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Grass Valley Stratus redefines collaborative workflows

NAB News: Grass Valley has introduced a new, tightly integrated modular software platform to support every part of the content creation and distribution lifecycle through a common graphical user interface. It also announced a host of other new products and upgrades.

NAB News:Grass Valley has new, tightly integrated modular software to support the content creation and distribution lifecycle through a common graphical user interface, writes David Fox.

The Stratus media workflow application suite uses a highly scalable service oriented architecture to help producers and providers streamline their workflows, making specific tasks fast and easy to perform. Key to its ease of use is that “the tools don’t define the task… the task defines the tools.”

It is designed to ingest, manage, edit, and playout assets stored on Grass Valley K2 Summit or K2 Solo servers, or a Grass Valley K2 storage area network. Grass Valley will make most of its existing file-based production software tools available immediately for Windows computers and continue to add new features (and a Macintosh client) over coming months.

Stratus can be deployed alongside an enterprise asset management system or as a replacement for it.

“Most vendors provide a single application designed for a single user performing a specific task, without any other capabilities available to them,” said Charlie Dunn, Grass Valley’s Senior VP, Editing, Servers, and Storage. “Stratus is a common, intuitive framework that can be used by everyone within a media company and allows one person to do many tasks from their own desktop. The flexibility built into this architecture allows a wide variety of users across multiple sites to take advantage of a cohesive software platform that will continue to evolve and add even more functionality over time.”

It provides individual tools to perform various job-specific tasks while at the same time helping management to better organize its staff by providing secure access to their content in a variety of IT-centric ways. It also allows staff to reconfigure and build their own workspace, no matter what job they are doing at that time. They can also save those personalized attributes so that when they come back to their job—no matter where they are logging in from—they will see their screen set-up with the tools they have requested. Users can access the platform over the internet and take advantage of cloud-type remote access.

Media for a particular TV drama, news programme, or other project is saved within a specific folder that can be accessed and worked on by anyone with the proper authorization. So a journalist at a TV station would have access to the media clips as well as a series of software tools to preview and edit that clip and then send it to the playout server directly. This saves time while enabling an administrator to organize staff and allow them to perform tasks they typically would not—due to logistics, availability, or other operational reasons.

Multiple users on a network can also make notes on specific clips and have those notes reside with that clip wherever it goes.

Initially, Stratus will track assets stored on a K2 media server but Grass Valley plans to add third-party plug-ins, devices, and assets that can be tracked and integrated into the platform. It will be instantly compatible, via plug-ins, with all newsroom computer systems and many asset management software platforms.

It should be available in June.

MediaFuse version 2.0

The latest version of MediaFuse (v2.0), its content re-purposing and multi-distribution system, will automatically convert linear content and stream it live using Flash, HLS-5 (for HTML-5) and Windows Media formats. Each format can feed multiple streams that can contain unique ads and content, replaced automatically, on the fly. All major consumption devices, such as the Apple iPad, iPhone, and Google Android can have their own customized stream.

Ignite customers can easily replace embargoed content and ads in the live stream, and have instantaneous segmentization of clips to frame accuracy.

“MediaFuse has allowed a variety of content providers to streamline their existing workflows and get content out to the public quickly,” said Scott Murray, Grass Valley’s Senior VP, Live Production Solutions. “In fact, MediaFuse users are finding that their existing Web and content staff can process up to five times more content than before they purchased their MediaFuse system. This has helped them support a variety of distribution platforms with the same content they are producing for a traditional TV channel which increases their bottom line.”

Version 2.0 features new tools to allow non-technical users to create, mark-up, edit and process video, text, still images, and other multimedia elements using an end-to-end content repurposing and multi-distribution workflow that replaces inefficient manual tools and processes.

