BSkyB taps Snell, Omneon for HD service

BSkyB — operator of the UK’s largest digital television platform — has purchased seven Snell & Wilcox MEMPHIS encoders to master content for its new HD services.
BSkyB will use the MEMPHIS systems to create high quality HD Long GOP MPEG-2 streams which will then be stored on Omneon Spectrum servers, with which MEMPHIS has been fully integrated. The Omneon servers will then playout HD content in SD, HD (720p or 1080i) or both. The integration of MEMPHIS encoders and Spectrum servers gives BSkyB flexible interoperability for both playout and archiving applications.

BSkyB will use the MEMPHIS systems to create high quality HD Long GOP MPEG-2 streams which will then be stored on Omneon Spectrum servers, with which MEMPHIS has been fully integrated.

“Quality of image is critical to the success of any HD service, and we conducted extensive testing in selecting systems for our HDTV infrastructure,” said Chris Johns, director of technology at Sky. “Thanks to Snell & Wilcox Ph.C motion estimation technology the MEMPHIS encoder provides the superior picture quality we require for MPEG mastering, and the system’s flexible interfacing and easy expansion options will help us maintain the status of digital satellite services as the home of the highest-quality viewing experience.”

BSkyB’s premium services are launching now with a set of dedicated HDTV channels featuring sports, movies, entertainment and factual programming ? plus access to select events produced in HDTV.

“BSkyB’s HDTV launch is among the most significant events in the advancement of the European broadcast industry, and we’re pleased that our MEMPHIS encoder has been chosen to support the network’s transition to HD broadcasting,” said Joe Zaller, vice president of marketing at Snell & Wilcox. “The BSkyB HDTV service is a significant expansion and improvement to the network’s channel offering and the launch will be examined closely by consumers and industry professionals alike.”

MEMPHIS is an SD and HD MPEG-2 encoder that combines two Emmy Award winning technologies from Snell & Wilcox — PREFIX compression pre-processing and Ph.C, the industry’s most powerful and accurate motion estimation technology — to deliver superior results at a given bitrate when compared to any competing system available today.

The Snell & Wilcox MEMPHIS encoder accepts SD and HD 1080/720 format inputs, as well as uncompressed PCM, MP1L2, Dolby E and AC-3 audio. It has been installed by a wide variety of leading broadcast customers and integrated with a wide range of automation systems and playout servers.