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New Technical Compliance And T&M Solutions On Display At 2016 NAB Show

Every NAB Show is its own signature event. The 2016 NAB Show promises to be several distinctive events rolled into one busy 100,000 visitor confab.

In the northern hemisphere, April showers bring May flowers. To US broadcasters and broadcast engineers, April means it’s time for two things, the annual NAB convention and taxes. It may be spring, but for many broadcast industry manufacturers, leaders, and Broadcast Bridge readers, there’s not much time to enjoy the warmer weather until the 2016 NAB Show is over.

People with professional interests in various aspects of broadcast television make a point to visit annual confab. While most visitors have broadcasting in common, the one thing every visitor has in common is something none will have enough of: exhibit floor time.

The exhibits are open for 31 hours. That’s one hour less than previous shows. This year the exhibit halls won't open on Monday morning until 10 a.m. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday exhibits open at 9 a.m. Until this year, exhibits opened at 9 a.m. every day.

That’s one less hour of not enough time to browse all the exhibits, let alone stand in line to see theater presentations. Visitors attending the NAB/SBE engineering sessions may barely have time to thoroughly explore more than a few exhibits. That’s the dilemma shared by one and all.

Focus, everyone

The spotlight of the show this year will be on IP video, high dynamic range (HDR) and 12G SDI/UHD/4K/8K. This story focuses on trends in categories of test & measurement (T&M), logging and compliance, and monitoring. T&M too continues to be touched by IP in many ways. Possibly the only technical broadcast monitoring product that hasn’t been significantly redesigned for UHD, HDR or IP is the Hoodman camcorder hood.

Much of the latest video and audio T&M, logging and monitoring gear that isn’t made with silver solder, is highly specialized software running on off-the-shelf computers. Some offer cloud-based software-as-a-service quality control. That’s a big departure from the ubiquitous full rack or ½ rack width waveform monitors and vectorscopes that once populated analog control rooms, equipment racks and maintenance benches.

There is still a strong market for dedicated ‘scopes available from manufacturers such as Leader and Tektronix. But, the trend in T&M, logging and compliance follows the industry’s trend toward streaming and file-based everything. Some new TV gear such as the NewTek TriCaster MINI HD has a waveform and vectorscope monitor built into the hardware. Often, ’scopes are built into PC-based video software. Sometimes that might be good enough. You get what you pay for. However, FCC compliance protects a station’s license and the owners from fines. Compliance maintains the brand and it keeps viewers and sponsors happy. How much is that worth?

In something of a departure from previous NAB Shows, at a bit more than a month until show time, new T&M product introduction information is rather scarce. However, recent product introductions by several leading companies in the T&M sector demonstrate several common emerging trends.

NLE-style control is available on the new Bridge Technologies analysis tool.

NLE-style control is available on the new Bridge Technologies analysis tool.

Bridge Technologies

Bridge Technologies will present engineers with a new graphical data analysis technology. The Bridge Technologies Archive Server provides data recording capacity in a simple connect-and-forget form. Each Archive Server retains recorded data for up to 25 services. When connected to the Bridge Technologies VBC controller and configured through a simple setup routine, the Archive Server automatically activates the VBC’s Timeline analysis capability for an enormously powerful new way to analyse historical data in depth. It allows users to play through recorded data in an NLE-style Timeline display to observe correlations and patterns of errors occurring over any time period.

Users can scrub through data at any point in the recorded archive, opening and collapsing data tracks, and zooming in to observe fine detail on all the visible tracks. The Timeline shows content thumbnails, alarm markers and all the metrics familiar from the MediaWindow displays, making visual navigation through the data simple and quick. Users can drag and drop data tracks to group them in any order for convenience. Engineers can search through the chain of events that led up to service failures, and generate reports for remedial action or fulfilment of regulatory SLA obligations.

The Archive Server and Timeline capability also simplifies detailed and comprehensive reporting for regulatory verification of closed caption conformance, loudness, SCTE35 signalling, RF trending and other parameters. Archive server units can be added quickly to any Bridge Technologies monitoring system, and subsequently function without further attention.

New options make the Leader LV 5490 ready for new trends.

New options make the Leader LV 5490 ready for new trends.

Leader Instruments

In terms of dedicated T&M oscilloscope hardware, Leader announced options for its 4K-capable waveform monitors at late February’s London BVE show. The new options introduced for the LV 5480 and LV 5490 waveform monitors cover the latest industry trends - 12G SDI, HDR and Video over IP.

The three new options will be useful to stations and production houses planning to adopt video over IP infrastructure or preparing to implement UHD baseband workflows. Each option is available at the time of purchase or can be added later, allowing customers to confidently migrate from baseband SD-SDI and HD-SDI to more advanced technologies to keep up with market demands.

Rohde & Schwarz

Rohde & Schwarz has developed the first handheld oscilloscope with the functionality and touch and feel of a state-of-the-art lab oscilloscope. The R&S Scope Rider combines five instruments in a compact format, and its rugged design makes it perfect for mobile installation and maintenance work. The instrument features isolated input and communications interfaces.

