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Professional Video-over-IP Distribution Basics

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What Is Video over IP and How Does It Work?

Video over IP is a widely used method of delivering video content to an audience over a local or wide area network where media inputs are deconstructed into different streams and then sent over an IP network as individual data packets. Meaning users can watch real-time video and audio content, similar to watching a television broadcast. In the context of media production networks, video over IP can be perceived as a newer alternative to SDI broadcasting which has been a standard for many years.

Video-over-IP Use Cases and Applications

1. Multicasting Video Streams  over IP Networks

IP multicasting allows the distribution of video and audio to any supported number of displays on a network. In digital signage, for example, a single content source can deliver multimedia to hundreds of displays through one AV transmitter with no need to run dedicated video links from a back room to displays in lobbies. For easy integration, consider using transmitters and receivers that install directly into the existing LAN infrastructure.


Use IP video multicast switches and set the transmitter and receiver to the same multicast or unicast channel so that all IP multicasting settings are automatically configured. Just connect your source, your display(s) and a network switch.

2. Video Wall Management over IP

Video-over-IP technology facilitates video signal and format management and opens up new possibilities for user-friendly and highly-scalable video wall control. Set up a video wall by transmitting video signals from multiple sources to multiple screens over an Ethernet network.


3. Video-Distribution-over-IP Applications

Video distribution over IP can be used in several settings including:

  • Broadcast studios
  • Multimedia and graphics post-production
  • Medical imaging
  • Classrooms
  • Retail digital signage deployments in stores and malls
  • Control rooms and command centers
  • Corporate video sharing and training

4. Keyboard Video Mouse over IP

KVM-over-IP technology extends keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) signals from any computer or server over an IP connection, enabling an effective way to remotely manage servers regardless of their physical location. Integrated with BIOS-level access, system administrators can monitor and respond to server issues from virtually anywhere over an internet connection. For this reason, server management with remote KVM switches has become a critical component in most data centers today.

5. Video-over-IP Server

Network video servers, also known as IP video servers, enable the transfer of video feeds into other video servers/PCs or deliver streams for direct playout (via IP interface or SDI). For example, in surveillance, an IP video server can be used to turn any CCTV camera into a network security camera with an IP-based video stream capable of being broadcast over an IP network.

6. IP Video Matrix System

A video matrix switch, also called a cross-point switch, is a type of switch that connects multiple inputs to multiple outputs to form a multipoint matrix. Video matrix switches can be configured to switch any supported number and type of inputs and outputs. Each input on the switch can be routed to any output source or receiver, or the same input can be routed to all outputs or any combination in between. For example, an 8 x 8 matrix switch can route eight inputs to eight outputs, one input to eight outputs or any combination up to eight. This eliminates the need to manually move cables to display video from different sources on different screens. It is most commonly used now with HDMI video.

An IP video matrix system allows video to be distributed, extended and formatted over an IP network, unicasting or multicasting individual video signals to a matrix of screens and displaying video content on multiple video screens. This gives users an infinite number of individual video distribution configurations. It’s commonly used in applications such as broadcast, control rooms, conference rooms, healthcare, industrial manufacturing, education and more.

Video-over-IP Solution Devices

1. Video-over-IP Encoders

Video-over-IP encoders convert video interface signals such as HDMI and analog or embedded audio signals to IP streams utilizing standardized compression methods such as H.264. Black Box provides solutions that allow you to transmit high-quality video over a standard IP network for display of HD content on one screen — or multicast signals to multiple displays — check out the VS2000-ENC H.264 Encoder page for more info.

2. Video-over-IP Decoders

Video-over-IP decoders extend video and audio over any IP network. Black Box offers solutions that can receive high-quality video over a standard IP network like the VS2000-DEC H.264 Decoders. Because the decoder uses H.264 compression and requires very low bandwidth, it's extremely efficient when decoding full HD video and analog audio. It also supports AAC audio encoding, so the audio signal can be delivered with low bandwidth but high quality.

3. Video-over-IP Extenders

Video-over-IP transmitters and receivers allow the extension of AV connections from a simple point-to-point to a multi-point to multi-point setup via LAN.

Video-over-IP Bandwidth Requirements

Network-based, high-quality video and audio distribution are becoming a challenge due to increasing bandwidth requirements and end-user expectations. New network technologies and standards, as well as compression algorithms, will help mitigate these challenges, yet there are still additional costs for required infrastructure and migrating legacy components. Nevertheless, current developments in AV and KVM technology allow the transmission of high-quality video that consumes less bandwidth than ever before and make management of small-to-large scale IP-based AV networks both comfortable and future-proof.

Video-over-IP Standards and Considerations for Video Distribution

Here are some takeaways when considering high-resolution image distribution for your project:

  • If you want to stream up to HD video, look for products that support resolutions of 1080p60 and 1920 x 1200 only. Support for higher resolutions can mean higher bandwidth consumption and higher costs, although this is not true for all solutions
  • Learn about the type of compression used, since specific codecs strongly vary in price. For example, you might want to consider encoders/decoders utilizing a relatively high-priced H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec for high-quality, low-bandwidth projects
  • Synchronizing video channels and using optical fiber connectivity enables video extension of resolutions up to 4K and even 8K across very long distances today. This method provides enough bandwidth for uncompressed, high-resolution DisplayPort 1.2 video signals, keyboard/mouse, RS232, USB 2.0 and audio
  • Latest compression technologies allow the lossless transmission of video signals at a resolution of 4K @ 60 Hz, 10-bit color depth. Lossless compression requires more bandwidth to transmit video signals but provides crystal-clear images and latency-free operation

Things to Consider When Deploying Your Video-over-IP Project

You should ask yourself some questions before starting your research on components to build-out your AV-related application:

  • Can the new AV-over-network solution be integrated into my current network topology, even at 1G Ethernet infrastructure?
  • What image quality and resolution will be good enough, and do I need uncompressed video?
  • What video inputs and outputs will have to be supported by the AV-over-IP system?
  • Do I have to be prepared for the next big video standard?
  • What’s your latency tolerance? If you’re planning to distribute video only (no real-time interaction), you may have a high latency tolerance and don’t need to use real-time technology
  • Will I have to support multiple streams for simultaneous on-premises and internet consumption?
  • Are there any compatibility issues with existing/legacy components?

Black Box can help you design an AV- or KVM-over-IP distribution system tailored to your specific needs. Based on extensive experience and a unique product portfolio, our experts will recommend you the right mix of components.

Black Box IP video solutions enable you to extend P2P or multicast HDMI video and audio to up to 256 screens on a network, making them ideal for distributing digital signage content or other HD video and audio across an Ethernet network. Visit our AV-over-IP Switching Solution – MediaCento page to find out more.

Learn more in our white paper – Video Transmission over IP: Challenges and Best Practices.

Call us at 1.877.877.2269 to set up a free demo of any of our solutions.

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