Broadcast Signal Monitoring

  • By David Kirk

Broadcast Signal Monitoring

Broadcast signal monitoring was complex enough during the long reign of SDI and has become even more so with the gradual migration to IP networking - by David Kirk...

What looked like a clean transition has become mired at the half-way house of hybrid systems integration, not least in the OB category where the use of IP for remote production has obvious advantages. Test and measurement equipment manufacturers are increasingly responding to the needs of SDI/IP duality as was evident from many new announcements during NAB.

Bridge Technologies has added signal generation to its VB440 IP media traffic monitoring probe. This allows placeholder reference signals to be generated when setting up a studio, thus allowing for the network to be checked without needing to fully assemble all network components.

These placeholders can also be used to measure and test network performance for elements which are not due to be integrated into the studio setup until later in the workflow. The new signal generation functionality allows users to set placeholder reference signals manually through the GUI itself, or through NMOS. This can be achieved for any resolution or frame rate, for both SDR and HDR signals.

These can be used to ‘represent’ cameras, picture switchers, etc., - with each given a colour bar and video or audio ident - even before the physical asset itself is set-up. This thus allows for the network connection with the central studio to be tested for reliability and security before the actual installation of auxiliary components; providing the very apparent advantage of facilitating dramatically more efficient setup times and early error detection. These placeholders can also be used to accommodate connections which will be integrated into the workflow later (for instance, uplinks with remote interview sources); therefore significantly increasing trust in the reliability of the broadcast even as it airs live. “The inclusion of signal generation adds a whole new realm of versatility in terms of what the VB440 can contribute in a production setting,” says Chairman Simen Frostad. “It’s truly becoming the Swiss army knife of production, but the tools it is equipped with are surgeons’ knives, providing exceptional precision and depth of functionality”.

Interra Systems’ Baton has been upgraded to comply with Version 9.2 of Netflix’s Non-Branded Delivery Specifications. With the update, operators can use a set of presets based on Netflix’ latest specifications to play, inspect and verify HD/UHD/2K/4K IMF, SD/HD/UHD Apple ProRes, and alternate-language audio content.

“Netflix recently revised its Licensed Delivery Specifications to Non-Branded Delivery Specifications in Version 9.2,” says EVP, Worldwide Sales and Business Development Ashish Basu. “Along with supporting the new specifications, we have enabled support for HDR validation, including sidecar Dolby Vision Mezzanine metadata validation, by integrating support for Dolby Vision Mastering tools (library Version 5.1.0). By upgrading the test plans for Baton, our customers can continue using Netflix delivery presets to save time and provide a consistent streaming experience for viewers.” Baton supports a wide range of media formats and quality checks, including subtitle and CC verification, audio language identification, PSE correction, and loudness detection and correction.

Leader reference signal generators and hybrid IP/SDI test and measurement instruments have been chosen by Telewizja Polsat, one of Poland’s largest broadcast media companies, for a recently completed IP-based 4K HDR outside broadcast camera truck. The instruments were supplied by Leader channel partner 4Vision. The 14 metre long vehicle conforms to the latest SMPTE ST 2059, SMPTE 2110, SMPTE 2022 and AMWA NMOS suite of standards, enabling interoperability with current and future systems that Telewizja Polsat will create around this truck. It incorporates Leader’s latest technologies including an LT4610 IP/SDI video sync generator, LV5600 IP/SDI waveform monitors, an LV7600 rasterizer and an LT4448 emergency changeover unit. LV5600 waveform monitor displays have been integrated into the vision engineering positions plus the LV7600 rasterizer for the engineer in charge. Leader’s LT4610 IP and SDI video sync generator will be used to generate traditional black-burst/tri-level sync and PTP reference. These signals remain locked together even if external GPS reference is lost. The LT4448 emergency changeover unit adds resilience for traditional SDI and audio references and the PTP best master clock algorithm.

