London, 7th April 2008
PlayBox Technology Digital Signage is growing with new products and features to be launched at NAB 2008. PlayBox DS is well known for its flexibility and with the launch of DS Designer, PlayBox DS now offers even more. Getting started is now easier than ever with the introduction of DS Whole Workflow giving more potential to allow PlayBox DS to scale incrementally from one to any number of players with very cost-effective solutions.
DS Designer enables the creation of eye-catching presentations directly within the PlayBox DS environment. Now all types of media including slides, SD video, HD video, logos clocks, etc. can be composed to make the finished show. The built-in character generator adds text with rolls, crawls etc. as required and transitions and picture-in-picture are among the many presentation styles available. Completed projects are sent to the DS Player for delivery to the screens.
DS Whole Workflow is available off-the-shelf in three editions, Stand Alone, Lite and Multichannel with the ability to upgrade as required. The DS Whole Workflow Stand Alone Edition has two modules, DS Designer to create the projects and a DS Player to run the projects, and is ideal for a single output system. The DS Whole Workflow Lite Edition adds DS Player Manager that can extend control over multiple players and to monitor and provide playlists to remote DS players running many different simultaneous presentations for days, weeks or months ahead.
Top of the range DS Whole Workflow Multichannel Edition is for serving hundreds or thousands screens. The three DS Whole Workflow editions can just be a starting point as all can be scaled to work with all the other PlayBox DS modules such as the Librarian that manages the content and allows users to access content that is not on the local drives but somewhere on the local network.
These modular PlayBox DS editions allow users complete control over the presentation of media. As a consumer marketing tool this can deliver targeted messages to one or thousands of screens when and where required with content and information.
London, 25 March 2008
PlayBox’s CaptureBox Compliance Recorder expands with Version 2.0, new at NAB 2008. Now the limits are off; there are no practical restrictions of format or bit rate so any broadcast can be recorded, including those with AVC H.264 and WMV coding, complementing the established MPEG1 and MPEG2 capabilities. Also multi-channel broadcasters can benefit from the economy and convenience of recording many of their outputs into a single multi-channel capable compliance recorder box.
The choice of input types now extends beyond the original analogue and SDIto support for Firewire, ASI and IP sources. The inclusion of ASI/IP means that an ASI input can be transformed into a live IP stream – allowing remote compliance viewing.
A wide range of record bit rates now cover all broadcast requirements. ‘Half-D1’ (352 x 576 or 352 x 480) MPEG2 can be recorded at the reduced bit rate of 1 Mb/s and up to 50 Mb/s. Full-D1 (702 x 576 or 702 x 480) recordings can be recorded at 3-50 Mb/s. The maximum per-channel MPEG2 bit rate is lifted to 50 Mb/s from the original 3 Mb/s.
Further new features allow easier operation with more capabilities built into the recorder. These include burning time, date and channel ID information into the captured pictures, and scheduling regular capture events on a daily or weekly basis.
V2 adds to the established capabilities of the CaptureBox Compliance V1 disc-based recorder that provides reliable, cost-effective recording with completely unattended 24/7 operation for playout operations around the world. Among many features are date/time-based file and folder naming for the quick location of required material and automated file sorting in separate folders.
London, 17 March 2008
PlayBox Technology is presenting the expanded capabilities of its TitleBox interactive graphics manager at NAB 2008. The added capabilities now available in latest version of this on-air graphics engine take it to a new level with live preparation and the automatic presentation of dynamic data live on-screen, making it, for some, a TV station in itself.
These latest developments cover three areas:
TitleBox servers are now able to directly extract data from dynamic data sources such as databases, through the Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) standard, or RSS feeds. These can be used as a data source for any on-screen text objects, with new data immediately updating the graphics on air.
The new TitleBox Preparation allows convenient and cost-effective off-air titling template preparation. It is a full-featured sibling of the on-air TitleBox product targeted at broadcasters that require extensive graphics design and a WYSIWYG editing preview. It can either operate with a desktop preview only or with broadcast-quality video output.
