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The Panasonic Connect KAIROS IP Platform is Becoming a Centralized Toolbox for Every Video Production

Panasonic Connect has expanded its KAIROS platform with two new Core mainframes and software enhancements that will increase the platform’s scalability to support larger and more complex video productions.

The proliferation of streaming workflows has challenged production teams to create more dynamic content that delivers high volumes of quality video and graphics to multiple screens. Yet, the specific scale, budget, and production requirements vary significantly.

The Panasonic Connect KAIROS platform, which costs about $30,000 in a minimum configuration, scales to meet the needs of any production. The new products include the KC2000 Core, which boasts input and output capacity by 200 percent along with offering more video processing power and a much larger 900 GB internal clip player. A smaller Core unit, the KC200, is also available.

Both new Cores can support SMPTE 2022-7 network redundancy when connected to two 100Gb ST 2110 networks. The 4RU Chassis for both the KC200 and KC2000 offer significantly reduced audible noise levels appropriate to run in a remote venue or studio rack.

Michael Bergeron

Michael Bergeron is currently managing Panasonic Connect’s broadcast studio systems business. He is currently focused on the KAIROS IT/IP based live production platform.

Broadcast Beat’s Frank Beacham spoke with Bergeron.

Frank Beacham: Panasonic has expanded the KAIROs system. Could you give us a layman’s overview of what the KAIROS system is and what it does?

Michael Bergeron: In many ways, KAIROS is like a switcher. But it’s more general purpose than that…it’s also a video processor. It has an open-ended amount of output that’s based on total pixels. We can create content on it using video, video sources, graphic sources…any kind of any kind of format, and then mash those together into layers — sort of like Photoshop — and then create outputs for various screens.

People are using more LED walls, rear screen projectors, lobby monitors and other video displays…it’s perfect for use in public spaces with lots of displays. It’s also excellent for broadcasts or webcasts.

Frank Beacham: Can all of this content be mixed, produced and fed simultaneously to different platforms such as display screens, webcasts and broadcasts?

Michael Bergeron: Yes, it can all be done simultaneously. There are two ways to approach the user interface. One looks like a switcher panel that can be set up for anyone to operate. Also, there is the GUI interface. Things can be layered there…like you are using After Effects.

Mac or Windows displays can be used as our assignable player. Every control can be assigned to do a different task. Our Creator Software is where you do the creative set-ups. Once you’ve set-up your show, then it can be controlled from a either a complex or a very simple panel.

KAIROS has both a built-in IP switcher and IP routing. The system is basically a central computer that can do any kind of production and send it anywhere at any frame rate or any resolution.

We went from SD to HD, HD to 4K. I remember there was a lot of talk about what’s the next format going to be…will it be 8K? I said that the next format is going to be no format at all because we are not tied to formats anymore. When people are producing content for large screen projects, projection mapping or massive LED walls, they don’t really think in terms of format anymore.

Yes, there are limitations to what fits a particular output, but other than those constraints, we can we can build whatever we want.

Frank Beacham: KAIROS natively supports SMPTE ST 2110 IP connectivity…including some Panasonic cameras. I know that combines the scalability of IP with SDI. Why is that standard important to this system?

Michael Bergeron: SMPTE 2110 is really a combination of low latency — meaning no delay of SDI — and multipoint. You can send any uncompressed source that comes into a 2110 network to any other source as long as you just assign it to what IP address it’s going to on a network. It replaces SDI routing and is far more flexible.

If I plug a 2110-compatible camera into the network, it can be seen as an input. If I want to record it, I just have that IP route it to the recorder. We also still work with SDI and HDMI equipment or a combination of all of them. The system basically adapts to whatever equipment you might have.

I can program presets into macros on my control surface. I can hit a button that calls up any camera and sends the signal to a preset location and changes the background to something else. I can operate the movement of a robotic camera. This system is very flexible.

Frank Beacham: The KARIOS switcher is described as virtual — meaning you can take any button on the switcher and assign it in any way. Is that the correct way to look at it?

Michael Bergeron: Yes, being virtual means two things. When I press a button, it is communicating a message to the KAIROS computer to do a function. The other meaning of virtual is you’ll will see a bus that’s creating an output. That acts like a mixed effects bus.

Frank Beacham: Ah, so one way to think of it is like a very sophisticated computer mouse?

Michael Bergeron: Yes, but it can capture several commands at one time. Say you do a dissolve, a fade to black or whatever, by just pressing that one button. Any button can be assigned to any function.

Frank Beacham: Panasonic Connect has a cloud native version of KAIROS coming out. How would that work?

Michael Bergeron: Because the KAIROS software is running on a server, it’s possible for us to also use it on the cloud. We’ve been in the process of combining this with other with other products and building additional software.

We are looking at a real virtualized control room, which in the end we can run in the cloud. But it needs more work. We want to do graphic inserts, then mix that with something and feed it back and forth to a content delivery network for a webcast.

We are working with some folks who are building a full cloud system and we can integrate our system with their system. What we want is to have a complete control room in the cloud that you can that you can call up on demand. Many people see the cloud as something they use for one event and then take it down. There is still a bit of effort required to set these things up. We are trying to streamline that.

Frank Beacham: You’ve introduced two new products. What are their benefits?

Michael Bergeron: One thing is we are making the hardware a little more AV like and a little less like IT hardware intended to go into a machine room. We have a lot of customers who want to put these devices into fly packs and ship them around for rental.

The new hardware is enclosed in a new AV-style chassis. It’s not as deep and will fit in an AV rack. It’s also operates much quieter. In the case of the KC 2000, it’s also going to be more powerful with more bandwidth on the input and output. It’s going to double the number of sources that’ll pass through it. This will be useful for larger media server applications where folks are doing a lot of 4K production in arenas on big screens.

Frank Beacham: What parts of an existing system are upgradable?

Michael Bergeron: Our systems are in three parts. The control units, the Creator Software and then the Core. The new products upgrade the Cores.

If you have the panel and controls in a 2110 network, you just drop in the new Core.

Frank Beacham: Do you have a roadmap for where you’re headed in the future?

Michael Bergeron

Michael Bergeron: Our roadmap will be driven by our customers…where they want to take this. But I expect we’re going to spend our Moore’s Law dividends, as you will see computing power doubling every couple of years.

We’re also looking ahead to switchers and GPU processors increasing their power on a regular basis since giant screens the size of a city block need to be filled. We’ll be able to address this kind of production in a much easier way. We also expect to get into the upper echelons of sports and broadcasting as the coming years.

To me, the most interesting idea is the on-premises servers and the cloud working together. They don’t need to be separate from each other. You can have functionality that’s running on the cloud and you can have it running locally too. That will allow you to do things like temporarily scale your system up. Or have access to features like slow motion replay that you don’t use very often.

At Panasonic Connect, we’re a group that creates different products. One division may make robotic cameras, while others make displays and projectors. We all get together and compare our notes on what we can do with KAIROS. That’s where creativity happens. We’ll be able to tie our products together to make them work better.

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