Signal processing is the “invisible hand” of broadcast production because it seamlessly works behind the scenes to reduce overhead costs, ensure downstream quality and—in the United States—keep programs from falling out of compliance with federal regulations.
Most viewers have vague notions about the cameras and editing systems used by broadcasters; but when it comes to signal processing, not so much. Because few outside the broadcast industry pay attention to signal processing, it is comparable to the “invisible hand” of modern economic theory, which describes how society benefits from individual self-interest, even though it helps move the world’s video and broadcast streams.
The real change for signal processing occurred years ago when video producers had to transform from the National Television System Committee standard—a single analog distribution standard—to a mixed bag of formats, including standard definition, high definition or the format produced by the Moving Picture Experts Group, known as MPEG. Therefore, to prepare those formats for broadcast, signal processing employs video and audio filters to maximize the display of the output signals, whether they are video files or video streams.
Today, such devices are ubiquitous and are used in televisions, DVDs, video codecs and broadcast and Internet-distribution systems. Among companies offering signal processors are:
AJA VIDEO SYSTEMS
AJA Video Systems’ FS2 For agencies that produce webcasting, AJA Video Systems offers its FS2 compact 1RU dual-channel universal frame synchronizer and format converter. The FS2 enables frame synchronization, signal conversion, audio delay control and video “region of interest” selection from DVI/HDMI sources with the ability to instantly up-convert content for broadcast. Each FS2 video channel supports analog component or composite, 3G/HD/SD-SDI, Dual-Link and HDMI I/O, as well as optical fiber input/output options.
The company recently released new software for the FS2 that will support non-broadcast digital input formats. That enables single-link DVI-D inputs from computer systems, for example, to be fed into the FS2 and converted to broadcast signals for use throughout a production or facility.
“The ability to quickly and easily scale content sourced from the Web into HD broadcasts in real time is a feature that our FS2 customers are really excited about,” said Nick Rashby, AJA’s president. “Both our broadcast and corporate FS2 customers require the ability to capture from their desktop feed for live scaling to HD video, and we’re pleased to provide them with this feature.”
COBALT DIGITAL INC.
Cobalt Digital Inc.’s BlueBox Cobalt Digital Inc. just released a new version of its BlueBox Group. The modules attach easily and securely to cameras or host device chassis for dependable, uncomplicated installation, the company said. They receive power directly via USB from video monitors or other equipment without bulky and non-secure “wall wart” adapters.
The latest BlueBox Group converter box— which won a SALUTE Award at Government Video Expo 2012— is compatible with OG fiber cards, allowing for analog audio embed and de-embed and providing 3G (1080p59.94/50) support for HDMI models, according to Chris Shaw, Cobalt Digital executive vice president, sales and marketing.
“Cobalt recognized the need for first-class quality and affordable signal conversion in a compact package,” Shaw said. “BlueBox delivers exceptional performance from a small footprint with a full feature list packed into one convenient converter box,” he said.
Ensemble Designs’ Avenue Router System “There are many different flavors of signals that have to be coded and encoded,” said John Pichitino, Ensemble Designs’ technology evangelist. “All those signals have their own unique signatures and formats, and they all have to be moved through the process,” and the new collection does not necessarily play well together, he said.
Ensemble Designs says its Avenue Router System makes the transition to HD and 3 Gb/s easy for all types of broadcast television stations and video facilities. The Avenue Flexible Router includes a real-time video thumbnails screen, and it is a flexible matrix, Pichitino said. That means producers are not burdened with choosing a fixed proportion of inputs/outputs. Users can choose their own mix of router inputs and outputs. The device can be used for quality control monitoring, master control bypass switching, electronic newsgathering trucks and edit suites.
Evertz’s 7812UDX-HD Canadian company Evertz offers a range of complete HD, 3G and 3D end-to-end solutions, including master control systems, large, medium and small routers, multi-display monitoring, production tools and interfaces and closed captioning.
