Playout Center of the "REN-TV" Media-Holding: 5 programs of federal broadcasting

The playout Center is placed in the office of REN-TV holding (Moscow) and is intended for round-the-clock forming of 5 programs for a federal zonal broadcasting TV-channel.

This unique, compact and high-tech solution is based on the SL NEO media-platform from the company SkyLark Technology. The complex contains: 6-channel playout-servers with external arrays and a built-in system for automation of broadcast, servers for graphic design, 4-channel servers for recording from VTR and external lines, 8 workplaces for control of the on-air playout, recording, file import, MAM, network infrastructure, equipment for route and monitoring of signals, system for media-planning. All elements of the system are closely integrated into one technological environment.

When designing and building the complex, the specialists used the following basic principles:

using the open, generally accepted interfaces, standards, protocols, formats of signals, files and algorithms of compression;
support of modern technological processes, trends in the branch, integrations with productive systems "REN-TV" and available system of media-planning;
providing the reliable work of the complex by means of hundred-per-cent backup of servers, route elements, LAN and the control system, using program facilities for implementing the backup tasks;
scaling, growing of functionality without stopping the system and without essential changes in the technology of preparing of programs and the on-air release.

The broadcasting system of "REN-TV" consists of 4 work zones:

the server zone that contains server equipment, route and LAN equipment;
Control Room, that contains workplaces for broadcast operators, 1 place for the operator of recording from external lines and LAN, 1 place for work reviewing;
tape recording facility, that contains 3 workplaces for operators of recording from external lines and VTR;
media-planning office: here operators prepare broadcast layouts (playlists) for all on-air channels, and rec-lists for recording.

SL NEO servers as the basis for a system: playout, recording, graphics, program switching, file transfer.

Playout of file materials on air is provided by means of a couple of playout-servers of SL NEO 3000 series: the main server and the backup server. Every server has 6 independent broadcasting channels. Servers may contain a built-in system for automation of broadcasting, that implements program switching and controls playout of files and matrix SDI switches for automatic changeover of programs from the broadcasting studio and the signals from external lines on air. 

Recording from external lines and VTR with frame-by-frame accuracy (with using VITC) is provided by a couple of 4-channel recording servers. The materials become available for viewing, trimming and playout on air in a few seconds after the start of recording.

Original design of every channel, including animated logos, is provided by facilities of the servers for graphic design of SL NEO 5000 series. There are 4 such servers in the complex: 2 main servers and 2 backup servers. Every server forms 3 couples of signals SDI Fill+Key. Forming of graphic design of every channel is implemented by the technology of "secondary" events, with tie-in of the start of graphic events to the marks in "main" on-air events. Functions of auto generation of graphic events and parameterization of text and graphic objects is implemented. Control of servers for graphic design is implemented from playout servers, by the network.


The complex is built by the "mirror" scheme and has hundred-per-cent "hot" backup of all broadcasting servers, including the system of automation, servers for recording and graphic design, arrays, matrix switches, elements of the signal route, multiscreen processors, elements of the control system and local network. Nevertheless, just availability of the backup set of equipment is not enough: SL NEO software will synchronize (automatically, in on-line mode) "backup" playlists for all channels and will synchronize the content of the server arrays, including their databases. In case of losing any of the client workplaces, SL NEO software also allows quick switching to another PC without losing data and stopping the broadcast.

The complex is designed by the principle of a single set of air sources for all 5 on-air channels. Maximum number of sources is 32, including servers broadcasting channels, tape-recorders, signals from the broadcasting studio and signals that come by the external lines. The principle of a single set of sources for all channels makes signal injection from one source directly to several on-air channels very convenient, for example, in case, when the news from the broadcasting studio come to a few channels at the same time. 

Program switching is provided by two matrix switches SDI 32x32 (the main and the backup ones). The signals at the outputs of these switches are identical, synchronous and cophased relative to the REF complex. Switches' outputs receive signals from all the sources: playout-servers, external lines, tape recorders. Analog signals from the tape recorders are converted to SDI signals with embedded sound, and signals from the external lines get frame-by-frame synchronization. Five program signals, signals for control and signals for recording by the servers are read off the switches' outputs. Then, design layers and channels logos are superimposed on the program signals by means of facilities of hardware keyers and servers for graphic design. The final link of the route are switches for changeover to the backup and allotters of program SDI signals.

This route scheme is universal and the most optimal for multichannel complexes, and allows user to enhance the number of on-air channels, if needed. 

The scheme of forming of all on-air channels is almost identical: materials come as files from the system of non-linear mounting, from the advertising agencies or from the tapes. Import to the operative storage is implemented automatically, proxy-copies are formed when importing, the level of the soundtrack is being normalized, if needed. On-air programs use an appropriate broadcasting channel of the server and 3..4 external SDI lines as sources. materials may also come as signals from external lines, be recorded and broadcasted with a time offset in the Time Shift mode (for example, news for channels "Orbit REN +4 and +7").

The complex also contains 2 auxiliary 2-channel playout-servers: the main and the backup server, that form signals for TV clock and "alarm" clips. Time at all the computer platforms is synchronized by NTP from 2 GPS receivers: the main and the backup ones. 

The project is implemented jointly by the companies "system solutions for television" (representative of SkyLark Technology in Russia) and the company "OKNO-TV", the biggest system integrator in the sphere of TV and radio broadcasting in Russia.