If something goes wrong with transmission at public station WIPB, such as missing audio or video or closed captioning problems, engineers get an automatic e-mail about it, from the Volicon Observer, an integral component in the station's upgrade to digital multicast operations.
It also provides a continuous, searchable log of all aired broadcasts, the station's sales and traffic department is able to verify that all underwriting spots aired as scheduled.
"Simply stated, the Observer offers us peace of mind," said Max Hunt, operations supervisor for WIPB. "Running the station unattended is a new experience for our crew, and it helps to know that the Observer is always watching. In the old days, we would have relied on six-hour VHS recordings for 'air checks'--a method that was not ideal then and would be truly untenable in the new environment. But the Observer removes all of the inefficiencies and inaccuracies of manual tape-based processes and helps us identify and troubleshoot errors without requiring the constant attention of a crew member."
Installed at WIPBs broadcast center on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., the Observer provides continuous recording, logging, and notifications for the station's high-definition broadcast as well as two SD sub-channels.
Also, all video archived by the Observer can be downloaded onto DVD for a variety of uses. In one recent example, six-hour blocks of video from a recent pledge drive on the station's "PBS Create" sub-channel were burned to DVD in fulfillment of a requirement by PBS to provide a verifiable air-check of the broadcast.
"The video was of much higher quality, and the presentation much more professional, than if we had sent out a couple of videotapes--and the non-linear nature of Observer's file-based system makes it much easier to access certain spots in the broadcast than having to manually search and rewind through tape," said Hunt.
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