Phabrix’ latest developments include new ST 2110 metering and monitoring capabilities in the Qx Series compact, hybrid IP/SDI, 4K/UHD rasterizers. The Qx Series is available in two platforms, Qx and QxL. These provide a feature set supporting multiple workflows and formats including 12G/6G/3G/HD-SDI, HD/UHD/EUHD standards, 25G/10G IP interfaces, SMPTE 2110-10/-20/-30/-31/-40 with 2022-7 and AMWA NMOS, and SMPTE 2022-6. The newly updated series has several features geared towards broadcasters and other organisations working with ST 2110 workflows, including a new 4x32 channel audio flow analysis mode (-30/31) with NMOS. In addition, a new ST 2110 Audio Group Mode metering facility provides 16-channel metering, comprising 1 group (4 channels) from each of 4 audio flows. New additions to the series also include AMWA NMOS tools that provide flexibility when integrating with an NMOS controller, as well as an updated NMOS receiver that allows for more detailed API information to smooth NMOS interoperability “We have made the best use of the additional R&D time during the two-year trade show hiatus, optimising our leading rasterizer and handheld instrument products so that they provide even more flexibility for current and emerging broadcast workflows,” comments CEO Phillip Adams.

Rohde & Schwarz has added new IP-related multiviewer features to its Prismon broadcast channel monitoring and multiviewer. This provides any input to any output connectivity through IP proxy networks for up to 36 remote devices. “As broadcasters continue to increase channel numbers and distribution methods to consumers, they need technology that enables them to quickly adapt to everyday changes,” says Andreas Loges, VP of Media Technologies. “This new function provides an extraordinary level of flexibility by allowing you to offer any input signal, decoded on any Prismon within the IP network, to be displayed on any other Prismon output within that same network.”

Telestream’s Cloud Qualify is a cloud-native QC service based on the company’s Vidchecker and Aurora and optimized for cloud workflows. Telestream Cloud Qualify addresses incoming and well as outgoing content, including frame-by-frame video quality analysis before content is archived. The service offers a RESTful Open API for integrations into customers’ media supply chain workflows. It supports ABR/IMF and HDR media formats as well as many other common video codecs and containers. “As more media workflows move to the cloud to take advantage of scalability and cost-effective SaaS solutions, it is imperative to have a comprehensive QC strategy that resides where the media is being processed,” comments Tim MacGregor, Senior Director and Head of Strategy and Product Development, Telestream Cloud.

Triveni Digital’s StreamScope XM Dashboard software is designed to simplify network monitoring, analysis, and maintenance for ATSC 3.0 UHD broadcasting. It allows users to customise web-based displays containing real-time information from ATSC 3.0 IP and RF streams.  “As NextGen TV deployments ramp up across the US, quality of service will be an important factor in their success,” said Ralph Bachofen, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Triveni Digital. “StreamScope XM Dashboard brings simplicity and versatility to NextGen TV analysis and monitoring through early warning and proactive troubleshooting.”

Wohler’s new iAM-12G is an IP-ready 1U 12G-SDI and analog LCD monitor. “Our customers particularly enjoy the benefits of our à la carte feature selections, allowing them to pick the signal inputs and options they require today, with the flexibility of an easy upgrade path to add additional features in response to changing technical requirements and budgets,” says CEO Makarand Karanjkar. “The broadcast industry continues its evolution in signal types demanded by newer application areas, a desire to improve efficiencies and constrained by legacy equipment. Signal transports span from baseband to IP in the uncompressed domain, to signals with varying levels of compression for applications like contribution or distribution. This constant evolution in the midst of heterogenous infrastructure imposes interesting challenges for signal monitoring. The mix of traditional baseband signals like AES, MADI, Analog and SDI along with the transition to AES67/ST2110 IP signaling and newer “immersive” audio technologies like Dolby ATMOS has created a whole host of challenges, and opportunities. A rapid expansion in the number of signals on account of OTT delivery, along with a desire to support remote operations adds another layer of complexity. The increase in signal density means that physical rack space is now at a premium and gear must now deliver greater functionality and flexibility. Monitoring equipment must support features delivered as software licenses, to enable customers to have judicious control over their spend over time. This addition to our range continues this design philosophy, while adding a lower cost option to our iAM-12G-SDI”

Worldcast Systems has introduced a new version of its Audemat DAB Probe. The instrument was already able to monitor remotely DAB and DAB + channels via 1 or 2 RF inputs whether transmitted on SFN or MFN networks. It is now enhanced with options that allow ETI and EDI input monitoring as well as a time reference via an integrated GPS or a 1PPS input. “With this new version, the function to price ratio of the Audemat DAB Probe is even better than before,” comments Simon Daniels, Regional Sales Manager. “Scalable and adaptable to different field applications, it provides comprehensive monitoring of the quality and continuity of services including on critical SFN applications.” New features include monitoring and analysis of the EDI input and/or ETI input; ETI stream received over RF is available on the ETI output; Alignment with a reference clock received via the 1PPS input or via the on-board GPS.