In Broadcast - February 2015 - 72

72

www.inbroadcast.com | Vol: 5 - Issue 2 | February 2015

InFocus

Essential Video Monitoring
Contributing Editor Kevin Hilton finds that the monitoring of video content has become an even
more essential part of the increasingly disparate delivery chain...

V

ideo monitoring is a far more
noticeable part of the broadcast
production chain than its audio
counterpart.
Monitor and display screens are so
ubiquitous and numerous in master
control rooms, transmission suites,
playout areas, studio galleries and
post-production facilities that it would

moving from the apparatus room into
post suites (see feature in January
2015 edition), its video equivalent
is no longer confined to the racks
areas. "It's not wholly a backroom
engineering process anymore," agrees
Farmer. "One of the issues customers
are facing is getting baseband video
to transmission, when it's compressed

Wohler's MPEG 4290 video monitor features dual 9-inch screens

seem images are being checked almost
all the time. The reality is that there
is still a distinction between technical
or confidence monitoring and quality
assurance.
Whatever
the
purpose
and
terminology, the proliferation of
channels, platforms and outlets,
combined with the imperative to
produce consistent, good quality
pictures, has made video monitoring
- in both software and hardware form
- even more of a priority.
"It's becoming a commodity in the
market," observes Steve Farmer,
Director of Engineering at Wohler,
which produces a range of single and
multi-screen systems. "There are a lot
of players focusing on this now and
we have concentrated our efforts on it
over the last two-plus years."
Farmer adds that in this time
broadcasters have been looking for
single box systems that perform
functions such as bringing in signal
streams, breaking out feeds for the
monitors and analysing the content,
which had been handled by individual
units in the past. "We're now looking at
one unit based on ASI [Asynchronous
Serial Interface, which can carry
multiple video and audio signals on an
MPEG transport stream] or Ethernet,
with Gigabit capacity," he says.
"This allows technicians to look at
compressed streams, including in IP."
Just as audio monitoring is now

to MPEG or H.264, along with many
other channels. That's been almost
impossible - and expensive - to do
but now changes in technology and
philosophy mean it can be done within
a facility, on a desktop for example."
While agreeing that technical
monitoring and quality control (QC)
are now closer together, Farmer says
there is still a need for confidence
monitors rather than those purely for
quality. "People need to be able to see
that something is there, moving, with
good lip sync and no stuck frames," he
explains.
David
Ackroyd,
Business
Development Director at OmniTek,
comments that "larger organisations
tend to separate the processes, with
the craft end looking after AV signal
quality and the packaging end looking
after the delivery compliance".
He adds that colour grading "remains
an extremely important quality control
due to the many different display
technologies being used by viewers",
with often diverse colourimetry. "QC

OmniTek produces test and measurement
equipment for up to 4K

also addresses the data and metadata
aspects of the video content delivery
and sometimes these need to be a
combined process," he says.
OmniTek
produces
test
and
measurement equipment, including
waveform monitors, signal generators
and picture quality analysers, for all
video formats in use today: SD, HD,
3G and, most recently, 4K. Ackroyd
agrees that this last technology is
making greater demands on video
monitoring systems, as is IP. "SDI
and IP will likely coexist as domains
suitable for different aspects of
production and transmission, so these
technologies require very demanding
designs to create stable and reliable
video transport methods," he says.
"In particular, high speed SDI rates
up to 12Gb/s and beyond are already
on order from early-adopters,
manufacturers and broadcasters'
future technology departments."
In general, Ackroyd sees the trend
towards multi-format test and tool
sets for analysing, generating and
converting between "the emerging
video technologies requiring, higher
data rates that manufacturers and
broadcast engineers need to get to
grips with", including 4K, 8K, HFR, HDR
and Rec2020.
IP Priority
Andrew Sachs, Vice President of
Product Management at Volicon does
not see 4K as having much impact for
broadcast video monitoring right now
because very little, if any, material is
being distributed in the format.
IP is more of a priority, he says,
with the transition to this technology
happening in two ways: "First, in
the delivery of OTT services. The
large number of relatively new
OTT platforms and the delivery of
content over the more heterogeneous
networks and destinations are
driving up the need for monitoring.
This model presents more switches
to flip and greater opportunity for
error. The second area is IP channel
distribution as a replacement for
'satellite broadcast' distribution. While
this model has been well proved by
the IPTV/cable industry, it remains

unfamiliar to many broadcasters and
will require some time for adjustment
and mastery. In the meantime,
monitoring will play a key role in
ensuring that IP distribution is being
performed properly."
Sachs also points to assuring
metadata, and not just audio and
video quality, as another trend
affecting video monitoring. "Whether
it is captioning/subtitling, EPG info,
ad markers, or rating watermarks,
broadcasters must assure the presence
and accuracy of these non-A/V
components to deliver an effective
product," he says. "Regulations are
also increasing. In some countries
broadcasters must show that closedcaptioning/subtitling
is
present
and of an acceptable quality, both
in broadcast content and Internetdelivered clips."

"...monitoring will play
a key role in ensuring
that IP distribution
is being performed
properly"
Andrew Sachs
Volicon

While IP for both video and audio
is regarded as the way forward in
broadcasting, the reality is that not
all broadcasters, or all countries, are
moving that way yet. Lewis Kirkaldie,
Head of Product Management at
Cinegy, comments that although the
US has been using the technology
for some time, Europe remains more
SDI-based. "Customers in the US are
used to downlinking from satellite in
IP and then monitoring that," he says.
"In Europe the point-to-point links are
more serial digital based, with IP seen
as a new technology, even though
it's 20 years old, dating back to the
original DVB."
Cinegy produces monitoring products
for both linear - the Multiviewer,
used in downlink Master Control
Rooms and news operations - and
non-linear applications, the Cinegy


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In Broadcast - February 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - February 2015

In Broadcast - February 2015 - Intro
In Broadcast - February 2015 - Cover1
In Broadcast - February 2015 - Cover2
In Broadcast - February 2015 - 3
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In Broadcast - February 2015 - S1
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