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post #4441 of 4949
I also have no background, but would add that my understanding is that there is some automation in place that's supposed to handle the switching.

As we have seen this sometimes doesn't function properly for whatever reason. I can understand this. What I can't understand is why no one at master control ever seems to notice and it takes calls from public before it's corrected.
post #4442 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdtvincr View Post

I also have no background, but would add that my understanding is that there is some automation in place that's supposed to handle the switching.

As we have seen this sometimes doesn't function properly for whatever reason. I can understand this. What I can't understand is why no one at master control ever seems to notice and it takes calls from public before it's corrected.

As of 2 years ago, it was revealed that this is still mostly a manual process, and will likely remain so for any stations that aren't fully digital or fully HD (where the need for such would be moot).

I expect it to still be a problem at KFXA/KGAN for many years to come.
post #4443 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by CR_Client View Post

As of 2 years ago, it was revealed that this is still mostly a manual process, and will likely remain so for any stations that aren't fully digital or fully HD (where the need for such would be moot).

I expect it to still be a problem at KFXA/KGAN for many years to come.

(emphasis added)

and just so he doesn't feel left out, so far, so good, at KWWL-HD. Haven't seen enough bugs worth whining about. Still a few things getting cropped, but afaic, looks like you and the crew are nailing it Jarrett. Congrats on setting the bar high. (downside is, all your engineer friends are going to hate you now)
post #4444 of 4949
OK... I have plenty of background on master controls, so I'll try to explain what is happening back there. Most of us (aside from KCRG) have master controls that are many years old with lots of legacy NTSC (analog) 4:3 equipment. Some may have full automation, while others may have limited triggers, and others nothing at all. When the digital broadcast revolution came about, there was another broadcast chain added. You had the original analog path and the digital path. You were in fact watching two channels now instead of one. Typically, this "new" monitor was not the one that was viewed at all times, since the money all came into the analog side. You'd glance over at it, but you attention was on the primary.

With all of this new stuff, you typically had just an encoder fed by a small switcher that just handled the HD stuff (remember that the analog plant can't handle HD). The network was your only source of HD programming, so your switcher just consisted of the HD network and the upconverted local channel. How that gets switched is the tricky part. Depending on an operator to remember to switch that every position is a recipe for disaster. They will never remember every switch and you'll end up with the wrong stuff on the air.

To combat this at KWWL, we have a GPO that fires a trigger off our switcher whenever we are on a particular source. This will switch our HD switcher from upconverted to NBC HD, and now our HD production control. Additionally, we now have a backup NBC feed in HD so that when there are issues with NBC's feeds, we can stay in HD with the backup satellite feed.

Also, we have all programming all run through these "digital" path now, instead of having an analog and a digital. If you are watching analog CFU or Mediacom (or in our master control), you are actually looking at a downcoverted feed right out of our control room (center-cut with mixed down dolby 5.1 when it is provided). This allowed my operators to just watch one picture for our 7.1 feed.

THe next step of course is to upgrade the local infrastructure to HD as well in master control. You will still have upconverted sources, but it will take one more thing out of the equation (and probably add 35 more!).

I'm not sure how KFXA is handling things or how the FOX satellite stuff works, but there could also be other things complicating their cause, such as downstream graphics (only SD). Luckily, we have HD units here so that we can stay in HD programming when crawls are required. I still remember how irritating those sinclair/mediacom crawls were during football games this past winter. Hope that helps shed some light on things.
-Jarrett
post #4445 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4lids View Post

OK...

-Jarrett

Thank you for the explanation, Jarrett!

It appears that not much has changed since the post that was made 2 years ago, which also mentioned that different stations have different levels of automation. Kudos to you guys for taking advantage of triggers to help automate things as much as possible, and for taking the time and money to commit to making the end-user experience as seamless and reliable as possible (backup satellite feed, etc)!

My fear is that what happened with the NASCAR race may have even been an equipment malfunction that required a significant amount of time to repair and get HD up and running. While this would be a somewhat more acceptable reason than someone eating a tainted chalupa, if there WAS a technical malfunction, it would have been nice for some sort of crawl to have been put up (KFXA still has their good 'ol reliable SD character generator, after all) explaining that there were technical difficulties on the HD side of the house.

My problem is, $inclair's employees *seem* to care so little about things that, even IF there was a technical malfunction during a major sporting event (heaven forbid this happens during the World Series again), they STILL wouldn't put up a crawl, or even bother answering the phones.

