TV T&M For The New Decade, Part 1

An engineering assessment of broadcast TV T&M needs and solutions in late 2019 suggests the new decade will bring more needs and solutions. A revelation such as this was once news.

The technical foundation of TV didn’t change much during its first half-century. TV in the US was 525 horizontal lines of analog video interlaced 30 times per second. About the only significant improvement was color, which was backwards compatible.

Testing and measuring video from cameras to the transmitter output didn’t change much either. The tools most engineers needed to calibrate and troubleshoot video were a waveform monitor, a vectorscope and a screwdriver.

Today, TV signals are constantly evolving and there are no single national standard format such as NTSC, PAL or SECAM. Digital TV signal formats include all kinds of scan rates, bit depths, pixel counts, bandwidths, and can be wired or wireless. Nearly all conform to one standard or another.

The only TV standards that remain relatively stable and uniform are transmission/delivery standards for government-licensed broadcast TV and streaming video. Most streaming video platforms are equally stringent. If a signal can't or doesn't fulfill minimum requirements it fails, much as home Dish or Direct satellite TV signals fail during big storms.

The executive summary of this story is that testing/calibration and troubleshooting video signals in 2019 and beyond requires significantly more powerful T&M capabilities than the best analog waveform monitors and vectorscopes ever provided.

For reference, the best analog waveform monitors and vectorscopes before digital video were stand-alone and cost more than $5000 each in 1990 USD. A broadcast VTR could cost more than $100,000. Today, waveform monitors and vectorscopes are standard in many computer video editing programs. The secret is knowing how to use them.

Actus Digital

Actus Digital traveled this fall demonstrating how its mandatory compliance solution is part of a much larger Unified Media Monitoring Platform. Actus Digital solutions provide cross-organizational benefits to operations, marketing, research, and new media departments to broadcast and media companies. The platform includes solutions for compliance, QoS assurance, content repurposing, rating analysis, and more.

Actus also showed its Digital’s Clip Factory creation workflow. It offers a web browser interface for creating and exporting clips, enabling content repurposing from anywhere, anytime, on any device.

Bridge Technologies

Bridge Technologies demonstrated its popular VB440 network probe handling 8K network traffic in the Bridge Technologies stand at IBC 2019.  The company also debuted the Widglets API HTML5 embedded video monitor for the VB440. Widglets API extends the VB440’s usefulness well beyond today’s T&M applications.

Bridge Technologies Widglets API won the 2019 ‘IBC Best of Show’ Award.

Bridge Technologies Widglets API won the 2019 ‘IBC Best of Show’ Award.

Bridge Technologies Chairman Simen K. Frostad wrote of his IBC view in his October Blog Post. "What was interesting was how what we’re developing resonated with many of the key themes that emerged from IBC 2019” he said. “There was, for example, much talk of ’doing more with less’.  Many exhibitors were discussing what’s become known as ‘the customer journey’ – how do we get from where we are today to where we need to be in the future – and how do we keep our options open in an uncertain world? Inevitably, there was also a great deal of focus on the opportunities – and challenges – presented by delivering live content, and the role of remote production. What we were showing, and discussing with visitors, played really well into all those areas."

Frostad also noted that his company had "joined the SRT Alliance, a 250-member organization committed to the success of the Secure Reliable Transport protocol that is designed to facilitate low latency streaming across any network. It’s going to be extremely important, not least because we expect it to fuel a new explosion in live content.” He continued “What really caught the audience’s attention was seeing real time metrics of our network back in Norway – on a phone! Now that’s remote monitoring."

Sylvio Jelovcich, VP of SRT & Alliances at Haivision said "Bridge Technologies is a trusted partner and recognized leader in the broadcast industry for their monitoring and analytics solutions, that protect video service quality. We are excited to have Bridge Technologies involved, which will ultimately create even broader support and enthusiasm for, and adoption of SRT in the future.”