The new TitleBox "Plus" line of PlayBox on-air graphics servers can simultaneously support both graphics creation and replay on two separate video outputs. This is enabled by the addition of a WYSIWYG editing preview that can continue while the TitleBox’s playout is active. The result is a more efficient graphics workflow that allows last-minute graphics preparation.
TitleBox is already well known and is widely used as a part of PlayBox playout solutions. It creates, displays and controls multi-zone, multi-layer screens with rolls, crawls, animations, clocks, station logos, text templates and more. The broad range of users includes broadcast TV, cable channels and digital signage applications as well as internal info-channels in hotels, schools, corporations, retail businesses, shopping malls, churches, airports, holiday resorts and theme parks. The high level of interactive control of on-air CG objects turns TitleBox into a powerful tool that is well suited for music and games shows, live entertainment programmes and sports events scores and titling and well as SMS2TV. Now new features offer more for live graphics preparation, including the presentation of dynamic data.
London, 18 February2008
PlayBox Technology, now supporting over 4,700 SD and HD TV channels worldwide, is expanding the capabilities of its playout solutions at NAB2008. The new features provide more flexibility for playout, especially in live operation, more efficient workflows and interface enhancements as well as technical developments for new compression systems.
New at NAB2008:
• AirBox 4
AirBox 4 servers bring a raft of new capabilities that enhance the widely used AirBox content playout software including:
• PlayBox H.264 support: PlayBox equipment can now work with AVC/H.264 compression. This is in line with the increasing use of the standard that offers up to twice the MPEG2 efficiency, both for standard and high definition broadcasts.
• PlayBox Mixed Playout: The new Mixed Playout Engine supports realtime transitions between clips of different compression formats. This simplifies operation by removing the need for content transcoding and compression domain unification. The result is the seamless replay of multiple compression formats from a list comprising clips coded in, for example, MPEG2, DV, AVC/H.264 and VC-1/WMV with perfect continuity between clips.
AirBox 4 also introduces features such as MXF support for MPEG2, DV and HDV, a live presentation control interface, unlimited metadata support for clips, commercial insertion tools, and more.
TitleBox offers more for graphics preparation, including accepting dynamic data, and preview capabilities.
• TitleBox Preparation: From now on off-air titling template preparation becomes convenient and cost-effective. TitleBox Preparation is a full-featured sibling of the on-air TitleBox product, targeted towards facilities that require extensive graphics design and WYSIWYG editing preview. It can either operate with desktop preview only or with broadcast-quality video output.
• TitleBox Dedicated Graphics Preview: A new line of TitleBox on-air graphics servers can now simultaneously support both graphics creation and replay on two separate outputs. This is enabled with the addition of a WYSIWYG editing preview which can continue while the same TitleBox’s playout is active. The result is a more efficient graphics workflow that allows preparing last-minute graphics.
• Dynamic Data Sources: TitleBox servers can now directly extract dynamically-changing data from databases through the ODBC standard. Also, any RSS feed can be used as a data source for any of the text objects on-screen. New data gets updated immediately after it has been changed.
Versatile Compliance Recording
CaptureBox Compliance Recorder moves on to V2.0 bringing new features that extend use. Now the limits are off; there are no practical restrictions of format or bit rate so any broadcast can be recorded. The codec choice includes MPEG1, MPEG2, DV and the recently announced AVC/H.264. The inclusion of ASI/IP means that an ASI input can be re-broadcasted as an IP stream – allowing remote compliance monitoring. It also allows compliance recording of not only video and audio but also any accompanying data services (PIDs) associated with the channel.
PlayBox Digital Signage
The new Standalone and the Light versions of PlayBox Digital Signage are on demonstration. This module-based software allows users complete control over the presentation of media for months ahead. As a consumer marketing tool this can deliver targeted messages at specific locations, such as point of sale, and times with content and information displayed on digital screens.
London, 6 February 2008
Playbox Technology has supplied and installed a 16-channel turnkey playback solution for the Arab satellite teleport Noorsat based in Bahrain. This adds 16 new channels to Noorsat’s existing 32 channels that focus on satellite-based DTH TV services to the Arab world, offering TV companies instant reach to all satellite TV dishes in the area.
