Solution at a GlanceSouthern California's KLCS, a PBS member station known as the "Education Station," is a noncommercial educational television station licensed to the Los Angeles County School District (LAUSD). The facility has installed a 28-channel Omneon Spectrum™ media server system to support multi-channel broadcasting, high definition television, near video on demand, and datacasting services.
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When KLCS, a PBS affiliate licensed to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), was faced with its DTV transition, it saw an opportunity to provide not only the typical over the air multicast and high definition services but also to provide multiple over the air high bit rate (1Mbs) streaming channels and Near Video on Demand to the nearly one million students and teachers of LAUSD. In order to accomplish this goal and still remain within its operating budget the station pursued a strategy of building a tapeless fully automated facility. This included not only on air operations but also studio and field acquisition as well. The vision was one of a file-based system that would seamlessly move data where and when needed. The challenge was developing a technical model for what many in the TV industry termed "the future".
The Solution Implemented
With the move to a tapeless infrastructure KLCS established a comprehensive digital content distribution model that would enable the station to subdivide its digital bandwidth into concurrent subchannels.
To change the way digital content is used within the classroom the station pursued a strategy KLCS Director of Technical Operations and TV Engineering Alan Popkin calls "daypart bandwidth management." Over the course of a single day the facility maximizes its available bandwidth by transmitting various combinations of over-the-air channels, streaming specialty channels for LAUSD students and teachers and near-video-on-demand content for individual LAUSD campuses.
(click thumbnail)The Omneon Spectrum media server at KLCS uses one large ingest server to capture satellite and tape-based recordings plus a smaller play-to-air server. A key element in the diagram is the video link between the ingest server and the master control switcher. This allows the ingest server to act as a secondary playout server making maintenance and updates easy, in addition to providing maximum levels of redundancy. The Sundance Data Mover™ maintains file system synchronization.
The KLCS upgrade included integration of a Omneon Spectrum media server system with Sundance Digital's Titan™ automation software to create a comprehensive digital content distribution solution. A Triveni Digital SkyScraper™ system supplies the station's datacasting capability.
(click thumbnail)The Omneon Spectrum media server as installed at KLCS."In renovating our facilities for this `DTV with a purpose,' we required a reliable and flexible combination of equipment," explains Popkin. "The Omneon server at the heart of the system has allowed us to implement the unique file and codec structure and to treat all content as data within a fully digital environment."
The Omneon system allows KLCS engineers to separate studio and edit content, play-to-air material, streaming channels and other assets into different volumes on the same server. Because the server can serve as a hub for I/O devices, with different codecs pointed directly at specific folders, the facility's Sundance automation sees only the material relevant to it, rather than every media asset that passes through or is archived in the server system.
If the material needs to be edited, operators point it to a specific folder that is automatically swept into the edit SAN. For live-to-server shows, media assets are pointed to a folder that is swept into the ingest server for play to air. The encoding format MPEG, DV, etc. may be altered at will, allowing KLCS to employ the most efficient encoding scheme for a given application. On the reverse path, files are loaded directly from the edit bays to a play-to-studio folder for integration into a show.
The multi-casting plan put in place at KLCS allows for delivery of content to classrooms via video and datacasting of as many as 10 streaming channels while enabling KLCS to give its general audience, a viewership of 16 million throughout Southern California, a more targeted and diverse program offering.
Sundance Automation at KLCSA four-channel Sundance Digital Titan automation system controls all recording, playout, archiving and media management functions. Sundance was selected for it's distributed architecture, upgradeability, advanced multi-channel GUI and superior interface to the Myers ProTrack™ traffic software.
KLCS successfully expanded from a single channel master control operation to four channels without additional personnel. This was achieved largely by streamlining operations. The advanced communication protocols developed jointly by Sundance and Myers Information Systems enables electronic exchange of data between Titan and ProTrack traffic without operator intervention. This has proven to be a significant time saver and has dramatically reduced on-air errors.
Sundance Intelli-Sat™ is used to record long-form content to server and/or tape from schedules created electronically at the traffic or program manager's desktop. As new media is QC'd and segmented, precise timing data is instantly returned to traffic.
