WCAX-TV Taps Omneon Spectrum

WCAX-TV, Vermont’s CBS affiliate, has selected an Omneon Spectrum
media server system for fully mirrored ingest and play out of three
channels.
Located in Burlington, WCAX is a family-owned station and the oldest in
Vermont. The station broadcasts both syndicated programming and locally
produced news and other content. As the broadcaster began the
transition to HD, its goals were to implement a platform that would
support local standard-definition (SD) production today and easily
upgrade to support high-definition (HD) production in the future.

WCAX required a system that could seamlessly ingest and play out SD and
HD content side by side, including 16:9 SD and HD, 4:3 SD anamorphic,
and 4:3 SD. The station also needed a system that would enable a
tapeless workflow and simplify operations overall by replacing two
single-use playout servers (one for SD and one for HD) with a unified
platform. Finally, WCAX wanted to provide a full 16:9 HD experience to
viewers while avoiding the appearance of stretched or squashed images,
supporting its goal of becoming the HD market leader.

To meet these requirements, WCAX purchased a mirrored Omneon Spectrum
media server system, including two MediaPort 4102 I/O modules to
support up- and down-conversion, and Omneon TrackTool to insert AFD
information into clips to tag odd aspect ratios. Using TrackTool, WCAX
operators can tag each program according to its formatting — in effect
telling the playout server what the clip is and what to do with it. If
by mistake a clip is tagged incorrectly when it is ingested, TrackTool
enables an operator simply to change the clip attribute, a process that
takes only a few seconds with no re-ingest needed.

The Spectrum system, running under the control of Harris automation,
plays out three separate channels: WCAX’s main SD and HD program
channels and WCAXtra, a second digital news and weather channel. Using
the information set with TrackTool, SD content (4:3, 16:9, or Letter
Box) is automatically played out with the correct aspect ratio on the
upconverted HD outputs.

“With the MediaPort 4102 and TrackTool, Omneon is ahead of everyone
else; the rest of the world hasn’t caught up,” said Joe Tymecki, WCAX’s
chief engineer. “We ought to know because we spent a year looking at
every server out there. In the end, the Spectrum was the only one that
was versatile and flexible enough to provide the playout we needed.”

The Spectrum media server system is the industry’s most scalable,
reliable, and cost-effective video server and storage infrastructure
for television production, playout, and archive applications. Media
server solutions from Omneon enable broadcasters to migrate from analog
to digital, tape to disk, SD to HD, and single- to multichannel
operations.