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Colossal Control

Modularity is in at OmniBus. To prove it, the company is showcasing its TX Play transmission automation system at NAB.

"It can manage up to 12 channels and offers a powerful set of tools that would be useful at both the largest and smallest TV markets," says Vice President of Sales and Marketing Dave Polyard. "And because it's based on G3 technology, it's scalable and can grow as stations grow."

TX Play uses standard IT protocols and shifts the emphasis from applications to task-based software modules. It can also support other OmniBus modules for asset-management systems, news automation, and video-editing systems. "The tendency to move away from a monolithic approach and to a modular approach is being seen across the broadcast community, not just in the automation sector," adds Polyard.

The G3 technology will also begin to seep into the company's flagship system. Living up to its name, Colossus can control up to 1,000 channels at once. The G3 technology will appear in "Colossus Control," a system that combines multiple timeline, schedule-grid, and event-detail views on a single or dual high-resolution display. A single operator can use the system to control up to 32 channels from a single workstation.

It can accept alarms from any external device, such as a signal monitor or DTV-stream analyzer, Polyard says. "It can then trigger any one of several redundancy options, including N+1 Failover."

N+1 Failover is another new feature in OmniBus systems, designating one channel in a multichannel operation to be a backup. That channel then controls a full transmission chain of redundant broadcast equipment.

"In the event a loss of signal is detected on one of the broadcast channels, the failed channel is automatically switched to the backup channel without interruption or operator intervention," says Polyard. "It effectively backs up the transmission chain, not just the video-server output, making it unique in the industry." The system also allows more than one channel to be used as a backup.

"The reason [this backup system] hasn't been available before is that most automation companies don't have the ability to dynamically control resources from a central pool," Polyard explains.

Also new this year is Colossus Viewer, intended to give users greater control over system configurations. "The user starts with a completely clean desktop and creates his or her own customized workspace," he says. "This makes the system easier to use and reduces the chances of mistakes by eliminating unwanted buttons."

The company is also looking to extend the interface to other manufacturers so that their gear can be configured and controlled on the same desktop. "The potential exists that any given screen could include OmniBus controls and other equipment," explains Polyard. "We're hopeful that the OmniBus Desktop will do for control of devices what Multiple Object System [MOS] protocol did for the movement of objects in a newsroom."