Skip to main content

Getting started

Chyron Corp.

Pro-Bel Division

5 Hub Dr.

Melville, NY 11747

Phone: 631-845-2000

Priced from approximately $50,000, Chryon's automation system controls all elements of the broadcast chain, from ingest to playout, and provides networked interfaces to external systems for schedules and as-run lists. Its modular subsystems can be mixed and matched to specific operational requirements.

Sextant, the main Windows NT control system, receives the schedule electronically from the traffic controller through an automated interface. It parses the schedule and sets up the various devices specified.

Chyron Freeway or Eclipse routers then send signals to master control, which combines the feeds from VTRs and other sources. For server-based content, it sends a playlist to the MAPP asset-management module, which controls video servers. MAPP includes a frame-accurate browser.

Compass provides additional functionality for up to six online terminals, control of large robotic cart machines, multichannel breakaways supported for up to eight regions, and frame-accurate source selection.

Automated squeeze back, titling, clips, stills and other effects from Chyron's Duet and Aprisa as well as from third-party equipment can be controlled by the Sextant system. Digital Content Control provides such functionality as enhanced multilayer keying, graphics and interactivity.

The system can be set up to ingest programs from a satellite feed, a live studio session or a wide area network or to cache content from a tape library for playout on a video server.

A missing-material checker verifies that required media is in place prior to airtime; bar-code equipment is used to identify tapes on ingest and at the VTR. The system also can include "opt-outs," the capability to run the same schedule with different commercials.

Multiple channels can be managed simultaneously by Timeplane, which presents the running schedules side by side and allows manual changes without interrupting other channels.

Crispin Corp.

312 W. Millbrook, Ste. 113

Raleigh, NC 27613

Phone: 919-845-7744

Crispin's System 2000 includes such applications as RapidPlayX2000, NewsPlayX, DeviceServer and AssetBase, all designed to run over a local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN). The applications can be physically placed anywhere on the network and function as a system.

The system is priced according to number of ports, not devices. Modularity permits a station to start small and add to the system as necessary.

The new DVD Archive Management system provides control of DVD cart machines for archiving and restoring media files to and from video servers. Also recently released is Lo' Rider, a low-resolution server that automatically generates low-resolution media files (for example, RealNetworks files) from media contained on video servers. Such files can then be integrated into the Crispin automation system database, allowing low-resolution clips to be viewed from any workstation on the LAN.

NewsPlayX interfaces to news-rundown systems that use the Media Object Server (MOS) standard.

AutoDubber can move or copy clips from one video server to another. Copying is done in a real-time transfer and among servers from different manufacturers. Also new, WebAgent software runs anywhere on the LAN/WAN and automatically determines the content of video servers and updates the facility database with the clip name and all related metadata.

Encoda Systems

1999 Broadway, Ste. 4000

Denver, CO 80202-3050

Phone: 303-237-4000

Products range from entry-level to high-end in both capability and cost. Entry-level DAL Playlist Manager allows stations to eliminate tape-based robotic systems and make the first step to an automated environment. It comes standard with multiple-video-server management, material preparation, and as-run reconciliation.

The DAL M-Series Channel Manager is a complete system for either a single- or multiple-channel environment. According to Encoda, the system was designed specifically for centralized operations. Its engine-client-server architecture automates master-control switching and playback and allows schedule editing and viewing, media management, and distributed control from any authorized workstation.

The D-Series is a multichannel system designed for facilities originating or turning around a large number of channels. One operator can monitor many channels with visual and tactical control points. The system is flexible and scalable and integrates facilities with more than 1,000 channels.

Dual redundant architecture ensures that transmission won't be interrupted by failure of an automation computer.

FloriCal Systems

4581 NW 6th St.

Gainesville, FL 32609-0708

Phone: 352-372-8326

Starting at $25,000, products for broadcast and cable applications include AirBoss, AirBoss Editor, CachePlayer, CacheManager, CueBrowser, High Resolution Browser, Local Device Controller, MediaFiler, MediaTimer, NewsRepeater, Remote Device Controller, ShowTimer and SpotCacher.

The system, based on the company's "sharecasting" and "centralcasting" architecture, comprises expandable modules. First up is the Multiple Time Zones module, allowing different schedules to run on their own local times whereas time-based commands to Storage Access Network video servers use a common time, such as Universal Coordinated Time.

The company's Multiple Device Servers module gives users simultaneous control of switchers, as well as other signal sources and processing gear, at both central and regional sites. They are for customers that require geographically separate, simultaneously operating equipment device servers.

The Zero Timing module addresses timing needs of common programming, which requires matched timing at the central site, and mixed central and regional material within the same break that must have synchronized timing at the regional sites.

Finally, the Control Room Switching module provides a single control position to handle different mixes of transmission channels at different times, in addition to seamless reassignment of control.

