Video Over IP, Explained

Ever since video has gone digital, broadcasters have relied on SDI cables to transmit video and audio for television production workflows and content distribution. However, as viewer consumption continues to rise, broadcasters need to rethink how they produce and deliver video content. Thanks to the capabilities of IP networking technology, there are now alternative and more efficient ways of transporting content from cameras to production equipment. Video over IP can now be used for bringing new content into production, moving it around production facilities, and delivering the final content to viewers.

In this post we’ll take a high-level look at what video over IP is, how it works, the different types, some use cases and advantages of using it, and a few solutions that enable you to leverage the technology for your video workflows.

What is Video Over IP and How Does it Work?

Video over IP is an internet technology-based method of transporting video, audio, and ancillary content (like timecodes and closed captioning) over local (LAN) or wide area networks (WAN).

IP stands for Internet Protocol and is used to describe the method of transporting live and file-based data between devices. Before the development of video over IP, the main method of digitally transporting content from cameras to other broadcast equipment, within an OB truck or broadcast facility, was through Serial Digital Interface (SDI) cables.

Television broadcast content, which includes video, audio, and ancillary data, is deconstructed into several different streams and then transported over an IP as individual packets of data instead of through an SDI cable. Once the packets reach their destination, they’re put back together by a synchronization technology called Precision Time Protocol or PTP.

Types of Video Over IP Technologies:

SMPTE ST 2110: Within production facilities, SMPTE 2110 can be used to send content between equipment on-site, replacing the need for SDI cables. When it comes to SMPTE 2110, the video, audio, and metadata are sent as separate streams, each with their own IP address, and can be managed as independent essences. Each can be processed by different production equipment while ending up at the same destination, allowing for more flexible workflows. PTP enables timestamps on video and audio data to ensure everything remains in synch. For a more in-depth look at SMPTE 2110, make sure to read this post.

NDI: NDI, or Network Device Interface, is a video over IP transmission protocol developed by NewTek as a royalty-free technology. Unlike SMPTE 2110, NDI shares lightly compressed video, along with audio and metadata, over IP networks for broadcast contribution and production in one bundled stream. Though NDI is not as flexible as SMPTE 2110, nor does is support uncompressed video, it is easier to deploy.

IP Transport Protocols: Video transport protocols like the Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) protocol can be used to transport compressed video, H.264 and HEVC over the internet for remote contribution and for distribution of content to partners and stakeholders. For more on live video streaming protocols, read this post.

Cellular Networks: Broadcasters are relying more on cellular networks for streaming contribution content to a production facility and for sending return feeds back to the field. IP technologies such as SST work by aggregating multiple cellular networks, including 4G and 5G, so that there’s enough bandwidth and resiliency to reliably stream high-quality video for live production.

Content Delivery over IP: For consumers, different technologies exist viewing content including MPEG Transport Stream (MPEG-TS) which is used in broadcast systems like ATSC, IPTV, and DVB. For online live streaming through over-the-top (OTT) devices like set-top boxes and mobile phones, there are HLS and MPEG-DASH streaming protocols, which you can read more about here.

Who Uses Video Over IP and What are the Advantages?

Broadcasters leverage video over IP technology in television studios for remote contribution, live interviews, return feeds, and backhaul as a more flexible and less costly alternative to satellite. Video over IP is also used in post-production for graphics, over the shoulder workflows for editing by remote teams, and more. Consumers use video over IP when streaming and viewing videos, television shows, movies, and more over the internet.

For corporate environments, video distribution over IP technology is used for internal video sharing and to help provide training to employees. The enhanced security, including firewalls, authorization, and encryption, is key for companies sharing sensitive content that should only be viewed by those within the organization. When it comes to defense workflows, control rooms and command centers leverage video over IP to monitor mission-critical situations. It’s also used for digital signage, video security, and video displays through IPTV.

Advanced flexibility, reliability, and security are some of the big reasons why many industries and companies have made the move to video over IP. While there are many advantages, one of the big drawbacks when relying on the public internet is its instability. Thankfully, this can be countered with a combination of the right transport protocol, like SRT, and the right video solution.

Video Over IP Solutions

If you’re looking for solutions that can power video over IP projects, there are a wide variety that can be combined with the Haivision-pioneered SRT protocol for reliable and low latency workflows, including the Makito X4 Video Encoder. Haivision’s flagship encoder offers secure, ultra-low latency video, and the Stream Sync feature ensures that multiple camera feeds remain synchronized over IP in case of network failure. For streaming over mobile networks, the Haivision Pro460 can aggregate up to six cellular links to provide high quality and low latency video to a broadcast facility.

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