Tech Talk - Broadcasting & Cable

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Apple Expands Editing Footprint

At NAB, Apple unveiled upgrades to its Final Cut editing system, which now has more than 800,000 users, and introduced an asset-management/workflow-automation system, Final Cut Server.

The new version of Final Cut, Final Cut Studio 2, includes a professional color-grading and -finishing application, Color, and a new HD compression format, ProRes 422, which delivers "uncompressed HD quality at SD file sizes," according to Apple VP Rob Schoeben. The software will begin shipping in May priced at $1,299.

Final Cut Server, a scaleable server application that supports editing workgroups of any size and enables content browsing, review and approval, is being used by CBS in the new high-definition facility it has created for KCBS/KCAL Los Angeles.

According to CBS VP Bob Ross, Final Cut Server is based on technology from Proximity Corp., which Apple acquired last year. The product will sell for $999 for one software server and 10 licenses, $1,999 for one server and unlimited licenses.

Panasonic Unveils High-End P2HD Camcorder

Panasonic introduced the AJ-HPX3000, a high-end P2 HD camcorder that has five slots for P2 solid-state memory cards and uses Panasonic's advanced AVC-Intra intra-frame compression codec to record high-definition video at bit rates of 50 or 100 Mbps. The camera has three 2/3-inch, 2.2 million-pixel imaging chips and is capable of recording 4:2:2, 10-bit 1920 x 1080 HD images.

Panasonic is pitching the 100-Mbps AVC-Intra recording mode as providing equivalent quality to D-5, its popular HD mastering format, while the 50-Mbps mode will be more suitable to high-quality news production where bandwidth constraints are a key factor. The company contends that its intra-frame recording system, which is based on MPEG-4 compression, provides better quality for post-production applications.

Using five 16-gigabyte (GB) P2 cards, the AJ-HPX3000 provides extended recording time of 200 minutes in AVC-Intra 50 mode at the native 1080/24-frames-per-second progressive format, 80 minutes in AVC-Intra 100 mode for 1080/60i and 80 minutes in DVCPRO HD. Recording time will double with the release of Panasonic's 32-GB P2 card at year's end.

Panasonic's 16-GB P2 cards will be available in May for $900, and the 32-GB card will sell for $1,800.

Avid Launches Playout Server

Avid Technology introduced a play-to-air server, the Media Stream 9000, which supports the Sony XDCAM HD and Long-GOP (group of pictures) MPEG-2 high-definition and standard-definition formats.

The server includes the Palladium Store 2000 storage array, which gives it scalable capacity of 3 to 48 terabytes (TB) and higher throughput with bandwidth of 680 Mbps per array. MediaStream 9000 is expected to be available in the second half of this year starting at $68,000.

Avid announced that more than 150 customers have purchased its Interplay workflow-automation/asset-management system since it began shipping in September, representing a worldwide total of over 5,400 licenses.

Some 85% of Interplay users are news customers, says Jim Bell, Avid Video director of product marketing.

Harris To Handle NFL Replays

Harris Corp. announced that it will provide the National Football League (NFL) with high-definition, server-based replay systems in order to upgrade the NFL's officiating instant-replay system to HD at its 31 stadiums nationwide.

The NFL has placed a large order for hardware, software and services, including 33 Harris NEXIO HD servers as the primary servers, with another 33 providing redundancy; a high-definition version of FORCE (Football Officiating Replay Challenge Expeditor) software; and routing and distribution gear.

The new Harris server systems will replace the current analog instant-replay system, which has been in use since 1999, in 31 stadium replay booths.

Harris also introduced CENTRIO, a multi-image processor designed for large-scale broadcast-monitoring applications. The product, which is based on Harris' Platinum routing architecture and incorporates Inscriber graphics technology, can access up to 512 inputs and drive up to 32 independent DVI displays or 64 independent HD-SDI monitors from a single chassis. It can simultaneously display across monitors of different resolutions and allow picture-in-pictures (PIPs) of varying sizes.

Harris also announced that station group Raycom Media has purchased an end-to-end broadcast solution including video-processing, branding and encoding systems for 37 television stations nationwide. Raycom purchased Harris NetVX ATSC encoding, the IconLogo branding system and NEO modular video-processing products.

Raycom television stations will use the Harris NetVX platform for ATSC encoding of one high-definition and two standard-definition signals multiplexed through their existing ATSC transmission facilities.

In addition to NetVX, Raycom stations will deploy the Harris NEO advanced modular processing platform.

JVC Unveils Wireless ENG Solution

Camera manufacturer JVC has teamed with wireless-transmission specialist Broadcast Microwave Services (BMS) to develop a turnkey camcorder system for live high-definition remotes called ProHD Libre.

The system, which includes a JVC ProHD HDV-format camcorder and an onboard camera-back transmitter from BMS, sells for under $30,000 and allows a camera operator to roam away from a microwave truck to deliver HD pictures.

ProHD Libre is based on a JVC ProHD 200 series camera with a built-in "Super Encoder" that generates a 20-Mbps MPEG-2 stream, which is then fed into the BMS HD Mini-Coder camera-back transmitter via a Firewire connection.

The BMS Mini-Coder, the size of a small outboard battery, then modulates the video at 64-QAM and transmits COFDM with an 8-MHz bandwidth in the 2 GHz channel used for ENG applications. In a typical remote ENG configuration, the BMS receiver would feed the encoded ASI signal directly to the truck's microwave for relay back to the station, without requiring any additional encoding.

"This is going to change ENG in a big way," says Dave Walton, assistant VP of marketing for JVC.

SES Americom Gains Traction For IPTV

Satellite operator SES Americom is continuing to sign up programmers for IP-PRIME, a turnkey service designed to deliver pre-encoded and encrypted content to telcos for their Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) deployments. At NAB, SES Americom announced that Comcast Networks, Fox Cable Networks, NBC Universal, Showtime Networks, and Turner Broadcasting System have joined the IP-PRIME lineup, which now features more than 350 channels.

In Las Vegas, SES Americom was demonstrating the delivery of IPTV content from its multimillion-dollar operations center in Vernon Valley, N.J., to a compact headend system, which then fed content to IPTV set-top boxes from both Scientific-Atlanta and Amino.

SES Americom has teamed with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) to promote the IP-PRIME service, which is currently in the late stages of field trials in four states.

SES Americom is also using IP-PRIME to deliver programming to a new mobile-TV service that Aloha Partners plans to begin testing next month in Las Vegas, which is already a live commercial market for Qualcomm's MediaFLO mobile-TV service.

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