Reliability and redundancy are achieved through advanced software techniques that control all equipment with no single point of failure. FloriCal systems also offer the ability to make major software upgrades while the system remains in operation.

The system also provides scalability and expansion, from a simple system costing $25,000 to $50,000, to an interconnected automation system handling large numbers of transmission channels, for several million dollars.

Harris Automation Solutions

1134 E. Arques Ave.

Sunnyvale, CA 94086

Phone: 650-595-8260

The ADC-100 is a frame-accurate, scalable playout system for single- and multiple-channel applications. It offerss a frequently updated library of device drivers for control of the most widely used broadcast devices, as well as a seamless interface to traffic, drag-and-drop on-air editing, and redundancy options.

For centralized operations, Wide Area Automation tools enable the Harris system to push and pull commercials, programming and associated metadata between stations across a wide area network. Also helping in this effort is the company's standard for controlling networked devices, NDCP. NDCP is intended to enable frame-accurate, real-time control of devices over long distances.

At the desktop, Harris's Media Browser interface provides desktop browsing and frame-accurate editing of a media library and can be scaled to support a variety of resolutions and any number of simultaneous users. And for users of MOS-compliant newsroom computer systems, AirNews allows for connectivity to such systems so that status updates and changes can be made to the rundown list in real time.

Media-asset-management capabilities include media ingest and plug-in tools to automatically index incoming feeds by scene and speech recognition.

The Claro entry-level single-channel automation system, priced at about $40,000, controls four VTRs, three video server ports and a switcher. Suitable for small-market stations, it includes media-preparation tools, database, traffic translator and a Windows 2000 interface.

Novus Development

14818 West 6th Ave., Ste. 5A

Golden, CO 80401

Phone: 303-277-1966

The Novus Automation System comprises the following modules: Satellite Record Manager, MediaPrep, Video Server and Archive Manager, Schedule Manager, Realtime Control, Encoder and Multiplexer Control, Time Delay; and CentralCast.

System price starts at $100,000 and depends on the number of channels controlled. All applications come with unlimited interfaces. The Satellite Record Manager, however, can be purchased as a stand-alone device for $20,000.

The system features new object-oriented code written in C and C++ under two operating systems: Windows 2000 for everything but real-time control and QNX for real-time control. Windows 2000 works for all subsystems requiring a graphical user interface while QNX, an imbedded real-time operating system, allows frame accuracy while controlling an unlimited number of devices.

Developed with PBS station WXXI-TV Rochester, N.Y., the system includes a tight interface to the PBS ProTrack Traffic System, integrated video server and archive management using metadata, and integrated satellite record management. Additional PBS features in the Schedule Manager include the ability to handle unstructured breaks, timed voiceovers and extended logo insertion.

The system is scalable, allowing for control of an unlimited number of channels. Backup and redundancy features include hot backup of real-time controllers (available next spring).

Novus can package a system to include Novus software, PCs, archive system, video servers, encoders/multiplexers, and installation/training/support.

Odetics Broadcast

1515 S. Manchester Ave.

Anaheim, Calif. 92802-2907

Phone: 714-774-2200

The recently released version 9.0 of the company's AIRO flagship automation product is based on Windows 2000 and incorporates distributed-database options, including a SQL-compliant database for advanced media-asset management.

Its configurable software is flexible and scalable to address workflows as complex as multichannel-facility requirements for sophisticated network centralcasting.

Entry-level AIRO Express, for less demanding requirements, starts at approximately $57,000 for a single-channel and offers expandability as the customer's needs grow.

Besides a library of device-control interfaces, AIRO also incorporates advanced media-content management, such as the Data Library Manager, which automates and controls migration and management of content across various storage technologies, including online, near-line and archive storage systems. And AIRO Content Manager controls the ingest, preparation and management of both content and related metadata. The user can search files by name and metadata describing the content, in addition to previewing the content.

Omnibus Systems

202 Providence Mine Rd.

Nevada City, CA 95959

Phone: 530-470-1700

Systems for asset management, station automation and network control make up the OmniBus automation package. Besides the basic elements, such as ingest, editing and playout, the system offers GPI interfaces, red lights on cameras, cues and tally lights.

The Omnibus Process Unification System, or OPUS, links the media-management system with business-administration systems, planning and scheduling systems, workflow management, PC workstations, and control and management of a broadcast facility. The system can also integrate business-management software for applications like airtime sales scheduling and human-resources management with the PC and a station's broadcast systems.

Also from Omnibus is Colossus, a suite of applications intended to create a multi-channel, multi-delivery automation and control system. According to Omnibus, there is no limit on the number of simultaneous channels that can be handled by the server. And a timeline display allows the operator to monitor up to 1,000 channels, confirm data of that channel, and drive the data according to the schedule.

