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TECHNOLOGIES Don Ash BROADCAST PLAYOUT OVER IP & IN THE CLOUD PRESIDENT OF PLAYBOX TECHNOLOGY TALKS TO KITPLUS Before we get heavy about IP and the cloud, what is the current state of the broadcast playout business? The transition to server-based systems in recent years has made the entire process of broad-cast playout much easier to operate and automate than the tape- based equipment which preceded it. A major catalyst for change was the growing popularity of satellite-based reception and cable. This greatly expanded the number of channels accessible to television viewers. Another key catalyst in expanding viewer choice was the shift from analogue terrestrial to digital terrestrial transmission. These developments in turn encouraged the rise of companies offering third-party playout services which are now used right across the scale from nationally- funded state broadcasters to regional and special-interest channels. What was the primary role of PlayBox Technology in the transition to server- based playout? As one of the original pioneers of what was originally called Master Control in a Box as is now known as Channel in a Box, we identified a clear need for the core software to be fully integrated with the server hardware. That way, we could ensure PlayBox Technology customers did not run into conflicts with third-party software. We write our own software and design our own hardware based on an enterprise PC platform so everything is under our precise control. Our software and hardware are covered by a post-sales support service so we can track down and correct post-installation issues via an online maintenance assessment. We call this PlayBox Doctor. Our customers recognise and appreciate its value. 60 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 109 JANUARY 2016 All our products are essentially software centric. They are not reliant on hardware other than the server and an SDI output interface card. PlayBox Technology has always used software encoding and decoding. That makes moving to the cloud an easy step as, in essence, nothing changes. Our suite of products is based on AirBox and supported by a range of options such as ingest, titling, automated scheduling and fast-switchover redundant system protection. Customers or their SI partners are then able to specify the level of protection they choose. Our products are extremely reliable but 1:1 protection can be added so cost-efficiently that it is always a wise precaution. Is PlayBox Technology migrating to IP connectivity? In terms of signal connectivity, we have offered IP output without any interface card for many years.