Walk into any new multichannel playout center and you will find what used to be a wall of CRTs replaced with flat-screen displays or back-projectors fed from multiviewers. This brings many advantages: UMDs, audio monitoring and status reporting can be incorporated into the video displays; the relative sizes of video displays can be changed at the push of a button; and the sources can be reconfigured to suit operational requirements (a daytime, primetime and night configuration, with different numbers of operators/channels).
This week Strath Goodship, president and CEO at Miranda, talks about the company’s recent purchase of NVISION and how it will integrate the product line. The purchase, valued at $40 million, was completed Dec. 19.
Routers lie at the heart of any master control system — not only routing the network and local feeds and the video servers to the channels but also switching the sources for the multiviewers. It is the router that gives the multiviewer its flexibility, with the ability to instantaneously change the display configuration.
“Because of the way multiviewers are going, there is more of a need to include large routers on the front end of multiviewers. We have reacted to what the competition is doing,” Goodship said. The recent purchase of NVISION has given Miranda the product range to provide this front end, whereas previously they relied on partnerships with router vendors. This will bring to Miranda (and its customers) the advantages of one control system, one vendor and a single source for support. Add to this Miranda’s line of branding products, and you have most of the hardware for playout, bar the servers.
Goodship has seen a resurgence of large-scale routing, partially driven by the move to 3Gb/s infrastructure. There is talk of the routing switcher being taken over by IP routers. “Now that the bar has been raised by the move to 3Gb/s, there is life left in routing for some time. Broadcasters still prefer to deal with baseband video signals. For standard definition they could possibly go for IP switching, but at 3Gb/s, they prefer [the conventional],” he said.
Goodship described how the design of a 1000 x 1000 digital router is a very large analog problem. Add to that the handling of embedded audio, and the router is still a complex product that cannot currently be replaced with a network switch.
Miranda and NVISION each have control systems for their products. Miranda is currently looking at merging roadmaps for product development, so there’s no immediate answer to the future of the current systems.
NVISION will become a business division and a product line under the Miranda corporate name. Manufacturing will continue at the Grass Valley site, but support will be unified within the existing Miranda structure.
Like all vendors at NAB2009, Goodship is concerned about the traffic levels at the booth. Miranda will be showing the NVISION routers at the Miranda booth to save the inconvenience of running two booths, which often happens after acquisitions. This year at the booth, 3Gb/s will be a big issue. Goodship also expects “more talk about the implementation of 3-D; we will be prepared for that.”
As far as the state of the global economy, “It is extremely hard to read the market, but we remain extremely alert and read the market week by week. We have had surprises in countries where the banks and economies have almost crashed, yet we have done good business. Such events makes it all the more difficult to read,” he said.
“This is a perfect time for the acquisition; being that much larger, we are brought into more deals,” he said. Goodship sees most of the immediate growth being outside the United States, so interest at NAB won’t be such an indicator.
In conversations with other vendors, Broadcast Engineering has heard some very similar remarks. It is very difficult to forecast where immediate business is coming from, and sales can be very unpredictable. Broadcasters continue to launch new channels, especially in emerging markets, plus there is a compelling advantage for a transition to digital to keep pace with the new media upstarts that are diverting their audiences.