The turnkey project included the supply and installation of Playbox AirBox playout and TitleBox interactive graphics systems as well as the associated video and audio monitoring, conversion, multi-viewing, distribution and routing from Leitch. This was to fulfil the requirement for a compact playout facility offering simple operation for this large-scale requirement that also included full on-site training of both the engineers and operators.
As a step towards meeting Noorsat’s prerequisite to maintain the highest possible video and audio quality, Playbox AirBox and TitleBox use ASI streaming, rather than SDI outputs. To the same end, the 16 channels use AirBox playout and TitleBox interactive graphics in one workstation providing an economy of hardware and infrastructure while the compression codecs in the signal path are minimised.
For ease and security of operation the workflow is fully automated from the five CaptureBox ingest servers through the PlayBox 8TB NAS server to the AirBox and TitleBox playout servers to air. For this PlayBox SafeBox interprets the transmission schedules and ensures that all media is ready and in place well before transmission. Any missing media is flagged up and notified to the operators.
Monitoring of the 16 channels is achieved using two plasma screens, one for the transmission feed and the other for checking off-air, fed by two 16-channel multi-viewers that place the 16 channels onto the screens. There is a router for audio monitoring.
Installed and commissioned in November 2007, by mid January 2008 already 15 of the 16 new channels are now in service. Nachaat Waheeb, VP Engineering at Noorsat said, “The sixteenth channel is for testing and development, so our new playout is already full. We are very happy with the PlayBox playout solutions. We chose PlayBox in the first place because it meets all of our customer’s needs, and now, if we wanted more, we would choose PlayBox again.”
Operating the new 16 Channel PlayBox playout solution at Noorsat
Ginx TV is the new 24/7 multi-platform TV Channel devoted to the video gaming culture and lifestyle. Due to launch soon in Romania using PlayBox Technology automation solutions, the channel will be available on satellite and targeting 8 to 35 year old males as its primary audience. PlayBox Technology has supplied a complete ingest through to delivery workflow to match the needs of Ginx TV and providing a high degree of reliability to the operation. This solution is made up of a number of servers working together in a highly automated solution.
The PlayBox Technology solution includes ingest via CaptureBox that can control various external devices such as switchers, routers, VTRs etc. to offer both manual, scheduled and automated ingest. Playout is achieved using an AirBox DVB streaming server that includes 200 hours of fully redundant storage to provide high on-air reliability. TitleBox provides the Interactive CG with Graphics that can be managed and controlled by AirBox. SafeBox undertakes the automated content replication to ensure the media listed in the transmission schedules are delivered to the designated AirBox server well ahead of transmission. SafeBox also makes sure the media is removed after transmission if the media is not required later in the schedule. The workflow efficiency is enhanced by TrafficBox that enables long term event planning, commercial advertising sales, easy playlist generation for AirBox with error checking and reporting.
Ginx TV Romania caters for many languages that will be Broadcast across Eastern and Central Europe that will be launched and operated by the team who founded and operated MTV Romania, Pasadena Media Management. 8 audio languages will be provided in addition to 10 languages in DVB subtitles using SubtitlePlus. The SubtitlePlus DVB server provides multilingual support for creating subtitles via a customisable WYSIWYG user interface. The subtitle streams are delivered along with the video and audio streams to a DVB multiplexer to deliver 8 languages in audio, and 10 in DVB subtitles to Ginx TV viewers.
PlayBox Technology Romania installed the complete solution in the Ginx TV Studios in Bucharest, Romania and has been playing out the Ginx TV channel since January this year. Ginx TV will become available on cable and DTH during the first half of 2008
London, 16 January 2008
PlayBox Technology has supplied a two-channel redundant remote delivery and broadcasting solution to Fox International Channels. Christened ‘FoxBox’, this groundbreaking turnkey project enables Fox to deliver reliable, fully automated cost-effective playout solutions for smaller uplink, TV and IPTV markets.