The R&S Scope Rider has acquisition rate of 50,000 waveforms per second with a 500MHz bandwidth 10-bit A/D converter on the analog input channels.

The new portable R&S Scope Rider from Rohde & Schwarz is equipped with a large format capacitive touchscreen, allowing it to be operated as intuitively as a tablet PC.

The new portable R&S Scope Rider from Rohde & Schwarz is equipped with a large format capacitive touchscreen, allowing it to be operated as intuitively as a tablet PC.

The portable test instrument integrates five common scope functions. It offers a precise digital trigger system, 33 automatic measurement functions, mask test and X/Y diagram mode. Plus, the scope can function as a logic analyzer with eight additional digital channels, as a protocol analyzer with trigger and decoding capability, as a data logger and a digital multimeter.

The handheld oscilloscope is the first to be equipped with a large format capacitive touchscreen, allowing it to be operated as intuitively as a tablet PC. It also features large buttons for use with gloves and a practical multifunction wheel for convenient parameter adjustment. Users can confidently read their results at any time, as all measurement information is displayed in a clear, application oriented manner on the brilliant screen.

The new enterprise-wide management system from Triveni Digital, StreamScope RM-50, provides full compliance auditing.

The new enterprise-wide management system from Triveni Digital, StreamScope RM-50, provides full compliance auditing.

Triveni Digital

Also on the 2016 exhibit floor, Triveni Digital will feature ATSC 3.0 in its booth, and roll out some new products supporting it. The company will demonstrate its new broadcast data management and quality assurance platforms, which extend its GuideBuilder and StreamScope product lines in a unified architecture. Unification simplifies operation and workflow in anticipation of the growing number and complexity of services available in ATSC 3.0.

Triveni will also launch the StreamScope EM-50 enterprise-wide management system. In combination with StreamScope RM-50, the system proactively detects, isolates, and resolves problems that degrade video services, and allows system-wide compliance auditing for key requirements, such as CALM and Closed-Captioning. Broadcasters can use the StreamScope EM-50 system to streamline video quality assurance and compliance regimes in ATSC 1.0 and future ATSC 3.0 architectures.

The new cloud-based Vidchecker can operate on a demand basis.

The new cloud-based Vidchecker can operate on a demand basis.

Vidcheck

UK-based Vidcheck is launching an on-demand file checking system that can be licensed and used in burst mode across a public cloud such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.

Vidchecker OnDemand is a fully scalable version of Vidcheck’s Vidchecker automated quality control system. It supports all popular digital video formats from sub-SD to 8K. Its GUI is accessible by web browser locally or remotely over a network.

Vidchecker OnDemand is an efficient alternative to conformance checking by eye and hand. It can also automatically and intelligently correct video and audio levels.

Vidcheck's new software adds ITU-R BT.2020 color space measurement capabilities.

Vidcheck's new software adds ITU-R BT.2020 color space measurement capabilities.

Video Clarity

California-based Video Clarity announced it will be showing an update to its ClearView analyzer line.

ClearView 4K and 8K systems upgraded to new version 8.4 will provide new color-space-capable pictures as prescribed by ITU-R BT.2020 and support for HDR. Version 8.4 can interactively display side-by-side 4K or 8K pictures in native ITU-R Rec. BT.2020 color space, and allow comparison of HDR video in that color space.

Video Clarity will also introduce a new software option for its ClearView Video Quality Analyzers and Player systems, called ClearView WFM. It actively reads and tests any recorded or imported video files. It displays input or playback signal parameters as a graphic representation on the desktop, and is said to eliminate the need for external signal-measurement tools.

The familiar Volicon Observer tools such as loudness monitoring will be introduced for streaming services.

The familiar Volicon Observer tools such as loudness monitoring will be introduced for streaming services.

Volicon

Volicon will introduce and demonstrate Observer OTT. It provides networks, video service providers, and broadcasters with a solution for logging and monitoring OTT services that stream content to computers, tablets, and smartphones. With the same suite of tools already proven for set-top box and transport stream monitoring, Observer OTT provides a complete, cost-effective quality monitoring and/or compliance logging solution for multi-platform media delivery.

Observer OTT users can verify that services are available 24/7 at optimal quality, validate service level agreements with content delivery networks, confirm the presence of captioning and other metadata, and determine that specialized apps are providing optimal quality of experience. In addition to providing a true recording of services, the system facilitates remote streaming for review as well as in-depth analysis of both unencrypted and encrypted content.

Volicon will also demonstrate enhancements its new Share application brings to the Observer Media Intelligence Platform. Share is designed to help users repurpose and deliver timely content to viewers via new channels. The application includes integration with the As-Run Log (ARL) to enable users without video editing experience to quickly and easily remove ads and generate complete, frame-accurate, long-form VOD assets.

At this moment, other well-known video, audio, and automated T&M manufacturers plans are apparently in progress, except for Tektronix’ new logo and brand strategy, announced last month.

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