SVG Europe Sit-Down: TSL Products’ Mark Davies on IBC expectations and the outlook for remote production

Mark Davies, director of products & technology, TSL Products

For over 30 years TSL Products has worked directly with the world’s leading broadcasters and content creators to design, manufacture and market a range of broadcast workflow solutions that serve to simplify operations within the television broadcast, cable, satellite, IPTV and IT industries.

Specialising in audio monitoring, broadcast control systems and power management tools, the company ensures that its solutions satisfy and exceed the commercial, technical and operational requirements that exist in IT-based and traditional workflows. Our Sit Down with TSL Products’ director of products & technology, Mark Davies, started with some insights about the company’s offering at Amsterdam…

IBC is on the horizon. What will you be showing visitors?

At IBC TSL will demonstrate how its range of solutions can help to reduce the complexity of transitioning to an IP-based workflow. Highlights from our product line will include updates to our PAM-IP audio monitors and TallyMan Advanced Broadcast Control System.

In response to the industry’s adoption of ST-2110, TSL Products’ PAM1-IP and PAM2-IP audio monitoring products now support ST-2110, allowing ST-2110 video and audio streams to be monitored for those customers deploying essence-based IP infrastructures.

We’ll also showcase new developments and the addition of peripheral devices to TallyMan. Standout new features include IP Device Routing, a simple and intuitive interface that translates IP workflows to retain the familiarity of SDI routing and provides signal control and routes edge devices in ST-2110 networks. New, powerful tools for remote production open up channel delegation, add security controls and protects devices with a system built on independent device protocol translation and intuitive interfaces that add flexibility and efficiency to operations. 

Additionally, TSL will highlight the latest product in the control systems portfolio, FlashBoard. This is a screen-based display system that works with a regular IP network and integrates seamlessly with TSL Products’ TallyMan. Used with TallyMan, FlashBoard can interface with any of the extensive range of attached third party equipment, which results in sophisticated command, control and display systems that are limited in scope only by imagination.

Can you tell us how your TallyMan Advanced Broadcast Control System helps sports broadcasters?

Our user configurable TallyMan control system was built to be independent, universal, configurable and infinitely scalable, allowing broadcasters to achieve interoperability between equipment regardless of manufacturers and format specifications. 

With traditional control infrastructures, sports broadcast operators spend tens of seconds taking multiple steps to secure a certain shot of the crowd in the stadium, or the field of play. After an operator picks a shot, they would then need to zero in on that location, fade up the microphones on their audio console, route the footage back into their multi-viewer and then route that signal for broadcast. TallyMan can repackage these steps into pre-defined commands long before the game begins, automating multi-step processes into single functions and capturing the action in a matter of milliseconds.

How do you see remote production progressing over the next twelve months?

The continuing pressure on production budgets will accelerate the deployment of remote production solutions. From a control perspective, this is a maturing technology with many deployments for a requirement such as remote news production. For news, especially in scenarios where it is lower cost or just safer to have engineering and production staff remote from the news studio, this is an attractive solution. However, in sport, where saving the cost of sending out an OB is attractive, there are some reports that not having the production crew among the excitement of the event is detected by the viewer at home. More work to do in this area, some by engineers, possibly some by psychologists!

Has the take up of IP technology been as you expected – and how do you see this area of operations developing?

For us, meeting the needs of our customers remains paramount, which is why we always work hand-in-hand with them to design and deliver solutions that not only meet their immediate requirements, but also fit their ongoing needs. With the industry transition to IP gaining momentum, we continue to design products and solutions that support both traditional SDI and IP infrastructures and workflows. In accordance with this trend, we’ll be highlighting the connective capabilities of our products at IBC this year. Our products are built on a flexible and open approach, demonstrating how our solutions can aid in the IP transition, whilst at the same time lending its knowledge and expertise on the IP transition in general. 

Can you tell us how InSite works?

TSL Products’ PAM-IP being used at the recent Winter Olympic Games

InSite is part of our range of Power Products and is designed to easily manage the health of a system’s infrastructure by monitoring, logging, reporting and alarming on the performance of deployed devices, power consumption and environmental information. The software is an independent solution that brings together real-time data in a single system and analyses it as a whole using industry standard protocols, such as SNMP and Modbus. It can be easily hosted on premises or in the cloud and will work with a broad range of third party manufacturers of sensor and data centre equipment, or any manufacturer who produces object identifier (OID) information. 

InSite provides fully configurable, well-designed dashboards that represent data in a user-friendly way and can be accessed from any Web browser providing an interactive live feed, usage trends and alarming. The software’s smart reporting tool simplifies the creation of reports on any data range via scheduled email and manual export, making it easier for the user to provide detailed analysis on key operational variables. Finally, InSite’s scalable and configurable dashboard design allows businesses to manage their own system from start to finish, which minimises cost and the need for ongoing maintenance. 

Any future plans you can discuss?

In the IP-connected world, the ability to hide the complexity from the operators will be key to success. This plays to the strengths of the TSL Products range of solutions. Combining our deep understanding of controlling third party equipment with our TallyMan Advanced Control Platform and our audio and video monitoring solutions, we are well-positioned to provide complete solutions with our own products but will also easily integrate with third party kit. With a view to this connected IP future, we have already added advanced control protocols to many of our products, including Ember+, SNMP & API, with AMWA NMOS IS04 to follow. We will continue to track the AIMS roadmap and keep out products up to date with the emerging IP workflows.

Do you have a sports related case study that you can share?

TSL Products’ PAM2-IP audio monitoring unit was utilised earlier this year to assist CCTV with its coverage of the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. CCTV installed the PAM2-IP at its Beijing headquarters to better monitor the facility’s IP and 4K-based master control and live production infrastructure. The PAM2-IP was selected to provide audio and video signal monitoring within the central control room, as well as for use by the field team, who will be using the unit to support remote IP transmission. 

On the control side, TallyMan was deployed during a recent professional auto-racing series to circumvent conflicting commands from the production’s camera operators. If an operator saw a crash or particularly strong performance, the camera includes a “pick me” button, which routed the camera feed on to a specific spot on the multi-viewer to indicate a “suggested shot”. However, since a producer must choose whether to take that shot, there is a delay before the feed goes live to air. Conversely, unrestricted control could lead to multiple live cuts within milliseconds. TallyMan offered the broadcaster a powerful decision-making engine. Instead of routing operators’ “pick me” triggers to the router or the multi-viewer, it is first fed through TallyMan. The system sends the first camera operator live to air and locks out all other cameras for four seconds, while still allowing the producer to kill that functionality, if they choose. The process happens in less than half a second. 

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