April 30, 2018

Q&A with Bill McLaughlin on Captioning at the NAB 2018 IP Showcase

David Weiss

Technology writer David Weiss sat down with EEG VP Product Development Bill McLaughlin to discuss the NAB 2018 IP Showcase, highlighting SMPTE 2110 IP video production technology. McLaughlin was a featured speaker at this year’s IP Showcase, where he presented, “Live Closed Captioning and Subtitling in SMPTE ST 2110 : Carriage, Synchronization, and Steps to Transition.”

Why were IP workflows of heightened interest at this year’s NAB Show – what were the recent developments that made the IP Showcase particularly timely?

This year’s NAB Show was the first major industry show since the formal approval of the 2110 standards. So although draft standards have been around for a couple of years, this was the real public debut.

How would you characterize the tone of the IP Showcase? What were the primary curiosities and concerns that you picked up on among NAB attendees who visited the showcase?

Interoperability between vendors using 2110 is something potential buyers are now seeing with their own eyes and really believe in, and most of the products shown are actually shipping, not just prototypes. Buyers and users seem certain that their next generation plants are going to use IP technology and 2110 specifically. The “when” for different media companies is going to be determined by the strength of their business drivers to upgrade, things like UHD, multi-screen delivery, and cloud migration, rather than needing to delay upgrades because the technology isn’t ready.

You spoke about the 2110-40 ancillary data standard as part of the “SMPTE 2110 transport technical track” on Tuesday. What were the main points that you wanted to get across to the audience?

EEG has designed our 2110 product line around the central pillar that live caption creation workflow, whether through automatic or human processes, can stay constant and working smoothly as the underlying video transport changes from SDI to IP. And you can have regions of both in the same plant without this being an additional problem for captioning. The density of live captioning insertion technology in the video plant is incredibly better with 2110 than with SDI or with compressed IP video like transport streams. Large facilities will be able to get a lot of channels of caption processing in a much more manageable footprint with more flexible routing options.

As well, were there some particularly interesting takeaways that you got from comments and questions from the audience?

They were amazed that we had this all worked out in so much detail already. There weren’t a lot of detailed questions frankly – a longtime industry friend in the audience told me, “Great, at least something here is going to be easy.”