Utah Scientific's New IP Router

Longtime broadcast-router supplier Utah Scientific is heading to NAB with what it's billing as a breakthrough product: a 24-port IP (Internet Protocol) router that can be controlled like a traditional video router. While the new Utah-400 IP router is designed to work with Gigabit Ethernet (Gig-E) switches, it can provide real-time control of those switches, which are generally shared by multiple users in IT environments, in contrast to the point-to-point switching that traditional broadcast routers use.

“Real-time control of an Ethernet IP switch is kind of unheard of,” says Utah Scientific CEO Tom Harmon, adding that the new product should help address network-congestion problems that broadcasters sometimes face using Gig-E networks to move large files around.

The Utah-400 IP taps the built-in quality-of-service settings of Gig-E switches to manage traffic priorities and control port speed, meaning that high-priority items, such as a newscast lead-in, can be assigned to a high-priority port with a higher port speed. It has a built-in standard-rack control panel that allows operators to control switch parameters instantly. The product can be upgraded to work under Utah's traditional SC-4 control system to give stations integrated control of broadcast and IT routing devices.

The IP router has been under development for about a year and will begin shipping this spring, starting at around $5,000. While IP routers from companies like Cisco are commonplace, Harmon says, he senses strong demand with broadcasters: “The convergence of IT, IP and broadcast is coming like a freight train.”

Miranda showcases remote monitoring

Montreal-based Miranda Technologies is introducing the iControl Remote Station Monitoring (RSM) package, which was developed to allow a network operations center to monitor both video and audio of multiple regional stations. iControl is based on Miranda's years of experience with SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol)-based monitoring.

It uses Kaleido-Alto-HD multi-image processors at each remote station for signal monitoring and probing, and the signals are streamed back using Allegro encoders as full-motion video and audible audio to the iControl RSM desktop monitoring station.

iControl can be expanded to allow monitoring of up to 16 locations, and it provides instant access to signal information, allowing operators to access multiple facility views in order to reach appropriate signal or alarm data. The system also offers exception-based monitoring, which directs operators' attention to the source of alarm conditions without distraction from correctly functioning signals. Comprehensive signal probing alerts operators to many faults, including signal loss, video freeze, video black and audio silence. Such technology has been tested by such networks as PBS to remotely monitor distant member stations.

Volicon Becomes Hi-Def Observer

Media-monitoring and -archiving firm Volicon, Burlington, Mass., says its new Observer-HD broadcast monitoring and logging system will be available by the NAB Show. It provides HD-signal logging and monitoring, with support for Dolby Digital 5.1-channel audio, for two or four channels that can be recorded and stored for 30 days and longer.

Observer-HD accepts signals from an HD-SDI (high-definition serial digital interface, or 1.5-gigabit-per-second) input with embedded digital audio. It is optimized for widescreen pictures, allowing stations to monitor video and audio quality as well as closed-captioning data. Like the company's standard-definition Observer, the system will support large numbers of simultaneous users with 24/7 access to live and archived HD content from Windows-based desktops. Broadcasters can record, store, search, retrieve and view HD material in real time from multiple broadcast sources; content is archived on RAID-5 storage for quick access.

Station group Raycom Media recently installed standard-definition Volicon Observer systems at 30 stations and purchased an Observer Central Monitoring system, the first to be deployed, to enable monitoring of all of the stations through a single Web-based interface at any location.

Snell Pitches Image “Conditioner”

Video-processing specialist Snell & Wilcox has developed a “video-image-conditioning system” called Protus Ph.C, which is designed to optimize conventional broadcast video for delivery to mobile-TV, Web or IPTV platforms that require significant bandwidth reduction. Applying Snell's proprietary image-processing algorithms to a piece of video before it hits an encoder, Protus Ph.C allows content to be compressed more efficiently and can reduce the bit rate required by 10% or more, says Snell VP of Marketing Joe Zaller.

A key feature of Protus Ph.C is its ability to use motion compensation to de-interlace video in order to make it suitable for progressive-scan displays, which are ubiquitous in the PC and mobile environments. The device also performs noise reduction and scales the image for the correct picture size, aspect ratio and frame rate required by mobile devices and computer screens. “There are no more wasted pixels,” says Zaller.

At NAB, UK-based Snell will also introduce a high-definition version of its Alchemist Ph.C format converter, Alchemist Ph.C-HD, which performs frame-rate conversion for both the 1080-line interlace and 720-line-progressive HD standards; SD standards conversion; and HDTV upconversion, downconversion and cross-conversion.

Nvision Jumps Into Compression Market

At NAB, Nvision will demonstrate a high-definition encoder that uses the H.264 advanced compression scheme, also known as MPEG-4 Part 10/AVC (Advanced Video Coding), which it says can deliver high-quality HD video at bit rates of 6 to 12 megabits per second.

The HD H.264 encoder, which uses eight compression chips provided by corporate sibling Telairity (Investor Jim Meadlock is chairman of both companies), will ship in the second quarter, competitively priced, says Nvision President/CEO Chuck Meyer.

While U.S. outets rely on MPEG-2 compression, new services like mobile TV and IPTV use advanced compression, and H.264 has potential internationally, where Grass Valley, Calif.-based Nvision wants to expand. “For the majority of the world,” says Meyer, “MPEG-2 isn't what they're going to do.”

Nvision is also introducing the NV-5128-MC system, which combines digital master-control functions and multi-format routing in the same equipment frame.

The system, which includes local branding features like multi-level video keying, logo store and two-picture “squeezeback,” is aimed at smaller stations looking for cost-effective solutions. It integrates with legacy equipment and sells at $30,000-$50,000 per channel.