Boradcast playout on-site and in the cloud


Don Ash TV-Bay Magazine
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Broadcasters come in many shapes and sizes, each with their own unique set of ambitions and their own preferred route to success. Some are happy to innovate, particularly if it increases staff efficiency or reduces operating costs. Others prefer to let their competitors do the innovating and then follow whatever path appears to work best. Thus the industry has advanced from dedicated hardware to more flexible and cost-efficient software running on 'enterprise-platform' comput-ers, and more recently to virtual devices.

When we commenced operations nearly 20 years ago, computer platforms had achieved enough speed and reliability that they could perform impressively useful tasks without needing plug-in boards to deliver extra 'grunt'. We built on that maturity, designing and delivering playout sys-tems which sold in their tens, their hundreds and later their thousands. Key to this success was the recognition that 'enterprise platforms' ranged in customers' minds from high-end no-compromise desktops to low-end laptops in which performance was sacrificed in favour of energy efficiency. The solution was obvious: we took care to integrate our products into a proven plat-form so that we and our customers really could speak the same technical language.

Virtual devices

For PlayBox Technology, the introduction of 'virtual devices' meant introducing a parallel offering rather than making a technical transition. Exactly 10 years ago, we introduced the EdgeBox re-mote playout system which gave broadcasters, content production organisations and content owners, the option of hosting their programme archives and playout servers at the distant end of an internet connection. All they needed in their own premises was a computer capable of running an ordinary web browser plus a reasonably fast internet link for uploading file-based audiovisual content to the host service-provider. The core EdgeBox installation sits at the broadcaster's choice of remote playout centre, typically a 24/7 service provider in whichever town, city, country or con-tinent the broadcaster prefers. Programme scheduling, ad sales, media management and moni-toring are all performed in the usual way on the broadcaster's premises, usually at its headquar-ters. EdgeBox was so far ahead of its time that even today we see competitors trying to reinvent it.

CloudAir

CloudAir, which we announced at IBC 2015 and continue to refine, carries the EdgeBox concept further and simplifies the entire business of putting a new television channel on air. It is a univer-sal television playout and streaming system capable of continuous unattended operation.

A key advantage of virtual playout is setup speed. An efficient broadcast playout service-provider using CloudAir can make a 24/7 channel live in far less time than is needed for traditional server-plus-software or dedicated hardware systems. The actual time to put a new channel on air is re-duced from months or weeks to a matter of hours. Once a broadcaster is settled into this mode of operation, a new channel can be activated within minutes. This level of flexibility also makes CloudAir an ideal basis for transient content streams such as 'red button' channels created to pro-vide supplementary information during a specific programme series or outside broadcast event.

IP-based content uploading

Until just a few years ago, the majority of programmes and commercials were delivered to site on video tape. This was slow, expensive and required ingest staff to possess and maintain a varie-ty of playback decks able to handle the many competing tape formats. With the almost global rollout of optical-fibre networking, an increasing amount of content now travels as data files via an IP link from producer to broadcaster. Virtual delivery has thus become a core element of the virtual playout model. CloudAir accepts MPEG1/2/H.264, HDV and DV streams from practically every known production platform. These can be output in a variety of file formats including AVI, MPEG, WMV, Quick Time or MXF. Files from third-party servers are natively supported. CloudAir also delivers on-air graphics which can be controlled interactively.

Operational simplicity is a vital aspect of broadcast network management. A properly designed virtual playout system enables television channels to conduct their entire operation (from content acquisition, refining and archiving, right through to playout) via a single highly-reliable platform which can be accessed and managed from practically any location, any time. An essential element of this model is the provision of templates which customers can preconfigure to match their re-quirements, eliminating any need for subsequent manual interference. Flexibility is equally vital. Every clip in a playout schedule, except the one which is currently playing, needs to be accessible for trimming, editing or repositioning. Operators need the freedom to change playlist order on the fly using commands such as skip-to-next or jump. Changes must be achievable seamlessly without stopping the current playout session.

