Encoding video and transporting it from a venue to a studio, known as contribution, is a workflow used to transport live sports, events or news for further incorporation into a program, or sometimes put directly to air. Some workflows are interactive, e.g interviewing a guest, and these require a low-latency encode and decode to incorporate discussion and debate into a program.
Many contribution workflows involve remote production, a workflow where all camera angles are sent back to base. Remote production allows for better optimisation of resources and reduced travel costs. Equally, these workflows require low-latency so that communication between the field and the studio is as low as possible.
In addition, newer technologies such as 5G and Low-Earth-Orbit Satellite such as Starlink and OneWeb have significant operational benefits but their own technical challenges that a capable encoder can handle.
Encoding/Decoding for Playout
Many channels are moving their playout systems to the cloud. Even in the cloud, some channels will still require suitable encoders to deliver live content from the “ground” such as a sporting event or news bulletin. Once a channel is played out, it may still need to be delivered to a traditional “ground” workflow that uses SDI or ST-2110 such as a cable headend or other broadcast facility using a decoder.
Some channels may opt to continue with traditional on-prem playout with SDI or ST-2022-6. But these channels will often need to be encoded and delivered to cable headends or other facilities in a high-quality mezzanine format.
In all-cases encoders and decoders will need to pass through legally-required closed captions or subtitles, as well as commercially important ad-insertion messages such as SCTE-35 and SCTE-104.
As audiences move to online platforms, the amount of content produced by broadcasters in addition to traditional platforms is ever growing. This content needs to be watched (e.g for confidence monitoring) by producers and other staff, who may be in the field or working from home, usually through a system known as IPTV. There is therefore a need for encoders able to encode video with a low-latency so that production decisions can be made quickly.
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There are applications where a Master-Control-Room (MCR) will wish to monitor feeds in their full quality, instead of as a multiviewer tile or lower quality stream. In this case it may not be acceptable to use a consumer receiver, as it may not be able to decode a professional-grade stream, or MCR operators may want to monitor features such as multiple languages quickly. A decoder platform capable of doing this is a powerful tool for an MCR, especially with the increasing volumes of content many are expected to manage.