In Broadcast - July 2012 - 43
ISSUE 10 - JULY 2012 | WWW.INBROADCAST.COM
Automation Needs Innovative Solutions Cont.
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Dell Computers doesn’t sell those. There’s still something about the requirements of audio and video signals that make a play-out system proprietary.” Crispin’s automation offering is its range of Master Control modules, which it says are more than just machine controllers but integrate to form a complete production chain from ingest to transmission. Mood acknowledges that computers and IT have had a major inﬂuence on broadcast technology in recent years but draws an analogy to point out that they are not the dominant underlying technology. “It is new but that’s like saying electric cars are the norm because they’re new technology,” he argues. “The question is whether people will use them. There are many approaches to suit what people are doing, with modularity or proprietary controllers and playback from servers.” Pro-Bel was among the pioneers of software controlled play-out with its COMPASS and MAPP systems, which appeared during the mid to late 1990s. These serial controllers evolved into Morpheus, which is
now branded as Snell and appeared in v.3 form at this year’s NAB. Neil Maycock, Snell’s Chief Architect and Head of Business Development, describes Morpheus as “an ITcentric platform” but still with “quite a lot” of real-time elements. “The basic concept of automation is very easy,” he observes. “You have a playlist and then press ‘go’. But there are many instances where there has to be deviation from the list. Broadcasters that carry news and sports need to be able to work in real-time, so there has to be semi-automation to react to live circumstances. It takes a lot of ﬁnessing but there can also be more straightforward channels that are more IT-centric.” Maycock sees IT as the foundation of modern automation systems but with a speciﬁc application on top to make them applicable to broadcasting. “You have to think about what is ﬁt for purpose for the job and today IT is ﬁt for purpose,” he says.
Shawn Maynard, Vice President and General Manager of Florical Systems, comments that, from the US perspective, many local broadcasters are now looking to centralise their ingest operations and set-up a distribution network between stations in the same group. “They are looking for solutions to consolidate redundant functions across stations without losing local autonomy,” he says. “They are slowly moving away from traditional workﬂows and adopting more IT-centric operations that take advantage of technology to help maximise their business needs.” Maynard continues that Florical has been moving in this direction for some time, with the Acuitas server, which relies on off-the-shelf IT components instead of serialbased proprietary equipment, at the heart of its offering. On the control side are the AirBoss controller, which operates on a drag-anddrop principle for building play-lists, and the SMART Central networked automation system.
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Neil Maycock, Chief Architect, Snell
a playlist “You have press and then ‘go’. But there are many instances where there has to be deviation from the list