In 2019, a consortium of European broadcasting companies – led by virtualized media production company, Nevion – received a grant of €2 million from the European Union to create a remote production studio, powered by 5G technology.
The project, known as VIRTUOSA, was selected from a list of 225 applications, and it has announced that it has taken its first technical step, opening an IP-based production studio, at Nevion’s Service Operations Center (SOC) in Gdansk, Poland.
This initial phase involves setting up an IP-based studio, built on industry standards (SMPTE ST 2110 and NMOS) and integrating equipment from multiple vendors, including: video cameras, a vision mixer, and a server from Sony; a multiviewer from TAG Video Systems; an audio mixer from Stagetec; a media analyzer from Telestream; IP switches from Mellanox; a PTP-compliant time and frequency synchronization from Meinberg; software-defined media nodes from Nevion; and all of it managed by an orchestration and SDN control system from Nevion.
The project participants are: Nevion AS (Norway), Mellanox Technologies LTD (Israel), LOGIC media solutions GmbH (Germany) and IRT – Institute for Broadcasting Technology (Germany).
“After a slight delay because of the COVID-19 situation, we are pleased that we are now in a position to start testing,” said “Markus Berg, Head of Future Networks at IRT. “The set-up is the fundamental building block that we will be using to create the 5G remote production planned for later phases of the project. The compliance to standards is a key part of the tests, and very important for IRT, as an internationally renowned research and innovation center for audiovisual technologies.”
Broadcasting via 5G
The broadcasting industry is currently looking at whether 5G technology can deliver both linear, and nonlinear broadcasts, whilst supporting them with enhanced media services (EMS), which are a combination of both. (‘Linear media’ refers to conventional TV or radio channels where programmes such as news, sport, entertainment and documentaries are scheduled by a service provider to be viewed at the time of transmission; whereas ‘nonlinear media’ is a type of media content that is offered on-demand at the request of the user.)
And according to the VIRTUOSA website: “VIRTUOSA will enable virtual connections of any studio, control room and on-site production across multiple locations, and live feedback from the audience straight into the production chain via 5G acquisition. It will allow media production facilities, equipment, resources, and talent to be shared across locations, supporting Cooperative Live Media Production with real-time transport and processing of live media over IP with up to 100Gbit/s.”
The product itself will be based on three core technical elements: architecture, equipment, and software. And, as a result, live media production costs are expected to be reduced by 30-40%, whilst making live content easier to produce.
The overall objective of the 24-month VIRTUOSA project is to create a “market ready product - the VIRTUOSA product - fully tested technically, validated in a real operational environment”.