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steps may be taken to ensure that the audio mix is correct and that captions are present. If the delivery mode is ABR, than multiple versions in multiple bit rates will be created. Throughout this workflow, on both sides of every handoff, content quality — or readiness — should be validated. and in the right sequence. If audio elements are not in right sequence, then the facility may have issues downstream. Other factors, such as loudness, low audio, muting, and clipping, also dictate that content be tested throughout its transition to a ready state. In terms of maintaining content quality and integrity, what specific challenges does such a workflow present? Like audio, ancillary data presents plenty of opportunity for error. Whether it supports customer-facing elements such as captions/teletext/ subtitling or provides signaling info such as time codes, this data must be present and correct if it is to enable the key functions it supports. One of the biggest pitfalls lies in the transformation of content from 2K or 4K to a mezzanine format, a process by which content is compressed. Encoding via any lossy compression format introduces the possibility that, as a result of data being discarded, images will be marred by blockiness, a loss of sharpness, or unwanted effects caused by disordered referential frames. Such issues may be the result of an encoder/transcoder that is not calibrated properly, or because a certain sequence in the content simply proved too much for the system. In other instances, artistic elements or the rapid motion of live-recorded content may present information that throws off the encoder. Audio presents a second significant challenge. Frankly, one of the things that our experience and our discussion with customers reveals is that technology has come far enough that handling video is becoming easy. Audio, on the other hand, is the source of many problems. The different ways in which audio must be carried — and where the stereo pair or 5.1 channels, in multiple languages, must be situated — is itself an issue. More and more audio content is being delivered along with source video, and the post facility must figure out, based on the order form dictating delivery, how to create the appropriate mix with all that content. The manifest may identify the kind of video and target bit rate, resolution, and format, with English stereo pair and 5.1 channels, and maybe also the same in Spanish. As all of this work is done, one critical task is ensuring that all content is there ASK OUR EXPERTS With respect to T&M and quality control for time- deferred workflows, what trends are you seeing today? File-based operations offer many benefits, including greater automation, less user intervention, simpler content delivery, fewer errors, and a less-expensive approach to media storage, processing, and distribution. The migration to file-based operations continues to be a major industry trend. The VOD sector and other OTT services, however, have relied on file-based distribution for quite some time. What’s happening in those operations is a jump in the volume of content being handled. Cable operators that previously boasted a couple thousand hours of content in their VOD libraries are today offering upwards of 10,000 hours of content —even hundreds of thousands of hours. What that means is that this colossal content store must be made ready for use in the provider’s file-based environments — and maintained to ensure ongoing readiness. Companies such as Amazon and even Intel, which never before were in the business of providing media, have seen the viability of streaming services and have gotten into the game. So have traditional broadcast networks, such as the BBC, which offers the very popular BBC POST YOUR QUESTION ONLINE: Search ‘tvbay’ Tel. +44 (0)1635 237 237 Email. iPlayer TV service. These new and successful business ventures have proved that OTT is not only viable, but also convenient. It doesn’t require over-the-air service or a dedicated physical service, but rather can ride over another company’s broadband delivery infrastructure and service. These factors are causing the growth of OTT to accelerate. At the same time, streaming technologies have emerged and been refined to address the challenge of providing a quality user experience despite bandwidth limitations and network fluctuations. ABR started with Microsoft’s Smooth Streaming, and the folks at Apple released HLS technology, and then others distributed their own formats. Now, MPEG DASH is coming into play, looking like the next revolution in this industry. The potential of DASH is a popular topic today, and this was evident at the Entertainment Technology in the Internet Age (ETIA) conference, hosted by SMPTE and Stanford University’s Stanford Center for Image Systems Engineering (SCIEN), which featured a dynamic and well-attended panel on Internet media delivery formats. As companies get better and better at distributing higher-resolution content, whether from a broadcast facility at a network operations center or via OTT services over broadband, one truth remains constant: Content is king. At the end of the day, while all the technology enabling these delivery models is exciting — not only for the experience it enables, but also because it opens the door to new providers and players — it is the content underpinning all these services that drives them forward. People want quality content, and they expect to experience it at a high quality. Automated evaluation and validation of content thus plays an essential role in the time-deferred workflows supporting today’s broadcast and OTT service models. Sudeep Bose is a veteran product manager with more than 15 years’ experience and is currently managing the development of Tektronix’ Cerify file-based content analyzer. He is well versed in a variety of technologies and earned a degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. 46 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 79 JULY 2013 TV-BAY079JUL13.indd 46 09/07/2013 16:52