The Power of NDI: BirdDog Converters and the Need for 10G AV Networks in Professional Video Production
27 Nov 2023

The Power of NDI: BirdDog Converters and the Need for 10G AV Networks in Professional Video Production

By James Tremayne | Senior Technical Product Specialist, Holdan

BirdDog NDI converters are devices that enable you to convert video and audio signals from HDMI or SDI sources to NDI streams, or vice versa, over IP networks. NDI stands for Network Device Interface, and it is a technology created by Vizrt (formerly NewTek) that allows low-latency, high-bandwidth video transmission over standard Ethernet cables. SDI on the other hand, has generally become the industry standard and stands for Serial Digital Interface, and it is a technology that allows uncompressed video transmission over coaxial or fibre optic cables.

In this blog, I will explain the difference between NDI and SDI, and how Birddog NDI converters can help you leverage the benefits of using NDI for both live video production and fixed installation. I will also discuss why you may need to consider upgrading your onsite network to a 10G AV network if you are working with large NDI deployments, especially when running NDI at 4K resolution.

NDI and SDI are both standards for transporting video, but they have different characteristics and advantages. The main difference between NDI and SDI is that NDI uses packet-based IP networks and inexpensive cabling, while SDI utilises point to point, and rather expensive copper cabling.

This means that:

  • NDI can use any existing Ethernet infrastructure, while SDI requires dedicated cables and connectors
  • NDI can support any resolution and frame rate, while SDI has specific standards for different formats
  • NDI can be easily integrated with cloud services, remote access, and wireless networks, while SDI is more limited in these aspects
  • NDI uses compression techniques to reduce bandwidth consumption, while SDI uses uncompressed video signals
  • NDI unfortunately, has higher latency than SDI due to the compression and decompression process

The Power of NDI: BirdDog Converters and the Need for 10G AV Networks in Professional Video Production

Birddog converters come in different models and sizes, depending on your needs and budget. They can encode and decode video signals from HDMI or SDI sources, and they can also provide PTZ control, tally, intercom, and power over Ethernet. Birddog converters are easy to set up and use. You just need to connect them to your video sources or destinations, plug them into your network switch, and configure them using the web interface or the BirdDog Central 2.0 software. You can then use any NDI-compatible software or hardware to send or receive video streams from the devices.

The current range of Birddog NDI converters are:

  • Mini: A small NDI converter that supports up to 1080p60 video and has HDMI input and output.
  • Flex 4K: A compact NDI converter that supports up to 4K60 video and has HDMI inputs or outputs, depending on the model.
  • 4K Family: A range of 4K NDI converters that have HDMI or SDI inputs and outputs, as well as SFP+ ports for 10G connectivity.
  • PLAY: The smallest and most cost-effective converter in the range, able to decode up to 1080p60.

One of the challenges of using NDI for live video production is the network bandwidth requirement. NDI uses uncompressed or lightly compressed video formats, which means that each stream can consume a fair amount of data. For example, a full-bandwidth 1080p60 NDI stream can use up to 130 Mbps of bandwidth, while a 4K60 NDI stream can use up to 350 Mbps.

This means that if you are using a standard 1G network for your NDI deployment, you may encounter some limitations in terms of the number of streams you can handle simultaneously. For instance, if you have four 4K60 cameras connected to a Birddog 4K QUAD converter, you will need to use an SFP+ port on your network switch to accommodate all streams and to avoid a bottle neck of data flow. If you want to add more cameras or other sources, you will need more ports or more switches.

The Power of NDI: BirdDog Converters and the Need for 10G AV Networks in Professional Video Production

A solution to this problem is to upgrade your onsite network to a 10G (or higher) AV network. A 10G AV network is a network that uses 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology to provide higher bandwidth for Audio-visual applications. By using a 10G AV network, you can increase the number of NDI streams you can handle on a single port or switch. This is especially relevant if you need to deploy a distributed network with switches in different locations across a site. You will need to consider how much bandwidth you need BETWEEN each switch on your network and also how much redundancy is required.

A 10G network also offers other benefits, such as better quality of service (QoS), lower power consumption, and easier scalability. However, upgrading your onsite network to a 10G AV network may also involve some costs and challenges, such as replacing your existing cables, switches, and adapters, as well as ensuring compatibility and security of your devices and software.

In conclusion, Birddog NDI converters are powerful and versatile devices that can help you create professional and flexible video productions using the NDI protocol. With the recent Firmware roll out to enable NDI|5 Tx/Rx compatibility, they are a great choice for your next AV upgrade. Please reach out to a specialist if you have an upcoming project you would like to discuss, and we can help to design your NDI network with you.

For more information please contact our Sales Desk:
+44 (0)1457 851000 | sales@holdan.co.uk.

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BirdDog Flex 4K BACKPACK
BirdDog Flex 4K BACKPACK

4K Full NDI Encoder with Tally, Comms, PTZ Control, PoE+, DC Power Output, and L-Series Battery Mount

BirdDog Flex 4K IN
BirdDog Flex 4K IN

4K Full NDI Encoder with Tally, Comms, PTZ Control, PoE+, and DC Power Output

BirdDog Flex 4K OUT
BirdDog Flex 4K OUT

4K Full NDI Decoder with Tally, Comms, PTZ Control, and PoE

BirdDog Mini
BirdDog Mini

Compact NDI Encoder and Decoder

BirdDog PLAY
BirdDog PLAY

4K NDI Player with full support for NDIĀ® 5

BirdDog 4K 12G SDI
BirdDog 4K 12G SDI

4K SDI - 12G SDI, 4Kp60 NDI Encoder/Decoder

BirdDog 4K HDMI
BirdDog 4K HDMI

4K HDMI - HDMI2.0, 4Kp60 NDI Encoder/Decoder

BirdDog 4K QUAD
BirdDog 4K QUAD

4K QUAD - Four channel 12G SDI to 4Kp60 NDI Encoder/Decoder

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