Playout File-Based Workflow Made Easy

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

File-based workflows are nothing new to PlayBox Technology. Throughout its 12 years existence the company’s playout solutions have always run on a Windows platform using IT hardware. Initially, connections with the broadcast world used analogue, SDI or ASI.
Today there are two major changes. There is a far greater use of IT-based equipment for operational areas including video storage, graphics, newsrooms, editing, archives and, of course, playout. A second trend has been internal to PlayBox Technology; making available an increasing range of functions that can be within one ‘box’. Much of this expansion has resulted from customer requests. With the IT industry continually striving for greater performance, adding more internal functions has made sense – both technically and economically. The latest addition is the award-winning QCBox for quality control. This joins a long list of modules based around the AirBox automation and playout server including CaptureBox ingest, TitleBox interactive 3D graphics, SubtitleBox and SubtitlePlus subtitling solutions, DataBox and SafeBox content management, AlarmBox and many more. Using these creates an efficient internal workflow between components that are designed to work together.

Such harmony will not be always found among external boxes – especially the IT-based ones! A common hurdle for those setting up file-based workflows is the range of file formats among existing equipment. Just plugging them together on Ethernet may well not work. So, on a daily basis, some revert to good old videotape to get between, say, IT-based editing and playout. And, as a one-off, you might face the costly and time-consuming prospect of playing out entire disc-based archives to tape and back into the favoured format for the new file-based system. Not ideal!

PlayBox Technology has a much better solution. Ever since it was a new kid the block its products have always had to handle all file formats including other manufacturers’ ‘pets’. Today that task is handled by Mixer: a powerful format conversion engine that handles all today’s popular formats and outputs the content in the required format.

Mixer is a real Cinderella – hidden away, not itemised in the catalogue but an essential part of the modern AirBox, making all format issues disappear by handling compression codecs (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, H.264, M-JPEG, JPEG2000, etc), containers (AVI, MPG, MOV, MXF, GXF, etc.), video resolutions (SD, HD and others), different frame rates (PAL - 25fps, NTSC- 29.97 fps, 30 fps, 24 fps, 50 fps, 59.94 and others), different audio codecs (MPEG, AAC, uncompressed, etc.) and different metadata.

Tapping the power of modern Intel ‘Core i’ technology Mixer extends PlayBox Technology’s unrivalled ability to work with any file format. There’s no need to transfer the 1000+ hour archive, run the edit suit output to tape or reject external files. Mixer makes file-based playout workflow become a plug-and-play reality.

That powerful technology under the bonnet helps in going the extra mile, to offer complete workflow solutions. These include EdgeBox for full redundant automatic remote playout anywhere in the world via internet; AdBox providing seamless ad or programme insertion and TimeShiftBox offering time delays with ‘bug’ insertion and lossless quality.