Miranda advances automated rendering for Adobe CS6, launches playout appliance

Miranda Technologies, a global provider of integrated solutions for production, playout, and delivery systems for television broadcasters and multi-system operators, has launched its iTX Render Service (iRS) for AdobeAfter EffectsCS6 software. The introduction of the iTX Render Service marks an advancement in its ability to automate and manage rendering for the full range of finished graphics and text effects available on After Effects CS6 and use them in a real-time playout environment.

iTX Render Service can take graphics projects created entirely in After Effects CS6 and deliver them, fully finished and ready for playout, to Miranda’s iTX automated playout platform or Vertigo Suite graphics automation and asset management tools. This represents a huge advantage over systems that rely on a real-time character generator to playback graphics templates and can’t take advantage of the full creative spectrum available in After Effects CS6.

Miranda’s senior vice president, Workflow and Playout, Jason Rogers, said, “This is a major departure from traditional graphics creation that utterly lifts the lid on what is possible in a playout environment. The iRS approach plugs the full power of After Effects CS6, including all effects, animations and plug-ins, directly into the playout workflow. All creative work can now be done completely in the familiar After Effects CS6 environment and be taken directly to playout with no need to learn additional authoring tools, or compromise because of CG limitations. The end result is that broadcasters can truly differentiate themselves with channel branding, program enhancements and promotional materials that are as exciting to create as they are to view.”

Fully rendered After Effects CS6 media can be previewed and verified before airing via Miranda’s web-based, browser-agnostic SmartClient content preparation tool. Once approved, clips will air exactly as rendered, precisely where they are scheduled to appear. This vastly reduces the potential for the introduction of errors commonly associated with traditional real-time rendering practices.

The introduction of iRS also means that graphics artists can, without reservation, access a deep well of global After Effects knowledge and support to develop their channel branding ideas to new levels of creativity.

Rogers added, “With iRS, the huge global base of After Effects CS6 artists now has free reign to design and create without worrying about the limitations of individual branding devices. In fact, some multiple channel branding devices may no longer be required because the iRS system uses the same graphics workflow for all channels, from premium to lower tier. In short, compelling graphic artistry and effortless automation are now available for broadcasters and playout operators large and small.”

“After Effects has been a primary tool for Broadcast Motion graphics professionals for years. However, getting graphics from After Effects to on-air systems can introduce some loss and inefficiencies,” said Steve Forde, senior product manager for Adobe After Effects. “Miranda’s new product, iRS, gives After Effects CS6 customers more fidelity, flexibility and a smoother workflow with its capabilities in real-time playout environments.”

Miranda’s iRS capabilities can be retrofitted to any existing iTX-handled channel or added as an option to new deployments of iTX or Vertigo Suite graphics tools.

The company has also launched iTX Playout Appliance, a dedicated hardware foundation for Miranda’s advanced iTX automated playout platform.

The Miranda iTX Playout Appliance is a robust, 1RU hardware device that now provides existing and prospective iTX customers the convenience of a single call solution for software, hardware, and support — with a choice of the new iTX appliance or an HP self-provisioned server — simplifying ordering, installation, and deployment of an iTX automated playout system.

“The introduction of iTX Playout Appliance demonstrates our firm commitment to deliver value through continuous improvement of our product portfolio,” said Jason Rogers, Miranda’s senior vice president, Workflow and Playout. “Its benefit as a solid and reliable foundation for iTX software is matched by its convenience as a device available with iTX pre-installed, or as an easily configured on-site pairing with an existing iTX software framework.”

The iTX Playout Appliance is available in single- or dual-channel configurations. It supports standard iTX channel packages and optional plug-ins, real-time graphics, embedded DolbyD and E processing and ANC data such as captions, watermarking, and SCTE 104 messaging.

Other benefits include fault-tolerant RAID 10 disk storage, a fast loading, performance enhancing solid-state system drive and dual, user-replaceable power supplies.

Rogers adds, “The iTX Playout Appliance carries a badge that customers know and trust. It is ready, reliable and fully supported by decades of customer-focused engineering and design.”

In addition, Miranda Technologies has partnered with Cognacq-Jay Image (CJI), a TDF Group company based in Paris, to provide a comprehensive monitoring and control system featuring solutions from Miranda.

The Miranda system enables Cognacq-Jay Image to comprehensively monitor and control broadcast playout for 20 linear channels with a system comprised of Miranda’s iControl Playout Manager, Kaleido-X multiviewers, Densité modular cards, NVISION routers and “fingerprint” media identification technology.

