Features and operation
The shift from hardware- to more software-centric workflow models has already simplified the playout infrastructure. This system evolves the model, offering a single platform to support everyday operations such as file ingest, closed caption and pre-recorded audio insertion, audio channel management, DVE and mix effects, and upstream/downstream device control.
On a more expansive level, the solution allows broadcasters to decide how and when to grow services — including mixed SD and HD content, as well as 2D and 3-D graphic branding. The solution uses its resources, matching appropriate IT hardware with software requirements. Graphic branding is a GPU-centric operation, with its own set of SSD media drives to enable fast loading of graphics.
Harris branding technology also supports optional DVE capabilities and mix effects, as well as RSS and ODBC-driven text such as snipes and lower-thirds. A separate set of hard drives is used for on-board clip storage to maximize storage capacity from the small footprint. CPU supports video encode and decode operations, and allows maximum clip codec and wrapper format support.
The option to use external SAN storage or the platform’s standard integrated storage adds flexibility to media sharing. SAN-connected servers stream directly without having to cache content to a local disk via fully redundant Ethernet connectivity.
The integrated video server function supports 2X internal channels, which enable mix effects under automation control and an optional baseband record channel. The output is a fully branded channel, with support for SNMP monitoring, the Magellan log server and Versio’s onboard multiviewer. Broadcasters can also run automation directly on the chassis, or leverage a new or existing external ADC or D-Series automation controlled over Ethernet. Used with an external automation system, the platform offers the ability to control more upstream and downstream devices.
The on-board automation function offers full control of integrated resources plus external device control including VTR, router, subtitler and external graphic branding systems. An intuitive user interface allows the operator to monitor and modify playlists independently to centralize control.
The pertinent takeaway is reliability. Deployment options, including seamless integration with existing infrastructure, ensure long-term durability and scalability — with the freedom to control built-in functions as desired. Therefore, broadcasters seeking to prove the reliability of the CIB concept have more freedom to do so.
Beyond the basics
The flexibility of deployments rests within the integrated software licensing, which can quickly enable or disable options. Additional options include advanced branding, including 2X 2D DVE and switching between a live input and disk-based clip playout. Its expansive codec support also reduces concerns for successful clip playback in a wide variety of formats.
Other options reach farther into the workflow, including automated file movement using Invenio Motion media asset management and Harris Live-Update-based interfacing with its traffic and billing systems. The latter employs BXF, which allows fluid playlist changes between traffic and automation functions, so traffic can sell ads almost to air time.
It is clear that CIB will grow in importance in the playout space. The prospect of lower costs, easier operation and simpler, faster deployment are important attractions. Blending this with versatility and proven reliability makes channel-in-a-box a potent option to today’s standard approaches.
—Andrew Warman is senior product marketing manager, Harris Broadcast Communications.