Starz Utilizes Wohler’s Touch-It Digital for Playout Server Monitoring

Premium movie service provider Starz Entertainment is using Wohler Technologies’ Touch-It Digital 16-channel video color monitor at its Englewood, CO facility to allow engineers to see precisely how video looks during server playout. Installed on the facility’s new server racks, six 3-RU Touch-It Digital units provide side-by-side 7-inch widescreen color LCDs to enable cost-effective real-time monitoring and routing of multirate HD/SD-SDI video. The systems’ SD/HD auto-switching capability has allowed Starz Entertainment to combine SD and HD channels in a server unit and monitor them all at once.

“The Wohler units give us the ability to walk by each server rack and immediately see that for all channels the right movie is playing out and that the picture isn’t frozen, black, or otherwise compromised,” says Lonnie Scheele, executive director of broadcast engineering and operations at Starz Entertainment. “We have enjoyed both the fun and functionality of the systems’ unique design, and we plan to incorporate Touch-It Digital systems at our disaster recovery site to provide the same convenience in monitoring server output.”

Starz Entertainment’s video servers are located in the central equipment room, and playout monitoring typically is performed from within the broadcast operations area. During the company’s migration to new playout servers, and before installation of a new router providing access to those servers, the Touch-It Digital systems served as the only means of visually monitoring the server output. The Touch-it Digital’s left LCD is a touch screen that displays from four to 16 thumbnail images, which automatically scale to fill the screen. When one of these images is touched, the corresponding video source appears on the right LCD monitor at full size, and its HD/SD-SDI source signal is sent to BNC outputs.

Starz Entertainment servers are set up as redundant A and B servers, with each channel playing out of an A unit and a B unit. Either one of these channels could be on air at any given time. Though the migration to new server systems is complete, engineers continue to rely on the Touch-It Digital systems, as at any time they can walk by the server racks and make a visual check that the two outputs are playing the same video and in sync.

“The Touch-it Digital is an optimal solution for operations such as Starz Entertainment, where space is limited and the video sources are numerous,” says Carl J. Dempsey, Wohler president and CEO. “We’re pleased that the unit’s versatile, full-screen resolution viewing of any video source with a single tap to the screen captured the interest of Starz engineers — and that it has proved to be a valuable part of the company’s regular operations.”

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