Live production

Most important of all is the need the accommodate live production. CloudAir facilitates this via a Live Show clipboard which allows insertion and/or execution of various events or live streams. Multichannel broadcasters gain the ability to schedule channels with local programming and ad-vertising for specific single or multiple regions rather than using multiple satellite feeds with ad-insertion.

Summary

When funded by the client as an operational-expense service, virtual playout with CloudAir frees a channel owner's investment capital to meet the overheads of originating, acquiring or refining content. It additionally offers broadcasters a basis for very cost-effective, space-efficient and reli-able disaster-recovery. When specified correctly, cloud-based playout, backup and disaster recov-ery to be achieved all-in-one.

Where does CloudAir leave our flagship AirBox Neo product range? That survives and thrives as the modular system which powers many existing and future CloudAir installations on the service-providers' premises. Many existing AirBox and AirBox Neo users are also becoming very aware of the potential for running on-site and CloudAir as a rapidly scalable hybrid.


Tags: iss127 | playbox | playout | cloud | edgebox | airbox | neo | cloudair | Don Ash
Contributing Author Don Ash

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Contributing Author Mike Colyer Click to read or download PDF
The Pitfalls of Online File Sharing and Sending Services
Mike Nash Easy-to-use, readily-accessible, and consumer-oriented, online file sharing platforms such as Dropbox and Google Drive are, to end users, a pleasant replacement to older file transfer methods such as FTP. FTP is complex to use and requires IT intervention to make almost any change. The pain associated with FTP, which was developed in the 1970s, is one of the factors that opened the door for the rise of online file sharing services in the workplace.
Tags: iss131 | ftp | signiant | efss | dropbox | google drive | ftp | ofss | media shuttle | Mike Nash
Contributing Author Mike Nash Click to read or download PDF
Security, Identity and Privacy
Bruce Devlin - new Put your hand up if you have more than one online-identity. Keep your hand up if the adverts for your latest online purchase follow you between identities as you surf the web. You can now let your hand fall into your lap because adverts that follow you indicate algorithms that have merged your multiple identities into the one and only you.
Tags: iss131 | class | Security | Identity | Privacy | gdpr | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
Betting Industry Transformed by Video Technology
Chris Thornton In the betting and gaming industry, the streaming of live sports from across the globe is a big business. It’s proven that revenues increase when bettors are able to watch the event that they have placed a bet on, providing a far more engaging experience.
Tags: iss131 | sis | betting | latency | satellite | jpeg2000 | Chris Thornton
Contributing Author Chris Thornton Click to read or download PDF
The Ongoing Evolution of Subtitling Technology
Dean Wales As a subtitling technology developer and manufacturer we’re currently and frequently hearing remarks along the lines of us ‘having it easy’ at the moment. This has typically spun out from the fact that there hasn’t been any really significant and therefore demanding technology shifts in the industry that have affected us for a while.
Tags: iss131 | captions | subtitling | ott | speechmatics | live subtitling | live subtitles | Dean Wales
Contributing Author Dean Wales Click to read or download PDF
Broadcasting Indoor Sky Diving
Daniel Harker Barnes When you say you’re broadcasting skydiving, there are two types of reactions. One is the creative, who’ll say something along the lines of “Wow. Those shots must look great” and other is the engineer who’ll say “That must be a real hassle to get all the infrastructure in and secure.”
Tags: iss131 | sky diving | ally adams | roaming camera | Daniel Harker Barnes
Contributing Author Daniel Harker Barnes Click to read or download PDF
Slow Motion Video Techniques
Phil Vinter Well, those kinds of higher frame rates still pretty much belong to the big guns. The Phantom Flex will give you 2,000 frames a second at ultra HD or 1,000 fps at 4K. It produces truly stunning images, but at a price that is beyond the reach of all but those with the biggest budgets. The camera retails at a cool £100,000 (I’ll have three please) with a daily hire out charge of around £3,000 (including lighting and a technician). IDT’s OS series cameras produce equally high quality images at a cheaper price, but you’re still talking tens of thousands.
Tags: iss131 | slo-mo | phantom | idt | fs7 | fs5 | rx10 mk111 | hfr | Phil Vinter
Contributing Author Phil Vinter Click to read or download PDF
TV Futures, Tales on Location
Georgia Thirtle If I think back to last May, I was just finishing my second year at the University of Portsmouth, studying Television and Broadcasting, and winding down for the summer. Then out of the blue I got a message from my course leader, saying I might be getting a call from someone who was a location manager working for Raider productions, you know, the production company behind the upcoming Tomb Raider film, I mean, what!?
Tags: iss130 | portsmouth university | tomb raider | cci tv | ccitv | Georgia Thirtle
Contributing Author Georgia Thirtle Click to read or download PDF
VR and the importance of tracking
KitPlus I would like to begin this article by clarifying what we at Shotoku mean when we talk about VR in live production. It’s not the production of immersive, 360 content where you need to wear a headset; we are talking about virtual studio (VS) and augmented reality (AR) work, such as placing graphics into a green screen environment or physical set. The technology used for this work is entirely different, though equally specialist – therefore it is important to understand the challenges of this kind of production in order to make informed kit choices.
