Playout MCR | STV – Scottish Television | Cerebrum

STV is Scotland’s home of news and entertainment, serving audiences with free-to-air and online programming including high quality drama as well as the UK’s most local news service. STV has adopted Axon’s Cerebrum software control and monitoring to provide its playout operations with total flexibility to scale and progress its ambitious growth plans, at its own pace.

Control & Flexibility – on a budget

Keeping services on-air and delivering a high-quality no-fail viewing experience is a given for any broadcaster. To ensure STV continues to meet this commitment to it audiences, it sought a cost-effective solution to monitor the health of its transmission chain, which is driven by GV Morpheus playout automation. Serving multiple platforms, most of which are resilient, the solution had to efficiently manage massive amounts of switching simultaneously. It had to be affordable, scalable and easily deployed in parallel to live operations – without downtime or disruption.

Having explored the large network monitoring systems available on the market, none could address STV’s specific requirements for design flexibility on a budget. As Jacqui Finnerty STV’s Director of Broadcast Technology and Operations explains, “We were finding ourselves a bit of a square peg in a round hole.”

Client objectives: 

  • Full control of a multivendor playout environment within a limited budget.
  • Easy deployment of the solution without downtime or disruption to business.
  • Grow the system to integrate new services and facilities as they are introduced.
  • Keep the workflow simple so that operators can focus on the content.
  • Self-sufficient system configuration – with no hidden support costs.

Start small & grow at your own pace

STV soon recognised the power of Cerebrum to drive efficiencies across its broadcast operations and, thanks to its intelligent modular and highly scalable architecture, has been able to easily grow the system in stages as budget becomes available – adding new functionality such as the control and monitoring of STV’s satellite downlink equipment at its Pacific Quay HQ in Glasgow and regional offices in Aberdeen. This staged approach to expansion has allowed STV to learn how best to utilise Cerebrum to gain maximum benefit from its advantages.

Cerebrum is open by design. It’s been developed to make it easy for users to architect and fully customize their workflows on their own. After training, STV’s engineering teams are now able to configure and grow their systems – developing its in-house experience, without reliance on additional support from Axon.

 

“If you tried to scope such a big control system at the start, you’d never be able to think of everything it could deliver. It was only once we started using Cerebrum, we could fully appreciate what it could do and that gave us so many ideas on how we could roll it out and expand it.  There’s just so much scope.”

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Are you curious about the end result of the project? Do you want to know what challenges STV encountered during the search for a system and the implementation of Cerebrum? Download the case study here. If you want to know more about Cerebrum or want to try the system out for yourself, please contact us for a free trial.

Sophisticated Simplicity

Timeline is trusted by some of the biggest brands in the international TV market, including the BBC, BT Sport, ITV and Channel 4, to deliver innovative, leading-edge multi-format broadcast solutions, with value-for money services tailored to their needs. It has invested heavily in IP infrastructure to allow it to work smarter and future-proof its growing business.

The success of this strategy relied on the deployment of a highly-sophisticated central control platform at the heart of its operations – to reliably manage the latest IP technologies, support multi-format delivery and streamline workflows.

From a resource perspective, the solution had to be incredibly simple to use. With a diverse busy production schedule of live music and awards shows, political conferences, global and domestic sporting competitions, light entertainment and current affairs, it was essential that Timeline was able to create a working environment where both staff and freelancers could hit the ground running and control devices with ease.

Hassle-free workflows guaranteed

With a proven track-record across OB productions worldwide, Cerebrum offers the most comprehensive third-party device-control in the market. Its reliability and simplicity make it the perfect ft for Timeline now and in the future.

Since its first installation in 2015, Timeline now deploys over ten Cerebrum systems across its operations, seamlessly controlling and monitoring hundreds of multi-vendor devices and applications. From Timeline’s Ealing Broadcast Centre to it’s entire fleet of OB vehicles and flyaway kits, Cerebrum enables workflows to flow without a hitch.

At the heart of Timeline’s state-of-the art 4K HDR IP trucks, Cerebrum has come into its own. Powerful and scalable, its software-based architecture provides crews with a simple view of all technology layers and allows them to manage complex routing with ease. It powers rapid switching between various formats and keeps demanding productions on track. From SailGP, the Women’s Super League, international horse-racing to BT Sport’s National Football League, Cerebrum ensures Timeline continues to deliver stunning multi-format coverage to keep audiences enthralled.

“Cerebrum is the perfect tool to allow us to control so many devices all from one system. But it’s Cerebrum’s incredibly simple user-interface that makes us love it so much – productions are slicker and our crews are happier as a result”. 

Quinn Cowper
Head of Engineering at Timeline TV

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Are you curious about the end result of the project? Do you want to know what challenges Timeline TV encountered during the search for a system and the implementation of Cerebrum? Download the case study here. If you want to know more about Cerebrum or want to try the system out for yourself, please contact us for a free trial.

The need for a control system to manage complex workflows

From large international broadcasts, regular sports coverage to small regional productions, NEP UK covers it all. With a fleet of high-spec OB vehicles, flight-case systems and remote facilities, the team offers scalable solutions, tailored to clients specific requirements.

An early-adopter, NEP UK has invested in the latest IP technologies, including Grass Valley core infrastructure, to work smarter and keep it at the top of its game. It needed an open control and monitoring solution, capable of managing and adapting to these complex technology layers to deliver a  reliable and seamless workflow – easily and cost-effectively.

In addition, with increased business has come tighter project turnarounds and the need to improve resource management to keep services cost-effective. It was critical that NEP UK had the flexibility to reconfigure systems at speed, scale up and down as required and enable some productions to be run by a single engineer with ease.

Simply slicker with Cerebrum

NEP UK has deployed Cerebrum across its production facilities, including high-end IP OB vehicles and remote production flight-case systems. An open platform, Cerebrum seamlessly integrates and provides native control of the widest range of third-party technologies available, including NEP’s Grass Valley IP infrastructure. With or without the Orbit control layer providing solutions that deliver a seamless IP workflow. 

Operators can view and manage the entire workflow with ease through Cerebrum’s user-friendly graphical interface. With simple push-button control, it shields them from the complex and changing technology layer beneath so that they can focus on their job and undertake tasks in just minutes. Engineers can confidently manage productions whilst solving engineering problems at the heart of the system and not fighting with simple tasks made difficult by unintuitive and cumbersome bespoke control software.

“Cerebrum can cope with whatever we throw at it. It makes the process so much slicker and a lot faster at every step. It’s an absolute pleasure working with Axon. They’re always responsive, innovative, really understand what we need to achieve and their support is fantastic. The technology and people are a winning combination for our business”.
Gareth Phillips, Head of Vision and VT at NEP UK

Download the full story here!

Are you curious about the end result of the project? Do you want to know what challenges NEP UK encountered during the search for a system and the implementation of Cerebrum? Download the case study here. If you want to know more about Cerebrum or want to try the system out for yourself, please contact us for a free trial.

Challenges
Cloudbass’ decision to invest in IP infrastructure was driven by the growing market demand for 4K production, particularly in live sports. The OB provider was keen to enjoy all the flexibility and speed of a full IP workflow using best-of-breed technologies and sought a solution that would enable it to upgrade its existing fleet of vehicles to address multi-format needs, from SDI-HD to UHD.

The first challenge was to partner with a solutions provider who understood their requirements,  working closely to minimise the risks of complex technology adoption and proactively address issues raised by the new ST-2110 standard.

Secondly, due to an intensely busy schedule of high-profile events, the timeframe for the transformation was tight – the truck needed to be back on the road in a matter of weeks.  A scalable solution was sought that could be easily deployed across its fleet – with minimum disruption.

Objectives 

  • Support growing demand for 4K production by adding a scalable full IP layer to its existing and future fleet.
  • Deliver a seamless workflow featuring leading IP technology from multiple vendors.
  • Ensure an efficient flexible operation supporting multiple formats and allow for capacity expansion.
  • Minimise the risks of moving to a complex IP environment and protect ROI.
  • Integrate and control complex technology layers, including legacy systems.

The Solution
OB9, a 20-camera truck built by systems integrator ES Broadcast, brings together best-of-breed IP products from leading manufacturers including Arista, EVS, Evertz, GVG, Ross, Calrec, Riedel and Sony. It uses Axon technology to seamlessly integrate these systems into a fast, highly flexible workflow with a future-proof scalable infrastructure that is perfectly suited to live sports coverage.

Axon Neuron IP processing is at OB9’s core alongside Axon’s Cerebrum control and monitoring software platform, which enables integration and control of its complex multivendor technology layers.  The flexibility of this system makes it easy for Cloudbass staff to quickly switch between formats and eliminate engineering bottlenecks – speeding up deployment times for clients and allowing easy capacity expansion.

System Overview
OB9 features 21 fully-populated Neuron units providing IP Gateway, each with a plethora of routing processing features such as edge synchronizers and up/down/cross converters. Every unit offers an impressive 200 Gb/s and 64 1080p signals or 16 UHD channels with up to 80 SDI connectors, all in a single 1RU.

Neuron accepts streams from any of the kit in the truck no matter what packing method or variation of the ST-2210 standard the manufacturer uses – removing the need for external processing and glue products. By bringing up/down/cross conversion to every path, Neuron allows Cloudbass to seamlessly deliver any feed required for broadcast.

Axon’s Cerebrum Control and Monitoring software is key to multi-vendor integration within OB9’s workflow.  It guarantees an unprecedented level of control of all devices – all through a user-friendly GUI. It shields operators from technical complexity and provides a holistic view of  issues and faults. It also significantly speeds up the pre-configuration of the truck – what previously took hours to complete can now be achieved in minutes.

Featured Technologies

  • Axon Neuron IP Processing
  • Axon Cerebrum Control & Monitoring Software
  • Axon Synview IP Multiviewers
  • Integrated with Sony, Evertz, EVS, Grass Valley Arista & Riedel

“The knowledge, skill-set and determination of Axon has ensured that our partnership is a highly successful one. We have covered eight major productions in OB9’s first 40 days, which is a very tall order for a truck-build undertaken in just 12 weeks. With Axon technology, we now have an outstanding product and concept that can be transplanted into any of our trucks – helping us continually deliver cost-effective services and keep up with new requirements not even dreamt of yet.”

Michael Beaumont, Cloudbass Technical Director

End Results

  • Working with Axon, Cloudbass has a cutting-edge multi-vendor IP offering that has already delivered major live 4K broadcasts, including the UEFA Football Euro 2020 Qualifiers for Sky and ITV’s Rugby X Tournament.
  • This scalable future-proof solution can easily add an IP layer to other trucks in the fleet – providing operational flexibility and opportunities for new business.
  • With Neuron, Cloudbass enjoys a streamlined and truly multivendor workflow, overcoming interpretation issues around the ST-2110 standard and reducing hardware and external glue.
  • Cloudbass staff can manage complex technology layers, switch between SDI-HD, 4K and IP workflows quickly and efficiently – saving significant time on set-up and configuration.
  • Axon has enabled Cloudbass to enjoy competitive advantage and protect its original investment.

Download case study Cloudbass

An innovative solution
Fox Sports Netherlands came to trusted partner Broadcast Rental to provide an innovative flight-pack solution to support its live broadcast of the 2019 West African Football Union (WAFU) Cup of Nations tournament in Senegal. For this three-week event, the system would be deployed in a challenging production environment, delivering live coverage of 22 football matches to 28 free-to-air broadcasters in Africa and 35 countries worldwide.

The requirement was to design a lightweight system with a small footprint that could be easily transported on a pallet on a commercial flight –  ensuring mobility and speed of deployment. The system had to be of a modular, scalable design so that more cameras could be added if required and provide a streamlined workflow to enable operators to hit the ground running.

Expanding its offering to the market with this ultra-compact flight-pack, future-proofing was a key design consideration for Broadcast Rental.  The solution had to be flexible enough to adapt to the needs of different customers, productions and formats and provide a proven upgrade path to UHD 4K and IP at a later stage.

Client objectives

  • Support live-broadcast delivery throughout the WAFU Cup to a worldwide audience, with multiple camera feeds coming in from across Senegal.
  • Design a light-weight scalable modular solution, small enough to fit on a commercial flight pallet for ease of deployment anywhere in the world.
  • Deliver an efficient flexible workflow, integrating best-of-breed technologies – adaptable to the needs of different customers and productions.
  • Enable speedy pre-configuration and remove complexity so that operators can hit the ground running and focus on the action – even in challenging locations.
  • Anticipate market demand for UHD 4K production by incorporating equipment that is proven in an IP environment.

The Solution
Cerebrum, Axon’s control and monitoring solution, was the natural choice for Broadcast Rental.  Trusted and relied upon in live sports production worldwide, this software platform offers the most comprehensive third-party device control in the market – removing engineering bottlenecks  and seamlessly integrating and controlling all technology in the workflow, even in the latest 4K IP environments.

Described by Broadcast Rental as ‘the perfect management tool and user interface’, Cerebrum controls a range of best-of-breed technologies and cameras in the flight-case system. Software-defined, it is agnostic and fully scalable by design.  This allows clients the freedom to choose the number and type of cameras to suit their production  – including the latest UHD and large senor cinema models.

Cerebrum makes life easier for Broadcast Rentals’ operators enabling them to monitor and control everything from one screen with a powerful visual interface. Tasks that previously took hours can now be completed in minutes and, with easy pre-configuration during the planning stage of each project, very little needs to be set-up once the flight-case arrives on site – saving resources, time and stress.

Ethernet-based and supporting the latest standards such as ST2110, Cerebrum is the choice of OB companies leading the way into hybrid and full IP production, allowing Broadcast Rental to make a safe investment in an IP-ready future.

System Overview
For the duration of the WAFU Cup, the flight-pack system was set-up at the main stadium in Thiès, Senegal, in a six-metre by 12-metre area with four racks of equipment located in a separate room. Twenty-five Dutch staff ran the production from one studio, with Broadcast Rental taking primary responsibility for engineering.  The signal was distributed to the rest of the world from the Fox Sports Playout Centre in Hilversum, the Netherlands, broadcasting six hours of live coverage a day.

Cerebrum integrated all elements of the workflow and provided operators with a powerful and user-friendly visual interface to seamlessly configure and control technologies including Ross Ultrix Matrix, graphics and production switcher, RTS Odin Intercom, tally, KVM extension and audio.

The system supported sixteen camera feeds, including super slow motion, mini-cameras in the goal, two in the tunnel, a live drone feed, stabilised cameras on various team buses and live contribution from mobile phone applications coming in from across the country – all under Cerebrum’s control.

Successfully deployed by Fox Sports in Senegal, the flight-pack has subsequently been used by other clients at live events across Europe and the Middle East.

“I am extremely happy with Cerebrum. Having full control of everything under a single management system makes it the ideal solution for live production. Operators can control multiple systems at the same time and all from one easy-to-understand screen. Once it is set up, all the operator has to do is press a button and start everything rolling. Audio, video, cameras, tally – Cerebrum controls them all and it couldn’t be simpler. Our new flight-pack may be compact, but with Cerebrum at its heart, the production opportunities it offers our client are enormous. ”

Martijn Swart, CTO, Broadcast Rental

End Results

  • The successful delivery for Fox Sports’ production of a 3-week major sporting event, with six hours of live coverage per day to a worldwide audience.
  • Broadcast Rental has strengthened its offering to clients with a best-of-breed portable solution, which can be speedily deployed for complex live productions, anywhere in the world.
  • With Axon Cerebrum at the heart of the system, Broadcast Rental can control and monitor every piece of multivendor equipment in a streamlined and flexible workflow.
  • With a single view of the workflow, push-button control and easy pre-configuration for different requirements and formats, Cerebrum saves operators significant time on location and minimizes stress in production environments.
  • As Cerebrum is a truly scalable solution proven in IP environments, Broadcast Rental can confidently add cameras, adapt to new formats such as UHD 4K and confidently plan for an IP future.

Download case study Broadcast Rental