If you work in live broadcasting, you’re likely well-acquainted with the realities of working from a mobile production truck. Inside these semitrucks and trailers, up to 30 people buzz around, doing on-site editing and streaming work to capture the highlights of major events – from the Oscars or the Met Gala, to the Super Bowl to World Cup. While a director yells across the truck to an audio editor, a producer or camera person is talking to you in your headset while six people in your immediate vicinity are also having their own conversations. It’s intense!
To work in multicast broadcast production environments where dozens of cameras and audio feeds are in use has, for years, meant being hard-wired on-ground or on premises. Why? The requirements driven by contribution workflows, including compliance with SMPTE 2110 and 2022-7, UDP Multicast and PTP, have not been supported in the cloud.
swXtch.io has developed a software-based networking architecture to allow broadcasters to implement ground-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground multicast while incorporating critical video and audio standards.
Let’s take a closer look at how it works.
Building a Custom Broadcast Network on Top of the Cloud
Streaming a live event to a viewer’s screen requires massive amounts of video and audio data to be ingested and compressed in near real time. To ensure that high-quality video traverses the network, streams are split to transport them along redundant, geographically separated data paths. Until now, this sort of provisioning was only available in physical networks. Luckily, multicast and SMPTE 2022-7support have officially hit the cloud.
To make this possible, swXtch.io has created cloudSwXtch, a virtual switch that mimics a physical switch, as well as virtual NICs (or Network Interface Controllers) that mimic physical NICs, so that users can deploy them in the same ways. CloudSwXtch allows broadcasters to employ ground-to-cloud bridging and put them together however they want to suit their needs.
Because cloudSwXtch acts as a virtual overlay across a physical broadcast network or cloud tenant, media companies can adapt their networks and add features like multicast, uncompressed video distribution and network path redundancy that demanding workflows require.
Hello, SMPTE 2110 and 2022-7 Hitless Merge
Let’s zero in on the two standards critical for live broadcasting networks: SMPTE 2110 and 2022-7 Hitless Merge.
cloudSwXtch implements SMPTE 2022-7 by splitting the network traffic for a video stream at the source and creating multiple redundant network data paths. These paths can flow through different virtual networks, regions, availability zones, or clouds! When one media stream inevitably drops packets or becomes impaired, a destination application (like a playout server, multiviewer, or encoding ladder), continues to receive packets from other paths, allowing for a flawless video feed and creating a continuous stream regardless.
The design of swXtch.io’s architecture allows cloudSwXtch to aggregate the packets, pulling them above the surface of the virtualization layer and creating unparalleled visibility not before possible with typical cloud monitoring tools. This also means that media companies can now bridge their existing broadcast networks using into new cloud networks which previously did not support the production standards required for professional contribution workflows.
CloudSwXtch allows for networks and sports leagues to benefit from the scalability and stability of cloud networks. Production staff can also benefit from increased flexibility, allowing editors and producers towork remotely. No more working out of cramped production trucks outside arenas and theaters that must be parked on-ground for multicasting. Welcome to the cloud, with cloudSwXtch.