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January 30, 2019

It’s All About Workflow. Duh!

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We recently attended the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB trade show. It was a huge coming out party for the overall 4K workflow as the number of announcements regarding pricing and products showed a very, very, very interesting trend. Remember back to the blog post about the biggest changes in video in the last 20 years? NAB represented that evolution in a big way for 4K. To understand, let’s think through what is needed to make a true 4K workflow.

The workflow for 4K requires many things to work together. Obviously you need a 4K camera. Then, depending on what your production needs are, you may need a switcher capable of handling 4K. At the output of the switcher, you better have a great encoder that can stream that 4K video. This is where Shavano comes in. Our 4K HEVC/H.264 encoder is the perfect link in the chain. Once the encoding is done, it is up to the cloud to move the data from ingestion to play out where ultimately, we are able to watch that video on a phone, a tablet, a display or a computer.

So where are we after NAB? Blackmagic filled in two really important points in the workflow first with their introduction of the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K for $1295. In conjunction with that announcement, they released their ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K for only $2,995. And in the world of fixed 4K cameras, AIDA Imaging introduced their UHD-100 4K Micro Camera for $595.

Videon Shavano , a 4K HEVC streaming video encoder, fills a critical need in the world of 4K streaming. Videon set a very, very, very aggressive bar by supporting 4K HEVC encoding, since HEVC offers massive bandwidth savings over H.264. As this article was being typed, Videon continues to be the only encoder that supports resolutions up to 4K along with both H.264 and HEVC, while costing less than $7,500. That’s right, Shavano is $5,500 LESS than the cost of any similar product!

Why does this matter? Because of workflow. When Shavano was announced, the cost for 4K cameras was falling. That was a good sign. The adoption of HEVC encoding by CDN providers was seen to be a very positive step towards reducing bandwidth. Given how “dirty” our public internet connections are, any opportunity to stream a high quality video with less bandwidth is important. But there were missing pieces that needed to be solved.

Let’s stop here for a second and revisit our workflow and apply it to a real situation, perhaps a high school auditorium or a local gymnasium. Given the affordability of 4K video production and streaming equipment, it’s not far-fetched to think that streaming in 4K is the norm rather than the exception. If I were designing this production setup I’d get the following:

2 x AIDA Imaging Micro UHD HDMI EFP cameras for stage left and stage right ($595 each)

1 x Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K camera to follow the action ($1295)

1 x ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K for switching camera inputs ($2995)
1 x Videon Shavano 4K HEVC encoder ($1995)

That’s all you need to stream in 4K! And, thanks to Shavano and its pre-integration to a wide range of cloud providers, you have many affordable (including some free) options of where to stream your event. The total cost of this system is less than $7500!!!

That same set of equipment could be used in a ton of different settings like: corporate events, houses of worship, state track championships, and even small broadcast studios. 4K streaming is here and it is affordable!

It truly is about workflow. Shavano is the final missing piece in the 4K workflow which means 4K streaming can finally become the standard. Going forward, technology and price are no longer barriers to produce an event in 4K. In fact, the barrier is so low that it makes the evolution to 4K only logical as this purchase ensures a solution that will sync with the market for years to come.

The evolution to 4K has happened in the display market. 4K, as the standard for streaming, is happening thanks to the workflow being enabled by products that share the same philosophy of Videon’s Shavano. We subscribe to a simple philosophy that centers around being able to create cutting edge technology at a cost effective, easy to use manner which enables a much broader application of streaming.

Videon’s vision is to enable every event to be streamed, from that 4 year old t-ball game to that wedding where a family member cannot attend. Videon’s mission is to simply move media, ensuring a great experience for every one of those streamed events. Videon’s vision and mission can happen in a huge part thanks to what happened at NAB. But does it come at a cost? Watch for the next blog to learn about how an obstacle facing the industry will be solved.

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