Test Vendors Straddle the Worlds of SDI and IP

Manufacturers respond to the need to monitor more streams, complex workflows
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The Tektronix MTS4EAV7 HEVC/AVC Video and Compressed Audio Analyzer PC-based software package provides deferred time analysis of encoded video and audio elementary streams.

PADUCAH, KY.—It doesn’t really matter what is broken these days, it’s either deemed disposable or worthy of repair. Certainly with broadcast and media facilities, viewer QoE (Quality of Experience) and budget bottom lines are equally important. Whether it’s at a transmitter site, in the field, in the studio, at the tech core, at the end of a CDN, or edit suite, there are always problems about to pop up.

When those problems occur, someone has to identify the problem, notify someone, or resolve the issue. At those times, guessing just won’t work. Fortunately, test and measurement manufacturers are pushing their technologies ahead, just as other manufacturers, and in some cases, a bit faster.

For SDI, 4K and real-time video test instruments vary from WFM/vector to rasterizers, as witnessed by the recent release of Leader’s LV 7390 four-channel 3G/HD/SDSDI multistandard rasterizer that can measure up to four SDI signals simultaneously, and is compatible with 3G-SDI, HD-SDI and SD-SDI. At the 2015 NAB Show, Leader also unveiled the FS 3102 analyzer, which can perform real-time checking of up to four HD-SDI or SD-SDI signal streams, and for 4K, Leader offers the 5490 waveform monitor.

INCREASING ARRAY OF FEATURES

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Leader Instruments LV 7390 four-channel 3G/HD/SD-SDI multistandard rasterizer
Paul Robinson, chief technology officer for Tektronix said that for broadcasters and related media, SDI is still going strong. Many later model Tektronix SDI WFMs in the field have the backbone for 4K built in, they just require a few firmware upgrades to accept the quad link cabling, according to Robinson. “For quad-link, timing is critical for proper operation,” he said. For transmission, Tektronix offers the Sentry product line for QoE/QoS.

In addition to manufacturing monitors with built in WFM’s and audio metering, Marshall has recently introduced the Titan 4K Generator, which has been very well received, according to Devan Cress, director of broadcast sales AV for the El Segundo, Calif.-based company. “The unit is currently HDMI only, but SDI is coming as an option in Gen 2 [scheduled for October release], along with a larger preview screen.” Marshall is also adding IMD [in-monitor display] for their WFM feature, allowing both video and WFM/audio metering to be viewed at the same time on their monitors.

Triveni Digital is no stranger to IP and file-based workflows, according to Ralph Bachofen, vice president, sales and marketing for the Princeton Junction, N.J.-based provider of monitoring technology. “Triveni will be offering video over IP management tools,” he said, adding that IP will fit right in, not only with the next-generation ATSC 3.0 standard, but with bandwidths exceeding 10 Gbps, of particular interest to cable providers. For today though, test tools like the StreamScope with closed-caption compliance measurements are as popular as ever, and very scalable, according to Bachofen.

IMPACT ON THE VIEWING EXPERIENCE
Tektronix’s Robinson said while SDI is still going strong, IP is gaining traction. IP “is the new way of doing everything [and] will impact the viewing experience more than ever,” he said. While IP products don’t heavily populate Tektronix’s product line yet, Robinson says that the company has several prototypes around the world in “proof-of-concept” facilities. According to Robinson, products in the wing also include hybrid sync generators with baseband, tri-level, and PTP (Precision Time Protocol IEEE 1588-2002) for IP, and analyzers for SMPTE 2022. Recently, Tektronix introduced the Aurora QC and Hydra player, featuring faster throughput, scalability, and improved usability.

At this year’s NAB Show, Leader unveiled their FS 3103 software package which allows MXF audio/video media files to be processed faster than real time. According to Young, a combined system incorporating an FS 3102 and FS 3103 can process up to four files simultaneously. The FS 3102 and FS 3103 provide automatic checking and analysis of image characteristics.

When it comes to evaluating the output of encoders and transcoders, Adam Schadle, vice president of Video Clarity, a Campbell, Calif.-based developer of monitoring technology has a couple of questions for broadcasters: “How will multiple resolutions look, in different display types, after having been transcoded multiple times? And how can you know ahead of time?” Schadle points to the company’s recently re-engineered RTM Manager for the answer.

“Our new RTM Manager has a new way of taking measurements in real time, and a better way to evaluate,” he said. In short, according to Schadle, Video Clarity tools provide real-time evaluation of quality between competing encoders and providers, using the human perceptual test (QoE), along with averages of QoS scores and new log graphing tools for Clearview and RTM.