Test & Measurement: Ask the expert


Alan Wheable TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Alan Wheable
Issue 107 - November 2015

What should an Eye diagram look like?

There are basically two different approaches to capturing the Eye Diagram from an SDI signal. These are real-time capture (employed by Real Time oscilloscopes) and signal subsampling (employed by Sampling oscilloscopes such as the Omnitek Ultra 4k Tool Box). All broadcast T&M equipment will use one of these approaches to create the Eye Diagram using a variety of proprietary techniques.

Real Time oscilloscopes build the Eye using the complete waveform from a single trigger point and captured from the signal at a frequency at least 2.5 times higher than the signal. Sampling oscilloscopes build the Eye pattern from individual pixels sub-sampled at a frequency lower than the signal with position of each sample offset from the previous.

These two approaches produce a subtly different pseudo-live display which the T&M equipment has processed and filtered to give the most accurate results.

The Eye pattern can be shown with or without jitter superimposed. With jitter the resultant Eye can be thicker, it can have movement and it can close. With 12G-SDI the permitted jitter for some frequencies is 8UI and even at 0.2UI the Eye will close making it difficult to measure accurately. So for most purposes the Eye should be jitter-free so that the signal shape can be seen and the critical parameters of amplitude, rise time and fall time can be measured.

A common misbelief with Eye Diagrams is that one display method is somehow better than another. In practice the method is irrelevant as the displayed Eye Diagram is nearly always the same and this is the important thing when making measurements.

How can I gauge the quality of an SDI signal and why is it so important for 12G-SDI?

The quality of the SDI signal is important as this determines the maximum cable length the signal can be sent and can be defined by the waveform shape and the jitter level.
The waveform shape is different for SD, HD, 3G, 6G and 12G SDI signals. For SD it is almost a square wave but for 12G it is more like a sinewave due to the attenuation of the high harmonic frequencies of the fundamental clock frequency.

Regardless of the clock rate, the most important waveform aspects are the amplitude, rise and fall times. Overshoot and undershoot are indicative of phase differences in the harmonic frequencies (normally due to return loss and signal driver quality) but as long as they are within specified limits they should not affect the overall cable length. Note that current generation, high slew rate driver chips for 12G-SDI can transmit over 60m with Belden 1694 A cable.

Even with the perfect waveform shape, the level of jitter will affect the cable length because the jitter effect is accentuated with lower signal level as the signal rise / fall times are longer. It is essential to remove jitter from the Eye Diagram and monitor it separately. Omniteks Ultra 4k Tool Box employs this method for this reason.

It is essential that Eye Pattern shape and Jitter measurement are within specified limits at the sending equipments output, over a 1m cable and using 100% bars as this is the best way to ensure that the signal can be delivered over reasonable cable length when actual live video is used.
How do I know that my equipment is immune to Potholes?

Potholes (or TRS-Induced Pathological Conditions) are long sequences of ones and zeros that can occur in the SDI data steam when the 8 data streams of the 4k / UHD image are multiplexed onto a single 6G-SDI or 12G-SDI cable. The effect of potholes is jitter, and potentially data errors, in the receiving equipment as it loses and re-locks after each occurrence.

These potholes potentially occur twice in every 512 lines when the TRS preamble sequences from the 8 different streams are multiplexed. For 6G-SDI the concatenated TRS preambles result in 8 consecutive words of 3FFh and 16 consecutive words of 000h. When this is serialised, it will cause 80 ones followed by 160 zeros at the scrambler input. In the worst case scenario, after the NRZI coding, this could produce a run of 179 zeros or ones in the resultant data stream.

To prevent this, a technique known as syncbit insertion is employed to stop these pathological sequences occurring. This requires the modification of the 10-bit parallel interface data stream to replaces the two least significant bits of repeated 3FF or 000 words, on all but the first set of words, with values of 10b for 000h words and 01b for 3FFh words.

Not all equipment employs syncbit insertion so the use of 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI pathological test patterns available on the Omnitek Ultra 4k Tool Box can ensure that receiving equipment is immune to potholes.
Which is the best Test Pattern to use with 4k / UHD equipment?

Due to the construction of 4k / UHD data streams, traditional line test patterns such as colour bars and multi-burst do not always show up underlying issues. With quad link 3G / square division implementations there is a risk that cables (links) can be swapped or delayed with respect to each other which will only show up if an appropriate moving test pattern or pattern sequence is used.

Ideally the test sequence should contain elements that will identify square division and 2 sample interleave artefacts as well as possible temporal issues if the individual link signals (ie quad link 3G or dual link 6G) are compressed or delayed with respect to each other.
What do good Jitter meters tell me?

As the clock frequency of the SDI data streams increases, the effect of jitter becomes potentially more damaging to the data. Timing and Alignment jitter at different frequencies can combine to exceed the permitted jitter level and cause data loss if the receiving equipment cannot tolerate it.