At IBC 2019, Bridge Technologies demonstrated SRT for its VB220, VB288 and VB330 appliances, for the monitoring and analysis of Internet streaming-based services.

Interra Systems

Interra Systems demonstrated why its solutions are driving superior-quality video experiences on multiscreen platforms at IBC 2019. The company showed its full range of content quality control (QC), monitoring, analysis, and classification solutions that streamline content management, improve efficiencies, and provide exceptional audio-video quality on every device.

The company showed and explained its BATON ABR QC and ORION monitoring solutions, which set the industry benchmark for delivering high-quality streamed video. Major new updates to BATON were shown, including BATON LipSync, an automated tool for lip sync detection and verification of audio with captions, as well as photo sensitive epilepsy (PSE) testing and correction.

The latest version of BATON supports integration with WINNOW, the company’s new solution for content classification and identification.

ORION-OTT can be used to proactively perform HTTP checks and monitor the quality of each stream. It improves the quality of VOD content and live event streaming with thorough ABR manifest file validation, audio-video checks, and real-time alerts. It supports the latest captioning and ad insertion standards for compliance and monetization.

ORION also provides operations groups with a powerful yet economical monitoring and troubleshooting platform that looks at all aspects of video streams, such as QoS, QoE, closed captions, and ad-insertion verification.

ORION Central Manager (OCM) provides an aggregated view of linear and OTT services based on monitoring data collected by ORION and ORION-OTT.

Dalet recently announced it has expanded integration of the Interra Systems’ BATON platform to include the Ooyala Flex Media Platform. The expanded technology partnership enables Dalet Galaxy five and Ooyala Flex Media Platform customers to deploy advanced automated quality assurance and compliance workflows.

The BATON automated QC system was also integrated with Ortana’s Cubix MAM and orchestration platform, bringing increased efficiency and accuracy to file-based media workflows.

One of the world’s first live sports 8K broadcast was monitored at IBC on a Leader LV5900 HD/4K/8K multi-standard waveform monitor.

One of the world’s first live sports 8K broadcast was monitored at IBC on a Leader LV5900 HD/4K/8K multi-standard waveform monitor.

Leader Instruments

A Leader Instruments LV5900 HD/4K/8K multi-standard waveform monitor was chosen to display and examine the signal feed from a one-hour live 8K broadcast by BT from Northampton, England, at IBC 2019 in Amsterdam. One of the world's first broadcasts of its kind enabled IBC visitors to observe the technical parameters of 8K video from the Gallagher Premiership Rugby 7s tournament, relayed direct from the home stadium of Northampton Saints in 8K.

"We are very pleased to have been chosen to partner in this landmark demonstration," says Leader Europe Business Development Manager Kevin Salvidge. "The LV5900 allows OB technicians to check video and audio signal parameters at any point in the production and delivery chain to ensure raw and encoded signal feeds conform as closely as possible to the maximum deliverable quality."

"8K currently represents the pinnacle in terms of production quality, creating a picture four times sharper than 4K and 16 times sharper than HD, plus very high-quality audio. With the source feed an enormous 48 gigabits per second, a lot depends on the delivery network and choice of codecs. The demonstration was highly impressive and a tribute to the skill both of BT Sport and BT's Media & Broadcast division."

"SR Live for HDR" is the solution which enables simultaneous HDR / SDR video production, proposed by Sony Imaging Products and Solutions Inc.

Leader Electronics has added a function in the ZEN series waveform monitors and rasterizers to decode and display the “SR Live Metadata” packet advocated by Sony.

“SR Live for HDR” allows 4K HDR and HD SDR simultaneous video production following to the HD SDR live production environment which is the current mainstream. The “SR Live Metadata” is embedded into the SDI signal based on SMPTE ST 291-1 “Ancillary Data Packet and Space Formatting.”

Standby for Part 2 of TV T&M for the New Decade, which will summarize the latest activities among the second alphabetical half of TV T&M manufacturers.

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