Welcome to the fifth issue of the Pro Video Dealer newsletter. We've spoken previously about the explosion of opportunities for dealers and integrators in what has traditionally been called the "AV" space. And we've outlined the growth of high-end video technology in this world. We reported on small companies and institutions are now creating sophisticated productions for YouTube Live, Skype, Facebook Live, GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, and the many other content channels available.
Content consumers expect webcasts to appear produced and professional, with multiple camera angles, graphics, and all of the elements we've traditionally associated with television broadcasts. This hasn't happened as quickly as it might, in part because of the cost of dedicated video networks and the limitations of SDI or HDMI connections.
Many of these obstacles are quickly falling away as a result of NewTek's royalty free NDI (Network Device Interface) technology, which allows for SDI and HDMI camera outputs to be connected to a standard GigE network. This significantly reduces network and bandwidth requirements for multicam webcasts, eliminates the distance restrictions of HDMI cabling and permits 4K video streaming without the cumbersome limitations of using four SDI cables.
By using NDI in a video-over-IP network, content creators can also use the same Ethernet connection to control remote cameras, such as the PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) units that have become very popular for live webcasts that don't have the budget or crew that would be necessary for a traditional style multi-camera production. Customers adapting quickly to all-live production spaces—including those from sports, schools, government, houses of worship, and corporations – are making the most of the combination of NDI and the high-quality imaging recorded by the latest generation of PTZ cameras.
Paul Richards, Chief Streaming Officer of PTZOptics, shares what he's heard from his customers: "Most are using our cameras for live streaming and a large majority of those tell us that the quality of the presentation is their most important concern," he says. "When we asked what makes a quality live stream, most said it was switching from two, three or more cameras.
"More than half of our users are not trained video production people. It could be someone from the IT department or a volunteer handling these productions so they need affordable PTZ cameras with simple joysticks and a very intuitive interface," Richards concludes. "That's why NDI is so important." PTZOptics, he adds, “offers firmware upgrades to their newest SDI cameras that make them upgradable to NDI and they will soon offer NDI-integrated models too."
Owners of HDMI and SDI camera gear needn't retire any of it since there are several ways of converting their signal to NDI. NewTek's Spark and BirdDog Studio, from a relatively new player in the industry, BirdDog, approach the task differently but both offer a bridge from standard video outputs to NDI and all it offers.
"NDI is rapidly transforming the way video is created by replacing traditional uni-directional SDI cabling with the enormous advantages inherent in existing local area networks over IP," explains Caroline Neidzwiecki, senior vice president of Business Development, Emerging Markets for NewTek.
"This is where the revolution begins—with easier, more affordable production that expands creative possibilities that were too remote or too far-fetched to consider in the past," she says. "NDI liberates you from limitations that were built into the old way of doing things making this a very exciting time to create video."