PlayBox Technology input for 'Channel in a Box Forum 2014'

Thursday, December 12, 2013

This technology is ever evolving. What has been the most innovative advance over the past 12 to 18 months?

ANSWER: Business-wise, reaching more Tier 1 broadcasters than ever before. Most didn’t even acknowledge that CiaB even existed 1 to 2 years ago.

For those still considering CiaB for their own operations, what would you offer as the main benefit when it comes to embracing this technology?

ANSWER: The ease at which you can set up and run channels simply and reliably. These must be quick to learn as well as easy to operate and maintain.

How practical is it to install a CiaB in a remote broadcast facility and monitor it from a central point?

ANSWER: It is not only practical, it is a reality. Approximately 2,000 PlayBox Technology systems are in use around the world. All of these are scheduled, operated and monitored remotely.

PlayBox Technology has a workflow product called EdgeBox that is designed to achieve this for Tier 1 broadcasters.

PlayBox Technology also offers Multi Playout Manager which allows single and multiple channels to be remotely managed, controlled and monitored with different levels of rights management assignment from viewer to administrator.

For commercials insertion, PlayBox Technology produces a product called AdBox for the insertion of advertisements, programmes and interstitials at a remote location. These inserts can be controlled and monitored centrally via the internet. Insertion is triggered by cues that run a preloaded playlist.

It has been suggested that the systems could be dubbed Channels in a Box. Just how many channels could be run from one box?

ANSWER: Theoretically 10 to 20 channels are currently possible using IP pump from a single PlayBox Technology server. In practice, the cost of the box is so small that most broadcasters still prefer to run one channel, sometimes two channels, from one box. The number of channels from one box is also limited if character generation and graphics are required.

A number of PlayBox Technology broadcast customers use IP pump to run 12 barker channels or NVOD for movies starting at 15 minute intervals. The technology is not really the driving factor to how many channels from one box; it is really down to operational issues.

What Disaster Recovery facilities are available on CiaB equipment?

ANSWER: PlayBox Technology provides complete disaster recovery solutions such as replicating the entire system in a DR location, duplicating key requirements only in a DR location or taking a simple playlist from the main broadcast system and producing a DR playout in a DR location. PlayBox Technology is used by many broadcasters for DR solutions on a platform that is simple and has proved its reliability in many thousands of channels worldwide.

What QC capabilities are offered within CiaB systems?

ANSWER: PlayBox Technology offers a product called QCBox to monitor content that often comes from many different sources, encoded, transcoded and repurposed at a variety of bit-rates, formats and compression standards for both SD and HD delivery. This multiplicity presents considerable challenges for AirBox playout. QCBox is designed to provide automatic monitoring of media content. It delivers verification of whether legal and technical obligations are being met. Tests include checking for correct duration, continuity (no missing or overlapped frames), frozen and black frames as well as audio tests, including loudness, phase and audio levels.

One major concern among some broadcasters is the ability to take over manual control if, say, a sporting event overruns. How easy is to handle such situations?

ANSWER: Very easy and very simple. The automation in PlayBox Technology allows for manual override of automated playout. So for live productions, any changes to the playlist during on-air session are possible! There are no queued or locked clips. Every clip in the playlist, except the one which is currently playing, can be trimmed, edited or repositioned. Moreover, playlist order can be changed on-the-fly with commands like skip-to-next or jump. Such order changes are performed seamlessly without stopping current playout session. Live productions are facilitated by the powerful Live Show Clipboard which allows insertion and/or execution of various events or live streams.

How easily can CiaB handle distribution to other media platforms – tablets, smartphones etc.?

ANSWER: PlayBox Technology offers a product called AirBoxMPO (AirBox Multi Parallel Output) which enables the running of two or more outputs so that broadcasters can easily provide parallel outputs in any combination needed to deliver the content. HD-SDI, SD-SDI (with realtime rescaling) and IP streaming or, for example, output in H.264 (MPEG-4) and MPEG-2 at the same time to feed different media platforms simultaneously.

Someone has suggested that Channel in a Box will be replaced by Channel on a Chip. Is that feasible – and, if so, when will we see it?

ANSWER: I am not so sure this will ever become a reality because every leap forward in technology that can allow this to happen sees a leap forward in requirements from consumers (or more to the point manufacturers of consumer products) promoting higher quality (such as 3D) or higher definition, (such as 4K). That progression will continue indefinitely. When technology does allow for 'channel on a chip', I am sure the PSU to drive the chip and the fans needed to cool it down will still equate to a 1U box that is the same as today.