In Broadcast - July 2012 - 42


WWW.INBROADCAST.COM | ISSUE 10 - JULY 2012

InMEDIA
Automation Needs Innovative Solutions
Over the last 25 years automation technology has dramatically changed the way television is broadcast. Now this specialist market itself is adapting to a concentrated period of change, as broadcasters increasingly turn to file-based operations and the influence of IT technologies making all-in-one systems viable. On top of this the marketplace has consolidated, with two significant takeovers, but at the same time it is seeing the introduction of many “channel-in-a-box” packages. The layout of the automation business changed significantly in March 2009 when Snell & Wilcox and Pro-Bel merged their respective processing, interfacing, routing and switching businesses. The new joint company was rebranded Snell, with Pro-Bel’s Morpheus large-scale broadcast play-out product the centrepiece of its automation offering. Last year the company moved into the channelin-a-box arena, combining DVEs, routing and audio processing with automation based on Morpheus and an Integrated Content Engine (ICE). A year-and-a-half later, in September 2010, Canadian group Miranda Technologies, known for monitoring and master control products, bought OmniBus Systems, a UK company that had been in the vanguard of ITbased automation. The acquisition gave Miranda the iTX as its playout offering, catering for even large broadcasters who were looking “to lower costs and streamline their operations,” as Strath Goodship put it (President and Chief Executive at the time). During June this year Miranda entered into an agreement that would see US conglomerate Belden, which has a broadcast and production division but is probably best known for cabling and interconnection products, take over its business following a strategic review of its place in the market. Automation was clearly a major consideration in both Miranda’s assessment of itself and Belden’s decision to push on with the acquisition. When Miranda bought OmniBus Goodship further commented that “The addition of OmniBus, and specifically iTX, allows Miranda to uniquely offer the complete range of playout solutions, from traditional hardware to a fully software-based environment.” Scott Rose, Product Manager for iTX, comments that in the two years since the Miranda-OmniBus buy-out the automation sector has “changed a lot”. There is, he says, still a place in some parts of the world for mechanically-based play-out systems, with a carousel containing programme tapes controlled by a computer running scheduling software, which was the norm approximately 20 years ago. “Some specific customers have kept the same chain of equipment to provide TV, including FLEXICART, vision mixers and a non-integrated video server,” Rose comments. “But we don’t see anyone buying that new these days, although there are some hesitant late adopters of the
Kevin Hilton

Kevin Hilton examines the latest developments in broadcast automation systems
modern technology, mainly because they don’t have a driving reason to install it.” The customers Rose has met over the past 18 months are now relying on installations with fewer moving parts and more integration of previously disparate devices. “People are looking at the risk and reliability issues and there has been more consolidation in terms of buying the equipment and also in operating and maintaining it,” he says. “Customers are thinking about spending more on this area to make savings because staff want more money every year.” The Sony FLEXICART is a tapebased mechanical system; cassettes are loaded into the machine, which is run by scheduling software to load the right programme tape into the play position at the right time. Peter Hajittofi, Managing Director of Pebble Beach Systems, observes that this venerable piece of equipment is still used for ingest work if broadcasters need to digitise videotapes, although the instances of this happening are decreasing. Pebble Beach Systems produces both a big enterprise system, Marina, and a channel-in-a-box , Dolphin. Hajittofi says the company is still seeing a lot of business for the larger systems, which are known within the industry as “best of breed”. These remain mostly the preserve of the major public broadcasters that are connecting existing equipment such as video servers, graphics engines and subtitle generators with automation. Hajittofi adds that because Dolphin runs on the same control system as Marina, users can “mix and match” according to their needs. “They might be running other channels alongside their main output,” he explains, “so something like this gives flexibility.” Tom Gittins, Pebble Beach Systems’ Sales Director, points out that automation systems have had to adapt to a broadcasting landscape in which even the definitions of “broadcaster” and “channel” have undergone a subtle change. “A broadcaster can be anything from a big public organisation like ZDF in Germany to a niche channel with low advertising revenues to commercially or politically funded stations,” he says. “They all have different technical requirements because of their business and financing. Within that a channel can have lots of live, dynamic events as well as pre-recorded material, or it can be a hosted service that is just played out.” Because of this, says Gittins, automation can be misinterpreted as a control system for a channel box or even a controller working with a particular product but questions whether that is fair or correct. For a working definition of the technology he says, “automation is a platform to control multiple devices.”

