with any potential image and sound quality problems?
DD: Small size does not always mean lower quality. Fujitsu designed the IP-9500e as a full-function product [for the] major broadcasters. Our design team paid special attention to providing the highest quality video and audio. Our video quality is unsurpassed in the industry. In addition, the IP-9500e utilizes Fujitsu designed ASIC's which not only provide the highest video quality, but also operate at very low power. This allows our product to easily fit into our customer's remote applications such as ENG/SNG Trucks as well as mobile studios.
DMN: How did Fujitsu and CBS Evening News come together?
DD: We introduced CBS to our encoder technology [in 2007]. CBS's new technology group recognize and number of important aspects to our encoder technology, including high video quality at low data rates, the low latency mode that can be used across the full encoder data rate spectrum, precise video/audio sync which eliminates bothersome lip-sync issues, exceptional color and jitter stability, etc. The encoders' ability to broadcast full HD video using bandwidths normally associated with standard definition feeds was especially suited for CBS News because of the limited satellite bandwidths associated with remote Satellite News Gathering (SNG) as well as the high video quality requirements for Electronic News Gathering (ENG) from bureaus.
Their first "Live-to-Air" implementation of the IP-9500e was with the President's State of the Union address last February. This broadcast utilized three simultaneous feeds from the CBS Bureau in Washington DC. Next implementation was at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions this past summer. These required using 10-14 IP-9500e encoders multiplexed and transmitted over a terrestrial IP link. In addition, CBS NewsPath also used our encoders for their SNG feeds from the Conventions. Today, CBS News is using our encoders for the Presidential Debates. In this application, they are using 6-8 encoders uplinked through a single 36MHz transponder. Again, this is a breakthrough for remote News reporting.
DMN: Any other networks that will be using the technology?
DD: Yes, we have sold a number of encoders to several of the major networks and their affiliates. We will announce some of these applications in the near future.
With the transition to DTV still set for February 17, 2009, it's fantastic to see companies like Fujitsu working on the cutting edge. Many thanks to Mr. Dalton for taking the time to talk with us.
Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.