The Sponsors Perspective: PRISM Waveform Monitors: Form Is Temporary, But Class Is Permanent?

In the beginning, there was television. And whenever people tried to make television programmes effective video signal monitoring was an essential pre-requisite.

This article was first published as part of Essential Guide: Flexible IP Monitoring - download the complete Essential Guide HERE.

Tektronix Video Group invented the Waveform Monitor over 50 years ago and ever since, the company has been at the cutting edge of every technology development, providing test instruments that enable video engineers and operators to create great content. From monochrome to color, analogue to digital, SD to HD, the company has consistently been the #1 supplier of video test equipment.

Recent years have seen the broadcast industry undergo multiple simultaneous and seismic technology and business transitions. HDR and Wide Color Gamut; HD to UHD and even 8K resolutions; 3G SDI to 12G SDI, migration towards IP networks and remote production. The challenge we face is to create the tools that our customers can use to make these changes within their organizations, incrementally and at a speed that suits them.

When the PRISM Waveform Monitor launched, we focused on the new measurement problems that would arise in the shift to IP networks. Our initial goal for this platform was to help early adopters make the first transitions to IP systems and rapidly this became an engineer’s favorite instrument. Our long-term goal, was step up to broader spectrum of industry transitions knowing that the IP migration would just be one part of what our customers were facing.

Since we joined the Telestream organization, collaboration with colleagues in this media-focused technology company has accelerated the pace of our innovation. The result is a completely new class of video instrument: the software-defined waveform monitor.

We have announced six new models in our PRISM waveform monitor line. With these new additions, the PRISM family now offers a complete range of software-defined monitoring instruments, covering use cases from operational SDI monitoring to engineering grade IP analysis, with a common user interface throughout. Designed to support both local and remote production situations up to 8K HDR, being software-defined means that customers can purchase a base model and add features as and when required by simply purchasing a software license.

The PRISM technology platform has enabled us to create a range of form factors at affordable entry level price points, while retaining a “no penalty” software upgrade path to add higher end features as required. We have effectively re-invented monitoring for the needs of a new generation of users and challenges.

Aligning with one of the major trends in the industry, remote operation scenarios are supported, including full feature over-the-network viewing of the PRISM display screen (NoVNC required). Now, PRISM provides remote access to an instrument for maintenance and diagnostics, which is a feature that many customers regard as invaluable in their day-to-day operations. When used with the Inspect 2110 probe, customers can expand their remote visibility by getting detailed monitoring and analysis of ST2110 IP video across their entire network. When an area of concern is flagged by Inspect 2110, a single button press launches any stream in PRISM for deep ST 2110 video waveform, audio, data, and PTP analysis to find and fix faults fast.

The new PRISM models fit shallow racks and tight spaces with a 3RU, ½ rack, 5-inch-deep mechanical design that does not compromise capability (4K/8K HDR/Wide Color Gamut, 4 inputs, Dolby ED2 with Dolby ATMOS support planned, 10/25G-IP and 12G-SDI). With a unique set of HDR tools, including the patented STOP waveform, user defined False Color, Light Meter and CIE charts, PRISM focuses on content and offers multiple user interface options that can be tailored to different user roles. Some of those rely heavily on the display so we offer both single and dual screen models with 65% more display area in same rack space as competing products. This makes it perfect for tasks like multi-camera shading.

Beyond the technical specs, we have created a modern user-configurable instrument that is easily adapted to the needs of engineers, colorists, camera shaders, editors, and others. Several patented displays empower creative staff to identify and correct over-exposure or colors that do not display as intended. The UI is easy to learn and use. Customers tell us that their operators learned to use PRISM in just a few minutes with no formal instruction. Adapt it to you needs, then just use it.

The Covid19 pandemic was unforeseen, but the move to remote production was not. The pandemic restrictions accelerated the change for many of our customers, but in designing the PRISM family we anticipated the need for remote operation, by allowing full remote control, viewing and operation through NoVNC access.

PRISM forms the base of our waveform monitoring range for many years, and the platform enables us to adapt more quickly to whatever changes are coming next. We are getting positive feedback from customers on the features and flexibility, but we are also delighted that the use of a common software defined platform has allowed us to reduce the entry price by about 25%, making it easier for any size of media company to invest in the best waveform monitors.

Inspect 2110 Creates Killer Combination With PRISM

One of the common threads in customers transitioning to ST-2110 systems has been to increase the scale of their routing infrastructure to consolidate and thereby simplify different elements of a larger operation. As these networks scale up, in addition to needing a deep analyzer like a PRISM, we saw that customers needed more visibility (a forest view) across the entire network to know that things were ok: is the PTP reference good? Are my redundant paths identical? Are my UHD flows really UHD flows? When we joined Telestream a year ago, we immediately teamed up with the network monitoring team, IQ, to collaborate on creating the Inspect 2110 monitoring probe which can automate the monitoring of a large-scale video network by flagging common issues that can then be directed to PRISM for the detailed analysis.

Instruments like PRISM tend to be analyzers. They will look at a few selected signals on which users can then perform a series of deep analytic measurements. They are ideally suited to the job performed by individuals working in QC, Live Production, Post Production and Engineering. However, for those in Operations who are responsible for ensuring that all the signals being used in a facility or being transmitted are correct they need tools that will monitor signals on a large scale, but that perform less in-depth measurements than an analyzer. This is about visibility and warnings rather than deep analysis and diagnostics.

As broadcast operations migrate from SDI to IP, there is a need for test & measurement systems that support this sea-change in operating environment. At Telestream, our new Inspect 2110 probes provide the large-scale monitoring required in an operational environment.

There are numerous network statistics that can be harvested from infrastructure equipment such as switches. Inspect 2110 looks at that information. However, what sets Inspect 2110 apart is its ability to look at the actual content being carried and to check whether it is correct. Totally configurable for the environment in which it will be used, the 2110 probe provides a dashboard, thumbnails, hierarchical warning, and error alarming
with comprehensive logs, all designed to help operators to rapidly respond to systems issues in an informed way. The probes can be positioned to provide visibility across the whole workflow from acquisition, through contribution and in the facility. Each probe can monitor up to 100Gbps of ST 2110 video, audio, and data.

Inspect 2110 uses the system SDP files to ensure that the content is correct. The probe compares the primary and redundant streams to ensure they are the same, that neither service is degraded and that the timing is correct to enable secure switch over when required. Inspect also monitors the system PTP and will report changes of events on the system, for example a change in the Grandmaster.

Charlie Dunn – Senior Vice President of Tek Video Business Unit.

Charlie Dunn – Senior Vice President of Tek Video Business Unit.

Should deep analysis or diagnostics be required, Inspect 2110 provides automated direct click connectivity to PRISM, providing an industry leading combination of ST 2110 monitoring and deep analysis.

Throughout its development, we have future-proofed Inspect 2110’s design at every stage. It features an API-first container-based microservice architecture for automation, which is ready for cloud-centric architectures.

Expanding the PRISM platform to this level was always our vision from day one, but the combined collaboration with the Telestream IQ network experts and the Inspect 2110 product has surpassed everyone’s expectation of what can be
achieved. We’ve built a truly unique monitoring system that bridges the SDI/IP divide.

With Inspect 2110 and PRISM operating in combination we have developed the first ST 2110 Monitoring & Waveform Monitor single vendor solution. 

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