Automation in Uncertain Times


In light of the unfavourable economic outlook broadcasters need to protect their investment in technology like never before. There is a high chance that some products designed to make the broadcast environment more efficient will become obsolete and this in turn will have a knock-on and negative effect on workflow in transmission suite. Although broadcasters will continue to used these ‘end of life-ed’ solutions they will not be supported by the original manufacturer and this will give rise to issues when it comes to play-out automation and the ability of a broadcaster’s system to interface easily with new and replacement solutions.
Over the years, conventional broadcast automation has been developed around device control. However, this leads to issues due to its interdependence on certain devices if they do not continue to be supported. Device specific automation does not provide the flexibility to radically evolve as broadcasting changes but results in a more revolutionary process that tends to result in a new product being developed completely separate from what has been sold before forcing the customers to replace the automation system.
There is an increasing need therefore, to select a flexible, future proofed, software based automation architecture that is not interdependent on the device it needs to control or the interface. The ideal automation system is one which has been developed based on generic workflow principals rather than being device specific.
The ideal automation system is one that has evolved in modular fashion so that when a component becomes obsolete this does not result in an end of life notice for the automation system itself. As an example when the processor card was becoming more difficult to source then Abit took a decision that the valuable software should be ported across to a different platform. However to ensure support for customers using both the old and new systems the baseline software is maintained in such a way that it can be compiled to work on both platforms keeping one baseline of software and hence one development team.
Broadcast Automation in its truest sense therefore, should be all about the automation of media workflow within the broadcasters organisation. The development of the software should be based on a hierarchically structured modular design and thus be as close to platform-independent as possible to allow easy porting to other processing platforms.. The higher layer supports the overall workflow concept, the middle layer provides support for logical devices associated with each functional unit used by the broadcaster and the lower layer handles the protocol and hardware interfacing.
These can either be soft or hard linked and even better if the top two layers are linked through a heavily optimised database as in the Abit system. This provides a fast gateway between the automation system and other equipment including the operator workstations, scheduling system, media archive and ingest paths.
In this way, the logical software can easily be modified to handle the changes without altering the upper level supporting the overall workflow and the lower level protocol and hardware interfacing if a device is upgraded with slightly different functionality or characteristics.
If a new device replaces the end of life device then a new logical device can be developed easily based on a standard structure resulting in no change to the rest of the software. Additionally the model allows the number of logical devices to grow or shrink without affecting the overall structure of the automation system.
The logical device stores information about the workflow within the device, the local media storage and the communication method that could use the Device API, Device Protocol, FTP or SQL dependant on the device capabilities. The logical device is mapped to the actual device using the physical communication links such as Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Serial communication lines or hard wired signals at the lowest layer of the hierarchical model.
As a result an automation architecture developed in this way provides a long term solution and one which will avoid issues with disrupted workflow if interfaced products become obsolete and equally importantly provides the flexibility to allow the overall workflow to be altered easily providing a future-proof platform. Certainly, a valid consideration in these uncertain economic times.

Tags: iss033 | automation | abit | Device API | Device Protocol | FTP | SQL | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Be More with Clear from Prime Focus Technologies at NAB 2017

    Be More with Clear from Prime Focus Technologies at NAB 2017

  • Facility Management Software from Xytech at NAB 2017

    Facility Management Software from Xytech at NAB 2017

  • ROOT6 Technology at IBC 2015

    ROOT6 Technology at IBC 2015

  • Telestream Enterprise at NAB 2014

    Telestream Enterprise at NAB 2014

  • Telestream Switch at NAB 2014

    Telestream Switch at NAB 2014

  • Miranda on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Miranda on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Softron Media Services on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Softron Media Services on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Telestream with Wirecast version five at IBC 2013

    Telestream with Wirecast version five at IBC 2013

  • Telestream with Post Producer at IBC 2013

    Telestream with Post Producer at IBC 2013

  • Cinegy: Multiviewer at NAB 2013

    Cinegy: Multiviewer at NAB 2013

  • Root6 at NAB 2012

    Root6 at NAB 2012

  • PlayBox Technology at IBC2011

    PlayBox Technology at IBC2011

  • Mosart at IBC2011

    Mosart at IBC2011

  • Mac Mini support from Sonnet Technologies at NAB 2019

    Mac Mini support from Sonnet Technologies at NAB 2019

  • GPU acceleration from Sonnet Technologies with Adobe support at NAB 2019

    GPU acceleration from Sonnet Technologies with Adobe support at NAB 2019

  • JVC GY-HM650 upgrade at NAB 2013

    JVC GY-HM650 upgrade at NAB 2013

  • File Catalyst at NAB 2013

    File Catalyst at NAB 2013


Articles
How LiveU Has Changed The Way We Work At ITV Daytime
Tim Guilder As my job title suggests, I’m responsible for planning and executing technology projects across ITV’s Daytime, including outside broadcasts, which are central to what we do. We broadcast live for more than six hours every weekday with four shows: Good Morning Britain, This Morning, Lorraine and Loose Women. With a history as one of the main UK terrestrial broadcasters – of course, we have also evolved alongside the industry in terms of viewing options – we have high standards. We constantly generate new ideas to keep audiences engaged and we also need to be responsive to the latest breaking news.
Tags: iss138 | liveu | itv | daytime | cobham | explorer 8100 | satellite | lu600 hevc | ka-band | lu300 | garland | Tim Guilder
Contributing Author Tim Guilder Click to read or download PDF
Industry Ready Broadcasting Students
KitPlus Cardiff Metropolitan University traces its roots back to 1865, when they opened their first school in an old library. Now Cardiff Met is a global, practice-focused and professionally oriented institution, committed to ensure every student fulfills their potential to make outstanding contributions in their future industries.
Tags: iss138 | newtek | live production | cardiff metropolitain | sports broadcasting | tricaster | cardiff devils | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
The World of 12G 4K/UHD Processing
Varun Patel Technology moves fast and when it comes to audio and video broadcasting, there is always room for improvements in audio and video quality and ease of production. One of the main goals of broadcasters and content providers today is to create an immersive experience for the viewers, giving them the feeling of being part of the viewed content. The 4K/UHD buzz has been in the consumer world for some time but what does that actually mean for the content producer?
Tags: iss138 | lynx technik | ott | greenmachine | yellobrik | conversion | Varun Patel
Contributing Author Varun Patel Click to read or download PDF
Centre Stage for Cameras with All About Eve
Anthony Newton Taking its inspiration from the classic 1950 film, Ivo van Hove’s stage production of All About Eve, starring Gillian Anderson as theatre darling, Margo Channing, and Lily James as the eponymous Eve, retains the themes of ageing, celebrity and obsession. The piece, produced by Sonia Friedman Productions and Fox Stage Productions garnered stellar reviews during its recent run at London’s Noel Coward Theatre.
Tags: iss138 | blackmagic design | micro studio camera | ronin | smartscope duo | Anthony Newton
Contributing Author Anthony Newton Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation: Wings, Fine Coffee and Fake Nudes
Dick Hobbs - new One of the many attractions of this time of year is that I get to meet with my fellow judges for the IBC Innovation Awards, and see what the industry sees as the most important, most forward-looking projects of the day. For me, this says what the key talking points are going to be in September, far more eloquently than the endless press releases from vendors which are already tumbling into my inbox.
Tags: iss138 | ibc | smpte 2110 | deepnude | cisco | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF