You can understand why some people don't greet the arrival of a new "standard" with completely open arms. Even if there's an obvious reason to "upgrade," there's always an assumption that there has to be a period of pain and disruption during the move to the new system.
But the move to Video over IP needn't be disruptive at all, because it can be potentially as simple as plugging in a network-enabled camera (or other video device) and selecting it from a list of network sources.
What we mean by Video over IP
It's important to understand here that when people talk about Video over IP, they can mean very different things. Some might mean streaming a video from a service like YouTube or Vimeo. Others could be thinking of internet video telephony, like Microsoft's Skype or Apple's FaceTime.
But that's not really what we're talking about. Instead, we're going to focus on IP in live video production, and what we mean by that is the ability to take video from a camera or other video device, and feed it into a live production system like NewTek's TriCaster.
There's yet another distinction to be made here. Some companies are working towards replacing their existing SDI infrastructure with an IP based system, which is a perfectly OK thing to do, but this type of approach misses out on some of the extreme benefits of a wider IP-based environment. It's almost as if they're replacing one type of wire with another, and one digital protocol for another, and, essentially, ending up with the same thing, albeit with some more flexibility in routing.
The other approach, and the one taken by NewTek, with their NDI technology, is to make as easy as possible to send high quality video over any qualifying network, new or existing, and make any video source available to any video destination. Of course normal network rules apply - it has to be a fast enough network, and not clogged up by other users, but, with a bit of planning, this is easily possible with a modern network.
Real world applications of NDI technology
So what does this mean in the real world? How do you start using video over IP?
With NDI there are several ways to do it. It helps if you think about it like this: NDI makes all your video infrastructure virtual. Which means that once you have connected your video source or destination to the network, everything else is software controlled. If you have multiple TriCasters (or any other video device with an NDI driver) all you have to do is plug it into the network for it to become visible to every other device as a source. (Equally it could be a destination for other devices).
To get a camera's output onto the network, you can either plug it into a video interface that is connected to the network (this could be one of many well known capture cards that are available now), or any other device with an input that can "talk" NDI.
Think of NDI as providing a fabric that connects video devices together. NewTek provides an API (a simple set of rules and routines that allows programmers to incorporate NDI into their own products and applications), and this is leading to some remarkable demonstrations of the flexibility of NewTek's creation.
Here's a great example: NDICam, Developed by Sienna, is an app for iPhones that allows the phone user to stream video directly to other NDI destinations via WiFi. Using it is as simple as starting the app, which then appears on the network as a source, available to every other device.
More and more cameras are coming equipped with WiFi and will have the potential to connect directly to NDI networks.
The more people hear about NDI, the more it looks like it's going to become a dominant standard for interconnecting video. Already there are hundreds of developers signed up for the API, and expect to see many more real-world applications over the next few months.
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