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06.23.2005
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Strong showing for automation vendors at BroadcastAsia2005

BroadcastAsia2005 and its counterpart, CommunicAsia, saw strong representation from automation vendors at last week’s conferences. Throughout the Pacific Rim, broadcasters were looking to set up new channels. Although transmission is predominately analog, digital is developing quickly in the region.

Many of the big names from the U.S. and Europe showed products at the conference. Playout system vendors included Dalet, Etere, Florical, Harris, IBIS, JustEdit, Omnibus, Pro-Bel and Sundance. Automation companies included Autocue and Avid.

Jim Moneyhun, Florical Systems president, discussed his views on the future of playout automation. He said that traffic, rather than master control, should manage playout. This view fits with the flexible scheduling demanded during sports coverage and other fast-changing programming.

Centralcasting is another area where more flexible control by traffic is needed, with the ability for both local and central traffic departments to modify playlists. This topic is under review by a SMPTE committee.

Ascent Media, Singapore

Ascent Media Network Services Asia (AMNSA) provided guided tours of its facility located a few miles from the Singapore convention center. The showpiece of the tour was its new playout operation center. The facility delivers multiple program channels and pass-through services to diverse markets in the Pacific Rim and Asia. The facility provides a full complement of creative, technical and support services.

The playout center has recently been extended to support 30 channels for broadcast to Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East and Asia. Some channels carry as many as 16 different languages, a problem for earlier tape-based workflows, but solved through the new digital operation based on Omneon servers with OmniBus automation. The Omneon system, which consists of two ingest servers and six transmission servers, allow operators to work with video and audio files independently. The increased flexibility results in a more efficient quality control monitoring and provides for a more streamlined and accurate playout environment.

Within the AMNSA broadcasting center, all inbound tapes are first ingested into the Omneon ingest server in an MPEG-2 I-frame format. They are subsequently passed through quality control monitoring, and then stored in a StorageTek deep archive for future production needs. The same copy is also transcoded to an MPEG-2 long GOP digital file and archived for transmission. Media is retrieved from deep archive and stored in the on-air server for playout.

Mobile TV

The big buzz at the show was DVB-H and DMB TV-to-mobile standards. The distribution of the multichannel services is another promising area of expansion for automation vendors once channels air. Trials currently taking place at several sites around the world aim to establish the business models to support the service. While regulatory and spectrum allocation hurdles remain, there is a strong drive to see these services become a reality in the near future.

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