What is NDI? Everything you need to know

What is NDI? Everything you need to know
Photo by Christopher Burns / Unsplash

NDI, or Network Device Interface, stands as a revolutionary network protocol facilitating the real-time transmission of audio, video, and metadata signals across standard networks. This bidirectional, low-latency technology supports resolutions beyond 4K and has found applications in both extensive broadcast environments and individual setups for video presentations or game streaming on single PCs.

One of the key features of NDI is its accessibility – it's absolutely free to use. While certain hardware and software solutions may incur costs, NDI itself is readily available, allowing users to tap into its capabilities using tools they may already possess.

Beyond being a transport protocol, NDI offers versatile control over devices such as PTZ cameras, direct capture of video feeds from the network for editing, and establishes a standard for encoding and decoding. Its compatibility with various software applications ensures the delivery of high-quality compressed video. Moreover, an efficient option called NDI|HX simplifies device discovery on a network.

A Brief History of NDI

Originating from a vision to democratize broadcast-quality video, NDI emerged at a time when the broadcast industry heavily relied on SDI cabling for audio and video signals. The transition to NDI aimed to move video signals onto existing networks, providing a cost-effective alternative. Operating on standard Ethernet, NDI facilitates streamlined workflows in the broadcast and digital video realms, significantly reducing costs and expanding access to high-end production capabilities.

NDI's impact extends to professional installations, with houses of worship, schools, live venues, and enterprises integrating NDI feeds to enhance communication. Its free-to-access model has permeated the consumer space, with third-party developers creating plugins for popular software like OBS, enabling compatibility with video meeting platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Live Production Workflow

In professional settings, NDI is commonly used alongside a live production system and video cameras for live or pre-recorded video. Previously exclusive to broadcast, these live production systems are now more accessible to small-to-medium-sized businesses and individual content creators. The setup involves multiple PTZ cameras connected to the network, communicating in real-time with a remote live production system.

OBS Workflow

For a free software solution, NDI seamlessly integrates with OBS Studio, a widely used tool for screen recording and video capture. Combining OBS with NDI opens up a cost-effective workflow for live video production. NDI's compatibility extends to various sources, from high-end PTZ cameras to mobile devices using NDI apps.

Video Game Streaming and Esports

NDI revolutionizes video game streaming by eliminating the need for capture cards. An application like NDI Screen Capture HX, optimized for NVIDIA GPUs, provides hardware-accelerated 4K screen capture capabilities for free. In esports, NDI's scalability enables the effective broadcasting of multiple competitors' displays and camera angles.

Remote Meetings

NDI Webcam Input enhances the video quality of popular conferencing applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Mobile devices can now serve as webcams, improving remote gaming nights and adding versatility to video calls.

NDI - Enabling Creative Freedom

In essence, NDI serves as a catalyst for creative freedom, democratizing access to advanced video capabilities. Whether in professional installations, content creation, or remote work scenarios, NDI has become an enabler of diverse storytelling. The free-to-use model empowers individuals and businesses to craft unique, expressive, and compelling narratives, fostering a richer landscape of storytelling and content creation. Notably, Medialooks Video Transport adds to the robustness of NDI support, further enhancing the potential for seamless video transport.