Chyron Introduces HD Branding System

Graphics supplier Chyron displayed a turnkey branding system called Channel Box at NAB last week. The system is switchable between high-def and standard-def formats and is designed to be used with broadcasters' digital television channels. Channel Box features 3D design and controllable playout for branding applications like tickers, crawls, promos and end credits and can be integrated with traffic and automation systems. It is scheduled to ship mid summer.

“We expect significant uptake for this product,” says Chyron Senior VP Kevin Prince, who adds that Channel Box will compete with existing HD branding products from Miranda and Pinnacle.

Celebrating its 40th year in business, Chyron also announced an entry-level HD-switchable graphics system, the HX200, and a major upgrade to its high-end Lyric graphics software called Lyric Pro. Lyric Pro uses a full-time renderer that allows objects and scenes to be added, removed and transitioned at any point during an animation, regardless of the progress of messages already being shown on-air. Its “Interfuse Technology” allows unique effect properties to be assigned to individual objects and graphics layers.

“It's Chyron's most significant software release ever,” says Prince.

Omneon Introduces MediaGrid

Server supplier Omneon Video Networks announced a major strategic shift into the nearline and archive-storage market with MediaGrid. The new product uses multiple standard IT-based components and Gigabit Ethernet networking to provide access to large digital media files to multiple users and is designed to provide centralized storage that is scalable in capacity, bandwidth and processing power.

“There's no architectural limit on the size of the storage,” says Omneon Executive Chairman Larry Kaplan.

Omneon has been developing MediaGrid since 2002, and it is being beta-tested by Discovery and Turner. Kaplan sees it as a major growth source for Omneon. He estimates that the media storage market is worth $500 million to $700 million a year—roughly three times the size of the video-server market.

Panasonic Pegs MPEG-4; Raycom Chooses DVCPRO P2

Panasonic announced at NAB that, starting next year, it will begin supporting MPEG-4 compression (technically compliant with the SMPTE H.264 standard) in its P2 tapeless acquisition format.

The optional AVC-Intra (Advanced Video Coding-Intraframe) compression will be available in April 2007 and will provide the same video quality at half the bandwidth of DVCPRO HD, says Panasonic Director of Product Marketing Joe Facchini. “MPEG-4 will be the next transition,” he says, adding, “but DVCPRO has served us very well.”

Panasonic will continue to use its popular DV compression in the P2 cameras. The company's strategy is to support both formats to provide an easy upgrade path for P2 customers.

Panasonic does not intend to support MPEG-2 compression, which is used in rival Sony's XDCAM product and will also be supported by Grass Valley's Infinity camera. Facchini says lacking MPEG-2 support is only a near-term problem because the industry is quickly moving to embrace MPEG-4.

Panasonic also announced that Raycom Media has purchased DVCPRO P2 series camcorders and P2 drives valued at more than $2.2 million to launch the second phase of converting its news operations to P2 technology. An early adopter of the P2 solid-state acquisition format, Raycom's second purchase of DVCPRO P2 includes 85 hand-held AG-HVX200 camcorders, 40 shoulder-mount DVCPRO P2 camcorders, 125 AJ-PCS060G P2 Store drives and 8GB P2 cards.

The stations getting new gear are WTOL Toledo, Ohio; WAVE Louisville, Ky.; KFVS Cape Girardeau, Mo.; KOLD Tucson, Ariz.; WAFB Baton Rouge, La.; WDAM Hattiesburg, Miss.; WECT Wilmington, N.C.; WFLX West Palm Beach, Fla.; WMC Memphis, Tenn.; WTOC Savannah, Ga.; WOIO Cleveland; and KCBD Lubbock, Texas.

Raycom announced its decision to switch to P2 last May, and converted two of its stations last year, then inherited seven more P2-equipped news operations when it acquired Liberty Corp. Once the recent P2 installation is completed this year, 21 Raycom stations will be using the DVCPRO P2 format for news acquisition.

Hearst-Argyle Sings Harmonic's Praises

Hearst-Argyle Television is upgrading the digital-TV operations at its stations with digital compression technology from Harmonic. To support multicasting within its DTV spectrum, Hearst-Argyle is installing Harmonic DiviCom standard- and high-definition encoders and using the DiviTrack statistical multiplexing solution to maximize picture quality over multiple program streams.

Hearst-Argyle is also using Harmonic's NMX Digital Service Manager to monitor service performance and control and automate critical functions. Says Joe Balkan, Western regional director of engineering, Hearst-Argyle Television, “Harmonic has allowed Hearst-Argyle to more efficiently use our precious broadcast spectrum, which has enabled us to deploy new digital strategies.”

JVC Capturing GMA

JVC says that ABC is using its HD100 ProHD HDV-format high-def camera to capture the opening shot of Good Morning America from ABC's Times Square studio in New York. In addition to the GY-HD100s used at GMA, ABC is also utilizing cameras for ABC News productions to inter-cut material shot on high-end HD cameras. ABC's London news bureau now has three HD100s implemented with AVID Express non-linear editors.

“ABC has purchased a number of JVC HD100U cameras for use in support of ABC's Good Morning America production in HDTV and for other various ABC News productions,” says Preston Davis, president, television operations & engineering, ABC Television Network. “We have been pleased with the performance so far and look forward to their use in the future.”