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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

NAB Report

It's taken me a c couple of days to digest NewTek's NAB announcements. My predictions were way off in some ways.

The big news is not really news if you've  been  paying attention, NewTek is continuing to innovate. It seems the next step in the evolution of their IP based production systems is to (buzzword warning) virtualize them. Now NewTek has always been about "Better Hardware Through Software", making greater and greater use of general purpose computer hardware. But now their plan is to to take it to it's logical conclusion and eventually eliminate the custom IO hardware completely. Or a least push it to special purpose  black boxes.

Convert video at the source to NDI or even use native NDI cameras. Feed that over a standard network to a computer that will act as a production switcher. Feed in audio, graphics and data the same way then output the production via IP to the web or onto some other NDI enabled device.

This is the long term plan. In the mean time they are making it easier to integrate the existing products in a hardware world with a bunch of new and improved stuff.

The TC1 and VMC1 get a new user interface mode designed to use with touch screens. This same UI has also been virtualized so it can be accessed from things like tablets and laptops. This will probably trickle down to Advanced Edition TC's  eventually

A new Connect Spark Pro was announced. This is a full NDI (not NDI|HX) converter that supports HDMI sources up to 4K 60p.

NewTek also announced a SMPTE 2110 bridge device called the NC1 I/O IP While the name is a mouth full it simply translates the SMPTE IP video streams into NDI. This eliminates the primary objection to NDI at the high end.

On the software front we saw the new LiveGraphics CG. This integrates with Photoshop and AfterFx. The idea is to create the graphics in PS then animate it in AE. To make that easier there is a big plugin for AfterFx that lets you pick trajectories off a list. You don't really need to know-how to use AE.

Anyway this post is getting long so I'll leave the rest for another day.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

NewTek NDI 3.5 Announced

From the NewTek Announcement: 

NDI Scan Converter

The new version of NDI Scan Converter provides vastly improved image quality and much, much more. The GPU is now used to capture the screen, and handles the lion’s share of color conversion, processing and NDI transmission. You can now capture all of your system’s desktops in real-time, at full 60Hz and with almost no CPU usage. (Note: This version of Scan Converter relies on the latest DirectX 11 API, thus requires Windows 8 or better.
Choose which audio source accompanies your screen capture, including system audio. Now you can play a computer game or Power Point presentation with audio (with no impact on frame-rate) and supply it as an NDI source. Scan Converter now fully supports webcams, too. Stream games with audio, and overlay your webcam on the stream while supplying voice-over with a high-quality mic. Send PowerPoint to your audience on Hangouts, Zoom Media, Skype, or GotoMeeting (see the all new NDI Virtual Input tool description below), and use your webcam to talk to them.
NDI Scan Converter even now provides ‘region of interest’ support, so you can capture video directly from a YouTube page.

NDI Studio Monitor
It would be hard to overstate the importance of this ‘little giant’. Signage is an extensive and important video field, and Studio Monitor now has it covered. The set for virtually every show now includes multiple video screens; lobbies, building fa├žades and billboards display giant screens, and so on. Supplying these sources over analog cabling was always impractical, SDI hardware costs are prohibitive, and HDMI’s distance limitations prevent it from serving as a reliable alternative. IP is, of course, the perfect solution – ubiquitous, reliable, and inexpensive.

Need to update the display on a remote screen? NDI Studio Monitor now provides an integrated web server; just scan a QR code on the display to turn your mobile device into a (optionally password-protected) remote control. What’s more, multiple instances of Studio Monitor running on the same machine can be independently controlled. Even when you have lots of different computers running Studio Monitor, they all ‘see’ each other over P2P, giving you complete control from any point on your network to all monitors! Not only is this for signage, but think about on set displays, kiosks, projectors, conference rooms and more!

An equally radical and valuable addition to Studio
Monitor lets you overlay titles and graphics (even full motion video) on the display. Assign a unique overlay to appear over video in your lobby and apply something different for your showroom. Or use the Overlay feature to provide picture in picture output. Indeed, each Studio Monitor instance can also now choose which sound device to use for playback, and which video monitor its output should appear on (or which monitors it should span). You can even set Studio Monitor to launch on computer startup so that multiple instances, all correctly configured, launch automatically. Buy a NUC or two to easily and inexpensively create multiple, remotely controllable, 4K outputs with separate audio for each.

Better support for joysticks, keyboard shortcuts for PTZ control and much more are part of this version.

NDI Virtual Input
Assign NDI video sources as inputs to anything that supports webcams (including Goto Meeting, Skype, Hangouts, Zoom Media, and much more!) NDI Virtual Input fully supports 1080p60 or even 4K at full frame-rate, and even allows you to modify audio levels for different application requirements.
VLC Media Player
This new version now supports both VLC 3.0 and VLC 2.x.  Virtual PTZ control is built in, allowing you to pan and zoom around in VLC output displayed in Studio Monitor as though you were controlling a real PTZ camera.  Video format support is improved, as are time-stamps and more.

Adobe CC drivers
The new driver support the absolute latest version of Adobe CC, at the same time as delivering higher quality, floating point color support, and more.

NDI HX Drivers
The NDI|HX drivers are now integrated into NDI tools to make things quicker and more convenient.  The drivers feature many optimizations, bug-fixes and improved support for complex network setups.  In addition, hardware acceleration support has been upgraded.

Changes to the SDK
We’ve made it the entire SDK easier to use.  Functions are easier to understand, but fully backwards compatible. The new SDK Getting Started Guide will accelerate the learning process for those who are new to the NDI ecosystem.

Changes to the Protocol
Really, NDI itself has been completely transformed ‘under the hood’, including truly massive optimizations to the underlying protocol to support UDP data transfer, with Forwards Error Correction (for both Unicast and Multicast).  What is more, NDI now automatically detects NICs, and all the possible paths between a source and a destination, in order to spread the bandwidth out across all the possible paths.  This delivers much better performance in almost every case, even on high latency networks.  What is more, very sophisticated internal congestion control reduces packet loss, and helps everything run on real-world networks which often employ ‘less than ideal’ routers or switches.

More reliable discovery
Numerous discovery and connection edge cases are handled better, to provide increased reliability when network topologies change, across multiple NICs (or networks) and much more. In other enhancements, NDI discovery on the local machine is improved as also are NDI sources on virtual networks.
And more …
Traditionally, using RGB video was 80% slower than YCbCr.  We’ve added AVX2 optimizations to bring this down to just 20% (assuming you have enough memory bandwidth on your system to keep up).  We also now support 4:2:0 video color spaces on input, and based on user requests, we even include a build of FFMPEG for Windows with NDI support enabled, and documentation for your convenience, eliminating the hassle of working out how to compile it yourself. There is even example code in the SDK that shows you how to create an NDI network source that acts as a virtual PTZ camera.

You Want it When?
Release is scheduled for right after NAB (when we’ve woken up from the fun. See you at the show!)