Each generation of equipment shown at NAB integrates more test and measurement features and invariably includes some type of monitoring capability. Therefore, monitoring must now be considered part of the traditional realm of test and measurement.
All broadcasters seek a total end-to-end monitoring, test and measurement system for essence, network and software applications. In this era of convergence of broadcast engineering and IT technologies, it was surprising that traditional IT companies, which offer SNMP-enabled network-monitoring systems, did not demonstrate broadcast-related applications. Nor did I find any PC products that monitored configuration/application health.
Now that nearly all broadcast-equipment vendors have incorporated some kind of SNMP capability, many have gone so far as to develop their own resource-management application. Vistek offers ViewNet capabilities for its newly launched range of HD products. Evertz's VistaLINK offers comparable signal-monitoring capabilities for its fiber-optic transmission products and vast array of baseband processing cards.
Addressing the issue of SNMP implementation vendor compatibility, Snell & Wilcox's RollSNMP extends SNMP monitoring available in its RollMap and RollCall to other vendors' hardware and software products. With a feature set that includes unified alarm reporting for all system elements, mapping of system interconnections and identification of the physical location of resources, this integrated application suite approaches complete infrastructure signal-path monitoring, fault diagnosis and resolution.
Facilities spread across large campuses or numerous locations need verification of incoming and outgoing signal quality. For such facilities, Evertz has expanded its line of interface products to fully support HD. These products include integrated monitoring and measurement of signal parameters. And, of course, the requisite SNMP interface is available.
MPEG transport-stream monitoring systems were a hot item again, but this year with a twist: the capability to assess compressed video quality. K-WILL debuted its Video DNA monitoring line, which decodes an MPEG transport stream and analyzes elementary packet video in real time. Rohde & Schwarz's DVQ performed similar functions. Both systems allow an A/B comparison of SDI video with respect to compressed MPEG-2 elementary stream video. DVQ allows users to set QoS levels and trigger alarms to initiate reconfiguration of encoding parameters or distribution paths. Tektronix upgraded its AD953A and claims to be the first with a transport-stream-analysis system that supports both the H.264 and WM9 compression standards.
Digital program insertion is a reality, and verifying that transport streams are compliant with the ANSI/SCTE 35 2001 DPI standard is imperative. Pixelmetrix, known for products such as DVStation-IP (an MPEG-2 transport-stream test-and-monitoring over Ethernet system), presented the DPI Auditor, a new DPI software application that features splice information logging and reporting capabilities. This product monitors the compliance of bitstreams for digital program insertion.
Triveni debuted its next-generation DTV transport-stream monitor and analyzer, StreamScope MT-30. It monitors MT-30, DPI SCTE 35 digital cue tones, MPEG-2 PSI and ATSC PSIP. It supports ASI, VSB, SMPTE 310, QAM and Gigabit Ethernet inputs, making this unit extremely versatile.
Not to be outdone, Sencore has introduced a DPI monitoring system that logs the start time of the avail, duration and avail count. It can monitor up to eight ASI TS streams simultaneously and log SCTE 35 activity for 25 programs per transport stream.
And, from the other side of the pond, Thales introduced GARNET, a handheld MPEG-2 analyzer, and MPEGScan, a media-file-validation application for TS servers.
Tektronix introduced WFMNLE, which tests and measures graphic effects for compliance with legal color space for Avid tools. Its real-time waveform and vector displays, and its arrowhead and diamond waveform displays, identify component and composite gamut errors. Material can be run through the timeline, errors logged and action taken to correct the violations. WFMNLE is presently available as an Avid plug-in, and there are plans to release versions for other editing systems in the future
For those in the trenches who still need to trace signal paths cable by cable, Wohler will soon offer an HD-SDI signal generator, PenPal HD, which includes 26 video test patterns, 18 serial formats and four stereo pairs of embedded AES audio — and fits in your shirt pocket. It will be an indispensable tool for tracing signal continuity in any size plant.
Leader's LV 5750 portable SDI monitor can help verify HD and SD distribution integrity anywhere in the plant. Full-screen or multiple displays allow viewing of waveform, vector, picture, audio and status. Bar graphs allow you to monitor eight channels of audio. A digital data dump can facilitate TRS, XYZ and VANC analysis.
Last but not least, ENCO's Guardien, a speech-recognition-technology-enabled, automated audio zapper can be trained to recognize the seven (or eight) words that you can't say on the air and will bleep out the offending audio, log the event and save the audio clip. This is certainly a well-timed product introduction. Can a wardrobe-malfunction macroblocking depixelizer be far behind?
Philip J. Cianci has been in the TV business for 20 years and done circuit design in the Grand Alliance ATSC prototype system.
TELEVISION AUDIO PROCESSOR
Modulation Sciences MSI-3300
Multifunction unit combines analog-to-AES3 and AES3 (with automatic speed detection)-to-analog conversion with high-quality gain riding and a transmission audio processor; conditions audio for transmission in a variety of media, including cable modulators, satellite uplinks and fiber modulators.
SCALABLE TDM DIGITAL AUDIO ROUTER
Supports analog as well as digital audio signals; linearly expandable to offer 2048×2048 channels; MADI-format multichannel digital I/O also is featured, as well as high-performance 24-bit converters; enables users to manage large numbers of mixed-format audio signals.
DVD AUTHORING APPLICATION
Microsoft DVD Producer — WMV HD Edition
Special version of Sonic's authoring application supports the production of DVD titles using Microsoft WMV HD; WMV HD is designed to deliver HD video at data rates comparable to SD DVD video.
Manages systems from single channels up to the most complex multichannel environments; features the MediaBall concept, which provides a way to handle secondary events such as interactive TV.
Thales Angenieux 70 HD
Delivers a focal range of 9.5mm to 665mm and an aperture of f/2.2; features dust and condensation-free enclosures; requires low power for operation, allowing direct connection of the lens to the camera.
BROADCAST DEVICE CONTROL TOOLS
OmniBus Systems G3 Control
Provides device access, operation and management over distributed networks; consists of G3 Desktop, G3 Routing and G3 Machine Control; based on standard open-IT protocols.
SD MPEG RECORDER
FOCUS Enhancements FireStore FS-M
Includes MPEG-2 recording, playout and timeshift recording; timeshift feature enables simultaneous record and playback functions; has a 120GB removable disk drive and is expandable to 200GB; provides more than 72 hours of continuous DVD-quality MPEG-2 recording; user-selectable bit rates of up to 12Mb/s.