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(click thumbnail)Adrian ScottQ. What kind of products or services does your company offer for broadcasters?

A. Pro-Bel delivers “central nervous systems” for broadcasters. Although we are known by many as a routing and switching company, we also manufacture a wide range of conversion and modular interface products (we acquired Vistek in 2005); and in Morpheus we have one of the world’s leading broadcast automation systems. In addition to the manufactured products, we also have a growing Solutions Group, which provides workflow consultancy, systems architecting, integration, implementation, training and support for our own systems and others, which are integrated into the configurations we supply.

Q. What’s new that you will show at NAB2007 and that broadcasters should look for there?

A. We will be launching a number of new products. Cygnus is a new router, which is 1080p 3 Gbit/s native and offers up to 576 x 576 routing and a wealth of other functionality (including redundant crosspoints) in a single 26 U housing. Morpheus Foundation is our new entry-level automation system, and provides a state-of-the-art automation capability with the highest levels of functionality, resilience and reliability in a one- to six-channel package and at a budget price. Visitors to the Pro-Bel [exhibit] will also be able to see the latest version of Morpheus Control and Monitoring (MCM), Pro-Bel’s emerging enterprise-wide management application, which is designed to provide an over-arching command-and-control capability across the entire content production and delivery infrastructure; and we will be launching a new MOS-compliant news automation capability for Morpheus. Plus, we will show the production versions of two new products in our Vistek range:

Cifer, an HD standards converter, which can handle all 1080i and 720p conversions with built-in motion compensation providing fabulous picture quality; and Valid8, Pro-Bel’s unique SD/HD infrastructure analysis tool, the complete answer to lip-sync issues, which now includes a new feature using compact flash memory to allow a user instant recall of up to 64 separate sets of audio and video idents.

Also at NAB2007, Pro-Bel is participating in the MXF Mastering Format Project, in which the Advanced Media Workflow Association (formerly The Advanced Authoring Format Association) is sponsoring the first public demonstration of real-world solutions for key workflows, featuring the work of nine partner companies and focusing on creating a single MXF master file from which multiple versions of a program may be created. This project, started two years ago by Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc., will be demonstrated at the show and will be open to comment and scrutiny.

Q. How is your new product offering different from what’s available on the market?

A. We are one of the few manufacturers whose products cover a broad range of activities in the broadcast workflow, from ingest to media management to playout and everything in between. Integration and interoperability are second nature to Pro-Bel, and we are always ready to carry out work to make our products, especially automation, fit precisely the requirements of our customers. We are also HD pioneers, and have produced a series of HD-ready products, in all of our product ranges that ease the transition to HD for our customers.

Q. Where are you based, and how many employees do you have? Anything else we should know about your company?

A. We are based in Lower Earley, near Reading in England’s Thames Valley, and we have offices in New York, Paris, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires. We have about 200 employees. 2007 is Pro-Bel’s 30th anniversary year, although it doesn’t feel like an “old” company! In fact it feels more like a startup, as we continually launch new products and technologies … although they do benefit from our lengthy experience in both hardware and software development over all those years.