Friday, 17 November 2017

CRTW arriva a Roma!!

Control rooms can be high-pressured and fast-moving environments to work in, be it emergency call centers, transport, security or energy management. Ensuring that these environments are efficient and productive depends largely upon the design and the way in which the technologies within the control room are used.

The Control Room Technology Workshop (CRTW) is a one-day event that focuses on the essentials of modern control room design and management. It is an exciting collaboration between the world’s leading manufacturers in the Control Room industry: Adder Technology, Mitsubishi Electric, Eizo and Saifor, who all provide their expert knowledge on the latest trends and technologies in control room solutions. This includes critical issues surrounding ergonomics and work space design, technology choices, flexibility and performance.

The workshops are held at different locations around Europe, with the next event held in Rome, Italy on the 22nd and 23rd November 2017. Throughout each workshop, system integrators, control center operators and end-users are all given an overview of the importance of control room design from each of the participating companies. Delegates are then informed about real-world case studies and application stories, before being presented with a mock-up control room scenario. This provides the unique opportunity to get hands-on with the technologies displayed, and to experience how the different technologies work and complement each other to create the optimal control room environment.

By combining the knowledge of four leading companies in control room solutions into one single workshop, everyone attending has an opportunity to network with industry experts and seek specialist advice and suggestions for future planning. After receiving positive feedback and attracting large audiences at previous events in Warsaw, Frankfurt and Stockholm, the CRTW event is returning in November for its 4th edition in Rome at the Courtyard by Marriott. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

A window into the control room

In any command and control environment, time is one of the most important factors. From receiving data and information from a variety of sources, to analysing it and making mission critical decisions, any delay, be it mere seconds or minutes, has the potential to negatively impact operations. This is perhaps the reason command and control environments — in industrial applications, data centres, transportation, oil & gas, security and broadcast — are such high pressure spaces.

Making sure these environments remain productive and successful comes down to their design. Of course staff, technology and operations play a key role, but the layout creates the right foundation for all the other components to fit into place.

Guided by budget, organisational structure, the room’s purpose and the staff, the success of the design process depends on the way in which the technologies within the room are brought together to create the most efficient environment. These include computers, displays, keyboards and mice, all of which need to be considered while looking at the bigger picture of room size, layout visualisation and connectivity.

Often it is supporting and enabling technologies — such as KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) — that can have the biggest impact on the control room and its employees. It can be particularly helpful in meeting operational requirements (getting the right information to the right person as quickly as possible) and ergonomic needs (making the workspace comfortable and conducive to productivity and effective decision making).

KVM, especially IP-based, high performance KVM, can help reduce the number of keyboards and mice at each console by giving operators the ability to switch between different machines from a single desktop. Users can also switch and share video and control across consoles, video walls and external collaboration rooms, which helps with supervisory control, shift handovers and hot desking. KVM also ensures that the actual computers can be removed from the room and relocated somewhere that is safer (like an access controlled server room) and can prolong the life of the machines (temperature controlled environment).

As the amount of data generated increases exponentially, time remains a critical factor in the control room for decision making. In order to keep staff in the loop, performing effectively and analysing the streams of information that are coming into the environment, it will be technologies like IP-based KVM that influence and enable the way in which these spaces are designed, operated and, ultimately, kept successful.

Friday, 20 January 2017

ISE Speaker Session: Future control room design

The control room as we know it is changing, and this change is being driven by a number of different factors. Firstly, there’s the issue of performance. With the control room being relied upon for an ever-increasing number of tasks, it’s important that each room is kitted out with versatile, high-performance equipment. The wellbeing of operators also needs to be taken into account — control rooms can quickly become unbearably cramped and full of equipment-  and crucial steps must be taken to make it a more work-friendly environment for everyone involved.

The solution for combatting these problems begins during the control design phase, taking the function of the room, the space and the technology options into consideration. This is what I’ll be discussing in more detail at the Integrated Systems Europe trade show, which takes place next month in Amsterdam.  I’ll be hosting my presentation, titled ‘Future control room design: the role of technology’, between 15:30 and 16:00 on February 9th in the Commercial Solutions Theatre. It would be great to see you there for what’s sure to be an enlightening half-hour session.

If you can’t make the presentation, Adder Technology will be at ISE for the duration of the show, where we’ll be demonstrating the new Adder CCS-PRO8 command and control switch and the AdderLink XDIP to our visitors. We’ll be at stand 10-P122, so come find us and say hello.

Friday, 6 January 2017

The networked production hub

IP connectivity is moving into broadcast production facilities at an increasing rate. —. And it is accelerating what is already a strong trend: the idea of the studio complex as a collection of resources which can be allocated as required, on a production by production basis.

