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Handheld T&M The broadcast emergency service by Will Strauss “ Test and Measurement”. Shudder. Like “Health and Safety”, “Bus” and “Replacement Service” or “Keith and Orville” it’s a collocation of words that fills me with dread. Seriously, who wants to read about “Test and Measurement”? Well, as it turns out, the answer is: quite a lot of people. Because, despite its lack of glamour, it is hugely important. As you read this article there is a very good chance that somewhere in the world an engineer has just been summoned to the control room of a TV studio or an OB van by a director because “one of the cameras doesn’t look right”. Perhaps someone has fiddled with the knobs or accidentally changed the gamma settings. Whatever has happened it’s a potential disaster for the live broadcast that is about to take place and for everyone involved from the director right up to the broadcaster. This is where test and measurement (T&M) comes in. The engineer will use his experience, talent and T&M armory to work out what the problem is, test it and resolve it. This is done all day, every day throughout the broadcasting world from field production to transmission. But, most pertinently, it is done before the problem occurs. If you’re working on a multi- camera shoot, the cameras have to be matched and the eye and jitter levels need to be correct. This requires T&M. During post- production, if you’re working in 2k or 4k you need to ensure that the pictures are ‘legal’ (in a broadcast sense). This requires T&M. In the new file-based world, digital packets need to be tested too, preferably in an automated fashion, as they enter a playout centre for example. That’s also a mission for T&M. And so on. In short, T&M tools allow an engineer to determine whether or not the kit you are about to use is up to spec and ensure that the signals you will send and receive are correctly set up. So, what devices do you need to perform such acts of heroism? In the good old days, T&M was fairly simple. Things like NTSC and PAL didn’t cause too many headaches. Now, engineers have to deal with HD, 3G, 3D, IT, IP, fibre etc all within the parameters of an SDI focused world. The upshot of this is that T&M equipment needs to display a whole range of signal data in a quick and simple way. And in many cases it needs to be portable. Handheld T&M devices are now commonplace. Often found strapped to the belts of engineers the land over, they combine various tools for testing and measuring signals. One such device is PHABRIX’s SxA, an all-in-one 3G-SDI, HD-SDI and SD-SDI portable video test signal generator, monitor and analyser that even does AES audio testing and monitoring. Used in studios, OBs, control rooms and even by other manufacturers, its USP is its ability to generate at one standard and analyze at another within a single device. 36 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE TV-BAY067JUL12.indd 36 05/07/2012 22:24