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Pebble Beach Systems Press

Pebble Beach Systems Press
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Pebble Beach Systems is a leading developer and supplier of automation, channel in a box and content management solutions for TV broadcasters, service providers, and cable and satellite operators.

RBS chooses Pebble Beach Systems for automation across all stations

Pebble Beach Systems, a leading automation, content management and integrated channel specialist, has announced that Brazil-based Grupo RBS has chosen Pebble Beach Systems to provide playout automation and control all of its stations.

As part of the second largest commercial network in the world, RBS TV is a TV Globo affiliate group which broadcasts news, entertainment and sports throughout Brazil via their local stations, transmitting up to 12 TV broadcast playlists. They approached Pebble via local partner Videodata to architect a solution which would increase the overall efficiency of their playout operations and guarantee a consistent look and feel for all stations. Whilst local programming remains important, the goal was for each of these stations to be run unmanned if required.

Pebble Beach Systems provided an automation system that can adapt to different operating models. The solution was designed in close collaboration between RBS, Videodata and Pebble Beach Systems Ltd, and will be installed by Videodata, the system’s Integrator. It includes Pebble’s Dolphin software-defined integrated channel devices, Marina playout automation, and control via the Lighthouse web-based monitoring and control solution. The fully redundant automation includes SCTE triggering to streamline content insertion for each region.

“This advanced technology from Pebble Beach Systems allowed us to create a hub-spoke playout system that provides simple control over many domains,” said Rosalvo Carvalho, Director, at Videodata. “This gives RBS a new flexibility and the ability for remote operation never possible before.”

RBS stations can now pull media from a centrally managed location, and operators can schedule playout – and even make changes on-the-fly – from hundreds of miles away.

“This advanced automation and playout solution gives us the ability to do much more with fewer resources,” said Carlos Fini, Director of Technology at RBS.  “We’re delighted to be partnering with Pebble and Videodata, both of whom have the credibility and proven knowhow to get the job done.”

Pebble Beach Systems announces Adobe After Effects integration to streamline Playout Graphics Workflows

At IBC 2019, Pebble Beach Systems, a leading automation, content management and integrated channel specialist, will demonstrate a new Adobe® After Effects® integration, incorporating a plugin and pre-render workflow, which is designed to simplify graphics and promo production. Working in conjunction with Pebble Beach Systems’ Dolphin integrated channel device under Marina automation control, this new integration manages the process of automatically rendering After Effects templates and delivering them straight to playout. By removing the need to convert Adobe graphics into vendor-specific formats, the plugin gives graphics designers the creative freedom to use any feature supported in After Effects for on-air graphics, and eliminates the sometimes laborious task of individually rendering many different versions of a promo or graphic.

Many broadcasters deploy discrete graphics platforms for playout of their high value channels. These systems offer complex real time graphics overlaid onto live and recorded sources, handling last minute schedule changes on the fly with advanced manual control. But they come at a high price point and may require extensive training. However, this is often the best approach, and with its wide range of broadcast graphics drivers, Pebble’s Marina automation can control the majority of market-leading broadcast graphics devices available today. Some thematic channels are a lot less dynamic and the cost of incorporating a full graphics engine in the playout chain cannot be justified. This new Adobe integration takes a different approach, rendering out a complex graphic template to a single media asset ahead of time so that the playout engine load is reduced without compromising the quality of graphics and branding for the channel.

Any After Effects project can be converted into a pre-render template via the new plugin. The designer simply selects which part(s) of their project will be ‘dynamic’. These dynamic elements will subsequently be populated by content from the Marina playlist at render time, allowing the relevant text, video, images, and / or audio to be inserted.

Once the template is prepared, they publish it to the Pebble Template Service (PTS) and the designer’s job is complete. The Marina automation system monitors the PTS and builds a list of available templates, which the playout operator can manually schedule or which can be automatically scheduled by a traffic system.

