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A Guide to SMPTE ST2110 Networks for Video Production


ST2110 is a definitive set of standards developed by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) for moving industry-grade media over IP. This suite of standards details how video, audio, and supporting data, should be packaged and transported via IP to ensure optimal quality. The streams sent using ST2110 are referred to as individual essences, these carry the necessary payload and synchronization data to safeguard professional media during transport.

While ST2110 has many benefits for production, ingest, and playout, putting together a well-documented network design can be a daunting task. In this blog we’ll look at the key things you’ll need to consider.

What are the Benefits of ST2110?

ST2110 has applications for all types of content producers, from live broadcast media organizations, to corporate media divisions, and government public affairs departments. But this suite of standards will become particularly important for companies looking to stay competitive in the changing landscape of the media industry. As more organizations explore a transition to IP and untether their media from coaxial and fiber optic cabling, ST2110 offers a great way to future-proof their infrastructure.

ST2110 was developed to be non-proprietary, flexible and scalable. It offers a standardized way to break media into its components of video, audio, and ancillary data. It is also video format agnostic, so media companies can support ultra-high-definition (UHD) formats such as 4K, 8K, and it will continue to evolve as new formats emerge. It is also designed to fit in with existing IP network infrastructure, and interoperability within the industry is improving all the time, which will help media organizations to scale over time.

As the M&E sector continues to move towards the use of IP networks for the production and distribution of content, ST2110 sets industry-grade standards. But it not only defines quality and reliability, ST2110 also trims the excess in workflows to maximize efficiency and reduce latency. By compartmentalizing the payload of a video essence into its component parts, rather than transporting a combined feed of video, audio, and ancillary data, content processing is much more streamlined.

Infrastructure Factors for IP and ST2110

For anything to work well, it must be set up correctly. When transitioning from SDI to IP, small things can have a big impact. While it can be tempting to experiment with some DIY, if you are not well versed in networking then mistakes can have major consequences. The options for IP customization can become your downfall and leave you open to making errors that are difficult to rectify. There are many different IP settings that all need to align, so that your infrastructure speaks the same language and workflows connect.
The physical benefits of moving away from SDI are immediately obvious – reduced size, weight, and power consumption for the cables, number of devices, and overall infrastructure. Organizations can have more minimalist equipment in standalone applications such as remote newsgathering trucks, which means less fuel consumption and lower operating costs. An ST2110 truck can have more than 200 planned channels of UHD. This is an unthinkable density for a single vehicle using SDI workflows, a typical truck might be capable of 20x UHD channels at most.

ST2110 offers a much higher density for the number of channels across a significantly smaller physical footprint on-site too. This means there is the option for more production sites and more channels across existing sites. But the IP skills-gap in the media industry, as well as the varied logistics and technical complexity involved, can add a different kind of weight to your team. ST2110’s benefits are tremendous; it allows for a huge number of channels and sophisticated integration between them. But without the appropriate experience and technical knowledge, it can be difficult to select the right equipment and ensure it all works together well.