The 7812UDX-HD and 7812UDX-AES8-HD are broadcast-quality Up/Down/Cross Converters that convert between common SD/SMPTE 259M and HD/SMPTE 292M video signals. Those modules support frame synchronization and external inputs for video timing adjustment, said Mo Goyal, Evertz director of product marketing.
“Conversion is one of the key things,” Goyal said. “It has a built-in program that converts and links the timing into the house format. It has the ability to not only manage the audio and video, but has a bunch of noise reduction technology built in.”
The 7812UDX series incorporates the Mosquito Noise Reduction and Block Artifact Reduction, which is a new generation of signal processing technology, and per pixel motion adaptive spatial-temporal noise reduction. The 7812UDX series also incorporates new de-interlacing technologies for superior resolution and artifact reduction, Goyal said.
Gefen LLC’s GefenPRO California-based Gefen LLC produces devices to create behind-the-scenes infrastructure for security-based and government operations. The GefenPRO line offers matrix switchers and lengthened extenders based on fiber optics, said Hagai Gefen, the company’s president.
Gefen’s new 32×32 Modular Matrix can contain a mix of both DVI and DisplayPort input boards combined with DVI, extra long range and fiber optic output boards. It supports HD resolutions, up to 1920×200, while a front-panel liquid crystal display provides routing status, and users can control the matrix from the front-panel push buttons, the RS-232 interface or an IP control.
“Users can tailor their matrix by combining different input and output boards depending on the distance their displays need to be extended,” Gefen said.
Miranda Technologies XVP-3901 Miranda Technologies, a member of the Belden Inc. family, produces a range of signal broadcasting devices, from routing to conversion to loudness management to distribution, said David Cohen, director of marketing communications.
The XVP-3901 up/down/cross converter provides essential video and optional audio signal processing functions on a single module. It offers up/down/cross conversion, with simultaneous 3 Gbps/HD and SD outputs. There’s also integral fiber I/O, full AFD support and background keying.
The company’s Densité modular products provide a range of functions, including interfacing, branding, multi-viewing and fiber connectivity. The modules are characterized by cost-saving functional integration, space and energy efficiency and advanced 5.1 audio and control abilities. And the devices eliminate the requirement for different frames for core broadcast engineering tasks, reducing costs and making control, integration and maintenance much simpler.
TVOne’s C3-540 CorioMaster TVOne, located in Erlanger, Ky., specializes in video, audio and multimedia processing equipment, based on its proprietary Corio video conversion technology.
The company’s C3-540 CorioMaster is a multiviewer video processor that is suitable for multi-image video wall productions. Outputs can be grouped together or individually and can be independently rotated through 360 degrees in real time, without adding additional delay, for use in creative video-wall applications, said Kelly Broderick, marketing manager. Multiple layouts can be used at the same time or one layout can be designed to tie multiple projectors or monitors together as one large image. Up to four layouts can be used simultaneously, Broderick said.
Control of the CorioMaster is provided by a multiplatform software package that provides an intuitive way of setting up layouts and defining the video canvas to be used for each layout.
New for 2013, the company has produced a HDBaseT dual output scaling module, adding to the CorioMaster’s flexibility. The module allows for the transmission of uncompressed HDMI standard signals up to 100 meters over good quality Cat-6 network cable. In addition, the use of the scaling module allows the production display to be located some distance from the video hardware, using inexpensive, readily available local area network cabling with a standard RJ-45 connector.
Vitec’s MGTS Prism Government broadcasters, such as public, education and government channels, would be interested in Vitec’s Mobile Streaming blade the MGTS Prism, which supports transcoding, encapsulation to Adobe, Apple and Microsoft streaming formats with adaptive bit rate, said Michael Chorpash, the company’s vice president of sales. “Signal processing is a bit of a loose term, because that could be processing analog to digital, it could be converting,” he said. The VPG can be used to convert HD or SD to a digital H.264 feed, he said.
The PEG channels would be interested in that product for signal processing because the MGTS Prism “takes video and digitizes it to fit work flows,” Chorpash said. “We have some processing features that will increase the quality and also lower the latency of the delivery across the network. That’s the type of signal processing we do.”
AJA Video Systems:
Cobalt Digital Inc.: