ndi_network_switch.jpgNDI® (Network Device Interface) is a free protocol for Video over IP, developed by NewTek. It is designed to allow distribution of live professional video over existing IP infrastructure, freeing users from hardware constraints and gives the benefits of reduced cost and deployment time.

This document will cover the following topics: 

  • Introduction to NDI
  • What kind of NDI-supported equipment is available?
  • How much bandwidth does NDI use?
  • NDI and video compression
  • NDI Compression examples
  • NDI Formats
  • How do you add NDI to your network?

What is NDI?

As the future of video moves towards more network based distribution solutions, NDI is a flexible and versatile solution, allowing multiple video streams on a shared connection. NDI supports high quality, low latency, frame-accurate video over standard Ethernet networks.

NDI stands for Network Device Interface and is developed by NewTek. NewTek announced NDI in 2015, and the protocol was made available for public use early 2016. In 2017, the 3rd version of the protocol was released, adding multicast support, a high efficiency mode called NDI-HX and other features.

Multicast is group communication where content is addressed to multiple destinations simultaneously and has a positive impact by reducing bandwidth use from the NDI transmitter. 

NDI HX is a lower data rate codec which can be used in low bandwidth scenarios, such as Wi-Fi and 4G networks.

What kind of NDI-supported equipment is available?

NDI is supported by a wide range of manufacturers and developers of both hardware and software. As it benefits any network-connected video device and software, you find video mixers, graphics systems, capture cards, and many other production devices with NDI support. Here are a few of the major ones: 

  • NewTek
  • Adobe / Adobe Creative Cloud
  • JVC Professional
  • Panasonic
  • Evertz
  • LiveU
  • Deltacast
  • NewBlue

At the bottom of the article you will find a more comprehensive list.

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NDI bandwidth requirement

The required bandwidth for NDI transmission will vary, depending on resolution and frame rate.  The NDI encoding algorithm itself is resolution and frame-rate independent, and supports resolutions up to 4K and beyond. With its high-end performance over standard GigE networks, it makes it possible to transition facilities to an incredibly versatile IP video production pipeline without negating existing investments in SDI cameras and infrastructure, or costly new high-speed network infrastructures. 

* source: https://support.newtek.com/hc/en-us/articles/217662358-NDI-Network-Device-Interface-Overview

How efficient is NDI in video compression?

NDI uses compression to enable transmission of video streams in the network. According to NewTek, NDI is one of the most efficient codecs in existence

“NDI achieves significantly better compression than the majority of codecs that have been accepted for professional broadcast use. On a typical, modern Intel-based i7 processor, the codec is able to compress a 1920x1080 video signal at 250 frames per second using a single core.

The peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) of the NDI codec exceeds 70dB for typical video content. Uniquely, and importantly, NDI is the first ever codec to provide multi-generational stability. This means that once a video signal is compressed, there is no further loss.

NDI has a technical latency of 16 video scan lines, although in practice, most implementations would be one field of latency.”

NDI Compression examples

NDI compresses the video streams so that the NDI video streams are distributed through the network at a ratio 15:1 to an uncompressed video of the same format. The following is an estimate of bandwidth load per NDI video stream for common delivery formats, and is taken from the NewTek documentation “Adding NDI to your network”:

  • 1 x stream SD video = 20 Mbps
  • 1 x stream 1080p50/59.94 video = 125Mbps
  • 1 x stream 720p50/59.94 video = 90Mbps
  • 1 x stream UHDp30 video = 200Mbps
  • 1 x stream 1080i50/59.94 video = 100Mbps
  • 1 x stream UHDp60 video = 250Mbps 

NDI Formats

NDI supports all resolutions, frame rates and video streams, with and without alpha channel.The most common implementations are expected to utilize 8-bit UYVY and RGBA video, however support for 10-bit and 16-bit is available. The internal pipeline of the codec is maintained entirely at 16-bit or better.

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How do you add NDI to your network?

NDI works on standard IP based networks, where the requirements to make specialized configuration is close to zero. This is because the NDI-enabled devices behave like any other device connected to the network.

While the NDI integration is designed to be as painless as possible, there are some important elements to know what NDI does. The following part is taken from the NewTek documentation “Adding NDI to your network”:

  • NDI uses mDNS for automatic discovery and registration of devices on a network
    • NDI will deliver the IP address and ports of source devices to destinations via a broadcast response
    • The mDNS Ethernet frame is a multicast packet that broadcasts to IPv4 address 224.0.0.251 and utilizes UDP port 5353
    • NDI implementations released prior to October 2016 may only have automatic discovery available as an option
  • NDI includes a messaging server to allow for direct discovery
    • The NDI messaging server utilizes TCP port 5960
  • NDI video streams commence on port 5961, with subsequent ports assigned sequentially based on the total number of NDI streams available on a system.