The programme content is comprehensive and includes local advertising, branding, multilingual audio and subtitles, as required, as well as the programmes themselves. The first location to benefit from FoxBox is On Telecoms in Athens, Greece, where it has been delivering two channels, Fox Life and Fox Life +1 since 1 December 2008. The project allows the cost-effective delivery of programme content into what have traditionally been commercially non-viable markets; due to the cost of fibre or satellite content delivery links. The Athens ‘FoxBox’ includes PlayBox AirBox playout servers, with TitleBox for graphics and branding and SubtitleBox for subtitling of programmes.
Two vital efficiency targets required by Fox were the full integration with the existing Fox playout operations in Rome and the use of public internet for the delivery of all content, playlists and monitoring. The integration means that PlayBox accepts schedules from Fox’s traffic system, seeks the content files and automatically transcodes them to the delivery format ready for transfer via the internet for local transmission anywhere in the world.
Error-checking systems for file transfers are among the many precautions put in place to ensure the reliable delivery of content. The system is fully redundant with main and backup AirBox playout servers in Athens for both TV channels. These are loaded by sending the media files separately to each, so if there was an undetected problem in the transfer of one of the files, the other server would still playout. The remote site includes on-site monitoring and reporting and, if necessary, can be controlled and viewed from Rome or at Fox’s disaster recovery centre in Los Angeles.
Julio Sobral, Senior Vice President, Head of Technical Services and Business Operations Fox International Channels said, “We have been looking for a way to reach new remote markets in an economic way and FoxBox does just that. This is a model we can repeat anywhere around the world that has an internet connection. Don Ash, Sales Director PlayBox Technology comments, “The FoxBox project has involved PlayBox and Fox working closely together to make the solution that fits Fox’s needs. This called on a lot of broadcast and IT experience from both parties to produce this unique solution.
London, 23 October 2007
PlayBox Technology has supplied 28 AirBox playout channels to Crawford Communications, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia, one of the largest broadcast and post production facilities in the Southeastern United States. With these additional channels, Crawford expands its high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) disaster recovery capabilities.
The initial interest for the PlayBox AirBox playout system arose in April from Crawford’s need for a low-cost disaster recovery solution for its clients that originate their own networks. “We soon discovered that AirBox had rock solid reliability and proved to be extremely easy to integrate in any workflow,” explains Donald Rodd, vice president of engineering and technical operations for Crawford. “The fact that we can provide a completely customized, automated and redundant backup solution to our clients at a price point less than PlayBox’s competition is a great safety net. When our clients are in a disaster recovery situation, the last thing they need to worry about is another outage.”
To allow easy integration with the existing operations at Crawford, PlayBox ListBox software was included with the AirBoxes. This component of PlayBox’s system was key as it allowed Crawford to easily import clients’ playlists, enabling the AirBoxes to interface with a variety of traffic systems.
PlayBox is providing local support to Crawford from its recently opened corporate Atlanta office. Country Manager Van Duke comments, “Being so close is ideal for giving fast response to any needs arising as this relationship continues to evolve.”
“The local support has increased PlayBox’s value to us tremendously,” says Jay Pound, senior systems engineer for Crawford. “Using PlayBox, we are creating digital infrastructures that virtually fulfil all of our clients’ requests. They provide a robust, feature-rich platform that has exceeded our expectations.”
London, 29 August 2007
Playout and Automation Manufacturer PlayBox Technology, between IBC2006 and IBC2007, has supplied its solutions to power 1,500 New TV Channels as sales rocketed upwards after the success of last year’s exhibition. Every month between 100 and 150 new channels have been delivered that represents record sales for the company and brings its worldwide total to over 4,000 channels since 1999.
Success is due to PlayBox Technology providing for conventional automation playout solutions as well as newer TV genres that require low cost, high reliability workflows, in SD, HD and DVB that suit a wide range of requirements and budgets.
AirBox, with built-in automation, is the video playout solution, and TitleBox offers on-air graphics preparation and presentation often contributing as a major part of the output for games shows, quiz shows and shopping channels. TitleBox is the driving force behind new-style interactive channels such as SMS2TV, voting, gaming and other graphics-driven channels. PlayBox Technology offers complete playout workflows from acquisition using TrafficBox to archive using MAM.