So, when an event in the playlist requires a graphic, a request is sent to render the relevant combination of template and dynamic content. Rendering in advance allows each graphic to be reviewed before going to air so any changes can be made if required. If there are changes to the dynamic content in the playlist, Marina will request a new version of the graphic. Renders are prioritised by their required on-air time, ensuring the timely delivery of graphics assets.

“The ability to pre-render graphics created in After Effects gives the designer full creative freedom by removing the need to compromise the look of the graphics during any format conversion process. Graphics designers want to concentrate on building stunning graphics and don’t want to be limited by the toolset. They also don’t want to be doing repetitive tasks such as rendering out an After Effects project 50 times for each version. With this integration, Pebble have automated that process, saving time and money,” said Stuart Wood, Product Owner at Pebble Beach Systems.  “Many networks, television stations and multichannel service providers are also looking for ways to deploy playout servers without the need to provision GPUs for real-time graphics processing power, especially when we talk about virtualised environments or the cloud as this is can be much more expensive,” he confirmed. 

Pebble Beach Systems integrates with Vizrt to enhance playout graphics

Pebble Beach Systems, a leading automation, content management and integrated channel specialist, recently announced that it has partnered with graphics specialist Vizrt to integrate the Viz Engine into its Dolphin and Orca integrated playout solutions.

Integrated channel technology can hugely simplify the playout chain for broadcasters by delivering logistical, space and cost savings. Typically, these solutions incorporate video server, master control switcher, subtitling, captioning, channel branding and more within a software-defined environment. But for many broadcasters the on-board graphics capabilities are no match for the high end functionality their chosen graphics tools can deliver.

Alison Pavitt, Marketing Manager at Pebble, confirms: “Ultimately it’s about choice and reducing the total cost of ownership. Broadcast graphics are fundamental to channel identity, so broadcasters naturally don’t want to compromise on their branding when reviewing their playout technology choices. That’s why Pebble has collaborated with the top graphics companies in the industry to ensure that our end users can have access to their preferred best-of-breed graphics tools and enhance their carefully crafted graphics workflows. We’re proud to be partnering with one of the biggest names in broadcast graphics, Vizrt, to offer the Viz Engine software plug-in for our Dolphin and Orca solutions.”

By offering this functionality through a shared memory interface as a software plug-in which utilizes a GPU, Pebble confirmed that it is no longer necessary to pass video signals between disparate devices, which in the IP world could mean high bandwidth demand. This not only simplifies the playout chain, but also greatly reduces network bandwidth within the cloud, since the video interconnect to and from the third party system has been eliminated. It also reduces the amount of hardware required to run a channel whilst providing a full graphics workflow.

Gerhard Lang, CTO, Vizrt, says; “Pebble Beach Systems did a fantastic job integrating our graphics into their software-defined integrated and IP channel solutions. Both companies strive for quality, performance and reliability and the outcome reflects this. Through previous partnerships and endeavors our two companies have built up a high level of trust and respect, making this integration an obvious success.”

Tanzania-based Azam Media selects Pebble Beach Systems’ Marina

Pebble Beach Systems, a leading automation, content management and integrated channel specialist, has announced that Azam Media Ltd, a Direct-to-Home (DTH) pay TV satellite service provider in East Africa, has selected a Pebble Beach Systems Marina automation solution to control its existing playout infrastructure, along with recently installed devices for its newly added channels.

Based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and launched in 2013, Azam Media is a flagship company of the Bakhresa Group and focuses on providing entertaining and informative channels bundled with favourite international channels at an affordable cost to citizens of East African nations. Azam One features local entertainment and Premier League football. Azam Two features international entertainment, while Sinema Zetu specialises in 24/7 bongo movies.

The organisation recently expanded its channel count to 10, and selected Marina to replace its legacy automation and MAM layer. Marina controls legacy Imagine servers for ingest, shared storage and nearline storage, along with the existing Xendata archive and Versio playout devices. The playout chains for the new channels include Harmonic Channelport and servers and MediaGrid central storage.

