Tech Talk - Broadcasting & Cable

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Pro-Bel Intros 3-Gig Router

UK-based Pro-Bel is broadening its router range with a compact router, Cygnus, which is 1080-line progressive (1080p), 3 gigabits-per-second (Gbps) native and offers up to 576 x 576 routing in a single 26-rack-unit housing, including power-supply units; there is also a 288 x 576, 18-rack-unit version available.

Cygnus has four reference inputs for multi-standard operation, allowing for frame-accurate switching at the correct point for multi-standard operation or simulcast HD/SD broadcasts.

Pro-Bel will also show its Morpheus Foundation entry-level automation system for the first time. The system—which handles ingest, media management, playout and device control—is designed for one- to six-channel operations and costs around $50,000 per channel.

The system has a Windows XP interface but shares the same proprietary software code as Pro-Bel’s flagship Morpheus product, says Neil Maycock, president of Pro-Bel Americas. That allows it to be expanded to a Morpheus-level system, the “kind of thing the networks are running,” says Maycock. He considers that to be key in differentiating his system from other entry-level automation products.

Tribune Multicasts With Masstech

Tribune Broadcasting is using a content-processing device from Masstech Group, the MassMedia Box (MMB), to support its DTV multicast service The Tube, which is carried by 18 of Tribune’s 23 stations.

When a Tribune station receives The Tube program feed and its associated playlist, the Masstech MMB automatically gathers the required local commercial content and then reads the automation system’s prep data in order to trim the files to the proper length for insertion.

According to Masstech Senior VP of Sales Joe French, the level of automation the MMB provides is important to ancillary DTV services like The Tube, whose business model calls for it to be run with as little manual intervention as possible.

“When The Tube comes down, they take in the ASI [asynchronous serial interface] stream and stitch in new content like downstream commercials,” says French. “For Tribune, it means they can localize content without ever touching anything.”

Omneon Bows Low-Cost Server

Server and storage vendor Omneon is introducing high-definition MediaPort input/output modules that connect into its Spectrum media server for ingest and playout. Where Omneon customers previously had to use third-party HD encoders to compress video into the high-definition format, the company’s new MediaPort 5000 series integrates HD encoding into the Spectrum product.

The new MediaPorts, priced at less than $45,000, plug into the Spectrum server. The MediaPort 5300 has a multirate MPEG-2 HD encoder that can compress video at rates 20-80 megabits per second (Mbps). It can support either the 4:2:0 (main) or 4:2:2 (studio) compression profiles, with a choice of either Long-GOP or I-frame encoding. The 5301 has one HD input; the 5302 has two.

Omneon is also introducing MediaDeck, a low-cost, integrated server built on Spectrum technology. MediaDeck, priced at under $36,000 for three SD channels and 4 terabytes (TB) of storage, is aimed at smaller stations that can’t afford full-blown Spectrum systems as well as at time-delay and backup applications in larger facilities. The company will also show a new grid-based transcoding application that works with its MediaGrid storage system to convert files from one format to another.

“Since transcoding has become part of the fabric of file-based workflows,” says Omneon VP of Worldwide Marketing Geoff Stedman, “it’s important to have it integrated right into the server.”

Sony Offers Small-Scale Storage

Sony will introduce a smaller-scale storage system, HDXchange, aimed at collaborative production for groups of fewer than 20 users. HDXchange has 8 TB of storage, equivalent to 250 hours of HD video at 25 Mbps, and can transcode content to different data rates for such applications as Web publishing or archiving.

Sony will also preview a device-control automation system for news production based on its MVS-8000 switcher and will show a new dual-layer XDCAM optical disc that can store up to 50 gigabytes (GB) of data, double the current capacity. Such higher-capacity discs will pave the way for future XDCAM HD cameras that have 2/3-inch imaging chips and are capable of recording at 50 Mbps, versus the current range of 18, 25 or 35 Mbps, says Sony Broadcast Chief Technology Officer Hugo Gaggioni.

Gaggioni hints that the MPEG-based XDCAM format might show up on other recording technologies besides optical disc in the future, although he declines to give any details. There are several options: The competing Panasonic P2 format uses solid-state memory cards, and other vendors have experimented with hard-disk storage.

KYW Launches HD News

KYW Philadelphia became the first CBS owned-and-operated station to provide a hi-def newscast when it broadcast the late edition of Eyewitness News in 1080-line interlace (1080i) HD on April 2, following the NCAA men’s basketball championship game. The newscast was the first program to originate from a new 120,000-square-foot HD facility CBS has built to support both KYW and CW affiliate WPSG.

The new facility includes two TV studios, two production-control rooms, a centralized master-control room, a satellite-feed operations center, and a sixth-floor deck for live outdoor weather reports. CBS has installed a tapeless newsroom, HD cameras and editing gear to support its upgraded newscasts. The station group has been overhauling technical facilities for a number of its O&Os to support HD, building new plants in Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago and rolling out Sony XDCAM HD optical camcorders for field production.

New Archiving Tool From SGL

Software Generation Limited (SGL), a UK-based video-storage/archive software supplier, will show the latest version of SGL Flashnet, part of its FlashNet Archive Management Suite for scalable storage, archiving and backup functions. SGL will demonstrate a complete archive data workflow including ingest, browse, archive and disaster recovery with full scalability, resilience and fail-over.

SGL FlashNet was recently selected by PBS member station WTTW Chicago as part of its HD channel archive. WTTW has integrated the SGL archive-management system with an Avid MediaStream 8000si server and a StorageTek SL500 Library system and interfaced it to its Sundance Digital automation system.

NBCU Taps Signiant

NBC Universal is using specialized software from Burlington, Mass.-based Signiant to help transfer digital files—whether large high-definition files or low-resolution broadband content—among its myriad properties via a mix of fiber, satellite and Internet links.

Signiant’s Digital Media Distribution Management Suite is being used by NBCU in a variety of applications, including distributing news content to affiliates, ingesting user-generated material, downloading television content to reviewers worldwide, sending movie dailies between studios and post-production houses, and delivering finished content to networks and online portals.

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