Wohler's Touch-It Brings Smiles at Starz

Lonnie Scheele
Starz Entertainment moved into a new facility here nine years ago, and has since expanded its services to include 16 distinct movie channels, including Starz and Encore.

In 2009, after learning that the file servers that we'd been using would soon be unsupported, we began to migrate our channels from the legacy SD and HD transmission infrastructure to an IT-based transmission model.


As we installed the new server systems—a nondescript series of black boxes with green lights—we realized that we needed a convenient way to see precisely what each server was playing out. That's why the Touch-It Digital 16-channel video color monitor from Wohler Technologies, was an ideal solution for us.

I knew that our staff would appreciate the visual appeal of the Touch-It Digital. It would be very convenient to walk by each server rack and immediately see that the correct movie was playing out on all channels and that the picture wasn't frozen, black, or otherwise compromised. However, I didn't realize initially how the Wohler system would become a critical and valuable part of our broader video operations.

Starz Entertainment's video servers are located in a central equipment room, with playout monitoring in the broadcast operations area. Aside from this monitoring, we had no other means for accessing content playout from the server racks. The advantage of the Touch-It Digital is that—unlike other systems—it allows the operator to see all 16 inputs at a glance. He or she can then tap the LCD touchscreen to select one of those inputs for a larger view on the unit's second display screen. Planning our server racks around 16 inputs per Wohler unit gave us just the right distribution of servers for good heat dissipation, power use and cabling.

The Touch-It Digital is cost-effective and has quickly paid for itself. Our six Wohler systems were easily installed, and their SD/HD auto-switching capability allows us to combine SD and HD channels in a server unit and easily monitor them. Our servers are set up as redundant A and B units, with each channel playing out of both an A unit and a B unit. Either of these channels can be on-air at any given time, and we can now walk by the server systems and make a visual check that the two outputs are playing the same video and in proper sync.

Starz personnel use the Wohler Touch-It Digital system on a daily basis to inspect the health of all our playout services. We enjoy the functionality of the systems' unique design, and plan to incorporate Touch-It Digital systems at our disaster recovery site to provide the same convenience in monitoring server output.

Lonnie Scheele has been with Starz Entertainment for 13 years. He may be contacted atlonnie.scheele@starz.com.

For additional information, contact Wohler at 510-870-0810 or visit>www.wohler.com.