Jitter meters show the Timing and Alignment jitter level at different frequencies and match the SMPTE RP 184 Jitter Tolerance Template which defines the permitted jitter level within each frequency band for each SDI interface type.

Test equipment that only shows one or two frequency bands simultaneously does not give a realistic jitter measurement. Ideally all jitter frequency bands need to be monitored simultaneously. Tools such as Jitter Meters, Waveform, Histogram and Spectrum available on the Omnitek Ultra 4k Tool Box can give an in-depth view of the jitter landscape of the SDI signal.
What should I be monitoring in Ancillary Data?

With the increasingly sophisticated use of metadata to define how the video image is displayed, and audio is heard, it is essential that all Ancillary Data is correct to ensure that the viewer experience is as intended.

Firstly the structure of all data needs to be checked using the CRC word built-in to each data packet. Secondly the continuous presence of the data packets needs to be monitored. Thirdly the content of all data packet need to be checked to ensure that they have been correctly formatted and to do this the packets need to be decoded.

In the case of the SMPTE 352 packet (which defines the video format, image size, frame rate, colour space and link construction) this can be done by simply checking that the signal can be correctly decoded by the receiving equipment. For other data packets, appropriate test equipment such as the Omnitek Ultra 4k Tool Box is required to find and interpret the 50 plus different Ancillary Data packets that may be present on the SDI signal.

