Moving the M&E Industry Forward through ‘Practical Innovation’
Technology companies tend to throw around the word innovation, and all its variations, with great frequency. We also leave no part of speech unturned. Innovation as noun, verb, adjective – and even adverb (innovatively) — are all fair game.
It’s likely reached a point where engineers and other media professionals probably read right past the various mentions of innovation, considering it almost obligatory — a throwaway term that offers little in the way of differentiation. Which equipment supplier in the media & entertainment space, after all, would not lay claim to being innovative?
Imagine Communications is an unabashed practitioner of the term. Barely a press release, product announcement, white paper or webinar goes out without an ample sprinkling of innovation. An over user of innovation? Guilty. But that’s because we apply it broadly, not believing it to be strictly synonymous with, or limited to, cutting edge or next generation, which seems to be the connotation that most technology companies settle on.
For our definition of innovation, we tend to agree with Webster.
Innovation [ in·no·va·tion] n.: a new idea, device, or method, or the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods.
That’s right. Innovation isn’t just about future-looking R&D or the latest product cooked up in the labs. Inventiveness and ingenuity are equally effective when applied to practices and procedures — or even existing products. Finding a new use for familiar systems or cultivating a fresh idea to overcome the constraints of progress-impeding legacy infrastructure, for example, might require the biggest dosage of innovation of all.
Innovation, it turns out, has a practical side.
To illustrate, here are three examples of the practical application of innovation at Imagine Communications, new twists on technology that don’t involve a massive or immediate leap to next gen. If anything, these three technology platforms have been designed to help manage inevitable technology transitions by allowing media companies to find their way forward without letting go of the familiar. And, in one particular case, Imagine’s brand of innovation means bringing new capabilities to existing infrastructure.
Platinum IP3 Router
The IP3 is the premier SDI router in the live production space. Its massive scalability, ability to integrate multiple functions into a single frame and quick-configuration capabilities that enable market-leading customization, make it the go-to signal management solution for live production companies around the planet, including NEP, GloboTV, Clark Media, BBC Studioworks and Gearhouse Broadcast.
The standards-based routing platform has been particularly popular over the past year or so, as it has emerged as the optimum solution for media organizations looking to seamlessly and cost effectively bridge the looming SDI-IP technology transition. Fortified with built-in support for uncompressed IP, the IP3 provides the perfect segue to an all-IP production environment, futureproofing production companies against the blistering pace of technology advances while allowing them to aggressively pursue current business opportunities without fear of squandering investment.
Magellan SDN Orchestrator
Recognizing from the start that the transition from SDI to IP would be a gradual and self-paced migration for the vast majority of media companies, Imagine Communications focused its inventiveness on designing a routing control system that was optimized for hybrid SDI-IP environments. Magellan SDNO is the only double-duty control system on the market, shielding engineers and operators from some of the vagaries of IP and from using two separate control systems to manage their SDI and IP routing domains. It too has become a mainstay of live production operations.
A complement to the IP3, Magellan SDNO frees up media companies to start realizing some of the benefits that IP brings to their production environments without disrupting current operations or forcing organizations to accelerate their normal buying cycles. The award-winning management system empowers media companies to get the most out of current SDI infrastructure investments while managing the transition to IP at a pace and in a direction that is the most beneficial to their businesses.
Selenio Video Delivery Edge
In addition to supporting legacy networks, MVPDs and other distributors have been building out OTT infrastructures for the past several years to fend off competition from streaming media players and to satisfy their subscribers’ cravings for consuming video whenever and on whatever device they prefer. Given the superior reliability and performance of these HTTP-based networks, which send fragmented video to Internet-connected devices, compared to legacy video delivery and ad insertion infrastructures, content distributors are anxious to adopt a Unified Distribution architecture that directs future investment and innovation toward next-gen networks. The big obstacle is that Pay-TV companies still require legacy infrastructure to send content and commercials to subscribers who are attached to set-top boxes.
In 2016, Imagine Communications introduced Selenio VDE, an HTTP-to-UDP gateway that sits at the edge of the network, converting fragmented video streams based on adaptive bitrate (ABR) technology into transport stream signals that are feed to Pay-TV subscribers through their STBs. By aiming innovation at the intersection of legacy and next-gen, Imagine Communications created a solution that enables content distributors to reduce the cost and complexity of maintaining multiple networks, while at the same time bringing new functionality to legacy environments and accelerating the transition to a software-defined network based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment – all without forcing a wholesale replacement of legacy end user equipment.
Those are just three examples of why innovation is more than just a buzzword at Imagine Communications, or a stand-in for next gen. It’s part of our culture and the driving force behind a customer-first ethos that imprints everything we do.
And another thing about innovation. It isn’t a zero-sum game. When we began pursuing our vision a few years ago of helping to shift the industry to a technology foundation that is based on IP and IT technologies, a microservices software design and supportive of virtualize environments, including the cloud, it did not require that we abandoned our commitment and support for existing solutions.
Innovation is not a finite resource and it has no expiration date. Our vision of the future, just like our brand of innovation, has always come with a road map and a practical plan for getting your business from where it is today to where it needs to be tomorrow.