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You might have heard about optical fiber but considered it too expensive and too complicated to use. This common perception of optical fiber is not necessarily correct. Consumers are now getting access to higher quality televisions and media sources that feature high bit depth and fast frame rate 1080p/50 and 1080p/60 video. These media sources are not just from broadcasters, as customers are getting content online and on Blu-ray Disk as well. It's vital the content production side of television can keep up with these high quality levels so customers get the best viewing experience. It's likely that resolutions and frame rates will keep increasing, and this will put immense pressure on production technologies, such as SDI, to keep up. In this white paper I describe the current "state of the art" in SDI technology and describe some of it's benefits and limitations as we move towards the future. I then explain how optical fiber SDI works as well as it's benefits and limitations. Optical fiber technology is the only viable technology that will allow television production to move into the future. This is because optical fiber is virtually future proof, runs incredibly long distances, is low cost, and it's a a mature technology which is available now. The current state of SDI As video technology has progressed, resolutions have increased, frame rates have increased, and more production is being done in the full bandwidth 4:4:4 RGB color-space. These increases in quality have transformed video production and provide a fantastic viewing experience for consumers. In addition, these technologies have allowed real time 2K editing using the same equipment used for SD and HD work. 2K film workflow has now become as easy as video. All these high resolution, high frame rate video standards have pushed the limits of the SDI video standard. One solution has been to use Dual Link SDI where two HD-SDI links were connected to allow a 4:4:4 RGB workflow. However this is extremely cumbersome, and doubles the cost of cabling and routing video. Introducing 3 Gb/s SDI Back in 2007, Blackmagic Design introduced the Multibridge Eclipse editing and HDLink Pro monitoring products. Both these products featured 3 Gb/s SDI that also switched to SD or HD-SDI. Then last year at NAB 2008, Blackmagic Design introduced DeckLink HD Extreme editing, Videohub routers and Mini Converters, all featuring 3 Gb/s SDI. Introducing 3 Gb/s SDI eliminated the need to use dual cables just to get 4:4:4 video, and also allowed native 2K editing with a single BNC connection. These products looked the same to customers, as Blackmagic
and easily connected all over your building. routed. So the answer to where conventional SDI technology is heading appears to be "nowhere any time soon". and this is dramatically simplifying feature film workflows. Broadcasters constantly struggle with this limitation. and even includes a massive 16 channels of digital audio as well as time code and all kinds of other ancillary data. and has been able to keep pace with television production over the past two decades. This is nice but still limiting. Since that time more third party manufacturers have also introduced 3 Gb/s SDI ready equipment. We are stuck at 3 Gb/s speeds currently. works in both RGB and YUV. Where is SDI technology heading? At the time of writing. However there are some limitations that are becoming apparent including: • SDI really only handles 300 feet in length in HD. Many post production companies are now using 2K on 3 Gb/s SDI based products. the same upgrades were required. works in both 4:2:2 and 4:4:4. When SDI was first introduced. and there is no road map for any faster speeds in the future. This means there currently does not appear to be any major revolution coming to improve the performance of SDI cable interconnects in any way. • SDI is speed limited. HD and 2K formats. It's no wonder it was adopted so quickly. When HD-SDI was introduced. It can be converted. SDI is like a fire hose of pixels and is so simple to use. • SDI uses BNC connectors which are no longer used in networking. They all seem to be working harder on breaking the 300 foot limit of SDI's cable length. It's the only true open standard to which any company can build products. We felt this was the only way to really introduce 3 Gb/s SDI technology in any meaningful way. This has resulted in hundreds of companies producing some extremely innovative products. This increased the number of post production facilities and broadcasters that were 3 Gb/s SDI ready. no semiconductor company has any new component roadmaps for SDI speeds faster than 3 Gb/s. can switch speeds between dozens of different SD. What are the limits of conventional SDI? Overall the SDI standard is incredible. BNC connecters are also very rare on consumer equipment now.Design introduced them at the same cost as the product models they replaced. cables previously used for composite were often not good enough and needed to be replaced to handle the data rates of SDI. It's amazing to go to NAB each year and see the huge number of exciting new products released! SDI leaves every pixel untouched and clean. and some . • SDI cables need to be changed every time a new higher speed SDI is introduced. BNC connectors are becoming expensive as cables need to be custom made.
You can unclip the LC connectors and pull them apart to make two individual cables. requiring even higher SDI data speeds in the future. This eliminates the very expensive need to constantly upgrade copper cables because you can plug the same optical fiber cables into higher speed equipment in the future. as data speeds increase. Optical fiber is like broadband. and much higher speeds can be run down exactly the same cables. which is an engineers way of saying they work in both directions. That's halved the cost again! • You can keep using the same cables even as new high quality video standards are released. and there is virtually no speed limits. . This simply means there are two cables moulded together. However there is only so much they can do. • Optical fiber cables are very thin and flexible with most of the thickness from the outer jacket that protects the fiber itself. The optical cables we purchased were about half the cost of the copper BNC cables we get custom made for us. Blackmagic Design optical fiber products are rated to pass SDI pathological tests up to 45 KM in standard definition. but optical fiber can handle 147. • Optical fiber SDI uses the same commonly available cables that high speed networking uses. Copper based cable has bandwidth limits so.cables have also required replacement to handle new 3 Gb/s SDI speeds. and need quite a lot of space when running many cables down racks. and through buildings. the cables cannot transfer the higher frequency data. It's also worth noting that optical fiber SDI is the same bit stream as conventional SDI. You really need to look at those numbers again to understand what this means. and 25 KM at 3 Gb/s. 3 Gb/s is easy for optical fiber. What are the limitations of optical fiber? When considering the main limitations of optical fiber it’s related to cost and lack of standardization. Semiconductor companies have spent a lot of time cramming higher bandwidth down copper cables. a little like modem manufacturers did back in the 1980's. but it's just passed down an optical fiber instead of copper cable. This constant upgrading of cabling is incredibly expensive. Anyone who has seen SDI cables running into equipment rooms will know how much space they require! How does optical fiber solve these problems? Optical fiber can solve these problems easily. • SDI cables are big.000 feet. SDI handles 300 feet. You can get multi core optical cables with many individual fibers and the overall size is about the same as a single copper BNC cable. Most optical fiber SDI products use standard LC type connectors and these cables are on the shelf at your local electrical wholesaler. Also the optical fiber cables we purchased are "duplex" cables. The cables are quite thick. This means optical fiber has all the benefits of conventional SDI but removes some of the limitations as outlined below: • Optical fiber can run massive lengths. It's quite an improvement! • There are virtually no speed limits on optical fiber cables.
