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IP-based KVM: The next stage in broadcasting evolution

John HalksworthAdder Technology
Written by John Halksworth | Published in
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Create DateJune 9, 2015
Last UpdatedJuly 2, 2015

The broadcasting sector has experienced a number of changes over the past few decades – from analogue to digital, from SD to HD, and not to forget about the short-lived 3D television and the popular 4K/UHD. While there will always be a focus on the consumer and getting viewers what they want, when they want it and on whichever device they want it on, behind the scenes, broadcasters are also experiencing developments that could change the way in which they operate; in terms of their operations and how they deliver customer demands.

The studio control room of the past, for example, featured a host of specialised equipment– often proprietary – designed to process, manage and transit content. However, as technology has evolved and organisations are driven to cut costs yet be more efficient and productive at the same time, there have been significant changes in terms of their infrastructure. One of the major shifts to help facilitate this has been the use of a standard IP network to transport signals around facilities.

An IP-based broadcast environment

KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) technology that is IP-based is one of the most effective use cases in broadcasting for the benefits of this transport method. IP is being widely used in all areas of broadcast, from the outside broadcast truck and studio control room, to post production suites. Specifically, IP-based high performance KVM removes the limitations of traditional AV equipment and brings real-time, accurate video operation to these areas.

Broadcasters are using switching and extension technology – not new by any means – to make operations leaner, more cost-effective and more flexible by basing it on IP.

IP-based KVM brings enhanced levels of reliability, scalability and versatility to the control room, and also has the power to deliver HD video quality at 60 frames per second. It is ideal because it is cost-effective, reliable and resilient and already forms the backbone of a gallery’s infrastructure. While technology on the network may be sourced from different vendors, the investment has already been made. The result is that broadcasters can leverage the IP investment without significant additional cost.

Switching and extension in the control room

IP-based KVM allow operators to switch control between many different systems and workflows, from one desk, and enable multiple users to share the same resources – without loss of quality or performance. It also improves the ergonomics of a working environment by freeing up space and eliminating excess heat and noise, as the computing equipment is generally located somewhere else, such as a secure server room.

From a switching perspective, the control room is a pressurised environment, particularly during live events, and the ability for users to switch between different resources while sitting at one workstation, using one mouse, screen and keyboard is a boon for productivity. Whereas the KVM extender functions in such a way that the user is not aware of it, running efficiently in the background, providing real-time extension, high resolution graphics, full USB compatibility and instant switching speeds.

This can assist in making more effective use of a control room’s staff complement, and may even lead to the reduction of staff needed at desired times.

The use of IP-based KVM in OB trucks yields the same benefits. Set up as a microcosm of the galley control room, OB trucks are used in broadcasting live events and require instant video and USB switching capabilities, reliability, device support and efficient ergonomics. Space is limited and there is a finite number of staff performing a multitude of tasks, such as monitoring video feeds, previewing shots, ensuring the quality of shots, guaranteeing the playback capabilities and transmitting the feed back to the studio or main truck that is controlling the broadcast.

Using an IP-based KVM solution in the environment ensures that multiple machines can be controlled by just one keyboard and mouse, with video signals switched and extended at the same high quality.

Post production and KVM

Post production environments must be comfortable and quiet, with talent and editors able to access the variety of hardware and software required from a single workstation. KVM ensures that the computers can be removed from the editing suite, freeing up space and eliminating additional heat and noise. As a result, extending these resources without loss of quality or functionality is crucial. In addition, IP-based KVM guarantees pixel perfect content and frame rates, a critical factor for post production houses.

Going forward, the use of IP may even be the solution broadcasters are seeking to efficiently deliver 4K/UHD content to the viewer. In the immediate future, however, the application and use of IP-based KVM is already delivering flexibility, scalability and improved reliability to installations across the broadcast industry. As more organisations move away from the reliance on proprietary hardware and adopt more software-orientated business models, IP-based KVM will play a key role.

By John Halksworth, senior product manager, Adder Technology



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