Two large puzzle pieces being put together

At Imagine, we can trace our history back to the very beginnings of playout automation ― to the days of VTRs and cart robots ― and we have drawn on that heritage to develop today’s solutions. The fundamental principle has not changed: broadcasters want high quality and reliability ― keeping the channel on air is a mission-critical goal.

But at the same time, broadcasters want operational simplicity and efficiency. Today, they also want to deliver multiple channels to multiple platforms, with advanced options such as UHD, HDR or undiscovered ones still to come. Finally, there is the unstoppable shift in technology platforms ― from legacy bespoke devices to SMPTE ST 2110 connectivity, or between virtualized software appliances that can run as seamlessly in the cloud as in the machine room.

That represents a series of challenges and tensions. But Imagine has a set of responses.

First is Versio, Imagine’s integrated playout platform, designed to support premium channels with tools like complex dynamic graphics and the ability to switch seamlessly between fully automated operation and live intervention, for example, for sports channels.

It bridges the SDI and IP worlds, so it is an ideal transition platform. To migrate from SDI to uncompressed video over IP, you simply swap out the I/O board.

In IP, Versio can also ingest ST 2110 streams, adding support for NMOS IS-04 and IS-05. These globally recognized specifications allow for IP devices to be discovered and managed across a network. Because they are open standards, it means, for example, that you can use the Imagine Magellan SDNO to manage routing control, but equally, you can choose a network management layer from another vendor.

Alongside Versio is Imagine’s widely deployed ADC playout automation, which runs channels with multiple requirements across five continents. The latest extension of this powerful solution, ADC Flex, provides more modern ways into the proven, stable, core automation control. ADC can drive very large numbers of channels, controlling Versio engines or other broadcast devices. It supports multiple topologies and can run on dedicated device controller pairs. But it can also be implemented within Versio software for complete functionality in a single server ― ideal for smaller installations.

ADC Flex uses HTML5 for complete flexibility in user interface design, customizable down to the individual, including software panels for master control. It can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection: controllers can work from remote locations or from home (on Windows, macOS or Linux); supervisors can get an overview on an iPad. Of course, strict permissions are assigned to operators to ensure channels and content are properly protected. 

ADC Flex is intuitive, reducing the number of clicks to achieve your goal; fast, using keyboard, mouse or touchscreen; configurable, to tailor the UI to the application; and reliable, permitting mission-critical operations without delay or disruptions.

The network solution can also provide tight integration to content storage, which could be local servers for immediate delivery, NAS shared storage and nearline archives on premises or in the cloud. Because of the use of open standards, ADC and Versio are agnostic to storage vendors, although with the Imagine IOX storage, unyielding high availability can be guaranteed: should there be a hardware failure, there will be no disruption to the channel output or to signals recorded.

Any automated playout architecture needs to manage content flows to ensure the right media is in the right place. In the file-based age, this also means transcoding where necessary. It also needs tools for media preparation such as segmenting for breaks, and for ensuring that quality control checks are completed before transmission.

Redundancy and business continuity are essential to keep the channel on air. With ADC and Versio you can choose 1+1 full channel redundancy for premium channels, or N+M for less critical services, with a shared pool of backup integrated playout engines primed to step in quickly. The inherent remote control capabilities also extend to disaster recovery sites, which can be at another managed premises or in the cloud ― all capable of automatic set-up and failover when required.

Most important, Imagine’s playout solutions are ideally suited to hybrid environments and multiple vendor systems, providing continuity and confidence during any long-term transition.

December 16, 2021 - By Ignacio Revuelto Roselló
Product Marketing Manager
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