“Azam Media selected Marina because it offered exceptional operational stability and a modern user interface designed to make their operation as efficient and simple as possible, regardless of the underlying technology being controlled,” said Samir Isbaih, VP of Sales for the Middle East and AsiaPac at CABSAT today.

“Marina is handling all media management, file transfers and playout for Azam,” he continues. “The ability to manage this functionality via a single user interface really increases efficiency for them and avoids the need for multiple databases. Managing multiple locations and multiple technologies, the solution delivers simplified, coherent content management at this key site.”

Pebble Beach Systems appoints Andy Giles as sales manager for Europe, Israel and South Africa

Pebble Beach Systems, a leading automation, content management and integrated channel specialist, has announced the appointment of Andy Giles as the company’s new sales manager for Europe, Israel and South Africa.

An experienced industry professional with a strong technical background, Andy previously held senior positions at Snell Advanced Media, Snell & Wilcox Ltd and Amberfin (now part of Dalet).

Tamas Vass, senior VP of Global Sales at Pebble commented “Andy’s technical knowledge, commercial expertise, and customer focus make him the perfect choice in this role, and his experience of consulting with the end user on complex solutions means that he’s a great fit within the Pebble team.”

Andy Giles confirms “I’ve had experience of working in the same arena as Pebble for a number of years, so their great reputation and the quality of their product offering was clear to me. I’m excited to be joining the company at such a pivotal time for the broadcast industry, and look forward to engaging with the customer base in my new role.”

Pebble Beach Systems to showcase its Dolphin integrated channel device

At IBC 2018, Pebble Beach Systems will be showcasing its Dolphin integrated channel device with enhanced uncompressed multi-channel 4K and 25GbE IP functionality, thanks to the integration of the award-winning Matrox X.mio5 Q25 SMPTE ST 2110 network interface controller (NIC) card.

Daniel Robinson, head of Product Development at Pebble explains why the integration of the new card is significant: “Dolphin already offers multiple I/O options to cater for the diverse requirements of our growing user base. A wide range of standards and protocols are supported including SDI, uncompressed and compressed IP and NDI. Integrating the new X.mio5 Q25 SMPTE 2110 NIC card now enables multiple SMPTE ST 2110 UHD streams for uncompressed IP whilst, crucially, not increasing the load on the CPU. This significantly enhances the flexibility of Dolphin for uncompressed IP playout architectures. When the number of inputs is limited, users can encounter glitches and delays when switching between incoming streams. Thanks to the increased number of inputs this NIC offers, multiple uncompressed IP transport streams can be fed to Dolphin concurrently so that when the input is switched, the stream is already running and ready for a seamless changeover. This destination time switching also means that the additional switching hardware is not required.”

Dolphin is a compact and cost-effective integrated channel device which, operating under the control of Pebble’s Marina automation, which delivers highly automated integrated audio, video and graphics functionality for ingest, channel branding and frame-accurate multi-channel playout. The flexible pipeline design enables the virtual output chain to be customised for each channel, specifying the order in which functions including graphics, effects, aspect ratio conversion are handled within the system.

Equipped with 25GbE and 10GbE interfaces, Matrox X.mio5 Q25 features multi-channel IP video I/O from HD to 4K—with zero CPU usage—on-board multi-channel HDR conversions, along with motion adaptive de-interlacing, pristine scaling, and powerful compositing engines for high-density 4K video processing. Designed as a video-aware COTS SMPTE ST 2110 NIC card, X.mio5 Q25 delivers 24/7 reliability and interoperability required of broadcast equipment, while offering the flexibility and scalability expected of IP infrastructures including standard network stack functionality.

Pebble Beach Systems assists broadcasters migrating from ageing (EOL) automation systems

Pebble Beach Systems, a leading automation, content management and integrated channel specialist, has further optimised its Marina playout system to ease the migration from legacy and EOL systems such as ADC, Omnibus, and Sundance automation systems. In addition to Marina’s comprehensive library of migration tools, support has now been added for ADC v12 playlists. The company has successfully helped scores of customers worldwide transition from legacy and EOL systems to its state of the art Marina playout solution. Central to this success is Pebble’s managed approach and a plugin framework that ensures a seamless transition from legacy broadcast automation systems to the powerful Marina automation system without stress, compromise, and the need for a hard cut-over date. With Marina, the ability to create a hybrid, synchronised playout chain with any combination of hardware and software gives broadcasters and multi-channel originators ultimate flexibility to transition any part of that playout chain at a pace to suit their scheduling and operational requirements.