Some day, the folks out at Broadcast Park (at least the ones in the TV part of it) might learn that a little bit of customer service goes a LONG way towards keeping people happy. All of the improperly-installed full-color LED billboards in the world can't increase ratings the way a little bit of customer service can.
post #4446 of 4949
This is how the HDTV switching was handled at one station circa 2004 (not in Cedar Rapids).
LL
post #4447 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by CR_Client View Post

Thank you for the explanation, Jarrett!

It appears that not much has changed since the post that was made 2 years ago, which also mentioned that different stations have different levels of automation. Kudos to you guys for taking advantage of triggers to help automate things as much as possible, and for taking the time and money to commit to making the end-user experience as seamless and reliable as possible (backup satellite feed, etc)!

My fear is that what happened with the NASCAR race may have even been an equipment malfunction that required a significant amount of time to repair and get HD up and running. While this would be a somewhat more acceptable reason than someone eating a tainted chalupa, if there WAS a technical malfunction, it would have been nice for some sort of crawl to have been put up (KFXA still has their good 'ol reliable SD character generator, after all) explaining that there were technical difficulties on the HD side of the house.

My problem is, $inclair's employees *seem* to care so little about things that, even IF there was a technical malfunction during a major sporting event (heaven forbid this happens during the World Series again), they STILL wouldn't put up a crawl, or even bother answering the phones.

Some day, the folks out at Broadcast Park (at least the ones in the TV part of it) might learn that a little bit of customer service goes a LONG way towards keeping people happy. All of the improperly-installed full-color LED billboards in the world can't increase ratings the way a little bit of customer service can.

Good day folks in Cedar Rapids. I thought I would take the time to help clarify some of the questions about how KFXA operates their master control.

First of all, the switching between local and network is indeed done with triggers from station automation. There is no switch being flipped manually.
The FOX network signal is not distributed through the station like it is at ABC, CBS, NBC or PBS stations. I won't take the time to bore you with all the details, but essentially all the other networks, like in Jarrett's case, and KGAN, are switched as baseband audio and video using conventional (HD)switching and terminal equipment. The FOX signal is delivered to KFXA and "switched" as an MPEG2 ASI stream. It's never decoded to baseband except for monitoring and for a backup in case there is an HD switching problem.
On Sunday during NASCAR, and subsequently on Monday during House, there was actually an equipment failure that prevented the trigger from automation to correctly switch to HD. It had nothing to do with someone eating a tainted chalupa.
What you saw in both cases was the upconverted SD signal that I referred to earlier.
The problem has since been resolved and I'm pretty sure you haven't seen it return.
When something like this happens in anyone's master control, there is usually some level of confusion that takes place with the operators. They are typically trying to figure out what happened and are usually on the phone with someone to get the problem fixed. Sitting down in front of a character generator typing in a crawl isn't high on their list of things to do. Additionally telling all the SD viewers that there is a problem with the HD feed tends to cause a level of confusion with those viewers.
Try to keep in mind that the people working at any television station, like any other business, are just human beings. For the most part, they are doing the best they can.
As far as customer service goes, I'm sorry that your expectations haven't been met. This forum is a great place to share idea's as well as let stations know if there are problems. There is always room to learn something new.
You might actually be surprised by who follows these threads.
post #4448 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnyfox View Post

The problem has since been resolved and I'm pretty sure you haven't seen it return.
When something like this happens in anyone's master control, there is usually some level of confusion that takes place with the operators. They are typically trying to figure out what happened and are usually on the phone with someone to get the problem fixed.

This has happened several times in the past with KFXA so I would think the confusion level should be at a minimum by now. I still have a hard time believing that it takes an hour or more to see and resolve the outgoing non-HD problem. And even if it does, the underlying issue here is why is this a recurring problem? Simply hitting a reset or rebooting obviously isn't getting to the root of the problem, so it gets kinda old for us locals to hear over and over, sorry it was an equipment failure.
post #4449 of 4949
wnyfox, thanks for the explanation.
post #4450 of 4949
Ditto!
post #4451 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4lids View Post

OK... I have plenty of background on master controls, so I'll try to explain what is happening back there. Most of us (aside from KCRG) have master controls that are many years old with lots of legacy NTSC (analog) 4:3 equipment. Some may have full automation, while others may have limited triggers, and others nothing at all. When the digital broadcast revolution came about, there was another broadcast chain added. You had the original analog path and the digital path. You were in fact watching two channels now instead of one. Typically, this "new" monitor was not the one that was viewed at all times, since the money all came into the analog side. You'd glance over at it, but you attention was on the primary.