Tags: iss107 | test and measurement | sdi | data | potholes | monitoring | anchillary data | uhd | 4k | test pattern | jitter meters | eye diagram | Alan Wheable
Submitted by Alan Wheable Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
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The UPs and Downs At NAB with Mr MXF
Bruce Devlin - new "Nothing is finer than the pictures on that monitor", said my colleague as we stood in front of the enormous Sony LED screen showing super bright, super wide HDR pictures that were beautifully shot and carefully presented.
Tags: iss125 | mr mxf | nab | mam | Bruce Devlin - new
Submitted by Bruce Devlin - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Remote Production - Speed, Control, Infrastructure
Ian Cookson - new Remote production gives broadcasters the ability to capture a wider range of live events, such as regional sports, news or music festivals, and mix them in a remote facility hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Tags: iss125 | calrec | live production | pac-12 | artemis | Ian Cookson - new
Submitted by Ian Cookson - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
A Bluffer Guide to....CMOS
Mike Colyer I like to break my employers' cameras. For me, there is nothing more exciting than considering a daring location to install a micro camera system. It could be in a trackside breaking board at a motorsport event (culminating in slightly-too-extreme close up of, say, a Porsche bumper) - or a system installed a tad too high up a tree in a jungle (where a direct lightning strike can push the system somewhat over its 12 volt max). Thanks to modern CMOS camera design, however, not only can this be done safely (unless you are a camera) - but it can be done cheaply, often with impressive results.
Tags: iss125 | cmos | bluffers guide | ccd | Mike Colyer
Submitted by Mike Colyer Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Is everyone a journalist these days
Rene Morch Today's content consumers have endless viewing and streaming possibilities thanks to the advent of smart phones and tablets that allow them to watch pretty much anything they want, on the go, and away from the confines of a television screen.
Tags: iss125 | dpa | microphone | dvice | Rene Morch
Submitted by Rene Morch Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Can university really set you up?
Jess Sutton When deciding what career you want to go into and which University to go to, there are so many questions that go through your head. I know when I first started considering University, my grades just weren't good enough. I knew which undergraduate course I wanted to do, but I still had a way to go.
Tags: iss125 | university | portsmouth | Jess Sutton
Submitted by Jess Sutton Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Motor Sports - Some Like it Hot
Gordon Capaccio High performance race cars, their drivers, and teams supported by manufacturers participating in a sport for which the combined, visceral thrills and sensations of burning tires, megadecibel roars, pungent racing fuel and throngs of enthusiasts can be difficult to convey, even on the largest big screen television.
Tags: iss124 | motorsport | 3g wireless | imsa | rolex 24 | domo | dtc | prorxd | diversity rf | Gordon Capaccio
Submitted by Gordon Capaccio Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Modernizing the Cutting Edge
Myles Carter - new Over the last decade, streaming as a medium has seen tremendous growth. Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video are no longer just post-hoc distributors of broadcast television content, they have become content creators and are producing some of the most well received "television" content of the past few years.
Tags: iss124 | matrox | ip | h.264 | h.265 | streaming | Myles Carter - new
Submitted by Myles Carter - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Navigating Unfamiliar Territory
Vijay Sagar Vinnakota The traditional broadcast model - where TV networks play content on a linear schedule, and viewers tune in on their TV sets - is under siege. Linear TV is not going away anytime soon, but the model is becoming less and less relevant. Thanks to the rise of OTT services, viewers have become accustomed to watching content when and where they want, on just about any device with an internet connection. For that reason, broadcasters must add an OTT component to their offerings.
Tags: iss124 | cloud | amagi | ott | hls | rtmp | mpeg-dash | yupp tv | netflix | amazon prime | sling tv | Vijay Sagar Vinnakota
Submitted by Vijay Sagar Vinnakota Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Why is drone training even an option
Tim Bearder It's fair to say that one of the most disruptive, liberating and inventive technological advances for independent filmmakers in recent years has been the incredible leaps made in the world of Drones.
Tags: iss124 | caa | drone | drone training | drone academy | Tim Bearder
Submitted by Tim Bearder Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Mr MXF does Vegas
Bruce Devlin - new For quarter of a century I have been boarding planes to Las Vegas every April and the thing I look forward to most is the Sunday morning cycle from the Strip up to the top of Red Rock Canyon to look back down upon Vegas. From up there, you get a sense of perspective of how alien the city stuck in the desert really is.
Tags: iss124 | nab | mrmxf | cloud | ptp | imf | ip | Bruce Devlin - new
Submitted by Bruce Devlin - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Designing the correct workflow
Harry Smith Last year I took a year-long placement as a video editing support technician. The role exposed me to the common issues that students run into when editing their projects, and I developed an understanding as to why they might struggle understanding the complexities of video workflow.
Tags: iss124 | portsmouth | tvfutures | ccitv | post production | Harry Smith
Submitted by Harry Smith Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Controlling the Chaos of Remote Uplinks
Roger Franklin For Satellite Broadcasters, consumer needs have never been so varied. Audiences are increasingly accustomed to personalisation in every type of content they consume. They now demand, or rather expect to receive breaking news from a scene, content specific to their regions and access to live sporting events held thousands of miles away.
Tags: iss124 | uplink | satellite broadcast | crystal | Roger Franklin
Submitted by Roger Franklin Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Thinking clearly about the cloud
Chris Steel 2 As someone who is constantly trying to build better products, I'm always asking questions and listening to the ones I get asked. For several years now I've asked every broadcaster and media production company I've met what they plan to do about 'the cloud'
Tags: iss124 | cloud | marquis | archive | network | Chris Steel 2
Submitted by Chris Steel 2 Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Welcome to the world of filming The Island with Bear Grylls
Paul Scurrell How do you make a polished television show worthy of broadcast on Channel 4 when the camera operators are starving, dehydrated and sleep deprived? Most of them also have no previous experience of professional filming and are more concerned with finding their next meal than making sure they've got their cameras switched on ready to record. Welcome to the world of filming The Island with Bear Grylls.
Tags: iss124 | bear grylls | channel 4 | gopro | timecode | sync | Paul Scurrell
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The Masters of Dirt - Extreme Production
Rian Bester On 22nd April 2017 Inside the Masters of Dirt, the world's wildest unscripted motocross reality series, will launch exclusively on INSIGHT TV in 4K UHD. Produced by Masters Of Dirt (M.O.D) and XTreme Video, the series follows the adrenaline-addicted crew that produces the popular freestyle motocross arena show of the same name.
Tags: iss124 | insight | masters of dirt | motocross | freestyle | fs700 | sony fs700 | 4k | uhd | Rian Bester
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Is now the time to compromise on investment
Mike Ransome - new It would seem on the face of it that many broadcasters and production companies are trimming spending to the bone, or at least postponing it in anticipation of more lucrative days to come.
Tags: iss124 | investment | presteigne broadcast hire | 4k | eng | Mike Ransome - new
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Dick brings out his cutting room scales
Dick Hobbs - new At this time of year, in the run-up to NAB, my in-box is even more filled than usual with press releases craving my attention. It is one of the universal truths so unloved by PR people that the sheer weight of numbers threatens to overwhelm.
Tags: iss124 | cutting room | nab | kpmp | dick hobbs | Dick Hobbs - new
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You need wave power if you are going surfing
Tim Bonython Tim Bonython's association with surfing films began in 1978, when armed with a Super-8 camera he set off to Hawaii's infamous North Shore, to capture the big waves and their riders. From that moment he fell in love with the sport, and became obsessed with making it the subject of breathtaking and inspiring films.
Tags: iss124 | surfing | red scarlet weapon | red brick | pag | battery | paglink system | 153wh | Tim Bonython
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DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel from Blackmagic Design - Reviewed
Rebecca Goodeve - new Blackmagic's new, more affordable control surface for professionals is probably the most perfect panel I've ever used......
Tags: iss123 | blackmagic design | minipanel | davinci | grading | Rebecca Goodeve - new
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Mr Cloud, as much about cashflow balance as technology
Bruce Devlin - new It was an ordinary Tuesday, the last day of February 2017. It was getting late in the day and I was online doing my monthly management accounts and was just finishing the data entry for a very long Invoice when refreshing the expenses Tab on my browser showed this delightful picture.
Tags: iss123 | cloud | mrmxf | aws | amazon web services | Bruce Devlin - new
Submitted by Bruce Devlin - new Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine