Have you ever wondered what AV over IP actually is? Never quite understood the concept?

Well, Nicholas Smith, Director of Media Technology, unpatches this concept for us in Episode 4 of Techsplanation. Watch it to find out what IP encoders you need, the bandwidth required, and what you can stream to.

AV over IP
Audio-Visual over Internet Protocol (also known as AV/IP) is the use of standard network equipment to transmit and switch video and audio across your organization’s in-house network to as many places as your network reaches. With AV over IP, you can use your network switch as a video router for Digital Signage, live video from a meeting, or even live TV.
The network switch replaces the AV matrix and becomes the distribution hub. Unlike most matrix switchers that have limitations on size or reach, your network switch has no limits and is scalable over time.

IP Encoders
There are many types of encoders – each with their own value and use case – the difference is in the codec they use to encode the video. The most common types of encoders work by taking your video and converting it to a data stream and placing it on the network. The 2 most common are H.264 and JPEG 2000. Each have their pros and cons — here’s a simple breakdown for you.

H.264 works on a standard Gigabit Ethernet switch. It squeezes the video down small enough to fit in the available bandwidth. In order to “squeeze” it, you typically have give some things up. The first thing is usually latency — the amount of time lost in the process of encoding the video until it shows up on the screen. The next, is quality. To make it smaller, you have to compress the image. H.264 compression is also known as lossy compression — you loose some of the data in the process of encoding. This is usually done in the colors or bit-rate and is rarely noticeable.

JPEG 2000 has less visual loss, but needs more bandwidth to achieve the quality. If network bandwidth is an issue for your company, this may not be the best solution. Latency in both H.264 and JPEG 2000 will vary depending on the quality of the encoder being used, and the chips inside the box that’s doing the encoding.

SDVoE – Software Defined Video over Ethernet – is the latest encoding technology. With SDVoE, there’s none of the compression or data loss that we mentioned with the other 2 encoders. It encodes uncompressed, so there’s no chance of artifacting or the quality degrading as it goes across the network. However, maintaining quality comes at a bandwidth cost — 10 Gb of bandwidth to be exact. To use this type of encoder, you will need a 10Gb network switch. Luckily, network switches are much more affordable now than they were a few years ago, and most 10 Gb switches can use fiber or copper cabling. With fiber, you have the ability to extend the signal beyond the typical 100 meter limitation found in copper network cabling.

Encoders aren’t the whole story. You need a destination, and this is the time to decide which is the right encoder for your project.

  • If its live content and you’re in the same room or auditorium, you should consider a system with low latency. You want video and audio to match up on screen. Right?
  • If it’s content that’s going to be on a large format projection screen or a video wall, you should look for an encoder with low or no compression so the image quality is best.
  • If it’s digital signage or live television, look at encoders that have receivers with remotes or control panels. You want to be able to change the content on the fly, and you need an interface that allows the viewer to make the same changes.

With all the options out there, it’s best to call a knowledgeable friend or a systems integrator for advice before you make your choice. Ask them what they have used and what problems they encountered.

Network Settings
There are also settings that need to be changed on your network switch, so if you’re in a large organization, be sure to enlist the help of your IT department. At the very least, you’ll want to give them a heads-up that you’re putting video on the network. They will definitely want to know this, and they will find out anyway — especially if you’re encoding 4K video.

If you need additional help, call the JB&A team of experts. We’ve tested and deployed many different versions, and can help you shorten the learning curve.

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