I recently spoke to Dan Miall, CEO of an exciting company called BirdDog. Founded in 2016 and based in Melbourne, Australia, BirdDog is currently less than 2 years old, but has already won the Best of NAB 2018 award from Streaming Media.
The BirdDog story
Dan had made a career in post-production having worked in sales positions at Avid for about 8 years. He later used this expertise to build a distribution business for content creation products in Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia. When NDI came along, Dan figured it was an opportunity he and his team were willing to bet on and started a company whose primary mission was to make video production simpler by bringing NDI as close to the camera lens as possible:
Here at BirdDog, we set out to allow productions to harness the inherent power and flexibility that IP workflows, and NDI in particular can add. By producing innovative hardware and software that not only replace but enhance traditional approaches, BirdDog technology enables next-generation video productions of all sizes, complexity and budgets.
Dan doesn’t disclose exact numbers (I wouldn’t also in his place), but I could tell from our discussion that things are more than just picking up—BirdDog is killing it in several growing areas of video production and is really taking advantage of the growing adoption of NewTek’s NDI tech. The key areas where Dan sees his products being used are college sports, corporate video production and e-sports. He believes that all of these areas are just in the beginning of their adoption curves, which is in line with what we feel here at Medialooks with our NDI-enabled video transport.
A BirdDog converter is a small box that is mounted on a camera back. The currently available version, Studio, has two inputs: SDI and HDMI. This dual input feature is especially handy for e-sports, where the HDMI input takes care of the gameplay (originating from a PC or console), and SDI brings in the camera, which is pointed at the gamer. These two sources are simultaneously converted to NDI and delivered to the switcher via a single Ethernet cable.
The uncompressed mentality
I asked Dan about his thoughts on wether NDI would ever make it into the larger broadcast (which is really a theoretical question—I’m not sure wether or not it has to). Dan’s answer to this is extremely simple: NDI is good enough for all levels of production, and it’s what he called the “uncompressed mentality” that doesn’t allow high-end production workflows to embrace it:
The beauty of NDI is it’s seamless interoperability between products produced by hundreds of manufacturers — it is the easiest, most complete IP production format available today.
At NAB this year BirdDog announced its new Mini device, which is HDMI-only and retails for $595. Another addition to the product line is Comms, which is a piece of software designed for Microsoft’s Surface and makes it possible for the producer to speak to the camera operators with a push of a button (all BirdDog converters have a 3.5 mm headset connector).
These new announcements are a clear indication of BirdDog being attentive to what they hear from customers, who are not just NDI-curious, but are ready to move forward and completely transform their production workflows:
We are extremely excited about our upcoming BirdDog Mini — the worlds smallest hardware-based NDI encoder, BirdDog Comms — the worlds’ first NDI-enabled Visual Audio Comms system and BirdDog Link — the only hardware-based NDI decoding solution for ultimate quality, speed and reliability. We feel these three major announcements, all shipping very soon round-out NDI as a complete ecosystem for live productions.