Merging Playout

Venerable Systems

42

Peter Hajittofi, Managing Director, Pebble Beach Systems

Scott Rose, Product Manager, iTX

some “there arelate hesitant adopters of the modern technology, mainly because they don’t have a driving reason to install it...

”

Another potential area of confusion is whether the increasing adoption by broadcasters of file-based operations is the same as ITcentred automation. Rodney Mood, Chief Executive of Crispin, sees a distinction, saying that although 80% of stations in North America have file-based systems that does not mean they have a complete IT approach. “Many channels are doing file operations even if they are using proprietary play-out systems that include a video server,” he says. “I’m not sure what an IT solution is. An automation system needs a digital signal processor and
CONTINUED ON PAGE 43

IT-Centric Shift


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - July 2012

In Broadcast - July 2012
InNEWS
InREVIEW: BroadcastAsia Highlights
InSPORT: London Games Infrastructure
InVIEW: Fibre Optic Technology
InSOUND: What’s New In Audio Mixing
InSOUND: DIGICO RELEASE CONSOLES RANGE
InMEDIA: Automation Innovations
InMEDIA CLASS: RELIABLE APPROACH TO WORKFLOWS
InMEDIA: MARSHALLING MODERN BROADCAST OPERATIONS
InTECH: SATELLITE UPLINKS: FAR FROM STATIC
InTECH: EUROVISION SUCCESS FOR RIEDEL MEDIORNET
InFORM: MISTIKA POWERS NIKE’S 2D INTERACTIVE ADVERT
InFORM: SUBTITLING EXPLAINED
InGEAR: RYCOTE EXPANDS MICROPHONE SOLUTIONS
In Broadcast - July 2012 - In Broadcast - July 2012
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 2
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 3
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InNEWS
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 5
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 6
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 7
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 8
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 9
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 10
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 11
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 12
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 13
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 14
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 15
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 16
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 17
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 18
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 19
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 20
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 21
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InREVIEW: BroadcastAsia Highlights
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 23
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InSPORT: London Games Infrastructure
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 25
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 26
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 27
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InVIEW: Fibre Optic Technology
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 29
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 30
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 31
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InSOUND: What’s New In Audio Mixing
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 33
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 34
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 35
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 36
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 37
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InSOUND: DIGICO RELEASE CONSOLES RANGE
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 39
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 40
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 41
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InMEDIA: Automation Innovations
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 43
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 44
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 45
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 46
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 47
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InMEDIA CLASS: RELIABLE APPROACH TO WORKFLOWS
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 49
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 50
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 51
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 52
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 53
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InMEDIA: MARSHALLING MODERN BROADCAST OPERATIONS
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 55
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 56
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 57
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InTECH: SATELLITE UPLINKS: FAR FROM STATIC
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 59
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 60
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 61
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InTECH: EUROVISION SUCCESS FOR RIEDEL MEDIORNET
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 63
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InFORM: MISTIKA POWERS NIKE’S 2D INTERACTIVE ADVERT
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InFORM: SUBTITLING EXPLAINED
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 66
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 67
In Broadcast - July 2012 - InGEAR: RYCOTE EXPANDS MICROPHONE SOLUTIONS
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 69
In Broadcast - July 2012 - 70
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_NABSHOWNYexpo
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_20110708_DEMO
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201610
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_inshowguide2016
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201609
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201608
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201607
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201606
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/lesommet/inbroadcast_APAC03
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201605
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_NABSHOW2016
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201604
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201603
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_cabsat2016
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201602
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201601
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/lesommet/inbroadcast_APAC02
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201512
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_CCW15expo
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http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_BROADCASTASIA2015
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http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_NABSHOW2015
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http://www.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201501
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxteu/lesommet/inbroadcast_201412
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