MCX Mixes HD and SD Playout Via Cobalt

SAN DIEGO—Media Control Systems specializes in television automation products and systems for program recording, playback and ad insertion. Our master control automation products are targeted toward lower-priced systems used for program origination of cable access, internet TV and low-power broadcast applications. We manufacture our own brand of products, but we also resell and integrate other TV-automation-related products. The latter was the case with our client the Community Media Center of Marin (CMCM).

CMCM is a nonprofit organization providing residents of Marin County, Calif., with access to communication technologies, media training and the latest digital tools to create original content for cable TV and online media. CMCM operates Marin TV, Marin County’s own noncommercial community, educational and governmental cable channels. Marin TV is available on Comcast and AT&T U-Verse as well as online via live streams. CMCM also offers special organizational services and fee-for-service production assistance for schools, nonprofits and government agencies.

Like many public, education and government stations, CMCM plays back a mix of legacy SD programs and new HD video files on their television channels. CMCM also takes in many external satellite and regional program feeds in both standard and high definition. Many of the sources have previously been converted from HD to SD or SD to HD, with conversion black bars on the top, bottom or sides of the programs.

The BBG-1002-UDX cross-converter allows one converter to handle all of CMCM’s input sources.

CMCM has 23 different sources of programming played out on four television channels. The challenge CMCM faced was getting all the various incoming programs to play out on both HD internet-streamed channels and SD cable channels while maintaining the correct picture formats. Specifically, that meant figuring out how to take the sources of mixed formats and files and play them out correctly on HD and SD channels without double-converting, that is, putting black pillars on the sides of the picture and black bars on the top and bottom. Also, correct conversion prevents stretching, squeezing, or cutting off part of the picture.

Media Control Systems proposed and implemented a solution that uses a Cobalt Digital BBG-1002-UDX standalone cross-converter on the output of each channel. Unlike most converters, which require three to four seconds to react, the BBG-1002-UDX can recognize the input format so quickly it can convert the input to the desired output in just a few frames’ worth of time. The BBG-1002-UDX reads the AFD codes on the input source programs, so it knows if the source has been previously converted, which in turn means it can apply the correct output conversion without double converting.

The Cobalt solution minimizes the number of converters required. Instead of having to put a converter on each of the 23 input sources, CMCM only needed one converter for each of the output channels. In other words, CMCM only had to invest in eight converters—one for each of four HD internet channels and one for each of the four SD cable TV channels.

In addition to the BBG-1002-UDX’s cross-conversion capabilities, it also provides audio-level management and digital frame synchronization, features that make the unit even more valuable.

All in all, the Cobalt BBG-1002-UDX was the perfect choice for CMCM because it gives the broadcaster a professional-grade, multifunctional conversion solution with exceptional performance at an affordable price. The Cobalt UDX is also available as a high-density openGear card module.

Thomas Walsh is the CEO of Media Control Systems. He can be contacted

For more information, please visitwww.cobaltdigital.comor call 217-344-1243.