So a centre could have several studios and multiple control rooms, although the number of control rooms might not equal the number of studios, and there may not be a direct association between studio and gallery. Rather than provide each control room with a large, fully-featured production switcher, there could be a set of shared switchers with particular resources – in terms of M/E banks, I/Os and DVEs – to be allocated as required.

Camera channels, graphics generators, prompters and more: these can all be shared and pulled on a production by production basis.

The implication of this is that all the hardware will reside in a central machine room with video and audio connectivity – now perhaps over IP – to the studio and control room which requires it. Which implies some means of connecting the control for each device as needed.

The modern solution is to use the Adder IP-based KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switching system. Essentially this allows any user interface – keyboard, video and mouse or trackpad – to be connected to any processor. The signals are carried over the existing IP network, with no lag in control and with full on-screen image quality.

The graphics operator, therefore, is connected by a single user interface to whichever devices have been allocated for that production. The studio engineer can switch quickly between monitoring and controlling servers, routing switchers and more. The whole production architecture can be established from a single workstation.

The system is doubly secure. Only people with the correct credentials have access to the KVM switch, and there is no need to let people into machine rooms because control of all devices can be remoted to where you are working. IP-based KVM boosts productivity and increases availability of the hardware.

Saving space on location

The outside broadcast can be regarded as extreme television production. Most of the time you are working live, with no chance of a retake (hard to rehearse a football match). The production is demanding, with 20 or more cameras in use, plus multiple replays, graphics, fast turnaround editing and more.

This has to be achieved not in a large and comfortable studio but in a space-contained truck. Clever designers use expanding vehicles to create more working space, but the unavoidable fact is that space is always going to be tight, and between jobs the truck has to fit within size and weight limits to be driven on the public road.

Despite the space constraint, there has to be room for a tiny desk for the truck’s engineer-in-charge. From this desk the engineer has to establish the required architectures and workflows for the production, and monitor all the systems, from switchers to servers. Those systems may not all be in the production truck: there may be auxiliary vehicles, for replays, for multiple edit suites, sports statistics and more. All determined by the scale of coverage and event.

Given the space and weight constraint, the engineer really needs to be able to access everything from one point. The simplest, fastest and lightest way to achieve this is with a networked KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switch. At the touch of a key the engineer will be able to see what is happening on any device in the whole system.

While solutions exist for monitoring multiple systems, these are separate devices (taking space and adding weight), and still only tend to report issues rather than letting the engineer get in and sort the problem. With a KVM switch the engineer can directly attach to any individual device, as if the laptop had been picked up and walked to the right part of the racks.

The Adder IP-based KVM system uses networked IP to switch and extend computer signals, which means there is no need for any additional cabling: it runs on the cabling already connecting the equipment. The high quality system means that the user experience is just as it would be if plugged into the back of the box: pixel perfect display and no lag on the keyboard or mouse.

It is simple, clean and most of all provides enhanced user ergonomics, minimising equipment and weight where it is most critical.

IP KVM: Keeping on top of Post Production

Post production is getting more complex. The routine tasks of editing, visual effects and graphics, and colour grading are becoming more sophisticated. Even soap operas are carefully graded, and many programmes now have rich visual effects.

On top of that, there are new formats. While a programme may be broadcast in HD, it will often be shot in 4K, and an Ultra HD version may be created for the archive. Even higher resolutions are on the near horizon, with NHK committed to live 8K Super Hi-Vision coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Along with greater resolution, we are also seeing an extended colour gamut through the use of high dynamic range: 10 or more bits per colour rather than eight. Some are also experimenting with higher frame rates: Ang Lee’s latest movie was shot at 120 frames a second, for example. This results in a challenge: more people, and therefore more software applications, need to access the content, but at the same time that content is taking up much more storage space.

In the past, the practice was to move the content to the operator, meaning that post houses had to invest in powerful, capacious networking to move material from one workstation to another. With a greater emphasis on collaborative workflows and more time pressure than ever, we now need to consider moving the operator to the content and seamlessly merging the physical and virtual worlds.

The solution is to provide each operator with access to the processors running the appropriate software and loaded with the right project. Once that part of the work is complete, the operator moves to the next project. Using Adder’s IP-based high performance KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switching technology, the operator can instantly switch between processors, real or virtual. Because the Adder solution routes KVM over an IP network, there are no restrictions in the set-up or future changes, with perfect screen graphics, instant switching and no lag in the user/computer interface actions.

The IP network means the system can support enough clients and access points for even the largest post house. Both PC and Mac systems can be connected – Adder is unique in providing good Apple video format handling – so an editor can switch between editing platforms at will. The system provides huge operational efficiencies, with maximum utilisation of suites and staff and minimal loss of time waiting for files to be moved across the network.