The list of many new users includes broadcasters such as MTA (London) with multiple channels providing round-the-world and round-the-clock coverage via multiple satellites, to cable and satellite-based services such as Brava HDTV (The Netherlands) that is one of the growing number of HD services using PlayBox playout.
The period has seen expansion not only in the product range increase to include DVB with ASI/IP streaming as well as HD that were launched at IBC2006, but also in the worldwide coverage. PlayBox Technology has opened new sales and support offices USA and Australia adding to the ones already established in Romania, Serbia, Turkey and the UK to provide a better reach and support to more clients.
London, 23 July 2007
PlayBox Technology continues its expansion into international markets with the opening of an office in the USA. On 1stAugust, the doors open at PlayBox USA situated in Atlanta, Georgia to provide a full range of services for its existing and future American customers of its PC-based television playout systems.
With over 100 installations of PlayBox AirBox playout servers already in the country, PlayBox USA brings a full range of services directly to the rapidly growing number of existing customers in the local video broadcast market. Sales are supported both from Atlanta where Van Duke who heads up the US operation as well as East Coast sales, and Los Angeles where John Biedenharn is responsible for the West Coast. The customer care operations include 12 months hardware support for PlayBox systems and an optional further 12 months extension. It also offers annual software maintenance contracts.
Vassil Lefterov, General Manager, comments, “We have already established a considerable customer base in the USA and we are delighted that we can now offers them a full range of local support. Also this move is well timed as we are now delivering HD playout systems and this is of great interest in the American market.”
The opening of the US office is a further expansion PlayBox’s rapidly growing global sales network with offices already including: Belgrade (Serbia and Montenegro), Bucharest (Romania), Istanbul (Turkey), Sydney (Pacific), as well as the London-based international headquarters.
London, 11 July 2007
PlayBox Technology, now supporting over 3,000 SD and HD TV channels worldwide, is expanding the capabilities of its products and playout solutions at IBC2007. The new features include adding more flexibility for playout, especially in live operation, more efficient workflows and interface enhancements as well as technical developments for new compression systems.
New features at IBC include:
PlayBox equipment can now work with AVC H.264 compression. This is in line with the increasing use of the standard that offers up to twice the efficiency MPEG2, both for standard and high definition broadcasts.
The new mixed playout engine in PlayBox’s AirBox playout server supports realtime transitions between clips of different compression formats. This simplifies operation by removing the need to transcode clips to run with other formats in a playlist. The result is the seamless replay of multiple compression formats from a list comprising clips coded in, for example, MPEG2, DV and H.264, with perfect continuity between clips.
Dedicated graphics preview
The PlayBox TitleBox is now able to simultaneously support both graphics creation and replay. This is enabled with the addition of a WYSIWYG editing preview which can continue while the same TitleBox’s playout is active. The result is a more efficient graphics workflow that allows the flexibility to prepare last-minute graphics.
Versatile compliance recording
PlayBox’s CaptureBox Compliance Recorder moves on to V2.0 bringing new features that extend use. Now the limits are off; there are no practical restrictions of format or bit-rate so any broadcast can be recorded, including AVC H.264. Multi-channel broadcasters can benefit from the economy of recording all their outputs into just one box fitted with multiple DeckLink boards. A further extension of supported intput/output broads now includes Matrox, Deltacast and Firewire. The inclusion of ASI/IP means that an ASI input can be played out as an IP stream – allowing remote compliance viewing.
London, 28 June 2007
PlayBox Technology has supplied high definition playout equipment for the 24/7 BravaHDTV channel in The Netherlands. The initial launch is on cable with a satellite service due to start in the late summer.