Omnibus also has a transmission automation system, Columbus. It can provide for simultaneous control of up to 200 channels and can control more than 1,000 devices, either from a single master workstation or via multiple slave channels. At the heart of the system is an event scheduler, and multiple users can work simultaneously on different parts of the schedule. Timing modes include absolute (always the same time), relative (starts when another event ends), manual (when start time is unknown), plus (for caption needs) and minus (useful for captions and logo insertion before the end of an event).

For machine control, Omnibus offers Tornado, a system that provides simultaneous control of tape machines and video servers. Used in conjunction with Columbus, Tornado can be used to allocate machines to users at set times or handle automatic recordings and other needs. The Tornado applications include a local machine-control panel, a clip manager and the machine-management system.

Pilat Media

Pilat Media, 19th Fl.

Wembley Point, 1 Harrow Rd.

Wembley, Middlesex,


+44 (0) 20 8782 0700

A new automation player in the U.S. market is Pilat Media, whose IBMS, the Integrated Broadcast Management System, is designed for both small single-channel and large multichannel TV operations. It's a modular system, with each module covering a part of a broadcast facility's operations.

Media can be stored in different locations and on different media types.

The media-management module, for example, manages the physical items (for example, reels of tape or DVDs), including production and distribution of copies, to ensure that they are received and prepared for transmission by the required date. The library function supports bar-code–label generation, and a bar-code reader can be used.

The planning and scheduling module provides query capabilities to speed program selection for scheduling. Users can assign/remove programs to/from system-generated or manually created slots. Channels, slots and programs can be grouped to enable automated global operations and changes. Users can also define running orders and apply them automatically.

In addition, a graphical user interface enables intuitive drag-and-drop across a grid where column content, time resolution and program-content display can be user-defined.

Sundance Digital

4500 Fuller Dr., Ste. 205

Irving, Texas 75038

Phone: 972-444-8442

FastBreak Automation V 2.0 software for Windows 2000 controls video servers and other station peripherals in either single- or multiple-channel configurations. The typical system includes an Air Station, Prep Station and Device Server; playlists and other device controls or functionality and redundancy options can be added to grow the system.

The system has either operator control or time-of-day triggers, with each trigger including an unlimited number of secondary events. SQL database structure offers the flexibility to search, sort and classify media or to track dubbing, clip-modification and airplay statistics. Options include Launch Box, offering a direct-access operations panel; Archive Manager, a near-line– storage interface; and ListSync, for cost-effective real-time playlist back-up.

FastBreak Spot Play has a prep station for ingest, clip management and traffic import networked to a playback Air Station. The interface can work with any traffic software, ensuring error-free data interchange. In addition, each playlist controls air and protect decoders, or mirrored servers, with key files automatically replicated to a designated workstation.

SalesView can be used with either FastBreak automation or Spot Play and allows users from any department to browse the video server's media inventory and view clips at their desk. Elements can be seen in low-resolution MPEG-1 on any computer or at full bandwidth over an in-house RF or baseband video network. Station personnel can also verify metadata or track an element's history.

Intelli-Sat, an automated satellite recording system designed to work with FastBreak Automation or as a stand-alone system, enables management of the recording functions, including scheduling, conflict management, dish control and receiver tuning. It also allows networked users to schedule satellite record events from their desktops. It's available as a complete scheduling and automation system or as single task-specific modules, with or without receiver and dish controls.

TimeLiner event-sequencing controller is designed for operations that require precise control over tape transports, routers, video servers, digital disk recorders and other peripherals on an accurate timed-event basis.

Thomson Automation

Thomson Multimedia/Broadcast Solutions

2171 Landings Dr.

Mountain View, CA 94043

Phone: 650-426-2510

Thomson's highly scalable modular multichannel system varies in price from $55,000 to $1.5 million, depending on size, complexity, channel count, and number of peripherals controlled. It features a real-time engine and new multi-lingual human interfaces via a platform-independent Java graphical user interface, and Thomson's XML open standards allow for its integration and tight coupling with external scheduling, asset management, and storage sub-systems.

Among its features is the ability to frame-accurately control devices locally or remotely via a WAN architecture. The system is scalable from one to 300 channels and offers automatic mirroring of video servers and an advanced resource-management scheme designed for locating and distributing content quickly and easily.

Deferred command architecture, dynamic error monitoring, and online backup systems are intended to provide dependable program delivery. Diagnostic inspection and software upgrades can be performed without program interruption or loss.

Thomson's Media Manager software plays a major role, providing a centralized database of all media in a facility. It offers intelligent management of air assets, allowing for the generation and printing of asset lists according to search criteria.

An API allows for third-party external applications to access, create and search information in the database. And optional DVS management station software offers database integration for digital video servers.