In this third article of our blog series, I’ll take a dive into what’s at the heart of every Avid Studio Suite production environment, from CG to Augmented Reality and video walls: the HDVG hardware and RenderEngine platform.
At Avid we’re part of an exciting industry that has transitioned from SD, through HD, to UHD and IP almost simultaneously. We’ve always built our platforms to offer the flexibility to handle today’s real-time production needs while at the same allowing you to adapt and scale to tomorrow’s trends.
Creating a platform to meet the real-time video and graphics requirements of the broadcast industry requires a holistic approach to both hardware and software – neither can be developed in isolation. When we relied on third parties to build our hardware, we frequently had to compromise the features available in our software in order to deal with hardware limitations. We also saw that studios were facing a serious issue with system fragmentation; a single studio might need to use multiple different systems to create the rich graphics environment and these would be based upon different technologies, which in turn created a nightmare for the production and engineering teams.
The HDVG platform was developed to scale from a simple CG environment right the way up to feeding a video wall with 8K content, and the focus has always been on delivering a cost-effective system with broadcasters’ needs in mind. Broadcast is one of the most demanding environments, not just in terms of functionality, but even more importantly in terms of reliability, because if there’s even one second of on-screen interruption, every viewer will notice that something is wrong. From basic assumptions, like making it rack-mountable with proper thermal management, to providing comprehensive SDI interfaces with redundancy, simply using a standard PC with a video capture card won’t satisfy broadcast production engineers. They are looking for the quality and reliability of a broadcast appliance that will seamlessly integrate with their existing infrastructure, and that’s what the HDVG platform is designed to be.
The key component in the HDVG is the HDVG Video I/O card; we’ve developed, extended and refined this board since 2000 because no one else in the market was producing anything with similar capabilities (actually, there still isn’t…). These developments have been driven by customers that needed to push the envelope for live studio production, whether it has been to handle multiple live video insertions, to fill multiple studio displays with dynamic content or bring sports events to life with virtual reality productions. This long history of continuous support has allowed our customers to upgrade their platforms as they’ve expanded their operations, or faced new production challenges, without needing to rebuild their workflows.
Running on top of the HDVG platform is our RenderEngine software, which has been tuned to extract the maximum graphics performance from the hardware underneath. RenderEngine is used for all of Avid’s real-time graphics products that you’re reading about in this blog series, starting with graphics authoring in Avid 4Designer, through to the different production environments like virtual studios, MCR or sports enhancement with Avid Spark.
As part of Avid’s commitment to open architecture, we provide a free of charge, third-party API for RenderEngine called RETalk as part of the Avid Connectivity Toolkit. This development library can be used to create control interfaces and data gateways for any type of production. It’s actually the same library that we are using to build our own control applications like Avid Maestro, 3DPlay, Spark and TD Control.
But that’s enough about where we are – what about where Avid are headed? The HDVG platform will remain the primary engine for Avid’s delivery of UHD graphics and video solutions for broadcast. New versions of RenderEngine are released every six months, with additional features and tweaks suggested by our users. The next generation of the RETalk API is being released just ahead of NAB 2017, and will introduce a simpler, human-readable syntax that will help many more third-parties harness the power of the RenderEngine by integrating it into their own applications.
We also remain fully committed in our support for IP workflows. As a member of AIMS – the Alliance for IP Media Solutions – we adhere to open standards for IP, and we’ll be demonstrating IP workflows on the Avid booth in NAB 2017.
This continued development allows our customers to stay ahead of the competition with the most stunning and visually rich on-air content, and gives them the confidence that they are investing in a platform that will be well supported, now and well into the future.
Graphics for News and Sports
Our 10-part blog series takes a look at the various elements of Avid’s comprehensive end-to-end graphics solution. Starting with initial graphics creation and templating, it covers integrating social media, telestration, virtual studios and augmented reality, before closing with an overview of playout and channel branding in the Machine Room.