The Difference between new and Important

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Spend a few days at an event like IBC and it is hard to not be dazzled by all the new and shiny tech. 1500 vendors are packed into one place, all vying for the attention of attendees, journalists, award voters and, of course, buyers. A lot of time, money and effort went into bringing visions of the future to the IBC that just passed. 4K resolution video, Cloud services, multi-screen, and IT hardware dominated the headlines.

As a company built on innovation, we are as aware as anyone of the importance of offering “the new.” At the same time, the past 25 years have taught us a thing or two about differentiating between “the new” and “the important.” We have learned to take advantage of IBC for its utility as a filter. We see all that is new and put it through the sieve of what our existing and prospective customers tell us matters most to them.

4K video was quite literally everywhere at IBC. An outsider visiting the RAI could be forgiven for thinking that IBC was an event about 4K! This is a perfect example of “the new” distracting people from “the important.” We’re happy to talk about 4K, show what we are doing with 4K, and discuss plans for 4K’s future.

The reality is that for the vast majority of broadcasters, 4K is not a pressing concern. In fact for many, HD workflows (you remember HD, right?) are still a roadmap item rather than a reality. That is why when visitors come by Pixel Power they see “the important” put front and center—solutions for cutting costs, streamlining signal flow, automating processes and optimizing playout will be fashionable today, tomorrow and five years from now. The good thing is that most broadcasters we met with are not distracted by the bright lights of 4K.

Where we do have some concern is in the enthusiasm for moving essential broadcast processes into software so they can be deployed on standard IT hardware. Vendors and broadcasters alike have been lured by promises of lower capital expenses up front, simpler maintenance, reduced power requirements and more. The reality is that none of these desired results are guaranteed. In fact we are frequently being called in to supply “real broadcaster hardware” where these software-based solutions have been deployed, for example to provide sophisticated channel branding downstream of an existing software-based playout system.

While today’s CPUs and GPUs can deliver the horsepower needed to perform specific tasks, they still struggle under the weight of performing multiple video-related tasks simultaneously. Purpose built hardware can provide a more solid foundation that works for today’s task and tomorrow’s new requirements. We have no problem with creating software based solutions where it’s appropriate; our new Pixel On Demand product is proof of that. What we have a problem with is this use of “the new” approach in places where it does not match “the important” needs of our customers.

Pixel Power is not in the business of spinning new technologies merely to be part of a fashionable story. Rather we feel a responsibility to extend our track record for making good decisions about developing and delivering “the important” things that matter.

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