PRODUCTS USING NDI

The following list was taken from the list at Digteksys.com 28th November 2017. 

Vendor Product Description
Adobe CreativeCloud (via NewTek Plugin) Video Editing / Graphics
Adobe Character Animator Real time Animation Synthesizer
AGF Multimedia CharacterWorks3 Computer Graphics
AJT Systems LiveBook GFX Computer Graphics
Autocue QStart Teleprompter
BannisterLake Chameleon Computer Graphics
BirdDog BirdDog Studio NDI Portable HDMI/SDI encoder
Brainstorm Multimedia Infinity Set Virtual Set
Broadcast Pix Flint Integrated Production Switcher
Capture Sweden Capture Nexum Live Visualization
CasparCG CasparCG  Computer Graphics
ChyronHego PRIME, Lyric Computer Graphics
ClassX LiveBoard Computer Graphics
CombiTech VidBlasterX Video Production System
Dataton WATCHOUT MultiScreen Display System
Derivative TouchDesigner Projection Mapper
DVEO Gearbox / Brutus Transcoder
Epic Unreal Engine 4 Game Rendering Engine
Evertz SDVN Data Switch
Gnural Net LiveToAir Video Server
Graphics Outfitters ScoreHD Computer Graphics
Inklen MixEmergency VJ Mixer
JVC StreamStar Live Production System
Livestream Livestream Studio 4.5 Live Production Switcher
LiveU LU2000 Bonded Video Transceiver
LiveXpert Live CG Computer Graphics
LiveXpert LiveMediaServer NDI Video Server
mogmoglogic DPX Analytics Media Analyser
Nagasoft NSCaster Multi Camera Production System
Nautilus Studio NSport Computer Graphics
NewBlue NewBlueFX Titler Live Broadcast Computer Graphics
NewTek Tricaster Multi Camera Production System
NewTek IP Series Modular Production System
NewTek 3Play Slow Motion and Instant Replay System
NewTek NDI Camera iOS / Android based NDI Camera
NewTek Connect Pro NDI Converter
NewTek IsoCorder Pro Multi Source Recorder
NewTek NDI Telestrator Telestrator
NewTek NDI Transmit WebCam Emulator
NewTek NDI Video Monitor NDI Source Viewer (Windows)
NewTek TalkShow Skype TX Interface
NewTek LiveText Computer Graphics
NewTek Connect Spark HDMI / SDI to NDI HX Converters
NewTek PTZ Camera NDI HX PTZ Camera
NewTek and Vizrt NVG1  Computer Graphics
NewTek and Wowza MediaDS Streaming server
OBS Open Broadcaster Live Production Streaming
Panasonic AV-HLC100 Live Production Center
Panasonic AW-HN38,40,130 NDI HX PTZ Cameras
Panasonic NewTek AutoLink IP Camera Translator
Pizazz NDI2HDMI Converter
Pizazz NDI Viewfinder Converter / Monitor
PlayBox ProductionAirBoxNeo Video Playout
PTZOptics NDI HX Cameras NDI HX Cameras
Quicklink Quicklink TX Skype TX Interface
Renewed Vision ProPresenter 6 Video Playout
Renewed Vision PVP 3 Video Playout
Ross Video Xpression Computer Graphics
Sienna NDICam iOS based NDI Camera
Sienna NDI ScanConverter Desktop ScanConverter
Sienna NDI Monitor NDI Source Viewer
Sienna NDI Source SDI to NDI Converter
Sienna NDI Outlet NDI to SDI Converter (Fill and Key)
Sienna WebCam for NDI WebCam to NDI Converter
Sienna NDI SignalGenerator NDI Test Signal Generator
Sienna WebNDI WebBrowser with NDI Output
Sienna Cloud for NDI Wide Area Network for NDI
SplitMediaLabs XSplit Streaming Server
SQD Technologies Squid Computer Graphics
Streambox Streambox Streaming Server
StudioCoast VMix Video Production System
Telestream Wirecast 7 Live Production Streaming
VideoLAN VLC (via Newtek Plugin) Video Player
VizRT Viz Engine Computer Graphics
Vset3D Vset3DPro Virtual Set
Zen NDI Router NDI Source Router
Zen RTx NDI Source Repeater
Zero Density Reality Virtual Studio

The above list was taken from the list at Digteksys.com 28th November 2017. 

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