As legacy automation systems reach end-of-life, organisations want to take advantage of the flexibility and power of modern, centralised, software-based automation systems. However, many are concerned about migrating years of accumulated data from their legacy system database to a new automation system. For any business, having a hard cut-over to an entirely new system comes with considerable risk. Are all staff adequately trained? Is it really necessary to change every component at once? Can we preserve our existing investment in channel technology? Is there a path to virtualisation and the cloud?

Pebble Beach Systems’ approach is enabling broadcasters to answer these questions in a way that mitigates risk and instills confidence.

Legacy broadcast automation databases often contain descriptive and timing metadata for hundreds of thousands of clips. Much of the descriptive data input by operators is considered critical to the successful use of the asset. Just as important is the metadata that describes the timing information. When an asset is ingested, an operator must determine the true start time, skipping any garbage frames, and the true end time for clean playback. Segment timings for breaks are also key. Both descriptive and timing metadata are stored in the legacy database, but if that data is lost during translation to the new automation system, control operators can’t guarantee a clean broadcast output. Having personnel re-analyse and re-mark all clips in the new database is unsustainable, but Marina’s existing integration with practically all the popular broadcast scheduling and traffic systems enables organisations to standardise their data exchange, while direct API integration with third party MAM systems enables retention of existing workflows.

When migrating to Marina, not only is all metadata transferred, but an active database bridge is also created between both systems to keep the systems in sync and enable them to run in parallel. “Having an engineer show up and run a one-time database conversion process is not a solution for most customers,” says Ian Cockett, CTO and one of the founders of Pebble Beach Systems. “We realise that hard cut-overs are unrealistic and overly burdensome, so the method we provide keeps the legacy and the Marina databases constantly synchronised, running in parallel, ensuring operations can make a well-orchestrated and managed transition on their own terms, in their own time.”

Having a hybrid approach means not only running any legacy equipment in parallel, but also having the ability to run a mix of SDI and IP equipment. Pebble’s integrated channel technology device, Dolphin, allows SDI or IP playback so that operations can switch to an IP based infrastructure when they are ready, and everything is tested. “It’s one thing to build a greenfield site from the ground up with the latest IP infrastructure,” says Cockett. “For everyone else, moving the entire playout chain to IP represents another potential point of failure that many broadcasters are rightly hesitant to undertake.”

Operator change management is a further key consideration during system migration. The Marina UI layout can be configured to closely mimic a legacy system UI which helps with initial training and uninterrupted operation. With time, additional data and augmented feature sets can be revealed to operators by the system’s administrators.

Virtualisation of playout is a hot topic, but not every channel is a good candidate for moving to a public or private data centre today. As technology and business models continue to evolve, it’s very important for any new playout system to have a path to virtualised deployment. Orca, Pebble’s virtualised playout solution is already providing cloud playout for multiple customers. So, whether a broadcaster needs a path to virtualisation today, or tomorrow, Orca and Marina provide a future proof strategy with no need for staff to learn a new interface.

Discovery Networks selects Pebble Beach Systems’ Marina automation

Pebble Beach Systems, a leading automation, content management and integrated channel specialist, has confirmed that the playout of all Discovery Networks’ MENA channels is now under the control of a new 8 channel fully redundant Marina system which is installed at Du-Samacom, a leading regional operator of satellite support services currently serving more than 170 television stations throughout the Middle East and Asia. The project was implemented by systems integrators Tek Signals.

