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DNF Controls Allows Non-Technical Staff To Expertly Monitor Commercial Breaks

For most multi-channel content distributors, monitoring commercial breaks and commercial playout can be a trick endeavor, often left to the most technically savvy engineer at the facility. DNF Controls has developed a new DPI signaling/system monitoring platform that makes it easier for non-technical staff to keep a close eye on the revenue-generating part of the content distribution chain.

Using the DNF Controls DPI Signal Monitoring System, dedicated staff can monitor any number of channels and quickly take action (“call Engineering!”) to correct the problem.

“We’ve designed the system to be extremely easy to use, understanding that many playout facilities now employ non-technical staff to fulfill that role,” said Dan Fogel CTO at DNF Controls. “The hard part is you have to decide what you want to monitor. That can play a big part in how successful your business is in ensuring that the right commercials air on time and on schedule.”

In the recent past, multi-channel operators used Dual Tone Multiple Frequencies (DTMF) tones to signal an upcoming local commercial break. For the most part, that signal is now embedded into the video stream. However, it’s still difficult to identify a problem and fix it quickly. Does the operator really know the signals were sent? Did the Break Start signal transmit at the correct time? And worse yet, were the Break Start and Break End signals inadvertently reversed?

The Flex systems uses a GTP-32 Control Processor to send real-time notifications to the Event Viewer software interface when an unusual event occurs.

The Flex systems uses a GTP-32 Control Processor to send real-time notifications to the Event Viewer software interface when an unusual event occurs.

When “Time is Money” and every break counts, prompt notifications are not an option, they’re vital for a seamless broadcast. The DPI Signal Monitoring System provides real-time oversight of SCTE 104 (in-bound), SCTE 35 (outbound), and other critical signals with immediate notification—via email, monitor wall alerts, visual cues, and other means—of late, missing or incorrect signals in the outbound or inbound video streams.

The monitoring system has two modes of operation:

Scheduled Mode, which is used to monitor the daily automation playlist for scheduled DPI and critical events generating notification when those signals are received, late, missing, or incorrect; and Live Mode; which monitors DPI and critical events as they happen, in real time. The system automatically generates a notification when signals are received, when they are not received within a predefined time period, or when they are received in the incorrect order.

The Event Viewer displays a reverse chronological listing of received, missing, and late events for all monitored playout channels.

The Event Viewer displays a reverse chronological listing of received, missing, and late events for all monitored playout channels.

All notifications are displayed by the DPI Signal/System Monitor on each operator workstation via a Windows-based Event Viewer application. The Event Viewer provides staff with the critical information needed to react quickly and resolve issues. The Viewer displays a reverse chronological listing of received, missing, and late events for all monitored playout channels. Missing and late events are identified by color to provide an alert when immediate corrective action is needed. An operator workstation can be configured to monitor all, or a selected group of playout channels, and multiple operator workstations may be configured to monitor the same or different playout channels.

As part of the system, all DPI and critical signal monitoring is handled by the system's Ethernet-based, distributed control platform. DPI signals are de-embedded from HD-SDI and ASI streams using off-the-shelf de-embedders, and then fed into Flex’s GTP-32 Control Processor. Real-time notifications are then sent from the GTP-32 to the Event Viewer when a monitored event occurs, is late, has been missed, or is incorrect. In addition, error notifications may be sent to other GTP-32 control processors in the same facility or between locations, to generate an email, display a monitor wall notification, and/or trigger visual and aural alert indicators. Error notifications may also be used to trigger replacement SCTE messages or take other corrective action.

The DPI Signal/System Monitor readily scales from a single GTP-32 Control Processor to multiple interconnected control processors located within a single facility, across town or anywhere in the world there’s an IP connection.

“What we’ve done is say, ‘you don't have the time to look at logs and figure out what’s going on’,” said Fogel. “You need to know right now if you have a problem. If you import a playlist from an automation system into our system, we can tell you in a matter or seconds if there’s a problem and where the problem occurred. That’s the kind of performance today’s multichannel operators are desperately looking for.”

For the upcoming NAB Show, DNF will show a software-only version of its GTP-32 control processor (the GTP-30), making it more flexible and able to leverage cloud-based service.

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