The PlayBox equipment makes up a large part of the playout chain. The content is supplied on HDCAM tapes in 1080/50i, with any 1080/60i material converted to the station’s format. A CaptureBox HD ingests the 1080/50i material via HD-SDI, storing it as MPEG-2. This is copied to the PlayBox HD server. Playout is provided by an AirBox HD with TitleBox HD adding graphics and captions and SubtitleBox HD providing the live subtitles. The HD-SDI output from the AirBox HD is coded by a Tandberg 8090 HD MPEG-4 encoder with the signal output as ASI to the digital transmission platform. System integrator for the project in The Nederlands is Basmedia Services.
BravaHDTV is a 24/7 cultural broadcaster with offerings including opera, operetta, ballet, choral works, concerts and documentaries all shown in Full HD (1920 x 1080/50i) resolution with Dolby Surround audio. The station opens on 2 July on the CAIW HD cable network in The Netherlands and can be received with a DVB-C HD set-top box. At the end of Q3 2007 the channel will also transmit via satellite from CanalDigitaal.
“We are delighted to be supporting BarvaHDTV for their playout… Interest in HD is rising fast and our playout structure allows us to adapt to this.”, says Don Ash, Director Sales
London, 3 April 2007
PlayBox Technology’s DVB Series comprises a group of new products that addresses the needs of telecoms operations and satellite uplink centres for efficient, cost-effective high quality services for their re-broadcast and NVoD clients. This includes new IP streaming and ASI interfaces that work directly with DVB ASI streams. With over 3,000 television channels already on-air with PlayBox the DVB Series creates playout solutions specifically for the needs telecoms operators.
The IP/ASI interface card plugs into appropriate existing PlayBox equipment to create CaptureBox Streamer for ingest, AirBox Streamer for playout and a multiple ASI input DVB Muxer to combine playout streams into a single ASI-MPTS (Multiple Program Transport Stream). These, and other system components, can work together to fulfil any number of specific playout service requirements avoiding lossy decode/recode cycles, TV baseband equipment and its associated costs. Where needed further PlayBox system components can add features such as graphics and subtitling.
Satellite uplink centres that add local baseband content into downlinked streams could with achieve this with a CaptureBox Streamer, AirBox Streamer and a DVB Muxer combination – automation being handled within the AirBox. The NVoD model, where the content is not constantly changing, can be built around just a single AirBox Streamer that can support up to 256 IP streams, and a DVB Muxer.
London, 6 March 2007
PlayBox Technology is to debut TrafficBox, its full-blown traffic management system, at NAB2007, which will be available for immediate delivery. This major expansion to the PlayBox range complements the existing products to complete a full TV and Internet broadcast transmission workflow. With all parts supplied from one vendor, users can benefit from powerful system integration features and have the confidence and convenience of a single source for all support. Owners also profit from the low cost – setting a new price-point for complete traffic management, and allowing many smaller users to take advantage of the features to streamline their business.
Targeted at broadcasters who need business management solutions, TrafficBox has all the features required for programme planning, traffic scheduling and advertising sales operations. When integrated with the PlayBox automation system, TrafficBox allows new and existing broadcasters to achieve a more efficient workflow. And, as with other PlayBox products, TrafficBox runs on a PC to make a highly cost-effective solution.
TrafficBox is deigned for fast delivery and to be quickly up and running. It can be downloaded and installed via the Internet, and then remotely configured by PlayBox support staff. On-line training and support are also available over the Internet, so that PlayBox can swiftly be brought into action to immediately start providing its services. When integrated with the PlayBox’s Broadcast Automation System, TrafficBox allows new and existing broadcasters to achieve a more efficient workflow.
Kornel Kathi, Director Marketing and Communications, comments, “I’m really excited about TrafficBox. It is the last item we needed to complete our PlayBox suite of transmission equipment all running on standard platforms. Traffic management has always been useful but the price too high for many of our customers. This changes that. It should be affordable for everyone.”
London, 2 January 2007
Seminole Government Television (SGTV), Seminole County, Florida, has transformed its playout from analogue to digital with a solution supplied by PlayBox Technology. The requirements included the provision of a soft transition to the new technology as well as supplying fully redundant backup and emergency broadcasting.
