Brevity Delivers on Big Transport/Transcode Promises at Olympics, IBC
After making a big splash in April at its first NAB Show with the tall promise of reducing broadcasters’ transport and transcode workloads by more than half, Brevity’s system passed it first major test in the sports world at the London Olympic Games this summer, earning rave reviews from NBC’s graphics department. Then, at IBC in Amsterdam this month, Brevity’s booth was — much like at NAB — visited by inquiring broadcast and film professionals, many asking the same question: “This sounds too good to be true; so how is it possible?”
“The first two years of this company’s life, the number-one question was always, how is this even possible? How is it possible for it to be this fast,” says Jacob Bronstein, founder and head of product, finance, and strategy. “Essentially, we are just taking advantage of the recent revolution in processing power with GPU technology. That is the secret to how we can move data so quickly.”
All Hail the GPU
Using teraflops of GPU computing power in conjunction with its own patent-pending algorithms, Brevity both accelerates the transport process and combines it with transcoding into a single step. The system compresses the video file down to an extremely small data model, then transports this securely encrypted file over Internet, fiber, or satellite at highly accelerated speeds. When the file arrives at its destination, Brevity leverages the power of GPU computing to quickly rebuild these files in any desired format.
“Since we are sending this little model that has all the information we need to rebuild the original video, we have the ability to rebuild it into any format we want,” says Bronstein. “That is essentially our core technology and value prop: not only do you move the data quickly, but it can show up in a different format or many different formats very quickly.”
A transport file can also arrive at its destination and simultaneously be transcoded into two different formats: such as a large DNX file for network storage and an H.264 proxy for immediate use in an editing suite. With this workflow, a user in New York can grab a file on a storage system in London — or vice versa — and have it automatically routed to a local storage system in the desired format.
This workflow also enables multipoint transmission, with a file sent to three (or many more) destinations in different formats: for example, three remote productions or three departments within a broadcaster’s operation.
Users can request and access project files virtualized across storage arrays, private clouds, or public clouds via Brevity’s customized online platform.
By the Numbers
According to Brevity, its ImageWarp technology allows a 540-GB 1080p YUV video file to be transported over a 40-Mbps connection in less than two hours, vs. 31 hours for solutions based solely on UDP/UDT acceleration. With the DataWarp algorithm, the company says, a 6.1-GB Avid DNxHD 220 video file can be transported over a 20-Mbps connection in 15 minutes, instead of the 40 minutes required by traditional methods.
The platform supports Avid DNxHD, EVS, ProRes, XDCAM, and other widely used codecs and formats. In addition, Brevity has been tested successfully on uncompressed, high-bitrate video, 2K and 4K DPX files, and compressed HD and SD files.
“Brevity encourages people to use high bitrates because you don’t get penalized by it,” says Brevity CEO/President Timothy O’Brien. “We actually work better with higher-res stuff because that means better modeling. That is counterintuitive to what most people think because they have always needed to crunch [a file] down to as low a bitrate as they can while still being able to restore it on the other end. But that is too high a price to pay to move really high bitrates around.
“We are talking to one of the sports leagues about changing their whole paradigm,” he continues. “We can actually take uncompressed and deliver it to multiple sites in different formats. It’s just a matter of time and convincing people that this whole new model is possible.”
An Olympic Effort for NBC
In the case of NBC at the Olympics, the system allowed graphics to be sent directly from the graphics-control rooms to the EVS and Abekas Mira servers in the Broadcast Operations Center in New York without the need to punch and record the graphic to tape and then ingest the tape, reducing what used to be 10 minutes to a matter of seconds.
The system also increased the throughput between London and New York, reaching transport rates of 99 Mbps on NBC’s 100-Mbps pipe between the two cities. In addition, Brevity converted graphics on the fly from 25 frames per second to 29.95 fps with no loss in video, plus key and output channels.
These Brevity-enabled workflows freed up staff and equipment to build additional graphics and take more time with the creative process.
“Then the question comes up, if you can get these kinds of results, are you able to use less fiber circuits and save money?” says O’Brien. “Well, that is absolutely possible, but, instead, users have ended up grabbing the extra capacity in order to do more: make edits, improvements, and tell better stories. Eventually, though, we believe it will allow broadcasters to right-size their fiber and network capacity.”
Entering the Remote-Production Compound
The possibilities that Brevity presents in the live-mobile-production market are obvious, and the company plans to target this sector heavily in the coming months, according to O’Brien.
For example, on a busy NFL Sunday, high-bitrate camera files can be sent out via fiber or satellite from a broadcast center and simultaneously arrive at two remote-production compounds in two different formats. The reverse is also possible, with the remotes rapidly sending video back to the broadcast center and a post house simultaneously.
“Because we integrate so well with EVS systems and we provide all this transcode benefit, if three different [remote productions] need files in three different formats, you can skip all the file-formatting process as well as accelerate the [transport process],” says Bronstein. “It really extends the whole production footprint. You can be doing all this stuff from home base and can be getting out to the truck in the right format and a very small amount of time.”