Discovery Networks Europe initiated a project last year to find a system that could be deployed in master control to increase the viewing ratio in a transmission pod from 10:1 to 12:1. Its existing technology was limited by both hardware and software constraints. Stuart Parkinson, Director of Project Engineering, says, “We had to find a more flexible solution. We knew of Rascular and had successfully used other products from them so we looked at Helm. We carried out a proof-of-concept with our operations department and this went very well. Helm replicates our previous functionality but also provides a new way of working with the expanded possibilities it creates. We have now deployed it across 69 channels.”
Helm allows customers to pick best-of-breed systems – be that branding devices, routers, video servers, VTRs, multi-image display processors and modular gear, or any combination - from a range of different manufactures and provides a single, integrated, user-defined, PC-based control/monitoring surface for operators. This allows users to control channels, or pods of channels, from a single screen using bespoke, pre-defined buttons for complex workflows.
Discovery now uses Helm to provide transmission controllers access to various points in the transmission chain within a monitoring pod. Helm provides manual access to Miranda ImageStores – which appear like a presentation mixer – main and back-up servers, graphical assets as well as Axon glue products for ensuring content is broadcast 16:9.
Parkinson says, “We are gradually adding more functionality into Helm, designing graphics-rich soft panels ourselves. The ability to control complex workflows very simply via Helm is vital to our operation. We are now additionally deploying the technology in our ingest area so that operators – at the touch of a button – can insure that multiple language tracks on supplied material are encoded correctly for playout at the ingest point. This means that complex workflows have to take place in the background but to the operator they now appear simple. Helm allows you – encourages you even – to think in different ways and means that you aren’t locked in to buying equipment from a single manufacturer.”
Ephraim Barrett, Sales Director with Rascular, says, “We’re very proud to be working with a broadcaster of Discovery Network Europe’s scale and complexity. Helm has been designed to allow broadcasters to select technology from multiple vendors but eradicates the issue of then being faced with a hotchpotch of control systems and that’s precisely what they are doing.”