Playbox supplied a standards-based solution with the main applications comprising CaptureBox for ingest, AirBox video playout and graphics preparation and presentation with TitleBox – all installed in Master Control. With an emphasis on security of on-air playout the configuration is fully redundant with backups of all three workstations housed in the hardened Emergency Operations Center six miles from the main station. A 6TB network attached storage (NAS) server, located at the station, offers central storage while each AirBox has 1.2 TB storage per channel in a dual-channel capacity configuration. All are RAID-protected.
Each Playbox workstation includes internal and external control, with the whole solution networked via Ethernet. At SGTV, AirBox controls a 16x16 routing matrix for input selection to access program sources from satellite feeds ranging from Classic Arts Showcase and NASA TV to the State of Florida channel from the State capitol in Tallahassee. A major element of the programming mix is devoted to live coverage of the County Commission as well as other government committees. The new digital playout also embraces the station’s existing analogue replay capability by its inclusion within the AirBox automation. For this SGTV has used DVDs as well as tape decks, the former requiring some one-off engineering to bring them under the control umbrella.
Operations Manager Paul Louis remarks, “The control interface for internal and remote control is very well laid out and intelligently designed. We can call items for replay under parameters such as ‘Channel Branding’, ‘Promotions’ and even ‘Coming Up Blurb’.”
Beyond the video replay, there is also an emphasis on graphics to present information on-air. Louis continues, “The TitleBox is a nice full-featured and productive graphics engine that can run under the AirBox automation for replay. The level of sophistication of this combined operation was a big selling point for us and we consider it at least as good as any in the market.”
The workflow is run by a series of Playbox tools operating together. At the front end material is ingested using CaptureBox and sent to the central NAS server. SafeBox is responsible for making sure that the right media is in the right place at the right time. Normally it refers to the playlist data created using ListBox, supplied with AirBox, and at SGTV it is set to keep two weeks ahead of transmission. SafeBox pulls the media data from the NAS and places it into both AirBoxes, including the backup at the Emergency Center, for transmission. If the media is not available it issues a notice for the necessary ingest action. AirBox can run the playlist to transmission automatically but, where live interaction is needed, it can also be run manually. Finally SafeBox can remove the used program material from the AirBoxes after the transmission is completed.
Paul Louis comments, “Playbox is a nice system and it’s well conceived. I like it. I’m happy with it and Playbox has the means and the will to maintain good relations. We have also discovered one or two more things. The people at Playbox are very responsive with support. It has included setting up remote access to help us with our set-up. At the same time it is doing a good job at aggressively improving its products. There have already been significant features added.”
SHOWTV, has been on-air for nearly two years with very demanding workflow solutions from PlayBox Technology
SHOWTV started broadcasting in 1994 with a tape based workflow from their Master Control Room using Sony LMS robotic VTR systems and in 2004 started a detailed research for an alternative modern IT based solution for their expanding broadcasting needs.
PlayBox Technology solutions were chosen after a long and detailed evaluation of many IT based automation systems available. The main criteria in making the important decision in favour of PlayBox Technology was that the solutions offered were reliable, affordable, easily operated, supporting non proprietary open formats, open to third party integration and offered highly skilled local support.
The switching to IT based workflow was planned well in advance and included extensive testing and full integration of the different components to perfectly build the ideal workflow solution to meet the expanding broadcasting needs of SHOWTV.
PlayBox Technology solutions were thoroughly tested and commissioned and after detailed testing and comprehensive training were fully integrated into a streamlined fully redundant workflow solution and used to playout two of the new SHOW TV channels
The fully integrated workflow includes 16 AirBox Servers and 10 CaptureBox Servers all connected to 200TB on-line archive storage. Also included in the workflow are 18 NLE suites that include Avid media Composer, Avid Chrome, DPS Velocity, Canopus Edius SP-SDI, numerous Edius desktop editing systems and Graphics are RTX based from the MCR.