Tags: iss130 | shotoku | vr | live production | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
Grand slam IPTV and digital signage platform
Joe Walsh Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, is home to major league baseball’s Kansas City Royals. Built in 1973, “The K” has a proud baseball legacy, and goes down in history for winning two World Series championship titles; one in 1985 and another in 2015 — exactly 20 years apart. The most recent win brought a resurgence of baseball fever to the stadium, hosting more than 2.7 million fans during its 2015 winning season.
Tags: iss130 | iptv | vitec | eztv | Joe Walsh
Contributing Author Joe Walsh Click to read or download PDF
The shining star of Dancing On Ice
Rod Aaron Gammons Lighting is an incredibly important part of any TV production, and it can make a huge difference to what is seen on-screen. If the right lights are used in the right way, it can create a mood, set a tone and convey a certain atmosphere.
Tags: iss130 | rotolight | led lighting | anova pro 2 | chris yacoubian | Rod Aaron Gammons
Contributing Author Rod Aaron Gammons Click to read or download PDF
How IP-based KVM can improve workflow in broadcast control rooms
John Halksworth One of the most significant shifts the broadcast industry has seen over recent years is the adoption of IP technology as a standard infrastructure across the entire broadcast workflow. IP provides a network suitable for routing audio, video and control around a broadcast facility and is providing the answers to many industry challenges.
Tags: iss130 | kvm | adder | adderlink | alif100t | John Halksworth
Contributing Author John Halksworth Click to read or download PDF
Interview with Peter Rowsell, Polar Graphics
Polar If you don’t recognise the name Peter Rowsell instantly you no doubt would recognise him in person, from the famous ‘Pink Coconut’ parties during IBC (Brighton) in the 80s or the name ‘Polar Video or Polar Graphics’ both companies which he’s built up over the years.
Tags: iss130 | polar graphics | apantac | bluefish | cinedeck | focalpoint | mediaproxy | stardom | storagedna | Polar
Contributing Author Polar Click to read or download PDF
Out of the box: Sennheiser Ambeo VR microphone
Jon Pratchett 2 The use of 360 video, especially on platforms like Facebook and YouTube is really starting to take off. Gone are the days when you needed to buy multiple GoPros and rigs in order to get something decent looking. Now players like Insta360 and even GoPro with their fusion 360 camera are providing single camera, high quality solutions, enabling the masses to put out reasonable quality, certainly watchable, 360 video.
Tags: iss130 | vr | virtual reality | audio | ambiosonic | Jon Pratchett 2
Contributing Author Jon Pratchett 2 Click to read or download PDF
Six steps for award winning sound design with Jungle Studios
Chris Turner Few can argue that great sound design is one of the most important elements to any moving picture. Mute most horrors, and the difference in fear factor will be enormous. Visualize Jaws or Star Wars, and John Williams’s iconic score will instantly come to mind.
Tags: iss130 | jungle studios | fairlight | blackmagic design | davinci | Chris Turner
Contributing Author Chris Turner Click to read or download PDF
NAB is all about people
John Smith -new The relative success of NAB is down to people. The individuals we meet, the relationships we make and renew with customers and the desire to work together to develop a technology solution to any given challenge.
Tags: iss130 | media links | nab | mdp 3020 | md8000 | John Smith -new
Contributing Author John Smith -new Click to read or download PDF
Tried and tested: DPA d:vice
KitPlus KitPlus recently took delivery of an interesting piece of equipment for review. We like our iPhone gadgets here. For us, useful iPhone gadgets started when the Olloclip lens gave us a wide angle adaptor. This was a good start, finally evolving into a proper tool when Ziess produced the Exolens system for the 5,6 & 7 series iPhones. Around the same time as the Olloclip came out we were testing the Fostex AR4i which was a very exciting development at the time. You have a portable device, that you carry everywhere with you, connected to the world but with very limited audio capabilities. A stereo interface with decent microphones was a real boon!
Tags: iss130 | dpa | dvice | iphone | journalist mic | filmic | ios | microdot | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
Reliable back-up at the Music City Bowl
Sam Gordon WLEX – LEX18 – is the NBC affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky, and part of the Cordillera Communications Group. As a very popular local station with a broadcast area that covers 40 counties across central Kentucky we have a big commitment to news, broadcasting more than seven hours of live programming on a typical day.
Tags: iss130 | wlex-tv | dejero | engo | gobox | cellsat | Sam Gordon
Contributing Author Sam Gordon Click to read or download PDF
Transforming asset management and monetization
Chad Hamilton FremantleMedia is one of the largest global television-production companies in the world — with one of the biggest and most valuable catalogs. We operate in 36 markets, creating, producing, and distributing content across traditional TV and digital platforms at a rate of more than 10,000 hours of programming per year.
Tags: iss130 | freemantlemedia | core | wazee | Chad Hamilton
Contributing Author Chad Hamilton Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation
Dick Hobbs - new

