A smooth path to IP and UHD

IP and UHD may be the future, but broadcasters should move at a pace that suits their needs
Felstead: “There is no doubt we are taking market share.”
Felstead: “There is no doubt we are taking market share.”


Snell Advanced Media (SAM) has seen solid growth in the past couple of years since it launched the SAM brand in September 2015. Tim Felstead, head of product marketing, SAM, tells Digital Studio about the company’s latest products and how they cater for the diverse needs of broadcasters around the world.

DS: How has the past 18 months been since the launch of the SAM brand?

At the time of the rebranding we were launching a whole host of new products and we carried that trend into 2016 with a load of additional new products at NAB, and then again at IBC 2016. A lot of effort went into launching new products and acquiring new talent and we have grown quite significantly in 2016. There is no doubt we are taking market share because we believe the market is growing at low single digit growth rate worldwide, and our growth is outpacing that.

DS: How do you see the year ahead?

In 2017 we are keeping the theme of technology innovation; in fact we’re accelerating as it’s required in the market at this time. Technology is changing so fast and so you have to be agile and innovative. We view 2017 as an important year for us, especially in the Middle East. We are putting a lot of resources in place and a lot of effort in dealing with solutions that the Middle East and other markets in the world are looking for. There are highly qualified system integration companies in the Middle East who are our partners and they are looking for solutions for their customers, so one of our priorities is to offer more solutions.

DS: What will be among the key areas of focus at CABSAT?

One of my particular goals in 2017 is to communicate to the market worldwide in particular about sports and live production solutions that we have to offer. At CABSAT we will talk about how our products work in live environments, and this means not just production up-front but also delivery to the home. Wherever there are live signals and the production pressures combines with demand for high quality, everything gets more difficult.

SAM has competitive advantages in all of those areas, acquisition, manipulation management and consumer delivery - particularly live TV. Of course, we also deliver schedules for linear TV, but live event coverage is interesting because things can be tricky when you have time pressures such as events over-running, which completely changes schedules. These things are difficult to manage from start to finish and this is an area that we are good at.

At CABSAT we are going to show some of the same equipments that we are taking to NAB. We will also have a pod dedicated to showing our live production in sports technology. There will be a series of workshops twice a day on the stand for invited guests where we will explain our production solutions and their benefits; how they can be developed into UHD or IP or 12 Gig or any other aspect and how they present efficient solutions.

DS: What else will you be showing at the stand?

We’ll be focussing on various aspects of our offering at different pods at our stand. We’ll have an infrastructure pod, a playout pod, and a live production pod. We will have a strong focus on the live production solutions.

On the stand will be LiveTouch, as well as Kahuna and Kula switchers. We recently launched a new 3M/Es version of Kula. We have extended the control panel to 24 buttons, so Kula has become quite a sizeable switcher-from. We also have our Morpheus and Ice playout solutions, our media asset management and workflow solution Momentum, and a lot of IP infrastructure kit.

DS: How do you see the evolution of the broadcast industry to UHD and IP?

UHD, or 4K, is the new component in the market, but not everybody needs to do it right now; not everyone’s customers want to consume it and not everybody can deliver it. However, there is a compulsion to make more and more content, especially live content, in as high a resolution as possible, and that means UHD. Not everyone is ready for UHD. Recent research by us(see page 83) shows that in many areas of the world there is a significant lack of knowledge about UHD. Companies that are confident can go for it if the knowledge and investment cycle is right for them, but those companies that are not ready for it need to find equipment that improves their operational efficiency but does not block them from progressing to UHD and IP in the future.

There is a considerable amount of learning to be done around IP systems and solutions, in understanding routing and the general perils and pitfalls of producing systems in IP. The research we did indicates that there is a significant lack of knowledge in that area. People who are confident can go for it if the investment cycle is right and those who are not confident need to find the equipment that will improve their operational efficiency but does not block them from future developments or from enhancing whatever they buy in IP or UHD.

This is an area where we aim to offer a solution. Within the components that we make, we have development paths available to 4K and also development paths available to IP.  For example, our Kahuna production switcher can be supplied as a 100% SDI, SD-SDI, HD-SDI, 3G-SDI and also be supplied as 100% IP product, so all the inputs and outputs are over IP. After NAB it will also be supplied as a 100% 12 Gig product.

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