Playout and media management services

Multichannel, fully automated HD/SD Playout centre

Levira’s state-of-the-art fully automated playout system equips the company with the utmost flexibility, so it is possible to offer custom-made services. There are no limits – a basic simple SD service or the highest-level HD service with Dolby Surround, DVB subtitles and simultaneous playout in SD, and everything in between.

Levira also provides the content-insertion (opt-out) service that allows broadcasters to launch local versions of international channels, either adding local promos and commercials or even changing part of the content of the channel to meet local needs. The service follows the triggers from an original feed or timing of playlists of original channels and switches to local content when scheduled.

All Levira’s services are characterised by flexibility, rapid deployment and a very competitive price level.

Levira PlayOut Centre (POC) provides a full range of services in HD and in SD including:

  • Incoming content management
  • Capturing of content (Ingest)
  • QC (automated + visual)
  • Storage (up to 3 levels)
  • Playlist compilation
  • Playout Automation
  • Opt-out Automation
  • Control and Monitoring

All outgoing signals can also be encoded into various formats and delivered to destination networks, teleports or to other hand-over locations all over Europe. More detailes about encoding and deliver can be found here.

Basic playout service includes:

  • HD or SD playout at agreed SLA
  • On screen graphic (screen-bug, texts, crawls, etc.)
  • Automatically created on-screen menus, according to playlist metadata
  • One audio tracks, open or teletext subtitles
  • Logging
  • Compliance recording
  • FTP and archive space
  • Ingest from files
  • Live news feeds from XML, RSS or SMS feeds
  • 24/7 monitoring
  • Audio levellers and limiters
Additional services include:

  • Simultaneous HD and SD playout
  • Additional audio tracks and languages for teletext subtitles
  • DVB subtitles
  • Ingest from tapes
  • Compliance recording from networks
  • Live broadcasts, control and monitoring
  • Playlist compilation for the channels

Basic opt-out service includes:

  • HD or SD ad/content insertion at agreed SLA
  • Two audio tracks
  • Logging
  • FTP and archive space
  • 24/7 monitoring
  • Compliance recording
  • Audio levellers and limiters
Additional services include:

  • Ingestion from tapes or files
  • On-screen graphic (screen-bug, texts, crawls, etc.)
  • Additional audio tracks and languages for teletext subtitles
  • DVB subtitles
  • Live news feeds from XML, RSS or SMS feeds
  • Compliance recording from networks
  • Playlist compilation for the channels

More detailed service descriptions are available here

Ingestion

The Ingestion service includes Registration of content, Capturing the content together with Generating proxy files and Quality Control of the ingested content.

During Registration, MAM will produce metadata files in XML format. MAM is used for media and service management, it is flexible in respect to metadata creation and conversion.

During capture, the content on tapes or live content will be saved in real-time into a file format. Upon completion, the ingested material is moved to the next workflow state to wait for Quality Control.

The content already delivered in file format will be transferred from FTP, HDD, Data DVD or from a dedicated file delivery system server (SmartJog, Signiant, Cineshare, etc.) directly into the play-out system, it will be registered and sent to Quality Control.

For all the content ingested by Levira there will be automatically generated proxy files in WM9 or MPEG-1 format with pre-agreed parameters. Proxy files can be used f.x. for scheduling, for translating/subtitling etc.

Playout

The playout service includes playout of pre-recorded content according to the playlist. Levira’s playout system can provide services in both SD and HD formats and can also provide a simultaneous HD/SD playout. The playout service is a server-based fully automated system with redundancy equipment deployed for maximum service continuity.

The output interface of the playout is Serial Digital (SDI) (ITU-R BT656) with 625 lines, 25 frames per second, and an interlaced format for the SD service. One stereo audio pair and one open or teletext subtitle language is embedded into the SD-SDI by default. In case of the HD service, the output interface is High-Definition Serial Digital (HD-SDI) (SMPTE 292M) in formats 720p or 1080i. One stereo audio is embedded into HD-SDI by default.

