Techie Stuff - Under the Hood

Written on 19/07/2016
Toby Mills

Continuing our series of techie posts that cover the process of getting Wairarapa TV up and running, in this post we cover the engine room of Wairarapa TV, the broadcast automation system.

The broadcast automation system is what will run Wairarapa TV on a day to day basis and performs a whole range of functions including:

  • Scheduling what programs will run and when
  • Scheduling in advertising
  • Overlaying information such as the classification of the program (eg PGR) and name.
  • Keeping track of what played and when so we can pay license fees for music etc.
  • Generating the listings data (EPG) that gets sent to program guides.
  • Pulling the media from our storage management system when it is almost time to play it.
  • Playing the media out over a special SDI link that is connected to our broadcast encoder (see our other techie post on how this works).

After extensively reviewing 23 commercial broadcast automation solutions that are on the market, we decided to go with a product from Softron.

Initially, all of these functions will be performed on a single "server", but over time we will split out the various components to improve reliability.

Outside of this, we will also have an extra computer that performs some special 'magic' that will be specific to Wairarapa TV.

This magic box pulls together external content from our partners and then 'glue it together' before sending it off to our broadcast automation system. A good example of this is our Weather Camera segment, which takes images from Weather Cameras all around the Wairarapa every few minutes and then creates a musical montage of these images every hour including overlaying sponsors logos, music and adding the small intro segments. There is no commercial off the shelf product that can do this, so Wairarapa TV has built our own solution using linux and open source software. You can see how it looks in the video below which is updated every hour without any human intervention.

There is a huge amount of work involved in setting up the broadcast automation system and most of it is all in software, so there isn't too much we can show you just yet, however, once it is fully up and running we will post some video of it doing something cool.