Throwing Shade at On-prem Color Matching: Bridge Technologies

It’s not often that marketing eye candy is deeply technical, but when it comes to multi-camera color shading for live sports, waveform vectorscope via browser with a mere frame of latency takes the cake!

And that’s exactly what 14,000 attendees at IBC Show saw last month in Hall 1’s corner booth, where Bridge Technologies showed off their exceptionally low latency audio and video monitoring and analytics toolsets.

Before the show, I had the pleasure of getting a demo of some of these tools by Simen K. Frosted, Chairman of Bridge Technologies. 

Simen is a colorful, sharp technologist who wasted no time in screen-sharing a range of complex statistics and data associated with a 1080p video at 50 frames per second compliant with SMPTE 2110 specification for transporting uncompressed media over IP.

“All of these graphs and statistics are real-time measurements with absolute accuracy down to the individual packet level with sub-microsecond accuracy. All of this enables customers to understand how the network is actually behaving in real-time, long before any disaster. Because there is always a threshold beyond which a protection mechanism can fail. So it is key to see both cumulative measurements as well as real-time measurements.”

Simen also refreshed my knowledge of the SMPTE 2022-7 protocol which changes everything about the way live broadcasters will approach redundancy in remote production and video transport workflows. Instead of assigning primary and secondary streams, this new protocol sets up two equal but separate paths for any transport stream so that the receiver can choose whichever path is best.

“With these tools, you can see what is happening statistics and graphs available to understand exactly what is happening on each path of the network. Are there lost packets? Late packets? These tools can help to prevent disasters.”

At this point, I was just along for the ride. I buckled in and Simen did not disappoint. Up popped color bars, again, right in the browser. He showed me how those bars resulted in a specific vectorscope thumbprint and showed me exactly what colorimetry means. We then took a look at the waveform data, including luminance, and it started to click for me.

You see, color matching is a critical but obscure portion of the workflow for all multi-camera live productions. When you have eight, twelve, sixteen or more cameras, it’s essential to make sure that each picture is color-matched with the others, and it needs to be done with great precision. Even slight differences will be detected by viewers, and take them out of their moment. 

“But isn’t that what a Camera Control Unit is for?” I asked.

“Yes, it is! But, those are heavy devices with big handles, like you see in old science educational movies. With our tools you can have this same functionality, but wherever you want to have them. You can open up your workflows for remote production, simply using a browser. Because these are such precise measurements on huge data volumes and being taken in real-time, doing this work by browser is still very new.”

By this point, I had a much better understanding of the critical role that Bridge Technologies plays for its customers. But I wanted to understand their path and story into SRT. Initially, while Simen immediately understood the importance of the ideas, there was initial hesitation about the amount of time it might take to productize an integration. 

As Simen tells it:

“But the Haivision team said to me, we’ve just published the version 1.3 specification on GitHub. I dare you to ask your team to take a look. So, we had one of our fantastic engineers look into this, and two and a half hours later we had running code! This is amazing. And it enabled us to implement SRT in a very meaningful way within our existing probes. We know that SRT is going to be extremely important for the future of contribution especially. We know SRT will fuel an explosion of live content, because of its ubiquity. We are deeply committed to SRT.”

Discover what else Simen has to say during the SRT Open Source Technical Panel at IBC2019 – watch the video.

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