At the December 15 meeting...

Meeting the new MAN on the Block

Fiber Networking

By Paul R. Beck

The December 15, 1999 Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) New England Section meeting event was held at the Newton Sheraton Hotel, just West of downtown Boston. A reception prior to the main presentations commenced at 6:00 PM, hosted by Nortel Networks and MetroMedia Fiber Networks. The meeting introductions featured John Gates, Section Chair, and Moderator, C. Robert Paulson.

Mr. Paulson gave an in-depth overview of the newly-emerging technologies involving digital transmission of broadcast and data signals using Fiber Optic systems in large and often-congested metropolitan urban areas. Mr. Paulson underscored that the recent product offerings in Fiber-based networks and server-connected storage services have made "giant leaps" forward in affordability, technical reliability and of very increasing importance, total system security and integrity.

The first Technology Presenter was Marc Abatiell of Nortel Networks, whose graphical presentation detailed how many technology manufacturers and service providers are working together with each other to provide "Integrated System" solutions to Broadcast or Data Transmission Storage/Server issues. Mr. Abatiell discussed specific enterprise ventures and successful examples in the Metropolitan Boston area, and touched upon concepts for some downtown/urban applications.

Second Technology Presenter was Chris Skarica, also from Nortel Networks, who gave a detailed graphical presentation on the technologies and system capabilities of the existing and planned Nortel Networks applications.

Third Technology Presenter was Scott Berry from MetroMedia Fiber Networks, who discussed the plans and schedule for the Boston-area MAN start-up and expansion.

This was also a computer graphics-generated presentation, with detailed maps and charts describing the system development and linkages. Historical examples of how MetroMedia has done similar successful large-capacity Fiber-based systems in downtown New York City were also provided and discussed.

Fourth Technology Presenter was Graeme Jarvis, of StorageNetworks, Inc. who discussed the concept of SANs (Storage Area Networks) with specific applications to the Television Broadcast industry. Key to this presentation was the emphasis on the ability to have substantially ALL the end-userís Video/Audio/Metadata "Program Data Storage" exist in an "off-campus" situation for very high-volume users, most especially with multiple Digital non-linear editing/production workstations. System security, pathway redundancy, access protocols, and data recovery integrity were topics of the presentation, with emphasis on how the "off-campus" Storage Area Network can be custom-tailored to the demanding applications for modern, multiple-stream, all-digital Broadcast & Cable industries.

At the conclusion of the scheduled presentations, Moderator Paulson initiated an Open Forum with the 50+ attendees. Open and frank discussion between the presenters and attendees lasted for about 30 minutes, leading into a pair of brief observation/reaction presentations by Panel Members Karl Renwanz (VideoTransfer) and Ross Kauffman (Hearst-Argyle Broadcasting).

The meeting wrap-up was provided by Moderator Bob Paulson who touched briefly upon developments being discussed and considered within the Film Production and Electronic Cinema arenas, and which represent an obvious "next step" for emerging Fiber-based Storage and Distribution technologies.

Mr. Paulson provided an open invitation for all attendees to join an ad hoc "DWDM VideoMAN Applications Advisory Council", which would provide an industry and community resource of end-users, to pool their expertise and concerns as the Fiber-based Storage and Distribution systems proliferate.

The entire 3-hour meeting, with individual presentations and the attendee interaction was "captured" with a DVC minicam, for SMPTE archival purposes. Those recordings are available on a single T-182 VHS videocassette. For copies of this tape or any further information, contact C. Robert Paulson at OMNIMEDIA (508-366-4694).

Paul R. Beck is Director of Engineering at the TRF Unit at Emerson College and New England Section Secretary/Treasurer of SMPTE/New England. He can be reached at 617-824-8834.

Posted: 20 April, 2000
Robert Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor