NAB 2011: Snell Intros New Channel-in-a-Box Solutions, Kahuna 360 Automation

At the 2011 NAB Show, Snell (booth N1820) will introduce a new family of turnkey channel-in-a-box playout solutions based on its Morpheus automation technology and Integrated Content Engine (ICE). Tailored to television news, sports, and multi-language playout, the channel-in-a-box solutions will enable regional media and broadcast companies to bring new channels to air more quickly and at a significantly lower cost, according to Snell.

For sports television, Snell’s channel-in-a-box solution enables broadcasters to maximize revenues from programs, controlling playout to ensure the optimum number of commercial insertions while still making sure that viewers catch all the action. ICE facilitates HD/SD simulcasts so that broadcasters can satisfy all programming demands throughout the transition from SD to HD operations. Multiple inputs into ICE allow external advanced graphics to be “mixed” with live signals from remote sites while inserting specialized graphics, such as scoreboard tickers and RSS feeds, and final routing to the desired destination.

Snell’s channel-in-a-box solution for news provides clean and accurate transitions between live feeds and the content played back from ICE. Reaction time is important in live, breaking news, and ICE’s built-in functionality for rapid response frees production staff to focus on the creative aspects of making news programs. Because ICE is file-agnostic and supports almost any industry compression standard, a single playlist can contain multiple video, audio, and graphics formats. Thus, operators can save time and simplify operations by avoiding unnecessary file transfers, transcoding, format conversion, and file rewrapping.

“In today’s cost-driven environment, customers are increasingly looking for affordable playout solutions that will easily integrate into their existing workflows,” says Jamie Gatto, automation product manager at Snell. “Solutions must reduce the cost and complexity of playout, while maintaining performance and reliability in critical operations. Our channel-in-a-box packages are tailor-made for smaller-scale operations and applications where versatility, flexibility, and overall cost are critical business factors. ICE combines Snell’s broadcast know-how with the best of IT technology to deliver a unique software-based multi-function system that supports a wide range of programming and channel types, and provides the resilience for highly dynamic environments such as live news.”

The Snell channel-in-a-box solution for multi-language playout integrates a number of advanced audio features for sophisticated broadcast operations, such as the ability to broadcast multiple language versions — a facility normally associated with higher-cost systems. ICE supports audio track-tagging strategies from various manufacturers to facilitate the broadcast of different languages on each HD/SDI audio pair. These pairs can then be rearranged for playing out to different audiences without the need to rewrap the file. In addition, audio-overs provide the flexibility for users to associate up to four different languages per channel of video playout.

New Kahuna 360 Features That Automate Key Processing and Control Tasks
Also new for Snell at NAB 2011 will be two new features for the Kahuna 360 production switcher platform that automate key processing, interfacing, and control tasks. The new Source Safe technology ensures that any Kahuna 360 input can be safely integrated into a production, and Galaxy Event List enables Kahuna 360 to drive third-party devices in performing a set series of routine production operations.

“Kahuna 360 provides unparalleled flexibility in live production, and both Source Safe and Galaxy Event List enhance that flexibility by automating mundane yet critical tasks within the broadcast production workflow,” says John Carter, product manager for production switchers at Snell. “Eliminating the need for manual configuration of format conversion processes and reducing the time required to set up and trigger event series, these new features increase the time that switcher operators can dedicate to more artistic aspects of live production.”

Snell’s new Source Safe automatically senses a signal on a Kahuna 360 input and sets up the correct processing without the need for operator or engineering intervention. With this capability, the system can detect the source format of signals coming through the plant to production and ensure that they can be brought smoothly into the workflow and safely taken to air. Addressing all variety of formats up to 1080p, Source Safe addresses both the current and future format requirements of production. The new feature enables the integration of SD content into HD programming, and also allows operators to mix progressive and interlaced material effortlessly and with confidence.

The new Galaxy Event List works with Kahuna 360’s third-party device control protocols to allow automation of mundane repetitive tasks, which in turn, gives operators more time for other aspects of a production. When, for example, a program or genre has a particular look and feel requiring a set series of repetitive interventions, operators can use Galaxy Event List to set these up in advance. During production, Kahuna 360 leverages third-party device control to trigger a specific sequence of actions by equipment including servers, VTRs, multiviewers, graphics systems, robotic cameras, and lighting controls. With these routine tasks handled through Galaxy Event List, the Kahuna 360 operator can spend less time setting up transitions and more time on making the elements between them more engaging.