manifold CLOUD supplied signal processing and multiviewing for NEP Belgium’s first use case of its Virtual OB architecture, giving users access to a pool of functionality available as services.

manifold CLOUD NEP Broadcast Services

In January 2024, NEP Belgium deployed their new Virtual OB architecture for the first time. Outside broadcast (OB) is a major part of NEP’s work.The company operates around 200 vehicles around the world, and connected production suites that allow the entire production process to be produced remotely.

Now, NEP Belgium’s Virtual OB is available, a completely software driven and virtualised system for live television production. It was used to produce the content at an annual international sporting event held earlier this year in Asia. As NEP’s first use of the system, the event represents a significant milestone for the virtualisation project and for the company.

As the signal processing and multiviewer for this system, the manifold CLOUD platform was chosen. manifold CLOUD gives users access to a pool of functionality available as services through a single-sign-on web UI, ready to configure on-demand. Developed to target large-scale, complex live productions, the platform can handle live sports, entertainment and news productions while allowing users to work within a scalable environment that is resilient, quick to deploy and supports unified control.

manifold CLOUD NEP Broadcast Services Engineering

manifold CLOUD is designed to run on COTS Field Programmable Gate Array acceleration cards (FPGAs) from multiple manufacturers. When services are created and configured as needed within a private cloud environment, they are automatically assigned to an accelerator card. These services are combined into production clusters that operate independently and simultaneously – each supporting an individual production, such as a sports event or news show. In the event of a hardware or network failure, services are automatically restored on another accelerator card, which gives the system its resiliency.

NEP Belgium can use manifold CLOUD to automatically provision resources to help scale productions, while supporting large, live uncompressed workflows and keeping latency at subframe levels. Though FPGA hardware can be costly due to higher R&D, manufacturing and licensing costs, power consumption can be 90% lower than CPU/GPU-based applications.

Geert Thoelen, director of technology for NEP Belgium, said, “Virtual OB worked perfectly for the event, and manifold CLOUD proved to be a reliable, well-developed product with enormous potential. It complements the intuitive interface, scalability and technology-agnostic approach that are integral to NEP’s proprietary broadcast control platform TFC – designed to simplify the setup and use of 2110 infrastructure – and delivers tremendous value to clients.”