The system is all connected with the Nortel Enterprise level gigabit network infrastructure with 10Gbit backbone to the servers and the EKSEN Archive software suite is connecting all components together. The video files are played by AirBox directly from the archive storage and a special utility of the EKSEN suite called Traffic Manager ensures there is always adequate bandwidth for the AirBox Systems by throttling the remaining network traffic where necessary
The workflow begins with either VTR ingest or ingest from the 26 Sony XDCAM tapeless camera systems via CaptureBox or Digital Rapids and the parts of the files that are archive-worthy are cut out directly on the CaptureBox systems with MPEG editing software and transferred to archive together with metadata via the EKSEN Archive clients installed on each CaptureBox
Operators are able to search and browse for videos and play and trim the files and upload the final clips for playout. Most materials are ingested in MPEG2 and any files in other formats are automatically converted to MPEG when marked for broadcast
Schedulers design and approve the playlists and prepare them for broadcast. The playout Operators then load playlists assigned to them, from the EKSEN On-Air Client installed on each AirBox and go on air.
PlayBox Technology is currently providing complete redundant 24/7 playout solutions for four SHOW TV Channels using PlayBox solutions that are deployed in 4 separate Master Control Rooms in master and redundant backup configuration to assure the best on-air reliability and on-air presentation for these channels. AirBox servers are deployed in redundant pairs so there is always a backup AirBox that is listening to, and following everything the master AirBox does.
We run two Christian television channels from our premises in London. Revelation TV and Genesis TV are both on the air 24/7 and transmitted in the UK via the Sky platform. Originally we had invested in server technology for playout as we saw that it should have many advantages over traditional tape. With no engineer on the premises one of the top priorities was reliability. However, the serves proved less reliable than was hoped. Then, three years ago, the opportunity of a move to new premises in London allowed us to replace the playout with AirBox and other associated servers and applications from PlayBox Technology.
Having lived with unreliability it is a great relief to have that problem removed. To say PlayBox is reliable is an understatement. It has been running here for nearly three years and very rarely does it ever fall over. If it does, we’ve got redundancy, but it’s hardly ever been used.
PlayBox supplies a major part of our workflow. A large section of on-air content is delivered from 18 churches, probably the largest number of any UK broadcaster. Their programmes are supplied mainly on tape or DVD and the first thing is to replay them into the NAS central storage via the two ingest CaptureBox servers; both are available for each of the two channels. The material is automatically forwarded to the AirBox playout servers according to the requirements of the schedule, and to be ready well ahead of transmission time. The playout also uses TitleBox for on-air graphics that mainly consist of animated channel logos, titles, promotions and interactive content like SMS2TV.
Besides the programme playout there is also a production side. The studios are live on air with chat shows that include phone-ins and texting, for between four and five hours every day. During these live programmes we play-in the introduction and titles as well as clips such as music videos or any other inserts from AirBox and TitleBox generates the live on-air graphics including the display of text messages.
If there is a need to prerecord any sections we do so via CaptureBox for later playing live into the programme from AirBox. It’s much better than using tape and there are things available to us that would be much more involved with the old technology. For example, it is easy to make edits. It takes just a few moments to do and the edit can be completed, checked and ready for playout. The AirBox menus are quite clear and the inserts are often run manually from a keyboard to fit with the timing of the live action. All the inserts run from the AirBox into the programmes via a Grass Valley Kayak 2ME vision mixer. Often there is only the need for one person at the production desk and the studio generally has locked-off cameras – so no cameramen.
The production set-up includes more than one layer of backup for recording and replay. There are two PlayBox Servers; each with RAID protected storage and both able to operate as CaptureBox and AirBox. This provides a form of double redundancy and gives the extra assurance we thought we needed for operation in live production. However the reliability is such that you can question the necessity of such backup.
Now, the reliable tapeless workflow for production and playout we were looking for has been achieved. The fact that the whole system is highly automated allows the entire operation to run 24/7 with just 4 (four) staff. This and the cost-effective PlayBox solutions help to keep our running costs down.
Looking to the future, we are building a new operation in southern Spain. There we will again be depending on PlayBox for video servers, graphics and the related requirements of playout. Of course the years of experience gained here will guide the design so it’s quite possible we will be confident enough to use less redundancy than at present.
Master Control Room in Revelation TV