Broadcasters, today more than ever, need high-levels of control over their content. It may need minor adaptions for different markets depending on languages, advertising demands, etc. In order to assert such control the broadcaster needs an effective distribution network as well as advanced playout capacity.
What is a Digital Playout Center?
A digital playout center is a control hub for a broadcast communications network. There are three parts of the service offering that you need to pay attention to in order to get the best value from the service.
In general, a digital playout center is designed with centralcasting in mind. This allows you to automate broadcast systems and apply layers of different programming via applications. The level of control that you have over playout depends on the specific software employed to drive the playout. In most cases there will be a simple GUI (Graphical User Interface) deployed over the service to allow the greatest levels of control with the lowest levels of programming skills required.
In older digital playout centers, the functionality is obtained by daisy-chaining multiple devices together to deliver service automation. In more modern centers this will be achieved by deploying a single “black box” device with all the device functionality in one unit.
In order for distribution to occur in the expected manner, there are multiple devices used within the center. These include video servers (for ASI and SDI output), Master Video Control Switchers, Video Routers, Graphics Inserters, Subtitling Inserters, Audio Servers, and Aspect Ratio Converters. When combined these devices allow the broadcaster to automate delivery to each market based on the demands of that market.
The final part of a center’s offering is the workflow management. This allows a broadcaster to schedule the release of content. The content is pre-loaded into the appropriate channel prior to broadcast and then automatically triggered to move around the network to the right place at time of broadcast. This is referred to sometimes as presentation (or transmission) services. Today the most common standard for this service is SMPTE-22.
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