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Rainbow Network Communications - Winner of network automation

Submitted by
Communications Engineering, Inc.

Rainbow Network Communications made a significant investment in 2007-2008 in the HD upgrade of the master control facilities that originate the air playout of Rainbow's flagship network channels in Bethpage, NY. The upgrade, which was designed, integrated and installed by Communications Engineering, Inc. (CEI), of Newington, VA, had a twofold purpose. First, the AMC, IFC, and WE tv channels were augmented with HD air channels. Second, all long-form playback for all channels was moved from tape-based to an all server-based system driven from an HD and SD digital archive.

The HD channels were mandated to air all program content in full screen 16:9 with no letterbox or pillared segments. This was a challenge because some interstitial and long format elements were provided in either SD or in non-full screen HD formats. Special upconversion circuits were devised with automation-enabled format selection. 5.1 surround sound, along with a separate audio program and a stereo PCM down-mix channel, were required for all HD channels. Special audio up-mix and down-mix circuits were implemented for situations where SD signals were upconverted for HD playout or where HD signals did not have the proper audio formats. Downstream processing of the program channel included the insertion of bugs, logos, animated snipes, local commercial avail signals, closed captioning and ratings signals in preparation for air release. All downstream devices were put under automation control for schedule based playout.

The master control rooms accommodate up to six channels of simultaneous playout. Signal confidence monitoring was converted from an all-SD glass monitor wall to a mixed SD and HD array of LCD displays driven by an integrated multiviewer system. Distributed operational workstations allow for individual channel playout control and monitoring. A central master control platform allows for live programming for special events.