Posted on November 4, 2014 in ATSC News
Intensive Ecosystem Sessions Plan ATSC 3.0 Workflow
To insure the seamless flow of content and information through TV broadcast station encoders and systems that will someday transmit ATSC 3.0, a highly-focused specialist group is analyzing all of the touchpoints between the content and the consumer. This need to consider the ATSC 3.0 “ecosystem” led to the formation of the S35 Specialist Group, chaired by Merrill Weiss, digital TV pioneer and long-time ATSC leader.
And S35 has been busy this fall. Over of the course of two meetings within a month (with each meeting lasting three 10-hour days) volunteer experts in station workflow processes have dissected what will be required for ATSC 3.0 to be implemented, based on nearly 20 years of experience with the original ATSC digital TV standard.
Other specialist groups working on the ATSC 3.0 standard were looking for block diagrams of the proposed infrastructure for ATSC 3.0, as a guide for creating the encoded data delivery processes to work with the new standard.
Broad Industry Participation
“We’re primarily looking at broadcast plants, as well as downstream from the encoders. Most of the effort is going to answer questions about how we’re going to feed and process signals, no matter whether content originates at a network, is syndicated, or is locally produced. And we have to consider delivery to viewers both over-the-air and over broadband,” explained Weiss, a past recipient of the ATSC Bernard J. Lechner Outstanding Contributor Award.
The meetings, held at Sony’s U.S. headquarters in San Diego, have included a cross-section of broadcasters, receiver manufacturers, technology developers, and broadcast equipment suppliers.
The daunting task of sorting out the ATSC 3.0 ecosystem does have a precedent.
“It turns out that we’ve done something like this before. In 1998, we held a similar, so-called Top Down’ review exercise for what we now call ATSC 1.0. At that time we thought about the newly adopted standard (which had been approved by the FCC in late 1996), and we asked how on earth were we going to implement it. This time around, in what we’re calling ‘Top Down 3.0,’ we’re trying to get ahead of the curve and provide input to the standard development effort,” Weiss explained.
Pieces of the Puzzle
Weiss says the group divided the ATSC 3.0 ecosystem into layers that deal with processing of different types of content – for example, video, audio, and data essence – and then determined what else will need to be managed and monitored, taking into account factors like synchronization, content identification, security, and providing the necessary information to receivers to enable them to receive desired content.
The San Diego meetings included breakout groups that all met together at first and then separated to deal with the various layers of the ecosystem. The breakout groups were assigned the tasks of developing block diagrams and describing them. The assignment included modeling the ecosystem at two stages: initially implementing ATSC 3.0 as simply and inexpensively as possible, carrying the same services as today; and longer term, adding the additional features made possible by the new standard.
“The long-term implementation will take more time and investment, as broadcasters choose which new capabilities and features they will offer their viewers. In the meantime, we already will have figured out the necessary elements in their ecosystems to support their choices.”
Roadmap Being Developed
Weiss says much of the work done in 1998 does provide an example of what needs to be done as ATSC broadcast standards evolve with new capabilities.
“Then, we were dealing with the transition from analog to digital operations. Now, we have a much better understanding of what the digital workflows are and how different parts of the system need to relate to one another. We’re also building much more flexibility into the ATSC 3.0 system,” said Weiss. “Unlike in the beginning of the digital transition, now everyone has digital facilities, so we have to think through how we take those digital facilities and recognize the next set of changes that is coming in the broadcast television ecosystem.”
The next step will be a detailed report on the results of the San Diego meetings, including descriptions of each of the blocks, how the layers are to work, and the various interconnections between the layers.
Posted in ATSC News
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