On the most recent occasion I was trimmed, my hairdresser had just returned from a holiday in Hawaii.

Where she thought she was going to die. She thought this because the state’s emergency alert system was triggered, sending messages across all available platforms, for 38 minutes, that a ballistic missile was about to strike. That, I suspect, is the sort of thing that casts a pall across your holiday.

Why did it happen? Essentially it happened because an operator selected the wrong menu item. “I feel very badly from what’s happened,” he is quoted as saying, in a somewhat mangled version of English which may at least in part explain his difficulties with menu items.

Tags: iss130 | alertsense | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
Why OTT needs multicast ABR
Damien Lucas Last year, Netflix’s global revenue reached $11 billion, with 24 million new names added to its subscribers’ list. Viewers are certainly making their preferences heard – and voting with their remote controls to show that over-the-top (OTT) content is here to stay.
Tags: iss130 | ott | abr | adaptive bit rate | cdn | dsl | lte | Damien Lucas
Contributing Author Damien Lucas Click to read or download PDF
Technological advances in the broadcast industry
Alan Wheable Since it is Omnitek’s 20th anniversary this year, I thought it would be interesting to look back over the technological advances in the broadcast industry over the last few decades and look at the similarities between then and now.
Tags: iss130 | omnitek | test and measurement | smpte 2110 | untra tq | 2022 | sdi 2022-6 | Alan Wheable
Contributing Author Alan Wheable Click to read or download PDF
Innovation in cameras moving to 4k
Tony Valentino For a number of reasons, wireless camera links needed time to migrate to 4K. However Broadcast Sports International, BSI, designs their own cameras and builds their own hardware and their transition to 4K is already complete.
Tags: iss129 | bsi | ref-cam | wireless | 4k | Tony Valentino
Contributing Author Tony Valentino Click to read