Stagebox can be attached to the back of any broadcast-quality camera and replaces expensive and cumbersome SDI/audio/talkback and ancillary cabling with a single fibre or Cat6 network cable.
Each Stagebox element allows a high definition camera, plus the associated sound channels, and talkback, plus tally lights and timecode and, crucially Genlock data to be brought together and sent, fully duplex, down a standard cat5 ethernet cable. Within the encoded format all the data is completely manageable over standard IP protocols, and as a default the video is encoded at AVC100, a widespread industry standard for HD television production.
Using IP standards the Stagebox technology allows the data stream to be sent anywhere there is an IP connection. BBC trials have linked facilities in London, Manchester and Glasgow, running continuously for up to 24hours with no downtime. Using open standards also means that users don’t even need a Stagebox element at both ends of the link, and multiple streams of data from multiple sources can be input via a single ethernet or fibre optic link into a single computer and managed entirely in software.
The Stagebox unit is based around a Xilinx FPGA and will allow real-time video streaming to production crews and equipment far away from the main camera. While HD-SDI cable reaches 100-200 meters at most, IP networks run all over the world. Using only a single network cable for all camera signals also lends enhanced mobility and simplicity for a camera crew and lowers operating expenses by reducing cabling challenges.The small form factor device also expands the reach of video networks to remote production sites and studios using IP networks.
“Stagebox is designed to work with our huge range of different programs, from live sports productions through to breaking news stories on the other side of the world,” said Brandon Butterworth, chief scientist at BBC R&D.
“By combining the many different requirements of a camera operator with CoreEL’s H.264/AVC-I codec and our own intellectual property we have been able to develop an incredibly useful set of technologies which run on Xilinx’s Virtex-6 FPGAs.”
“CoreEL’s H.264/AVC-I codec IP core combined with our flexible FPGAs allowed BBC R&D engineers to quickly and cost-effectively build and deploy an incredibly innovative solution to a longstanding problem,” said Ben Runyan, director of broadcast and consumer segment marketing at Xilinx. “The ubiquity of video in all areas of our society is pushing broadcasters and equipment makers to constantly develop new solutions to the challenges across the acquisition, contribution, and distribution broadcast networks to be consumed by an information-hungry public.”
CoreEL Technologies, along with its partner Leading Light Technologies (L2Tek), will market the solution globally.
“High levels of system integration were needed to design the Stagebox technology,” said Guruprasad M. Parthasarathy, director of marketing at CoreEL. “By combining the Virtex-6 FPGA, CoreEL’s Codec and the BBC’s IP, we were able to develop a tightly integrated solution which will now pave the way for faster adoption of AVC-I Codec for video contribution applications,” he said. “In addition to providing the single chip AVC-I Codec vital for Stagebox, CoreEL will also produce and supply the modules to the industry further extending our offering to the OEM market segment.”