Content between the two servers is managed by Sundance's Mirror/ DataMover option and its Transfer & Deletion Tool (ATDT) utility. KLCS sets the rules for moving and deleting media; clips are copied to the play-to-air server as needed, then auto-deleted. Sundance Archive Manager™ (SAM) handles media migration from the server to Avalon-controlled near-line storage. Archived media is automatically recalled when scheduled for air.
Sundance Seeker™ works closely with Triveni to track the system's digital assets and make them available to classrooms throughout the LAUSD. A separate Web Inventory™ application gives station staff access to Titan's database via a web-based interface to view low-res clips, metadata and even monitor playlists from their desktops on the KLCS network.
Teachers are able to browse the entire contents of the KLCS and LAUSD media libraries, which include not only video and audio, but also PowerPoint presentations, lesson plans and other resources that will be searchable by grade level, subject matter and state and federal standards. Once a teacher selects and requests digital content, the high-resolution version is datacast to the school's edge server for playout at any time.
The production workflow for KLCS over-the-air broadcast also has benefited from the integration of the Omneon server. Incoming media feeds can now be recorded directly to the server with media files directed to assigned directories or volumes.
Just as media management has been simplified, so too have editing processes with the easy integration of the Omneon Spectrum media server system and the station's production applications, Pinnacle Liquid™ Editions and Blue NLEs, in a shared storage environment.
"Because the Omneon server is an open-standards-based system, we were able to use a selection of off-the-shelf solutions from a variety of vendors in creating the optimal infrastructure for our DTV strategy," adds Popkin. "Since we launched our new services for the LAUSD, we have demonstrated that the concept of dynamic bandwidth allocation in a broadcast environment is not a theoretical exercise but a real-world solution and practical application for DTV.
"While this solution by no means is a one-size-fits-all system, we believe we have changed the way that high-quality digital content integrates with the classroom. Tools such as the Omneon Spectrum system give every broadcaster the opportunity to be more than just a TV station and become a digital content distribution center."
Smart Scalability™: Redefining Flexibility
Many server systems claim to be flexible, but when the time comes to add storage or new channels, getting what you need more than likely means exchanging hardware rather than adding to it - an expensive and disruptive process. Omneon Spectrum media servers are designed with Smart Scalability ensuring that your investment is always protected. Virtually every function of the system is independently scalable so you're never locked into a system that doesn't fit your needs. Because of Smart Scalability your initial system configuration precisely matches your requirements, grows in smart manageable increments as your needs change and can easily be added to or modified as new data, audio and video formats become available. In many cases these upgrades and additions can be performed on your system without taking it off the air.
An Open Platform for Today and Tomorrow
The Omneon Spectrum media server system leverages industry-standard formats and protocols to enable the broadest range of applications, giving broadcasters the freedom to choose best-of-breed applications for an end-to-end solution. With support for leading, well-known tools, operations staff can quickly begin to take advantage of a shared storage infrastructure. Departments can share files at the same time and deliver content directly from storage to the target applications without having to convert formats. For some applications media is manipulated directly on the server eliminating the need to move large content files over the network. The Omneon Spectrum media server's open platform approach protects investments even further by enabling broadcasters to easily add new services to an existing operation. Supporting both SD and HD broadcast formats enables broadcasters to deploy a media server for SD channels and add HD operations at any point in the future. HD channels can utilize an existing Omneon server and storage investment, eliminating duplicate storage costs and minimizing disruption to on-air operations. You want the most out of your investment with the least barriers and headaches - no other solution comes close.
Rock Solid Reliability
Media servers are complex and incorporate a huge number of both moving and non-moving parts -- all of which are susceptible to failure. The measure of reliability for a media server is not how rarely a component fails, but rather what happens to the overall system when a component does fail. Omneon Spectrum media server systems are designed specifically to eliminate all single points of potential failure. Omneon's built-in resiliency ensures that if a component fails for any reason, the overall system continues to function.
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fx +65 6548.0504Omneon, Omneon Video Networks, and the Omneon logo are registered trademarks of Omneon Video Networks, Inc. All other trademarks or registered trademarks are the property of the respective companies. Copyright ©2005 Omneon Video Networks, Inc. All rights reserved Printed in USA | November 2005. The information contained in this document is subject to change without notice or obligation. WPHD-051107
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