10 Sep 2015

NewTek's promise of "Exponential Production" could be a genuine revolution

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NewTek NDI NewTek NDI Shutterstock/RedShark Publications

The phrase 'game-changer' is a bit over-used in the industry of late, but with some additional information leaking out about NewTek's new NDI protocol, we're starting to get the feeling that it could be very significant indeed.

We were excited about NewTek's open network protocol that will allow any video device to be connected to an IP network, and allow access to that device as if it were connected using SDI.

Now, it has added information that makes the new protocol seem even bigger in scope. The company describes it as "Exponential Production."

There's good reason for this excitement.

According to NewTek:

"NewTek Advanced IP Workflow does far more than just connect video sources on a LAN to the production switcher. It creates an exponential IP video matrix wherein each switcher recognises all video sources connected to other production switchers, replay systems, graphics systems and more on the LAN as IP sources – and vice versa. Any device can use another’s connected inputs (and outputs) across the network, enabling multiple systems to scale the number of inputs and output resources.

All connected sources are automatically recognised and ready for switching live over IP on any other device. No specialised routing hardware or grid management software is required. The system encodes video over IP for frame-accurate, low-latency switching—unprecedented in its efficiency and incomparable in its picture quality over standard networks."

This means that devices on the network can see video sources - even (or especially) if they're connected via NDI enabled switchers and other products.

NewTek's claims for the system are justifiably far from modest. CTO and President Dr. Andrew Cross thinks:

“This is a rare watershed moment in our industry when everything shifts and pivots in fundamental ways that change it forever. NewTek Advanced IP Workflow is infinitely more than a replacement for traditional SDI workflow. It works with existing SDI cameras, yet does not require heavy investment in SDI-sized Ethernet bandwidth or separate control systems. Bi-directional sharing of devices using IP across an existing network in a live production environment gives producers truly game-changing benefits.”

Essentially NDI, in combination with NDI-enabled devices (which means video sources connected to capture cards as well as any NDI-capable switcher) creates a virtual routing network, and allows any device to be used by any device. It really is that fundamentally flexible.

Indeed Newtek claims that NDI can increase the capacity of video signals in an IP infrastructure by a factor of ten.

Further details will emerge from the IBC show in Amsterdam, starting tomorrow (Friday 11th September 2015).

NewTeK will be showing an upgraded Advanced Edition for Tricaster (including existing systems) that will make the fully NDI capable. Users can have all source inputs be IP-based if they choose or mix IP sources with local SDI sources. The updated version of TriCaster Advanced Edition software will launch in the fourth quarter of 2015. It will be offered as a free upgrade to any current TriCaster Advanced Edition customer.

If you're in Amsterdam this weekend, you can see NDI in operation at IBC Stand 7.K11.


David Shapton

David is the Editor In Chief of RedShark Publications. He's been a professional columnist and author since 1998, when he started writing for the European Music Technology magazine Sound on Sound. David has worked with professional digital audio and video for the last 25 years.

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