Blog Posts

Bringing Your IP Broadcast Vision to Life

IP Video routing has taken ahold of the Broadcasting industry in Canada. In 2018 there was a massive push to convert existing SDI infrastructures and workflows into uncompressed video over IP. With the majority of broadcasters looking to dive in headfirst with 2110. Unity alone completed three IP Video routing projects in 2018!

The design for Rogers new flagship NMOC facility started in earnest in 2017 and fully launched in August of 2018. Rogers has embraced the move to IP by consolidating all of their broadcasting properties into one central location. This was made possible by utilizing an uncompressed ST 2110 video routing infrastructure and moving away from traditional SDI workflows.

Rogers engaged Unity Systems early on in the design of the new facility to take advantage of their wealth of network and broadcast systems knowledge so that the implementation of the new facility would be carried out as smoothly as possible. Unity took on the design from the consulting level, looking at new ways to implement IP broadcast and hybrid IP-SDI systems and continued through the design-build of the facility.

Unity continued to expand on its IP routing design knowledge base by upgrading one of Dome Production’s mobile production trailers (Spring) later that year. The mobile was built using dual ST 2110 IP core routers and employing seamless protection switching.

At the same time Unity worked on a smaller scale IP project for TVO in Toronto, to replace their existing SDI Production Switcher with a 2110 routing system. This system was cutting edge from a technological standpoint and cost-effective financially. By utilizing Arista switches loaded with Embrionix SFPs, the IP-SDI gateway was pushed right back to the switch, allowing for more flexibility all while maintaining operational familiarity.

The Unity Engineering team is always looking to upgrade our skills and experience to serve our clients better.  By getting involved in leading and bleeding edge technologies including IP, UHD and AI, Unity is poised perfectly to help out with whatever project you have in mind!

Inside the NHL’s Situation Room

From production to the transmission, Unity Systems has played a significant role in each Canadian NHL game that goes to air on a given night.

Unity has integrated each Dome Productions mobile that is responsible for broadcasting NHL games in Canada. Those signals are then either brought into Rogers via the newly built Roger Advanced Media Platform (RAMP), which Unity helped launch in the summer of 2018, or, in the case of 4K NHL games, they are transmitted directly to Rogers OMP and received by the Rogers SN 4K MCR (also designed and built by Unity Systems).

Another aspect of the broadcast that Unity has enjoyed being a part of is the behind-the-scenes activity at NHL headquarters in Toronto, ON. Unity has been working with the NHL for years as their preferred Integration firm. One such project was the NHL’s Situation Room, which makes the final decision on all officiating reviews across the league.

Here is an article detailing some of what goes on behind-the-scenes:

Also a video from Fox Sports on the operations at NHL HQ:

Bringing Your Broadcast Vision to Life

Canada is leading the 4K charge in North America and Unity Systems Integration is providing the push.  Working with top Canadian broadcasting companies Rogers Sportsnet and Dome Productions, Unity has supported the end to end design and integration of 4K (UHD) live to home broadcasting.

Beginning with Dome’s latest mobile, Pioneer, Unity produced the first purpose-built 4K truck in Canada.  Pioneer is equipped to facilitate a 16 camera, 12 EVS production in both 4K and HD.

The Rogers facilities in Toronto include a 4K Master Control and Ingest room.  The broadcast systems are based on 4K technology using an SQ (Square division Quad-split) or “quad-link” based video routing infrastructure which is HDR ready.  In 2016 Sportsnet broadcast each of the Toronto Blue Jays home games in 4K.

The Unity Engineering team is always looking to upgrade our skills and experience to serve our clients better.  By getting involved in leading and bleeding edge technologies including 4K and IP, Unity is poised perfectly to help out with whatever project you have in mind!  Unity is currently finishing up a design-build in Los Angeles, CA that includes a Single-Link 4K (12G-SDI) infrastructure.

4K Content Becomes a Reality in Canada

The best way to describe the change in how 4K content in Canada is coming is, slowly and now all at once.

While the next generation TVs have been on sale for the past few years, the biggest knocks have been that the sets are expensive and content is lacking content to take advantage of the sharper picture. This week, two of Canada’s largest broadcasters take their real first steps to change that.

TSN will be broadcasting the Boston Celtics taking on the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, while Rogers will be airing Saturday night’s Hockey Night in Canada tilt between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. Both games mark the first live broadcasts produced for each of the companies, and clearly signal the time is now ripe to attempt to push Canadian consumers to upgrade.

4K Television sets get their name because they have a horizontal resolution of 4,000 pixels, which is roughly 4 times as much as a HD set. Available since 2010, the sets have been coming down in price, but adoption has been slow. In most cases, at the low end, similar sized TV cost about $800 to $1000 more than a HD set. However, there are many higher end, extremely large screen products that can go up to $25,000 or more.

“This is really kind of the prototype, out of the gate, beta test for us. It’s going to be a learning experience for us and we’ll go from there,” said Rick Brace, president, Rogers Media. “Over the Christmas season, we’re hearing 40 per cent of sets sold were 4K.”

Rogers announced in October the company was betting big on 4K, promising to show over a 500 hours of 4K content, including over 100 sporting events — 81 Blue Jays home games and at least 20 NHL games. The company has invested a fair bit, building two mobile production trucks and a new master control room for the signals. It is clearly a bet on the future, as right now, the company admits that only a few hundred people have the boxes available to watch 4K.

“People are buying the TV sets, so we know they are going to want to watch the content,” says Dirk Woessner, president, consumer business unit, Rogers.

TSN has also been planning on getting into 4K for the past year, and its slate of 22 games include several Raptors games and many regional hockey games, with more to be announced later.

“SD to HD was a massive jump, and 4K is a bit more of an incremental improvement,” says Mark Milliere, TSN’s senior vice-president of production. “It’s definitely better, but you really appreciate it on larger screens.”

For Rogers customers to watch the 4K content, they will need a new 4K set top box from the company, which requires a technician to come to your house. The box costs $12.95 to rent a month. The company’s 4K content will air on channel 999, and they are also picking up TSN’s slate of games. Bell customers require the company’s Fibe service and the games will be available on channel 1399.

Beyond Canada’s sports rivals taking the leap, other players are moving to the next thing. Netflix has been shooting some of its series in 4K, including House of Cards, and many players in home video space are embracing the format, like Warner Bros. announcing it will release 35 4K Blu-ray movies by the end of 2016 at this year’s CES.

There are still some issues to be worked out, particularly when it comes to the standards with these new technologies. The UHD (Ultra High Definition) Alliance, a group of the biggest TV and electronics manufacturers in the world recently announced the “Ultra HD Premium” badge, which certifies sets on a number of factors, including Netflix/Amazon support, colour, resolution, peak luminance, black levels and wide colour gamut.

As well, High Dynamic Range or HDR which provides brighter and better colours was introduced two years ago, for the most premium Sony and Samsung sets, but now is available from most manufacturers. That said, there are competing technical standards that still need to be sorted out, so Rogers hopes that it will be able to support it sometime throughout the Jay’s season.

Dome Productions Preps for Arrival of Live 4K Sports in Canada

Unity is always at the forefront of new and emerging technology. Our relationship with clients like ESPN, Rogers and Dome Productions keeps us tuned into the latest and greatest in Broadcast Technology. We always strive to fully understand each new evolving technology so that we may help to implement it as efficiently as possible and in some cases recommend whether or not to use such a technology at all.

Take a look at the latest release from Dome Productions on the newest emerging technology UHD/4K TV:

Dome Productions Preps for Arrival of Live 4K Sports in Canada