laser driver and the optical fiber link must pass the SDI pathological test signal correctly. Mini Converter Optical Fiber still has a US$495 purchase price. The SMPTE standard features LC type optical fiber connectors. as well as optical fiber to SDI at the same time. You needed one converter for each end of the optical cable and the converters often cost thousands of dollars. However while being a great and very useful conversion product. Only broadcasters who needed to beat the 300 feet SDI length limitation have used optical fiber in the past. however there is a SMPTE standard for optical fiber SDI which now solves this problem. 1310nm light frequency. it converts from SDI to optical fiber. and the converters on the market were expensive. To make optical fiber truly competitive with traditional copper SDI cabling. Mini Converter Optical Fiber goes a long way to making optical fiber technology affordable. it's more likely to be used. then optical fiber can be adopted as easily as copper SDI cables. and light frequencies. not the optical fiber cable itself! The other problem is standardization. the optical fiber connections need to be built into television equipment for no extra cost. and because it's on the connection panel of television equipment. HDLink Optical Fiber is a SD. How can the equipment cost problem be eliminated? At NAB 2009. Blackmagic Design has three new products at NAB 2009 that have built in optical fiber SDI connections. connectors. HD and 2K monitoring converter that uses 24 or 30 inch . Because Mini Converter Optical Fiber is bi-directional. HDLink Optical Fiber is a new monitoring converter that's an enhanced version of Blackmagic Design's popular HDLink Pro. Built in optical fiber then totally eliminates the cost of converting to and from optical fiber. If this problem can be solved. Mini Converter Optical Fiber is our new bi-directional optical fiber converter that will convert all SD. so the market was very small. HD and 3 Gb/s SDI television equipment to optical fiber. So it's the converters that cost all the money. These can be a bit confusing. 1310nm light frequency. These are outlined below. Only with built in optical fiber SDI connections will the adoption cost of optical fiber be just the optical fiber cable itself. so converters are needed on every link. laser driver and also passing the SDI pathological test. so is affordable while also including the SMPTE specified LC type optical fiber connectors. so does not help make optical fiber technology competitive in cost terms to traditional copper SDI cables.Cost has been high because no equipment has optical fiber SDI built in. Blackmagic Design announced 4 new products with optical fiber to solve the previous high equipment cost of optical fiber. as competitive products often cost over $2000. There are different types of optical fiber cable. This makes it a complete solution to convert any SDI equipment to optical fiber. Mini Converter Optical Fiber is priced at $495. So this means the only real limitation of optical fiber is equipment cost.
and then get benefits in the future as video quality increases. Nuke™. DeckLink Optical Fiber is very low cost at only US$495. and includes full compatibility with Apple Final Cut Pro™. and eliminates the need for an external converter. we believe that optical fiber technology will now be more accessible to small and growing television production studios. Blackmagic Design 20th April. Adobe After Effects™. This is thousands of dollars less than other products. It features both copper SDI in and out. Lastly I think it's very romantic to think of video traveling all over a facility as pulses of light! Even putting aside all the technical. Customers can also use local electricians to run SDI video cables. With these new products. Mac OS X and now Linux computers. ProTools™ and many more. This means optical fiber has been added at no extra charge. and future proofing benefits of optical fiber. but also includes more scope views. and this model has now been reduced in price to US$495. It also features Blackmagic Design's free SDK for developers. and optical fiber SDI or copper SDI inputs. It features both traditional copper SDI input as well as optical fiber SDI input. so they are very familiar with it. financial.DVI displays or HDMI televisions for broadcast monitoring. Customers will no longer need to rip out old cables every time video quality increases. Customers will now be able to afford to use optical fiber between equipment. are now being transfered by light! It really feels like the right way to do it! By Grant Petty CEO. It has 3D look up tables built in. HDLink Optical Fiber is priced at US$795 which is the same price as the HDLink Pro model it replaces. and makes a good capture card for developers to create customized broadcast products and solutions. plus reference input and RS-422 deck control. as well as optical fiber SDI in and out. and data speeds of SDI also increase. because electricians understand and install optical fiber every day. a much nicer user interface. Adobe Premiere Pro™. plus copper SDI and optical fiber SDI loop-thru outputs. Blackmagic UltraScope is the world’s first PC based waveform monitoring that's designed for editing and color correction work. DeckLink Optical Fiber is a 10 bit HD and SD PCI Express 1 lane capture and playback card compatible with Windows. it mind blowing to know that images. Both outputs are always active loop-thru outputs. 2009 . Adobe Photoshop™. DeckLink Optical Fiber is a new model of DeckLink card that also builds optical fiber technology in. It features both copper SDI and optical fiber SDI. and 6 channels of RCA audio monitoring out. and that's also technically accurate. and the inputs are auto selected. Of course HDLink Pro is still a very powerful product when optical fiber is not needed. and retails for only US$695. which are really just digitalized light.
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