RT Software: Working with NDI Broadcast Graphics

Exploring the use of NDI infrastructure for broadcast graphics solutions

Introduction to RT Software

As specialists in broadcast graphics, RT Software have evolved their comprehensive range of solutions for News, Sports, Entertainment and Channel Branding over the last 20 years. The product ranges are built around two core brands – Tactic and Swift.

The products offer everything from quick and easy 2D on screen graphic overlays and tickers with live data, to 3D augmented reality and virtual studio extravaganzas, to best in class sports telestration. 

The range also includes integration with NRCS newsroom systems and channel branding / playout automation systems. 

RT Software is committed to staying at the forefront of the innovations in broadcast technology and have been early adopters of virtualization, cloud deployment, and uncompressed IP video (ST 2110). But for this paper we are going to highlight our support for NDI and the particular advantages this can bring to broadcasters.

At the heart of all RT Software’s graphics products is a scalable render engine. Able to be licenced for all formats and resolutions, the entry level engine supports NDI by default. This means NDI projects can benefit from a comprehensive and mature product at budget friendly prices. 

There are also management products and a range of user interface options. This comprehensive feature set means we are confident we have covered everything a broadcaster could need for their graphics systems. This is apparent when looking at our customer list that includes major national and international brands from around the world.

Why Should You Adopt NDI?

RT Software has a history of identifying and becoming early adopters for new technologies well suited to the broadcast industry. NDI is no exception. It was obvious that the industry was ready for a move to IP video, but that the huge costs and complications of uncompressed formats such as ST 2022-6 or ST 2110 would prevent the transition being suitable for every type of business.

NDI offered a perfect sweet spot of visually imperceptible compression, plus low latency for encoding and decoding. For a graphics system which may often be placed downstream of a presentation switcher or other device, low latency is essential, especially where live signals (for example in sports or news) need to be as close to real time as possible. NDI’s ability to support multiple encoding cycles with no impact to picture quality further supports its use for adding graphics in series in a transmission chain.

This led RT Software to become early adopters of NDI, with the first integration being with the Newtek 3Play as a partner for its Tactic sports telestrator. 

Focus on Benefits to the Customer

Customers are often drawn to NDI due to the flexibility and low costs inherent in the system architecture. RT Software understands that delivering a cost effective solution is essential to winning projects, and has structured its system’s pricing to ensure customers get the maximum benefit for least cost.

Swift Engine is the core render engine used in all our graphics solutions, and the engine’s pricing includes NDI at no additional cost. This ensures the lowest entry level pricing for the most cost conscious systems. Importantly, despite the entry level NDI pricing, none of the products’ features are disabled. In all other respects the systems are just as capable as the equivalent SDI or ST2110 systems.

Customers are able to add as many Swift Engine renderers into their systems as needed thanks to the modular and scalable structure. In many cases multiple Swift Engines can be installed on the same physical (or virtual) server or PC further lowering costs. This all supports customers in their desire to only pay for what they need.

This pricing strategy applies equally whether it is a NRCS newsroom integration using Swift News, or an augmented reality / virtual studio solution using Swift Studio. Just 2 examples from a wide range of focussed products that address every area of a broadcast facility.

Our Swift CG editor is the common design tool used across the Swift product family. This means the assets and templates are more readily used in all parts of the broadcast facility and ensures station branding is kept consistent. Although RT Software can provide comprehensive 3D graphics solutions thanks to its origins with BBC News, for many graphics requirements this is unnecessary. 

In order to accelerate workflows for customers who only require 2D graphics we make our editor available in 2 versions, both supporting NDI:

  • Swift CG+ with Unreal integration for 3D use cases such as virtual studio and AR

  • Swift CG, a 2D compositor for most broadcast overlay graphics.

In common with much of RT Software’s offering, the Swift CG upgrade path is simple. If you want to start 2D and move up to 3D later on, the projects are upwardly compatible and this ensures investment in training is not sacrificed. 

Both Swift CG and Swft CG+ include a video output function. As you would expect, this can be configured as NDI for a neat self contained editor and playout system.

Tactic is a leader of its class and leverages AI to allow users to create the most insightful sports analysis sequences, ensuring viewers are kept engaged. With 100’s of users and a price tag a fraction of Paint, Piero or Libero this stands out as a great choice for broadcasters needing to analyse their sports matches. Workflows can be file based, or set to output video, which of course can be NDI.

Tactic is a leader of its class and leverages AI to allow users to create the most insightful sports analysis sequences, ensuring viewers are kept engaged. With 100’s of users and a price tag a fraction of Paint, Piero or Libero this stands out as a great choice for broadcasters needing to analyse their sports matches. Workflows can be file based, or set to output video, which of course can be NDI.

Tactic analysis

Graphics control for the products is available for Windows, or tablets. Plus Swift Live is our browser based interface that can be configured to match your needs and used to manually trigger your NDI graphics to air when required.

                   Swift Live control screen

Product Summary

  • Comprehensive solution for all aspects of broadcast graphics –
    • News
    • Sports
    • Entertainment
    • Channel Branding. 
  • Modular render engine supporting all broadcast resolutions and formats.
  • System scaling – start with a single PC solution, or scale up to a large facility-wide deployment for all departments. 
  • Reduce overheads by adopting a unified system able to satisfy the demands from all departments of your broadcast facility.
  • Graphics product range is supported by workflow tools to provide complete management of graphics assets for a complete solution.
  • Tried and tested with major broadcast brands for many years. This lets new NDI customers benefit from years of development that has delivered robust systems.

Illustration of range of Swift products in a larger scale deployment

System Benefits

NDI focussed benefits when using RT Software’s products  include:

  • NDI can be used in hybrid solutions in parallel with graphics outputs in SDI to maximise return on investment. 
  • Ready for cloud. NDI makes public cloud deployment and remote operation a realistic proposition.
  • NDI is the format with the lowest price point and is included at no additional cost.

Ongoing Development

RT Software is committed to long term support for NDI in the product range. Other development areas include:

  • Migration to browser based systems. This started with Swift Live, our reconfigurable user interface for triggering graphics to air. Development is currently underway to migrate the Swift CG editor to HTML5 user interface to reduce deployment costs.
  • Continued development of AI to accelerate workflows for users of Tactic.

NDI Technical

NDI specific support includes:

  • NDI 5 – enabling the use of NDI Bridge and deployment over WAN / Internet infrastructure. This in turn enables deployment to public clouds such as AWS.
  • NDI (high bandwidth)
  • NDI HX (high efficiency / low bandwidth)

Sales and Support

If you should decide to include RT Software in your next NDI project, there are the following sales and support points worth considering.

  • RT Software is well used to the demands of 24/7 broadcast businesses and supporting their needs.
  • Continuous roadmap development ensures ongoing product enhancements for the long term.
  • Comprehensive training options plus free video user tips to get graphics teams up to speed.
  • Migration plans for users of legacy and competitor systems.
  • Access to RT Software’s in-house creative team to take on branding projects in conjunction with the broadcaster’s creative team, or just to offer ad hoc advice.
  • We match our pricing to our customers needs instead of expecting customers to adapt to an inflexible pricing strategy. We offer licences as – permanent, annual or short term. We do not force you to adopt a pricing model you are not happy with.

Speak to us for friendly help and advice about any aspect of broadcast graphics. Plus evaluation licences are available to let you trial the systems. Contact us at Sales@rtsw.co.uk

Did you know?  RT Software offers its core render engine as an OEM option for other manufacturers to embed within their own products? You might be surprised to hear which major vendors have our Swift Engine inside. Ask us for more details!