Bryce Button, Director, Product Marketing, AJA

Throughout 2017, the broadcast industry made great strides in improving the quality of content for audiences, as well as the infrastructure to deliver it. From new standards to cutting-edge technologies, there was no shortage of innovation for high resolution, high dynamic range (HDR), and broadcast IP workflows.

Real Time HDR Becomes a Reality

Interest in HDR has surged since the introduction of Dolby Vision, a trend that will continue into 2018. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu all offer a range of high-resolution HDR content to subscribers, and HDR displays now dominate shelves at electronic stores. Furthermore, HDR formats such as HLG, HDR10, and HDR10+ have been well-received, and broadcast, production, and post professionals are beginning to embrace HDR, investing in tools to streamline their HDR pipelines.

Historically, HDR technology has been largely software driven, but we saw that change this year. Technology manufacturers began to release a broader range of hardware solutions to improve HDR infrastructures. In addition to offering monitoring tools like Hi5-4K-Plus, AJA introduced HLG, HDR 10, and HDMI 2.0 support for our mobile and desktop editing tools via Desktop Software v14; brought HDR playback to our Ki Pro Ultra Plus via firmware; and joined forces with leading Colorfront scientists to envision FS-HDR – one of the first standalone HDR and color transformation products. Software vendors in the editorial space also introduced new HDR metadata support with hardware vendors like AJA recognizing that metadata for transmission to HDR displays across HDMI 2.0.

If 2017 is any indication of what is on the horizon, 2018 will be transformational for HDR, and likely the year that it becomes a production delivery requirement in broadcast for many outlets. As we move in this direction, the first step will be utilizing more tools that simplify HDR monitoring on-set straight from camera outputs, which FS-HDR will help simplify in real-time environments. From there, HDR metadata support inside NLE tools will need to grow and mature, which we are already beginning to see.

Broadcast IP Charges On

The march toward Broadcast IP continued in 2017, as we began to see increased adoption of hybrid IP/SDI infrastructures. Furthermore, AIMS memberships rose to an all-time high, as the industry began to embrace standards and methodologies that ultimately serve the interest of all.

A significant portion of the year was dedicated to locking down SMPTE 2110, an effort largely driven by SMPTE, VSF, and other alliances, and one that will provide a solid footing for 2018, as the move from SDI to IP and hybrid IP/SDI continues. As IP becomes more commonplace in broadcast environments, we will begin to see the benefits of 2110, from the flexible media essence support to its metadata capabilities.

Though the industry has overcome many challenges linked to IP, more remain. Bandwidth is a concern, with most agreeing that 10 GigE is not powerful enough to handle uncompressed UltraHD; 25 or even 40 GbE will be crucial to moving adoption along. However, there is debate surrounding, which is best, a conversation that will be a continuing focus next year, especially as new infrastructure supporting 25 and 40 GbE begins to roll out.

As we wrap up the year, and start planning for the future, IP is but one of the many threads that AJA will continue to help evolve. At the end of the day, as broadcasters embrace HDR and Broadcast IP, examine their infrastructure bandwidth needs, and attempt to make the most of it with 12G-SDI and fiber, we want to help them work faster and more efficiently to produce and deliver high quality content. We will continue to offer the industry simple, reliable, and powerful products to handle projects of ever increasing complexity in less time.