Mickael Drouet, Cognacq-Jay Image deputy CTO, said, “Our reputation is based on quality of service and innovation, which are the same qualities we found in Miranda’s people and products. We worked in close partnership with Miranda to develop, install and implement a highly sophisticated monitoring and control solution. The result is a powerful system that enables us to efficiently and effectively monitor 20 channels, delivering a high quality of service to the most demanding customers, together with optimised operational costs.”

Miranda’s iControl playout monitoring package enables Cognacq-Jay Image to monitor not only Miranda devices but an extensive range of third-party devices throughout multiple playout chains via SNMP and signal monitoring. The package includes Miranda’s Kaleido–X multiviewers, which provide visual alarms that operators use to rapidly spot and troubleshoot any problems. The Kaleido–X capabilities are further enhanced by the ability to monitor core programme streams alongside audio/video proxies generated by Miranda signal processors. The integral nature of the proxy generators rule out the need for separate, dedicated cards to achieve the same result, which contributes to further reductions in Capex costs.

Mickael Drouet adds, “We’ve also found iControl to be eminently customisable. We’re able to easily make changes through a dedicated iControl web-based interface. This is perhaps a less-publicised aspect of iControl’s capabilities, but for us it is a significant benefit that lets us tweak operating parameters and data visibility to our specific needs whenever we wish.

“Our partnership with Miranda has been a very good experience. The support from their team in Montreal has been superb. The system works so well that we anticipate no concerns when it’s time to add more channels under iControl.”

Cognacq-Jay Image intends to increase monitoring efficiency by taking full advantage of “fingerprinting” technology proposed by Miranda. Media fingerprinting is a scientific approach to media identification that enables service providers to identify audio or video media without altering the content, allowing content recognition between main and backup or along the signal chain.

Micky Edwards, Miranda’s vice president of sales in EMEA said, “Cognacq-Jay Image has taken the iControl system and made it their own. The ability to monitor and control 20 channels using a single, integrated system, with a clear path to adding more, is testament to iControl’s power and flexibility.”

Lastly, Miranda Technologies has announced the installation of its iControl advanced content monitoring and control platform at Encompass Digital Media Limited (EDML) in London.

Encompass provides playout and origination services for cable channels, television station owners and operators, sports leagues, civilian government and military sectors. In addition, Encompass offers distribution, master control and content management services. The company recently invested in new, state-of-the-art technical facilities at its Stephen Street, London location to enhance its quality of service to clients.

“Our business is technology intensive, and we needed an intuitive tool to monitor the health of a complex, multi–component system from playout to distribution,” commented Ian Whitfield, managing director of Encompass London. “As part of our commitment to further augment our market position in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, we selected Miranda’s iControl system. We’ve invested significantly in our facility to make it best-in-class, and we think iControl is a sophisticated, best-in-class product.”

Miranda’s iControl is a highly advanced signal and facility monitoring system that enables operators to instantly review the status of their entire facility and quickly detect, diagnose and initiate repair of any problems that arise. This results in operational efficiencies while simultaneously ensuring a higher Quality of Experience for viewers.

The monitoring, alarm status and control solution is operated via iControl GUI touch screens. The touch screens provide configurable alternate views to any one of four operational, or two engineering, positions to monitor and control channels running through the facility’s multiple transmission chains. Audio is a significant component for EDML as its plays out multi-language and subtitling services, also monitored and controlled with iControl.

Whitfield adds, “What we like about iControl is that it readily integrates with all of the existing technologies in our facility. With the complexities of playout, products that integrate well with third-party technology are central to success. Miranda understands this need and offers iControl as a solution. We’re already looking to add even more devices for monitoring and control as we expand our channel count.” EDML currently provides origination and transmission services for 60 channels, and the facility is designed to scale to over 200.

EDML utilizes Miranda’s Densité LGK cards, a channel branding processor that provides iControl GUIs with a thumbnail view of all content passing through the system. In addition to Miranda’s array of software and services, the NVISION router, Kaleido X16 and Kaleido IP multiviewers play an important role in EDMLs playout workflow.

Whitfield concludes, “With any technology or service provider it’s important to know that you’re getting support from the entire organization and this has certainly been true with Miranda. They are working very closely with us to further finesse iControl for our specific needs. Given our firm commitment to improvement and innovation now and in the future, I can see us working with Miranda for years to come.”

Micky Edwards, Miranda’s vice president of sales in EMEA, said, “Playout providers such as Encompass are an ideal fit for Miranda. Our products and services are specifically designed to provide the level of power, control and reliability that our playout customers value so highly.

“Encompass is an excellent example of a playout provider that has ultimate scalability, perfectly poised to seamlessly expand in the future.”

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