NAB Perspectives: Adtec Digital’s Ancelin Looks Toward Next-Generation Sports Transmission

Over the past three-plus years, Adtec Digital has gradually carved out a place for itself in the sports contribution and distribution market. This week at the NAB Show, the company is looking to ramp up those efforts with a series of next-generation product introductions, including a 1080p encoder and an adaptive-bitrate encoding option, and by teasing a series of 4K transmission tests set to take place this summer.

“The OB market has changed tremendously since we entered the market a few years ago, and we triggered a lot of that,” says President Kevin Ancelin. “People are looking very aggressively towards the next generation of contribution, distribution, and modulation schemes: better throughput, more bandwidth. I can tell you that we are committed to leading that effort.”

The 1080p Encoder
Adtec is showcasing the EN-91p 1080p-capable AVC 4:2:2 encoder at its booth this week. Although the product will not hit the market until IBC in September, Ancelin says it has already garnered some attention in Vegas.

“It hasn’t been brought to market yet, but we are showing it here,” he says. “We’ve gotten plenty of people asking about it as they come by, and that’s obviously a very good thing.”

4K on the Transmission Horizon?
Perhaps most interesting is Adtec’s plans to conduct full 4K-transmission tests this summer with an undisclosed European partner. Adtec will use the new EN-91P encoder to conduct the tests.

“We are very focused on 4K, and we will be doing 4K trials this summer with our EN-91P. Imagine you have four 1080p encoders, and you’re doing 1080p. If you have a postprocessing system that can take four 1080p [signals] and synchronize them back to four decoders and the four decoders feed it back to a processing system, you get [a 4K image].”

Live for Today
Although 1080p and 4K transmission are still very much in the early development stages, Adtec’s EN-91 encoder and the brand-new EN-20 encoder are very much aimed at today’s transmission needs.

The EN-91 HD ultra-low-delay encoder handles HD and SD MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video encoding at 4:2:2 with 4:2:0 support. The EN-91 encodes up to 16 channels of phase-aligned audio and is housed in a 1RU chassis. According to Adtec, the three-frame picture-to-picture latency is the lowest in the industry, and it performs with perfect audio lip-synch. The company reports that several Tier 1 sports clients are currently using the EN-91.

Debuting at the show is Adtec’s EN-20 HD/SD dual-service SDI MPEG-2 encoder with ASI, IP, and optional upconverted QAM outputs with two HD-SDI inputs. Features of the EN-20 include broadcast-level VBI support. The device automatically detects the video standard on each of its HD-SDI inputs, then encodes and multiplexes the signals into a multiple-program transport stream with either DVB or ATSC tables. According to Ancelin, the EN-20 is suitable for cable-television applications, as well as in-stadium distribution to video monitors.