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MONITORING Confidence Monitoring in the Modern Broadcast Environment by Graham Taylor, Wohler Technologies M onitoring equipment is often the last element considered in a broadcast system build, and getting its deployment just right is not always a top priority. However, most operations managers and broadcast engineers readily acknowledge the critical role that effective monitoring plays in making their jobs easier. This is especially true today, with broadcast networks growing ever more complex and relying on technologies that were not originally intended for the broadcast environment. Such industry trends have led to the introduction of more problems within the broadcast chain, and the resulting increase in failures has made monitoring a more essential part of operations. To ensure that they address potential problems effectively, broadcasters must monitor at all demarcation points — the inputs and outputs of any system, whether the signal is being sent from one component to another or from one facility to another. Key demarcation points could include the interface to a third-party within the broadcast chain or to the bill-paying customer. In the latter case, violation of the terms of a service-level agreement can cause a problem with the signal handover to result in large fi nes. Implementing Effective Confi dence Monitoring Without suffi cient confi dence monitoring, broadcasters have diffi culty pinpointing the cause of any issue that may arise. The key to implementing an effective (and cost- effective) monitoring solution is to make it as simple as possible to identify problems on any part of the network. If a monitoring solution is too complicated, expert engineers must be redirected from other critical tasks in order to run the monitoring tool. A straightforward unifi ed monitoring system makes it easier for less technical staff to catch and fi x faults. Monitoring models typically fi t into two groups: remote monitoring in central operations and local monitoring in equipment rooms used by engineers. Wohler Technologies’ MPEG Series monitors are ideal for equipment room installations, where they give the engineer eyes on the streams going in and out of the broadcast center. As the fi rst and only compact audio and video monitoring solutions to handle incoming SDI and compressed ASI or IP signals, the MPEG Series monitors are suitable for any point in the broadcast chain. Featuring as many as four integrated displays, one unit can be used to monitor many areas of the broadcast chain. When more signals or more demarcation points require monitoring, several units can be used to handle more signals across the chain. By employing a single unit and just one interface for all signals, broadcasters can signifi cantly simplify their monitoring operations. The most basic monitoring method using MPEG Series monitors is a single-channel-encoder monitoring model, often used in contribution and distribution signal fl ows. (Figure 1) Because MPEG Series monitors can accept both baseband and compressed signals, operators can monitor both the SDI playout feed going into the encoder and the encoder’s compressed output side by side. The baseband input of the MPEG monitor can accept signals from SD- SDI up to 3G HD-SDI 1080p60 with full 4:2:2 support. The decoder in the MPEG monitor is capable of supporting broadcast standards including DVB, ATSC, and ISDB, with video encoded as MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. In the event that multiple encoders within the facility are feeding uncompressed streams from various sources into an encoder and the resulting MPEG streams into a multiplexer to create a multi-program transport stream, MPEG Series monitors can provide visibility all along the signal fl ow. Monitoring between sources and the encoder, the MPEG-2443 and its four 4.3-inch displays enable 56 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 95 NOVEMBER 2014 TV-BAY095NOV14.indd 56 06/11/2014 13:05