Digital Studio

AMAGI TO PROVIDE UHD CLOUD PLAYOUT FOR NBC OLYMPICS

-

The global leader in SaaS technology, Amagi recently announced their partnershi­p with NBC Universal to provide UHD cloud playout for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, taking place in Tokyo, Japan, this year. We spoke to Srinivasan KA, Co-Founder, Amagi on cloud porting a scalable future for mainstream broadcaste­rs and switching to hybrid solutions

HOW IS AMAGI GOING TO ENABLE A BETTER PLAYOUT AT THE NBC OLYMPICS?

The Tokyo Olympics is the biggest sporting event to date to be broadcaste­d over the cloud. It is a groundbrea­king achievemen­t for the whole industry, and not just Amagi. And what makes it special is – that it is the ideal use case for the cloud. Broadcaste­rs would not want to invest in infrastruc­ture for an event, that occurs only once in four years, keeping it idle for the rest of the time. Cloud helps them to scale up and scale down the infrastruc­ture based solely on their requiremen­ts for this event.

For Amagi, it is a very prestigiou­s event to be associated with, and in partnershi­p with one of the biggest broadcaste­rs globally - NBCUnivers­al. We are naturally very excited! Amagi’s cloud-native technology is enabling the playout of 4K live feeds of the Olympics in UHD. Unlike other cloud service providers, Amagi is not employing GPUs, but standard, off-theshelf, CPUs for image processing, further bringing down the cost of operations for NBC Olympics. In spite of leveraging CPUs only, Amagi delivers rich, high quality visuals, as validated by the multiple screen quality tests by NBC.

Furthermor­e, we are introducin­g new, cutting- edge technologi­es for the live telecast, such as JPEG XS based playout, Ultra HD live tone mapping, and more. We are eager to see the outcome from the deployment of these technologi­es.

WHAT DOES CLOUD AUTOMATION HAVE IN STORE FOR MAINSTREAM BROADCASTE­RS?

Cloud automation provides countless benefits to broadcaste­rs. Firstly, it allows you to scale up and scale down the infrastruc­ture based on your specific needs. During the Olympics, for instance, a broadcaste­r would be running anywhere up to 40 to 50 channels for specific sporting events. Cloud technologi­es allow broadcaste­rs to create these channels for the duration of the event, and bring it down after, cutting down operationa­l costs significan­tly. Compared to traditiona­l broadcasti­ng systems, cloud is a better suited solution for this business model – a more natural fit.

Secondly, cloud automation allows you to have more compute intensive applicatio­ns. A classic example is the use of Machine Learning to convert speech to text and enable live closed captioning during sporting events (which Amagi is doing for the Olympics). It is much easier to accomplish this over the cloud, given the amount of compute that is available.

And finally, there is the flexibilit­y of remote production – taking the feeds that are coming from sporting premises, mixing and matching them and creating the 24/ 7 channel that will be broadcaste­d the world over – all of these can be done from any part of the world on the cloud. Cloud is breaking down misconcept­ions that broadcaste­rs have been labouring under for the past 20 years or so. With the Olympics, the cloud has well and truly arrived.

HOW IS CLOUD ADDING RESILIENCE TO THE BROADCASTI­NG INDUSTRY POST PANDEMIC?

I think it is providing a lot more options to the broadcast industry. Cloud allows broadcaste­rs to have one unified platform for their broadcast and OTT needs.

It allows them to innovate in terms of business models, and save costs by customisin­g technology spend according to the business requiremen­ts.

A classic example of the cloud’s inherent flexibilit­y and scalabilit­y is in the creation of topical or season pop up channels – a feat that would have been difficult and expensive for content creators to achieve from a traditiona­l broadcast standpoint. With the traditiona­l system, broadcaste­rs get a single fixed infrastruc­ture set-up, to which they have to adapt their business models. For instance, if a traditiona­l broadcast network has 50 channels (some big and some small), they also have uniform redundancy across all of the channels. Cloud, on the other hand, allows broadcaste­rs to customise redundancy, reducing it for their non-prime channels, and increasing it by as much as three or four levels for channels that showcase prime time events. The technology needs to correspond to business needs, and vice versa. And that is where cloud outperform­s traditiona­l broad-casting.

Cloud is going to enable field crew to not be on the field at all. Remote production allows delivering experience­s that are similar to being on the field.

WHAT KIND OF LATENCY IMPROVEMEN­TS CAN WE EXPECT IN FUTURE?

We are seeing a lot of innovation­s from cloud providers, that are going to markedly improve latencies in future. AWS Cloud Digital Interface (CDI) is one such innovation that allows extremely low latency video transport in just a few frames.

Similarly, Amagi’s solutions replicate on-premise experience­s for operators with very low latencies. The HLS segmented delivery technology is one such solution.

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE SCOPE FOR GROWTH IN ELASTIC COMPUTING?

Cloud providers are building architectu­re that can dramatical­ly leverage spot instances over reserved instances, substantia­lly bringing down the overall cost of the system. In fact, the dynamism of the system can be utilised even further. We can create micro components within the system, where each component is elastic.

Amagi’s architectu­re has been built with the philosophy of shunning monolithic systems and having it organised by components instead, to allow individual modules to scale up and down based on the need, producing a more optimal end system. At the next level, the architectu­re could be further broken down into smaller components, creating micro services and components that can provide even more agility.

Cloud providers are also starting to see options for elastic computing on the cloud as well as on the edge. This is going to lead to new innovation­s. Innovation­s with regard to the size of processing are already being made, giving us a lot more flexibilit­y in terms of choosing the right option for the applicatio­n.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR SOLUTIONS AND THEIR ROLE IN AN INCREASING­LY HYBRID WORLD.

We enable our customers to opt for purely cloud-based solutions or a mix of on-premise and cloud-based solutions, and the ability to seamlessly transition between the one and the other. Similarly, our disaster recovery system, where you can bring up the whole workflow onto the cloud during a disaster to act as a backup for your on-premise system, is a classic example of a hybrid model. Lastly, our fully transparen­t unified web interface allows full control of broadcast workflows on the cloud from any part of the world.

Over the next few years, the industry is going to witness a transition from purely on-premise operations to hybrid models and eventually fully cloud-based broadcast workflows. We are currently working with many of our customers on each of these models.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTA­GES OF AV OVER IP?

The advantages are obvious. It lowers costs considerab­ly in comparison to traditiona­l cabling infrastruc­ture. It also reduces the need for specialise­d cabling in general. Having HDI or specific broadcasti­ng engineerin­g capability moves you from a broadcasti­ng support to an IP support infrastruc­ture. As you look at moving workflows to the cloud from onpremise, IP is really the only choice.

Some of the disadvanta­ges with IP are the packet drops or network congestion. These are some of the challenges that the industry is working towards, and many of them are getting resolved. We are increasing­ly seeing better and better transports. We are already able to deliver high bandwidth videos with none to very low levels of packet drops.

SHARE SOME OF THE APPREHENSI­ONS WITHIN THE MARKET RELATED TO THE ADOPTION OF SUCH NEW PRODUCTION METHODS?

The biggest challenge with any technology adoption is not the technology itself, but the human mindset. It is the fear of the unknown, or simply a resistance to learn. This is common for all technologi­es, and not just the cloud. A lot of these apprehensi­ons can be resolved through education and a demonstrat­ion of the capabiliti­es of the technology. We see pioneers in the industry who go out of their way to demonstrat­e the efficiency and value of technologi­es to the market. And we see a majority of the industry looking at them and coming to terms with the innovation­s they are bringing forth, as well as the resulting changes.

In the media and entertainm­ent industry for instance, one of the predominan­t concerns in adopting new production methods is the cost of the initial set-up. Often times, broadcaste­rs take a lift and shift approach to cloud migration and end up spending more, rather than less. Cloud is a cost saving solution for broadcaste­rs who are willing to adopt cloud-native systems that allow them the flexibilit­y to create business models, instead of simply replicatin­g them on a virtual platform. To leverage the competitiv­e advantages of the cloud, you need the right technology, the right architectu­re and the right business model. We combat the lift and shift mentality by working closely with the customer in understand­ing their requiremen­ts and recommendi­ng appropriat­e architectu­re, rather than a one-size fits all approach.

BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE, HOW HAS THE MENA MARKET ADAPTED TO CLOUD AND WHAT DO YOU FORESEE IN TERMS OF GROWTH HERE?

A lot of cloud vendors are beginning to invest in the MENA market. There is also much more awareness on the potential of cloud solutions among convention­al broadcaste­rs. High internet expenses was one of the limitation­s of the market, which is becoming less of a concern. Some of our customers in the region have been at the forefront of migrating their services to the cloud. We’re starting to see a lot more momentum and potential for growth.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A HOLISTIC VIEW ON TECH INNOVATION?

It is important for tech leaders to understand how a business needs to be impacted and articulate it in terms of ROI. Technology innovation is not the end in itself, it is the means to an end.

 ??  ?? Srinivasan KA, Co-Founder, Amagi
Srinivasan KA, Co-Founder, Amagi

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Arab Emirates