SGTV Transitions to PlayBox Digital Playout

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

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 local 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, now all included under the new control umbrella.
Operations Manager Paul Louis remarks, “The control interface for local 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 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.”
Launched in 1998, SGTV is Seminole County's own award-winning Cable TV channel. It is a government and education channel operated by Seminole County and broadcast 24/7 on Bright House Networks in Seminole County where 100,000 homes are connected. It is also streamed via its website (, and there is a plan for VoD.