Increasing use of IP networks in video production environments opens up many new possibilities. One of the benefits is that it allows us to apply architectural patterns from enterprise IT to the domain of broadcast and media production.
This paper introduces a software system architecture that is being used by BBC R&D for development of its cloud-based media production tools. This architecture proposes a set of core functionality and separates the concerns of user interfaces for manipulating media and the actual processes which transform media.
This is achieved through the definition of Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs) and protocols for this functionality, independent of the underlying implementation of the core and tools, building on broadcast industry open standards. It also explores how the in-development system was integrated with the BBC’s IT estate, and explains how authentication, authorisation and security have been addressed.
The shift towards the use of IP networks at the core of production facilities brings a wealth of opportunities for redefining production and broadcast operations. To an increasing extent, infrastructure and workflow can be defined in software rather than hardware, and if properly architected, can enable systems that integrate off-the-shelf and bespoke components to fulfil the workflow requirements of an individual broadcaster.
Architectures built on a foundation of generic IP networks are well understood in the IT community, and new broadcast infrastructure can benefit from this established body of knowledge. Files have directly replaced tapes in most current non-live media production, but the resulting workflows often do not exploit the potential flexibility of networked media.
In particular, interoperability of non-media data and metadata and the ability to trace production ancestry as file-based content passes through different stages and tools in the production process can be challenging. The Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) has recently published a family of Networked Media Open Specifications (NMOS) (1), which address some of the limitations of file-based workflows. These specifications take the data models and approaches outlined by the Joint Task Force on Networked Media’s (JT-NM) Reference Architecture (2) and realise them using design patterns widely adopted in modern IT systems, such as
Representational State Transfer over HTTP (REST) as defined by Fielding (3). The most well-known use of REST is that of the world wide web, where individual web browsers make requests to web servers to access web pages, but its application to APIs for machine-to-machine communication has become the dominant pattern of web services today. RESTful services benefit from simplicity, extensibility, discoverability and scalability as they replicate the structure and semantics of the world wide web.