Recently we were discussing channel-in-a-box (CiAB) technology with a manufacturer who was looking at control options, in this instance the automation element. Yes, we know, we are manual control specialists, or are we?
We are really experts at understanding, and developing solutions for, operator interfaces that provide the easy and flexible control of a wide range of playout devices. In some cases of course, that means that some of what we provide may need to be automated. Resource management is a case in point.
We’ve been having conversations with a major European broadcaster about this exact subject. They raised the issue of the automated configuring of ingest/playout technologies, modular mainly. What they have explained is what would be really good is a front-end tool that was able to provide that automated configuring.
What does that mean? Say you have a processing card, whatever it may be, and one of the tasks that it can carry out is audio shuffling. One of the things broadcasters have to do, and on a big scale for the Tier 1s, is ingest or record huge amounts of content from all over the world. Take this example: a broadcaster receives content that has three language variants on it and wants to ensure the right audio is played out in the correct country. But there’s a problem.
The received content isn’t structured to do that. The broadcasters needs to take the aforementioned processing card and place it before the ingest server to make sure that the content is correctly ingested with the language tracks aligned.
The following week, the same broadcaster wants to do a similar thing but maybe with detail differences. But that card has now been moved from the system for another task because the chain that had been set up was unique to the language-shuffling issue.
Broadcasters want to be able to set up systems so that they have multiple cards in the chain, all doing different things, with the correct card(s) automatically selected prior to ingest for the task appropriate to that content. This saves a heap of time and trouble.
There are a lot of examples like this. At the moment this is currently often handled manually by highly technical staff: that’s a waste of resources. It takes key people away from new projects because operations staff are very often not technically skilled enough to be setting up ingest chains for specific tasks.
As a broadcaster I want to make those devices effectively sit in a resource pool, ready to be used, and then I can schedule ingest to occur correctly and automatically.