Playout & Transmission Technology At NAB 2024

As we approach the 2024 NAB Show we take a look at some of the discussion points and new playout & transmission technologies that will be available for investigation on the show floor.

The 2024 NAB Show floor will host more than 1,000 exhibits, including more than 140 first-time exhibitors, in four exhibit areas covering more than 575,000 net square feet (53,400 square meters) of exhibit space at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). Including the new West Hall, the LVCC campus now covers more than 4.5 million square feet (418,000 square meters). The newly refurbished South Hall is back, but North is closed. Prepare to walk.

This article is focused primarily on new developments in transmitter technology and playout systems for traditional OTA broadcast. The Broadcast Bridge will publish other dedicated articles on Playout Monitoring & Compliance, and Streaming & OTT Technologies between now and the NAB Show.

As ever most of the vendors at the show will demonstrate new technologies which improve, enhance and extend features and streamline workflow with new technological developments. One of the topics which should get more air time than it probably will is the need for the whole broadcast industry to contribute to meeting targets for reducing ecological impact, so it is good to see some vendors coming to market with innovations specifically designed to our reduce carbon footprint.

It seems inevitable that there will be much discussion on the show floor about the state of play with ATSC 3.0/NextGen TV. With the roll out of ATSC 3.0 transmission capable infrastructure now reaching the majority of the population, debate continues about availability of affordable compatible TV’s, user incentives to buy in and the potential implications of 5G Broadcast. As we discuss at length in this article about the 2024 NAB Show BEIT Sessions, there is a wealth of excellent technical education available at the show about potential new revenue models from ATSC 3.0 powered data services.

Vendor Focus

Here are some of the companies with new technologies worth checking out at the show:

The Cobalt Digital 9905-MPx openGear® card.

The Cobalt Digital 9905-MPx openGear® card.

Cobalt Digital (Booth SU4027) are introducing a new ATSC 1.0 to ATSC 3.0 converter. Cobalt say the high-density, efficient 9905-MPx openGear® card brings HDR to ATSC 3.0 (NextGen TV). the card offers an easy way to convert ATSC 1.0 to an ATSC 3.0 ready signal. The card is a fully featured, multi-function 3G/HD/SD Quad-Path Up/Down/Cross Converter/Frame Sync/Embed/De-Embed openGear audio processor. The 9905-MPx also includes the ability to convert four channels of 1080i SDR to 1080p HDR for ATSC 3.0 and support for 3D-LUTs as a standard feature for all paths with available color correction for downstream HDR systems. This way, stations can get started in ATSC 3.0 by automatically generating a 1080p HDR feed from their existing 1080i or 720p SDR feed, and later switch to a native HDR signal. 

New DekTec PCIe cards bring speed and versatility to SMPTE 2110 applications.

New DekTec PCIe cards bring speed and versatility to SMPTE 2110 applications.

DekTec (Booth W3501) will be showing its advanced solutions for SMPTE 2110 and ATSC 3.0. The company is prepared to show how effortlessly users can create SMPTE 2110 applications, sidestepping complex technical details like PTP timing. The exhibit will highlight the DTA 2110 10G and DTA-2125 25G SmartNICs, fully integrated with the DekTec SDK and its Test & Measurement software. The DekTec advanced PCIe cards are crafted to simplify the creation of 2110 solutions, freeing designers to focus on the creative aspects of their A/V projects.  DekTec will also present live demonstrations of its comprehensive toolkit for ATSC 3.0, display its full range of current hardware products, and demonstrate the latest versions of StreamXpress, and StreamXpert.

OptiLoad includes programmable logic controls to sense RF power and thermal temperatures to prevent transmission system failures.

OptiLoad includes programmable logic controls to sense RF power and thermal temperatures to prevent transmission system failures.

Dielectric (Booth W3333) will debut its new green, load solution featuring a closed-loop cooling system, protecting RF System components from failures and harm. OptiLoad uses programmable logic controls (PLCs) to sense rising RF power and temperature levels, awakening the system to take action. OptiLoad’s PLCs also monitor the health of the demand-driven circulator pumps and fans that are activated to address RF flow and temperature rises.

In high-power TV systems, OptiLoad assumes the role of load solution for the transmitter combining rack. In this scenario, the typical RF power moving to the load is very small or non-existent. In traditional RF TV systems, the standalone load requires the consistent flow of coolant moving through the system to prevent catastrophic failure. Once repaired, OptiLoad goes dormant until called upon again.

Florical AirBossX master control automation software.

Florical AirBossX master control automation software.

Florical Systems (Booth SU3087) will demonstrate its Acuitas Integrated Playout solution, including built-in automation, graphics, effects, and conversion switching. Acuitas is powered by Florical’s AirBossX master control automation software solution designed to control multiple channels from a single screen. Acuitas features support of SD, HD, HDR and UHD with up/down/cross conversion for live or file-based sources. It also supports SCTE 104 triggers and supports EAS devices.

The AirBossX on display will show its automation tools and modular architecture to help stations reduce costs of expanding operations without altering the core software.

Florical Systems will also be showing its SMART Central Business Process Management and its MediaMaster Media Asset Management systems.

The GatesAir Maxiva UHF TV transmitter.

The GatesAir Maxiva UHF TV transmitter.

GatesAir (Booth W2730) will be showing its full line of Maxiva High-Power and LPTV transmitters. Maxiva UHF TV transmitters use GatesAir PowerSmart 3D technology to help broadcasters save money and reduce carbon footprints. Modular designs reduce weight, enhance redundancy, and minimize overall labor. Flexible liquid and air-cooled solutions enable operators to tailor the system to optimize operating costs. PowerSmart 3D technology delivers industry-leading power-efficiency and physical size reduction.

GatesAir will also be showing its Maxiva GateSwitch automatic ASI and RF switchover units for transmission redundancy, and its Multi-System Controller (MSC) and its Dual Switch Controller. The company will also be demonstrating its Intraplex Ascent Media Gateway High-Performance IP STL System for Video and Audio distribution, and its Maxiva GNSS-PTP Time and frequency reference generator.

Other Show Floor Highlights

Surveying the show floor plan there are a number of other companies with interesting new product releases. Hitachi Kokusai (Comark) most recently announced the release of its PARALLAX Compact UHF/VHF, liquid-cooled, solid-state DTV transmitter for SFN and NextGen TV requirements. Rohde & Schwarz will show new integrated transmitter design & services to facilitate live streaming to mobile devices enabled through ATSC 3.0. R&S will also show its 5G broadcast enabling portfolio. Triveni Digital is expanding its ATSC 3.0 product line with a new suite of solutions to streamline and monetize NEXTGEN TV service delivery. Across the show floor the buzz word that will appear on booth graphics and be said the most often is likely to be AI. In the world of playout the main impact of AI so far is in captioning. Ai-Media will be adding to its live captioning solutions with its new LEXI Recorded solution that addresses the increasing demand for high volume, fast turn-around, and easy captioning of recorded content. Enco Systems will be showing its latest full-captioning workflow solutions with new enhancements to its AI-based enCaption5. In addition to cameras, production switchers and infrastructure, Grass Valley will be showing its line of playout solutions including Playout X, built on the GV AMPP Platform. Expect to see enhancements to well established playout solutions from Imagine Communications, Playbox Neo, Ross Video, Telestream and others. 

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