Discovery Networks MENA head of Operations, Bassem Maher, confirmed:“Having elected to host the playout of all our MENA channels within the region, we worked closely with Du-Samacom and Tek Signals to find a solution which was capable of handling our rigorous redundancy requirements and would offer the capability of future expansion. The install features fully redundant playout and control of all our regional HD channels with Marina automation at its heart, and also comprises Harmonic Spectrum servers, Pixel Power graphics, Polistream subtitling, with transcoding handled by Telestream.”

Regional manager for the Middle East and South Asia at Pebble, Samir Isbaih, added: “Together with Tek Signals we architected a solution to meet Discovery’s advanced channels’ needs. We integrated a dynamic automated graphics workflow, and have incorporated archiving of the transmission media to the tape library. We’re proud to be entrusted with these high profile channels which include DKids, DMAX, DLife, Discovery Channel, TLC & Fatafeat. With its single database spanning playout and content management, and a simple user interface, Marina drives operational efficiencies and reduces the scope for on air errors. This high profile install underlines Marina’s position as the most modern, scalable and flexible product in the market, meeting Tier One broadcasters’ requirements with no compromise on stability and reliability.”

Pebble Beach Systems announces Marina Migration Pack

On 11 April 2016 Pebble Beach Systems, an automation, content management and integrated channel specialist, announced the immediate availability of the Marina Migration Pack, a plugin framework that ensures a seamless transition from legacy broadcast automation systems to the Marina automation system.

As legacy automation systems reach end-of-life, broadcasters and multi-channel originators want to take advantage of the flexibility and power of centralised, software-based automation systems. However, many are concerned about migrating years of accumulated data from their legacy system database to a new automation system. For any organisation, having a hard cutover to an entirely new system comes with considerable risk.

Legacy broadcast automation databases often contain descriptive and timing metadata for hundreds of thousands of clips. Much of the descriptive data input by operators is considered critical to the successful use of the asset. Just as important is metadata that describes the timing information. When an asset is ingested, an operator must determine the true start time – skipping any garbage frames – and true end time for clean playback. Segment timings for breaks are equally important. Both the descriptive and timing metadata are stored in the legacy database, but if the data is lost during translation to the new automation system, control operators can’t guarantee a clean broadcast output. Having personnel re-analyse and re-mark all clips in the new database is unsustainable.

“The ease in which we migrated all the data from our legacy ADC system to Pebble’s Marina shortened the time span between installing the automation system and being on the air with it,’ said Gordon Bell, SVP engineering, operations and IT at KCET. “Without the Pebble migration tools and assistance of their highly responsive team, we would not have made our aggressive switch-over date.’

With the Marina Migration Pack, not only is all metadata crucial to the description and playback of assets transferred, but an active database bridge is also created between both systems to keep the systems in sync and enable them to run in parallel.

Part of a framework developed by Pebble Beach Systems, the Marina Migration Pack includes playlist readers and AsRun writers for various formats including the BXF standard. For legacy Sundance systems, the Migration Pack includes the ability to import media/macro associations. The Migration Pack plugins maintain a live link between databases and associated metadata, so that any additional information ingested with the legacy system is automatically and immediately transferred to the new Marina system. Metadata changes in pre-existing media on legacy systems are also transferred. In this way, both automation systems can stay actively in sync enabling a methodical and gradual transition on a schedule that suits the operation, not the technology. If required, such a link can create a permanent hybrid enabling both systems to co-exist indefinitely.

Operator change management is another key consideration during system migration. Pebble Beach Systems has extensive experience migrating users from ADC, Omnibus, and Sundance automation systems. The Marina UI layout can be configured to closely mimic a legacy system UI to aid in initial training and uninterrupted operation. With time, additional data and augmented feature sets can be revealed to operators by the system’s administrators. User log-on determines the UI presentation for each operator interfacing with Marina from master control operators, ingest and prep operators, engineering staff, to specialised layout UIs for live events.

Support for BXF enables organisations to standardise their data exchange with traffic systems while direct API integration with third party MAM systems enables retention of existing workflows.

For further information, visit the Pebble Beach Systems website.

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