Additional audio channels and subtitles can be added on request. Dolby AC3 and DVB subtitles can also be added on request.

The customer is to deliver detailed daily schedules (micro playlists) in a pre-agreed format. Playlist compilation can also be done by Levira according to detailed information (macro playlist) needed for playlist compilation, to be provided by the customer.

The equipment used in Levira POC includes all the necessary features, including graphics, so there is no need to use a downstream keyer or a vision mixer. The service includes on-screen graphics, like screenbug, text, crawl and roll, as well as using metadata in the playlist for creating on-screen menus: Now, Next, Later or at a specific time. Simple animated screen graphics, for example, together with a screen logo or a small on-screen advertising for promotional reasons. Also, it is possible to use a squeeze picture. For example, at the end of every show during end titles, the screen picture will be squeezed into half with the second half displaying the Now-Next-Later menu.

Levira’s playout system supports various transition effects, such as cut, dissolve and DVE. It can also handle content which is only 25 frames (that is, 1 second) long, as well as send out trigger signals to the COM port, over HTTP, UDP port and/or WSS. Also, XML, RSS and/or SMS feeds can be added to be shown on the screen.

Playout of the channels also includes advanced equipment for audio processing, which will automatically change the levels of output audio if it is too low, or limit it if it is too high.

All played out content will be handled and managed by media management software, which makes it possible to log all content movements in play-out and makes it easy to deliver as-run logs and statistics.

The playout facility guarantees service levels from 99.50% to 99.99 % on an annual basis, depending of the customer’s needs and requirements.

The service level of 99.50% on an annual basis does not include any hot redundancy solutions; in case of failure of the main server, a back-up machine will be put into use, if it is impossible to fix the problem at once with the primary machine. A broadcast interruption might last up to 10 minutes per case.

With the service level of 99.95%, the n+1 redundancy solution will be used, meaning one redundancy system will be used for several (2-4) channels. In case of problems, the service will be switched to the redundancy system. A broadcast interruption might last up to 3 minutes per case.

With the service level of 99.99%, the full 1+1 redundancy solution will be used, meaning, that every channel has its hot redundancy system running simultaneously to the main one. In case of failure of the main system, the service will be switched to the redundancy system. A broadcast interruption might last maximum 30 seconds in each case.

The commercial launch of the service is possible within 45 days after a firm order.

Opt-out (content-insertion)

The Opt-out service makes it possible to replace the content of international channels and/or add local advertising into international feeds. Content insertion is executed on serial video level. The service is based on a specific solution for content insertion. The original feed is received from satellite using professional IRDs or over fibre directly from the main feed’s play-out facility. A serial digital signal from IRD will be inserted to the inserter server. The server will either read triggers itself, directly from the SDI signal, or get an impulse from the VBI triggering decoder over GPI.

In case of a triggering signal included in VBI lines, the system will switch to local content and play out locally prepared files. After the local content has ended, the system will switch back to the original feed. The output signal from the insertion system will go to the encoding system and after encoding, to the distribution network.

Alternatively, in case triggers are not included in the original feed, Opt-out can also be done based on a schedule. In that case, the customer needs to deliver an opt-out playlist that exactly follows the timing of the original channel.

The service can be set up using different redundancy schemes.

1+0 redundancy means that no active redundancy equipment is used. It secures SLA at the level of 99.50% on an annual basis. In case of a failure, the system will stay on the pass-through mode, that is, the original channel will always be available.

1+1 redundancy (full redundancy) secures SLA of 99.99% on an annual basis. Here also the opt-out channel will have its hot redundancy system and in case of problems, the service will be switched to the redundancy system.

Clips for local content should be delivered to Levira in the ready-for-broadcast format. Alternatively, they can be delivered also in other formats in which case they will be ingested or converted to the right format by Levira. Clips can be delivered using tapes (Betacam SP or Digital Betacam) or DVDs or in file format over broadband.

