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IBC2008: Miranda Bows New Playout, Processing Solutions

Video-processing, monitoring and branding firm Miranda Technologies announced at IBC2008 a partnership with U.K.-based automation supplier Pebble Beach Systems to offer a new multichannel playout system based on Miranda’s Xchannel playout server.

The combined solution, which was discussed at IBC2008 by Miranda chief technology officer Michel Proulx and Pebble Beach technical director Ian Cockett, is aimed at existing Pebble Beach automation customers who are looking to cost-effectively launch new channels while maintaining high-quality branding. It is based on a tight integration between Pebble Beach’s Neptune automation and Anchor media management and Miranda’s Xchannel playout server with advanced graphics.

Proulx noted that while channel counts continue to expand, revenue per channel continues to decline for programmers, so low-cost playout solutions are becoming a priority.

Xchannel -- which Miranda introduced last year as one of several “station-in-a-box” products to come to market -- combines a video server, master-control switcher and branding processor in one device and plays out high-quality graphics, such as complex interstitial and in-show promos, using Miranda’s XmediaSuite “smart templates” for real-time data-driven graphics. It starts at about $40,000 for a two-channel (HD plus standard-definition) system, or $20,000 per channel.

While doing rich branding for new channels has traditionally meant a heavy workload for graphic staff, Proulx said, the integration between Xchannel and Pebble Beach will allow stations and networks to provide rich branding without adding graphics staff. By coupling with information-technology-based storage, Pebble Beach's Anchor media management can be used to move clips and graphics to and from the Xchannel playout and branding servers.

The Pebble Beach automation can also manage secondary branding events directly, driving the graphics engine in the Xchannel to automatically populate graphic templates without relying purely on pre-rendered graphics or external databases. Miranda's manual graphics-control capabilities can also be used in parallel with this automation to allow triggering of graphics during live content.

Miranda also announced at IBC2008 that it collaborated with routing suppliers NVISION, Pro-Bel and Utah Scientific to create a new interconnection standard, MV-LiNK, between its multi-image processing systems and their routers, and introduced a single-card 3-gigabit-per-second HD/SD video and audio processor, the XVP-3901, which provides all of the functions needed for advanced signal processing on a single card.

The XVP-3901 is designed to adapt feeds to match a facility’s “house format,” and it performs all of the necessary up/down/cross-conversion, color space and aspect-ratio conversion to maintain the chosen output formatting, irrespective of the input format. It can accept 3-gbps/HD/SD feeds and continuously deliver independent third-generation/HD and SD outputs.

The XVP-3901 processor supports AFD automatic aspect ratio control; offers background keying so that side panels, or top/bottom panels, introduced by up/down conversion can be filled with video or graphics; and performs processing of 16 channels of embedded audio, with automatic delay of all 16 channels (four groups) to keep lip-sync.

Miranda also announced in Amsterdam, Netherlands, that it won a large contract from ABC to provide signal-processing and monitoring systems for the network's new HD Central Switching Center within its West 66th Street New York headquarters.

The CSC facility is being built to serve as the primary central-routing and signal-processing installation for all of ABC’s inbound feeds, internal routing and distribution and quality-control monitoring. It will use hundreds of the new XVP-3901 single-card 3-gbps/HD/SD video and audio processor to convert and condition feeds from ABC’s Washington, D.C., news bureau and its studios at Times Square, along with other news and special events feeds arriving on satellite and fiber links. In addition to correcting level and delay issues, the processors will also perform Dolby E decoding and up/down/cross-conversion with independent HD/3-gbbs and SD outputs.

In addition to Miranda’s remote-control panels, ABC master-control operators will also use the Miranda iControl monitoring desktop to get a graphical view of the signal path, along with streaming video and status information about each device in the chain. The New York facility will include a large video-monitoring wall, based on 20 large flat-panel displays fed by Kaleido-X multi-viewers, capable of displaying 300 sources selected from approximately 800 available signals.