These new capabilities include: Dynamic live streaming with content replacement in Flash, HLS-5, and Windows Media; Integration with traffic systems for managing and measuring on-line live streaming ad campaigns using unique ads for each streaming publication point; MediaFuse ShowBuilder, which makes it easy to assemble individual clips or files into highlight montage shows with pre and post-rolls, interstitial ads and other content with no video editing experience required; and Smart MediaFuse Watchfolders – Drag and drop locations that can be programmed to automatically process content by adding or reading metadata, transcoding into as many formats as required, and delivering content as required.

The new software will be a free upgrade in July.

Camera connectivity

Grass Valley also showed its new 3G camera transmission system, which can carry uncompromised 3Gbps signals over both triax and fibre, and will extend the range of triax coverage by 25%, to at least 1,500m. It carries four digital audio channels back to the base station as two AES/EBU pairs and embedded within the digital video signal. Two independent video returns can be sent to the camera for operator monitoring and, for example, a stage-floor monitor, at the same time. It also provides clear talkback and a broad data channel for camera control, communication with robotics, real time graphical overlay processing or remote alignment of a stereoscopic rig.

The 3G triax is already in use. UK outside broadcaster, NEP Visions, has been using it since January. “Covering multiple Premier League soccer matches every week requires the highest quality equipment—equipment you can rely on,” said Stephen Jenkins, Managing Director of NEP Visions Europe. “That’s why we’ve chosen Grass Valley LDK 8000 Elite WorldCam cameras, along with their 3G Triax system. We know that this is a secure investment with the historically proven reliability of triax and the future security of uncompromised production in 1080p50.”

The 3G Fibre system will be available in mid-May.

Dyno replays faster

Grass Valley has upgraded its K2 Dyno replay system to streamline operations and add new live event replay features.

The version 2.0 software makes everything faster and more responsive. It offers much improved highlight and playlist creation and cue-up functions, and better operational control. Set-up and configuration has been made simpler. A completely updated secondary Power Screen display expands its functionality for content management preparation and removable media transfers.

It can now do real-time live editing, including clip playback speed changes and being able to add auxiliary audio tracks in the playlist so that music-under beds can be incorporated in real-time. It also has native XDCAM HD file support, in addition to AVCHD and DV100.

There will also be upgrades to its K2 Summit, which will be available in the July, with both new software (v8.0) and a field-upgradeable, enhanced CPU.

New features include: simultaneous high- and low-resolution clip generation directly on the server during ingest and recording, along with the ability to stream those files as they are being ingested; integration with Stratus; and the addition of an optional USB 3.0 interface.

Trinix NXT Multiviewer

The Trinix NXT SD/HD/3G digital video routers also got an upgrade, with a high-quality, fully integrated multiviewer monitoring option (available Q3), that supports infrastructures up to 3Gbps while providing up to eight SDI multiviewer monitor outputs per card—including the ability to monitor audio for each source.

All Trinix frames (since their introduction in 2001) can add the Multiviewer, and as it is fully integrated it eliminates cabling and other hardware, which should make it more reliable, save space, and power (less than 75W typical power consumption for eight outputs).

Features include: two MADI inputs for discrete AES audio monitoring in addition to embedded audio monitoring from any source routed; sophisticated graphics, tally (TSL and Image Video), and UMD support; signal monitoring, status, and alarming functions; and support for Grass Valley control systems.

Each multiviewer board includes 32 scalars with all inputs and outputs on each board supporting all video standards (from 480i to 1080p). By using the card’s cascade capability, the system can also support more than 128 images on a single output without rescaling the cascaded signals. Users can also set up a single image to span multiple monitors.

Also new: two Trinix Fibre I/O boards (available Q3) that enable users to distribute signals over a longer distance (up to about 50km). Customers can now configure Trinix as all electrical I/O, all optical I/O, or a combination of both.

Grass Valley will also introduce a new series of asymmetric router frames, in matrix sizes of 128×256 (available Q2), 256×512 (available now), and 512×1024 (available Q3), each in a single rack, with SD, HD, and 3Gbps and Multiviewer support.