Since the insertion server’s storage capacity is not very large, but some content will have to be preserved for future use, some storage capacity is included in the service.

The commercial launch of the service is possible within 45 days after a firm order.

Quality control

All ingested files will, after capturing, be moved to Quality Control (QC). The QC system is a fully automated content verification system for file-based SD, HD, and mixed workflows which needs human interference only in case of detected problems with content quality. Supporting multiple codec’s and media vehicles, it ensures the quality assessment of media content before play-out. A software-only solution, it is highly flexible and can be quickly scaled for a high content volume. Its support for parallel processing enables it to handle increased verification load conveniently. In addition to automated QC, all content also passes a visual 3-point check.

In case the content does not pass Quality Control, Levira will contact the customer’s authorised personnel to discuss further actions.

All technical QC parameters are each time agreed upon between Levira and the customer during detailed workflow and set-up discussions.

Storage

After acceptance by the Quality Control, the content will be transferred to Near-line Storage and a copy will be kept in Off-line storage for later use. The storage system is set up on three levels: On-line Storage, Near-line Storage and Off-line Storage.

Monitoring

Levira monitors all channels that are played out, including video and audio presence as well as audio levels, at all the times, 24/7.

All video and audio signals are monitored 24/7 by the operators. Multiviewer Kaleido-X from Miranda and LCD screens are used for visual monitoring. For audio monitoring, operators observe audio meters and the monitoring system Kaleido-X will inform the operator, if some of the audios are missing.

Network monitoring

On request, monitoring from networks can be provided, given that those networks can be received by Levira. Monitoring from networks means monitoring of TV-channels over distribution networks (for example, satellite, cable, IPTV, etc.).

For Network monitoring, Levira will install IRDs together with antennas and/or other equipment and the customer has to provide Levira with the necessary decrypting equipment.

Compliance recording

Compliance recording is done in the WMV format, specific parameters will be agreed separately. Compliance recording is done from play-out output and stored, as a rule, for 90 days or for the period requested by the customer. The latter will have access to recordings on request.

Media management and transcoding services

Levira can provide the Transcoding service, which might be needed if the incoming content is not compatible with play-out systems, or for other reasons; such as adaptation of the content for VoD or other non-linear platforms. Transcoding to different files and formats is made automatically under the supervision of the media management system.

Additionally, the service includes file processing, including re-naming, transfer to Levira’s, the Client’s or third party FTP servers, SmartJog, Signiant, Aspera etc. servers, tape, HDD and DVD packing for later delivery.

Live broadcasts

Levira Play-out system can handle live events without specific extra equipment (except frame synchronizers). The service includes technical options to take in a live signal from satellite or broadband, switching to broadcast as requested by the customer, and on-line monitoring of the live event by the operator. The system also allows remote control of live events, so the customer can switch from live to recorded content and vice versa.

Audio tracks and Dolby Surround audio

By request, additional stereo pairs, mono tracks and/or Dolby Surround tracks can be added to the played-out signal. The number of stereo pairs and/or Dolby tracks is limited to 8 per channel/feed.

Subtitling

The Basic play-out service includes open or one teletext/VBI subtitle stream. Additional subtitle streams as well as DVB subtitles can be added on request The number of subtitle languages per channel/feed is not limited.

Reporting

Reporting includes Media Registration, Capturing, QC, Storage, Play-out and other service elements. Specific formats and reporting frequency are agreed upon with the customer.

For co-ordination and reporting, Levira appoints a person who is responsible for any issues in serving the customer.

For each service, Levira will report:

– any incident that causes an obvious on-air problem or disturbance, even if the problem does not cause a breach of the relevant service reliability criterion;

– any matter that may cause an obvious on-air problem if not repaired, and that cannot be repaired by Levira alone.

Additional reporting topics can be added on request.