Can you Use NDI to edit high-quality video from home?

Why NDI is a Game Changer for Remote Video Production

Due to safety concerns and mandated lockdowns, the COVID pandemic caused a huge shift toward remote working. But even before the pandemic, broadcasters have experimented with technologies that enable the remote workforce. This is because modern productions often require flexible workflows and versatile access to video content.

Despite the production benefits of working from home, broadcasters have struggled to provide flexible workflows. Technology hasn’t been able to cope with the data-intensive demands of decentralized media production. Until now.

Advances in cloud and Video-over-IP technologies have enabled producers and editors to do as good of a job at home as they would at the studio. In this article, we explore how the NDI protocol – a popular video-over-IP technology designed for Local Area Network (LAN) – can be extended to the remote workforce.


What is NDI and how do Video-over-IP systems work?

Video-over-IP is a popular strategy for delivering video content. It involves deconstructing media into different streams that are sent over an IP network as data packets. As a Video-over-IP technology, NDI enables transmission of data like audio, video, and control signals over LAN.

NDI allows multiple applications to access and collaborate on the same sources, at the same time, at speeds of up to 400 Mbps for 4k. This is why NDI technology has been so invaluable for editors working in studio.

Along with providing real-time and low-latency transmissions, NDI offers the following advantages:

  • Fast and high-quality image and sound transmissions
  • NDI exhibits a high degree of interoperability between devices
  • The technology has been tested extensively in many productions
  • NDI eliminates the need for SID equipment
  • Connections can easily be monitored by Master Control Room (MCR) operators

NDI is compatible with most production devices, including capture cards, video mixers, and graphics systems. NDI is also extremely cost-efficient, as the technology can be used without large investment in networking infrastructure.

Unfortunately, technological restraints have traditionally restricted the use of NDI to LAN environments. This is because the native TCP protocol of NDI struggles to deliver data over long distances. Another challenge is that, because the bitrate output of NDI is so high, it is difficult to reliably deliver such huge troves of data over the internet.

But new technology has emerged that allows for NDI transmission over WAN networks.


NDI over WAN? A revolution in remote editing

From live sports coverage to broadcast-level productions, organizations are already using NDI over WAN to give their remote workers the same productivity and collaboration power at home as they would have in a studio.

This breakthrough arrived with the development of ‘bridging’ software and hardware solutions that allow NDI transmissions to be sent over great distances across the public internet or private WAN networks. NDI bridging tools use compression, encoding, and error correction to convert NDI signals into a transport stream. The transport stream is then sent over WAN to users before being converted back into an NDI signal. This amazing technology makes it possible for remote workers to access multiple video sources and other NDI-connected devices.


NDI for the remote workforce

The idea of NDI is simple: to supply a video source from one device to another. Based on this principle, there are several workflow setups to enable the remote workforce. Here are three examples of common configurations:

  • NDI for content delivery — by leveraging bridging software, broadcasters transmit NDI signal over WAN, delivering content between remote workers and production hubs. Our NDI gateway, for example, allows you to quickly transmit locally produced NDI output over the internet to different LAN networks. Besides transmitting, the Caton NDI Gateway also enables the receipt of TS input on Caton Transport Protocols (CTP) and converting them into an NDI output.
  • NDI point-to-point remote editing — using remote access tools, editors can use their home devices to access studio editing bays and content, through a dedicated and secure ‘network tunnel’. These tools are paired with NDI to provide high-quality video transmission from the studio system to the remote user. As NDI allows for multiple users to access video transmissions, producers and other users can easily join the editing workflow.
  • NDI remote cloud production — with the right processing engine and cloud service, this workflow enables you to host all of the production routing and signal processing on the cloud. Editors can then remotely access content over the internet. This enables producers to manage live productions from any location.

For example, the BBC uses NDI and cloud services to produce Springwatcha TV show that tracks British wildlife. This show captures footage from 30+ camera feeds which are transmitted via NDI to BBC editors, who work from home.

Many broadcasters value NDI because it is not restricted by resolution or format. This means NDI can continue being used as the industry provides higher image qualities such as 4K and 8K resolution.

Combining with NDI bridging tools, remote workers are empowered with technology that easily scales to meet the needs of any production environment. This adaptability is why data transmission systems are the future of remote broadcasting.


Looking to Transmit NDI over WAN?

At Caton Technology, we’re experts in the field of video publishing and transmission solutions. If you’re looking for advice on setting up remote production studios, or you’d like to chat about other broadcasting challenges then feel free to get in touch. Click the button below to book a free consultation.

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