Broadcasters and content providers are rapidly adopting cloud playout, finding that they can accelerate the launch of new channels and deliver content more cost-efficiently. However, a large-scale move to the cloud is proving more challenging for media providers with legacy SDI infrastructure, than for those starting a new cloud-based operation.
Coralbay.tv, developers of cloud-enabled playout systems coralPlay for broadcasters, supports users who require full and hybrid cloud playout infrastructure. The company’s CEO is Peter Hajittofi, a co-founder of Pebble Beach Systems (now called Pebble), where he helped develop playout products and automation solutions for broadcast.
“Coralbay.tv launched in May 2016 with a vision to develop future-proof, next-generation playout solutions for broadcasters,” Peter said. “All of the founders formerly worked for Pebble Beach Systems, and established coralbay.tv with the belief that broadcasters need access to more reliable, cost-efficient, capable products that can be hosted anywhere – on-premises, public cloud, or private cloud.”
Putting their knowledge and experience of the demands of live broadcast, he and his colleagues developed TV channel playout products built on cloud-native systems. Serving clients across the UK, Europe, Asia and Brazil, including SES, Red Bee and others, their team of ten employees is based at headquarters in Leeds, England, and designs all of their products with microservices, containerised via the Docker platform and then deployed and orchestrated using Kubernetes.
“This architecture means our products can make use of the elasticity and redundancy of the cloud,” said Peter. “coralPlay, is one of our newer developments, serving as an automated control interface and video pipeline for playing SD, HD and UHD video and audio in a variety of formats, including XDCAM, AVC Intra, IMX, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4. coralPlay also supports various wrappers such as MXF, MOV, and GXF.”
CoralPlay also has an internal graphics generator, keyer, master control switcher, DVE, up/down scaler, SCTE inserter/detector, subtitler, and loudness normalization. Output of DVB MPEG-2 transport streams or H264 with Dolby D, MPEG1, or AAC audio is also supported, and users can opt to leverage NewTek NDI I/O and HLS for preview.
Optionally, using an AJA video card, SDI video can be output via coralPlay, and inputs can be SDI, NDI, H264 or MPEG-2 transport streams. The software can scale from one to hundreds of channels, and channels can be launched within a few seconds and then decommissioned as required after use.
Peter noted, “All configuration and re-configuration is done in the software and without complex re-wiring. One of our customers recently used coralPlay in a hybrid NDI/SDI implementation with AJA BRIDGE NDI 3G acting as an IP gateway.” BRIDGE NDI 3G is a gateway device for high-density conversion to and from SDI and NDI video-over-IP.
Playlists can be imported manually or loaded automatically. The system is compatible with dynamic traffic interfaces and allows for last-minute changes to on-air playlists. When playlists are loaded, the system will automatically look for media that corresponds with the media IDs in the playlists. Media can be stored locally, held in deeper storage – either in the cloud or in an on-premises archive – or on nearline storage on a NAS or SAN.
Best of Two Worlds
So far, their largest coralPlay installation is with satellite and telecommunications network provider SES. “They implemented it partly because it would allow them to serve customers with a cloud-native playout solution and services that could also run on-premises. It also outperformed the competition in a series of proof of concept (POC) tests. SES is already operating 70 channels handled by coralPlay, serving many different clients. Some have a self-managed service and others require a fully managed service,” said Peter.
“One of our other customers wanted both NDI and SDI inputs and outputs, so we supplied an on-premises playout system that connects via the AJA BRIDGE NDI 3G integrated into the set-up. On most projects, we usually have to solve infrastructure issues, such as network connectivity to the various products within the customer’s facility.
“But on this project, we had to connect to a video router to be able to control it over IP. The product was already in use by the legacy playout system, so we had to be extra careful, and the company was considering a transition to NDI for some workflows within their facility in the future, so that was a factor as well. AJA BRIDGE NDI 3G allowed us to provide both SDI and NDI inputs and outputs at the same time to give the customer that flexibility.”
Coralbay.tv were especially attracted to BRIDGE NDI 3G’s live I/O preview and simultaneous source/destination capabilities, both of which give comprehensive visibility into the current status of NDI streams, and make configuration and control of the BRIDGE NDI 3G simpler.
Peter commented on cloud-related trends now unfolding. “We’re keeping a close eye on the cloud and how broadcasters are moving toward it. We are also monitoring changes in consumer viewing habits, including the pivot from linear to on-demand viewing and the rising popularity of FAST channels, which could help extend the life of linear TV.
“For those considering a cloud playout infrastructure, I would recommend thinking carefully about your on-premises setup, as not all workflows will require NDI and SDI. Some may demand transport stream I/O, while others will operate in SDI only. Enlist the help of a knowledgeable provider – like coralbay.tv – to help identify the best approach for your setup and goals.” www.aja.com