With all of this new stuff, you typically had just an encoder fed by a small switcher that just handled the HD stuff (remember that the analog plant can't handle HD). The network was your only source of HD programming, so your switcher just consisted of the HD network and the upconverted local channel. How that gets switched is the tricky part. Depending on an operator to remember to switch that every position is a recipe for disaster. They will never remember every switch and you'll end up with the wrong stuff on the air.

To combat this at KWWL, we have a GPO that fires a trigger off our switcher whenever we are on a particular source. This will switch our HD switcher from upconverted to NBC HD, and now our HD production control. Additionally, we now have a backup NBC feed in HD so that when there are issues with NBC's feeds, we can stay in HD with the backup satellite feed.

Also, we have all programming all run through these "digital" path now, instead of having an analog and a digital. If you are watching analog CFU or Mediacom (or in our master control), you are actually looking at a downcoverted feed right out of our control room (center-cut with mixed down dolby 5.1 when it is provided). This allowed my operators to just watch one picture for our 7.1 feed.

THe next step of course is to upgrade the local infrastructure to HD as well in master control. You will still have upconverted sources, but it will take one more thing out of the equation (and probably add 35 more!).

I'm not sure how KFXA is handling things or how the FOX satellite stuff works, but there could also be other things complicating their cause, such as downstream graphics (only SD). Luckily, we have HD units here so that we can stay in HD programming when crawls are required. I still remember how irritating those sinclair/mediacom crawls were during football games this past winter. Hope that helps shed some light on things.
-Jarrett

Very good explanation Jarrett. Most of the local stations are dealing with a large mix of SD 4x3 content in analog and digital, and SD and HD 16x9 digital content. As Jarrett mentioned in the early days of digital we were able to keep these paths separate since we only had limited sources that were HD and the main signal we had was the analog. Over the last year or two the content has really ramped up on the digital side in both HD and SD and the necessity to meld the analog and digital worlds together in house has increased dramatically. With limited budgets to be able to build a completely new facility or even buy a large amount of conversion gear it can be a real headache to try and take all the variety of sources and make them compatible. If we could take KWWL's HD production control room and KCRG's HD master control and have them in the same facility, life would be easier for conversion, but since we're still stuck in conversion hell with all the formats it is still difficult. Most new gear that has been purchased in the last couple years has been digital. Until recently we would take that digital equipment and convert it to analog and feed the analog house router. Since Master Control and Production Control were both analog, no worries it all works. In our case we still have a SD analog Production Control but have a HD Master Control. So when we get a digital source in we want to make sure we feed the HD video router the digital feed and convert to analog for the analog video router. The opposite of course happens for every analog source coming in. So it can be a real dance in order to get every source sent to the proper area to make sure they are converted, format corrected for 4x3 or 16x9, and also make sure all the timings stay correct to avoid lip sync errors with the inherent delay built into conversion equipment. I think we are all excited for the day when we have all new equipment and most content is 16x9 digital either SD or HD but that day is still not here, so we still have that crazy dance of melding the worlds together while still being fiscally responsible until we can replace all the equipment. The next couple years will hopefully move to more and more HD content at the national and local levels and move away from analog 4x3. I know I long for the day when the only 4x3 content I see on the air is legacy archival news footage from some past event but to be honest I am not sure how long that transition will take at both the national and local levels??

Kirk
post #4452 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnyfox View Post

First of all, the switching between local and network is indeed done with triggers from station automation.

Is (was) that done with a piece of commercial gear, or something cobbled together by the engineer and left undocumented?

Just wondering...
post #4453 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by KirkTV View Post

If we could take KWWL’s HD production control room and KCRG’s HD master control and have them in the same facility, life would be easier for conversion...

You're telling me! We went a bit backwards here, since it is typically better to start with your infrastruture (master control... router... etc.) than with the sexier arm (news production), but our needs were greater in production with the gear on its last legs and the fact that it gave us something KCRG didn't have We'll both get there sooner or later... it's just nice it is happening in this market (many markets aren't moving at all right now with the revenue streams shrinking).
post #4454 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by uhf View Post

Is (was) that done with a piece of commercial gear, or something cobbled together by the engineer and left undocumented?

Just wondering...

The automation system, the device (computer) that generates the trigger, is made by Sundance, a company owned by Avid. The FOX equipment is a combination of Cisco and Terayon. The piece in the middle, a locally designed device that is no longer there. It has been replaced with something commercially available.
...cobbled probably isn't a fair or accurate description.
post #4455 of 4949
Unfortunately, Bones this evening was in SD until about 11 minutes into the show until it flipped into HD.

Update: I hadn't watched long enough, but it went back to SD after Bones came back from commercial at about 19 minutes in and as of 8:16pm, into Fringe now, it is still in SD.
post #4456 of 4949
Except for a short blip of HD this evening on KFXA it has all been SD.
post #4457 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnyfox View Post

...cobbled probably isn't a fair or accurate description.

Depends on who the guy was that built the "locally designed device".
I may have seen some of his work. It was pretty cobbled, and not at all documented.
post #4458 of 4949
Thanks for the explanation, wnyfox. I can understand a funky piece of gear, and/or faulty code, being a lot harder to rectify than the switch posted earlier in this thread.

If KCRG has the upgraded infrastructure, then more kudos to 4lids for keeping a fairly steady hd stream coming out with their new HD news. I'll agree, infrastructure should be the prime concern, but we also know that sizzle sells the steak.

Here's hoping that KFXA gets whatever piece they need to have working, working, before too long. Best of luck.
post #4459 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by uhf View Post

I may have seen some of his work. It was pretty cobbled, and not at all documented.

All cobblers aren't created equally - I haven't seen a lot of problems on IPTV-HD, yet I have a hard time believing that their gear is state of the art.
post #4460 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnyfox View Post

The automation system, the device (computer) that generates the trigger, is made by Sundance, a company owned by Avid. The FOX equipment is a combination of Cisco and Terayon. The piece in the middle, a locally designed device that is no longer there. It has been replaced with something commercially available.
...cobbled probably isn't a fair or accurate description.

I used to really like the Sundance stuff, but that was before Avid bought them. Either way, the macros that fire their triggers of the device server are typically very reliable, provided someone has put them into the automation! I had that issue with ops in La Crosse that forgot to add them to the network events (since our traffic department typically forgot to list what shows were HD or not on the log). Thankfully, most stuff from the networks today is HD (or upconverted on their HD path), so everything is the same.

And I'll stick up for cobbled together stuff! Sometimes a local design is much better suited to handle tasks over some poorly designed commercial product. We like to modify things too! You just need to make sure you document it so that the next guy can figure it out too!
-Jarrett
post #4461 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4lids View Post

You just need to make sure you document it so that the next guy can figure it out too!
-Jarrett

Were you in a programming course with me? I swear, I had profs that drove me crazy about documentation. Then, you get out in the real world and spend 3 times as long trying to figure out what, why, and how the guy ahead of you did whatever to what was (possibly) born as a decent piece of code.

Now that I'm older, I tend to agree with the prof - anyone who doesn't properly document changes to code should be forced to write code for a VAX in assembly.

Hence my comment, which was meant to support "well-cobbled" software.
post #4462 of 4949
Looks like another evening of SD programming. So much for HD Simpsons, Cleavland Show, or American Dad.
post #4463 of 4949
I spoke too soon, looks like they got it straightened out.
post #4464 of 4949
KCRG DirectTv feed Sunday night was all washed out (very light).

Mediacom looked fine.
post #4465 of 4949
To continue the KFXA thread, there were a few minutes of SD thrown in the mix again Monday night, although definitely less total time than a week ago. However, clearly their equipment is still not working perfectly.
post #4466 of 4949
KCRG is having audio dropouts again on both Mediacom and Directv during the morning news/Good morning America time slots. Not sure about the other locals.
post #4467 of 4949
I was just in Ames, bought the metro edition of the Register, and saw the huge WHO-TV ad in the metro section (it's probably not in the state edition we get out here).

Anyway, they say that they'll soon have "EVERY camera, every live shot, ALL video in high definition" on Channel 13 News.

No date set, just "coming soon."

They are currently widescreen SD, as is their main competitor KCCI.
post #4468 of 4949
Unfortunately, most viewers don't notice whether it's HD or SD. They just notice whether it's widescreen or not.
post #4469 of 4949
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Ellis View Post

Unfortunately, most viewers don't notice whether it's HD or SD.

I normally watch local news on KCRG because it has more of a Cedar Rapids focus than KWWL. But after reading this forum, I decided to switch over to see what the HD was like. The HD makes a huge difference in viewing enjoyment, and I now find myself tuning to channel 7 news (807 on Mediacom) as my first preference. My hats off to the crew at KWWL for a job well done.
post #4470 of 4949
Audio on KGAN-HD has cut out approximately 30 seconds in to each show tonight at 7, 7:30, 8, and 8:30 PM CDT, and stayed out for around 30 seconds or so each time on MediaCon QAM (didn't check OTA). No audio dropout on KGAN-SD on MediaCon.

Sounds like more and more problems, but I suppose I should just be happy that its a) in HD, and b) actually in 5.1.
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