Written by Shawn Tylka, Cable & Media Field Marketing Lead
Cisco is committed to the transformation underway in media, a vibrant and growing industry, and the National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB) is a key opportunity for us to show off what we have been up to and how we are helping advance the industry. Cisco has exciting technology for media companies, but with the traditional video clips of sports loops, grand landscape loops, and movie menus, even the coolest technology can seem canned.
Looking around at all the amazing television shows available today, the marketing team wondered how we could enhance the demo experience within our booth at NAB, improve the content we were showing, and excite our customers with our solutions. At the same time we wanted to push the envelope to show live feeds with our demos. It was a challenge, but an exciting challenge.
We partnered with Syfy and Mission Control Media, the producers of Syfy’s special effects make-up competition series, Face Off, to help showcase Cisco’s capabilities. Over the course of the four day show Face Off All-Stars, Jasmine Ringo and Emily Serpico, transformed seated models into elaborate characters and monsters.
Our in-booth production required a 4K camera manned by an operator from Cisco TV, our in-house broadcast production outfit, who worked closely with the artists during their make up production. We had two new characters created daily. Each step of the make-up application was filmed and shared in 4K video, crossing the footprint of our booth, and creating stunning visuals and a hum of excitement. Customers and show attendees stopped by to check on progress of each character as it came to life. Seeing the live feed started new technical conversations, and it was all live!
Technically, this was a real-world demonstration of glass-to-glass live IP production. For those in the industry still on the sidelines on whether IP networking is ready for live production: we carried uncompressed video, at 12 Tbps over our IP Fabric for Media solution based on Cisco Nexus 9000® switches – continuously for 30+ hours over 4 days!
If you are worried about the transition from SDI to IP, we had the 4 traditional cables from the camera (3 Tbps each) accessing the network through an Evertz gateway, which converted the video to IP packets. Yes, I did just say Evertz. We’ve worked hard to make our IP Fabric for Media an open foundation for the industry, and with an open API, the broadcast vendors have responded favorably. And did I mention the integration? API simple. Next, we compressed the video down to a 20 Mbps 4K stream using Cisco HEVC software-based encoders running in the virtualized data center infrastructure at our booth. Live content and recordings were distributed to the 4K screen in our booth: IP. Cloud. Virtualization. 4K.
Working live production into a Cisco booth was a challenge, but we made it possible. Having a cool and artistic way to feature Face Off in our booth, and demonstrate our amazing technology made it all worth it.