Having a strong combined audiovisual (AV) and IT skillset has become critical for IT professionals.
“Every year we see the gap between AV and IT narrowing as skillsets converge,” says Pam Taggart, vice president of content creation at the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA). “AV is increasingly moving onto the network, but understanding how AV operates in a physical space, in addition to cable, is vital to effectively serving customers.”
For example, the MSG Sphere at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, benefits from a blend of AV and IT technologies. The 15,000-square-metre venue, built to deliver 16K high-definition video and audio experiences via 164,000 speakers, uses an entire system build on internet protocol (IP) to process uncompressed video.
“It is becoming very common for an IT-trained individual to be responsible for audio, video and lighting since all of those jobs need AV network knowledge,” says Taggart. “Many IT professionals were launched into the realms of AV and unfamiliar protocols, needs and requirements due to the rise in businesses streaming corporate addresses from their CEOs to employees, the ubiquitous use of hybrid meeting tools and spaces, the flexibility of networked audio and digital signage for multiple applications, and cybersecurity concerns extending to audio and video applications.
“AVIXA has also seen a rise in individuals with an IT background attending our InfoComm show, webinars or courses, all looking to develop AV networking skillsets to address pain points in their daily work. While we had addressed AV networking from the AV professional’s perspective, we hadn’t referred to it in our courses focused on the IT viewpoint.”
Consequently, AVIXA has launched a new training and certification programme called ‘AV for IT pros’ to help individuals understand the convergence of IT with AV. The course is designed to reflect what IT professionals care about the most when it comes to AV.
“The course will help participants understand the work processes between AV and IT by covering the essential strategies for accommodating AV within existing IT networks, AV control systems and managing AV traffic and bandwidth,” says Taggart.
The course will gradually cover these aspects across five one-hour e-learning sessions. For example, the first session will cover the roles of IT and AV, whilst the second will highlight how to prepare an IT network for AV.
“Decisions around static and/or dynamic IP addressing will then be covered in the third session,” says Taggart. “Then we’ll move onto network planning, firewall configuration and quality of service work to ensure appropriate bandwidth and minimise latency, troubleshooting and security auditing. None of these terms or steps would be unfamiliar to IT; the course’s purpose is to explore the areas where AV is handled differently within this process.”
AVIXA also aims to outline the numerous applications and protocols governing AV functionality, such as video conferencing and streaming, that are impacting the integration of AV within IT networks.
“IT professionals may be familiar with protocols for AV over IP, such as real-time transport protocol and dynamic adaptive streaming,” says Taggart. “However, individuals from IT backgrounds are typically less familiar with protocols for AV control, which are also vital to the total system function for applications like streaming, hybrid meetings, digital signage and other common AV use cases. It’s not a case of everything works with everything; it’s vital to check that the input and output devices, encoders and decoders, and control systems are compatible.”
Within this context, the course briefs learners on common AV control protocols such as HDMI consumer electronics control, which is the Recommended Standard 232 for data transmission and digital multiplex. It also identifies common AV protocols such as AV bridging, Dante, software defined video-over-ethernet and IP protocol media experience. In addition, IT professionals will learn how to manage AV traffic effectively.
“Everything starts with a good needs analysis and an understanding of where AV will require some slightly different practices from the typical network design and management,” says Taggart. “Bandwidth, latency issues and compatibility are key items that can make or break the performance of AV systems on the network, and there are practices to address these such as segmenting AV traffic from other types of traffic on a given network.”
All of this will prepare media professionals for the fusion of IT and AV technologies.
“The course provides a comprehensive overview of available elements, quick pros and cons, and explains why these aspects need consideration, as well as how they interplay with networks,” says Taggart. “Those who want to continue with a deeper dive into these AV-specific protocols as well as AV over IP can move on to other courses with AVIXA such as the ‘Understanding AVoIP Protocols, Ports, and Sockets’ mini course or any of the ‘Audiovisual LAN’ series of courses.”
Learn more at: avixa.org/trainingcatalog
This article was originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.