ENCO enCaption4 Enables Cost Savings and New Automated Captioning Workflows for Civic Center Television in San José
AI-powered solution addresses budget challenges for government access television broadcaster, while integration with Cablecast automation and playout system brings operational benefits
Novi, MI, October 20, 2020 – As part of the City Manager’s Office at the City of San José, California, Civic Center Television records and broadcasts city council, committee and select meetings to fulfill the city’s open government and transparency commitments. With the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic leading to projected budget shortfalls, the department turned to ENCO’s AI-enabled enCaption4 automated closed captioning system to continue providing hard-of-hearing viewers with high-quality captions while reducing their operational costs.
The City of San José has long considered captioning to be extremely important to its accessibility mandates. “Early on, the city committed to closed captioning all of its televised content, not just because of FCC and ADA requirements, but also because it’s the right thing to do,” said Craig Jutson, Broadcast Engineering and Operations Manager, City Manager’s Office at the City of San José. “Of course, we extended that to our web content as well once we started streaming.”
For years, the municipal government had contracted with service providers that used human captioners to transcribe content. As the city began looking for operational savings across all of its departments this Spring, Jutson saw an alternative way to fund the closed captioning.
“As a PEG access channel, we have a capital fund that’s derived from the franchise and PEG fees the cable provider pays back to municipality,” Jutson explained. “We can’t use that for operational expenses such as paying human captioners, so I proposed that we save the money we were spending on those contracts and purchase an automated system.”
When Jutson first looked at AI-powered captioning several years ago, such systems were not yet sufficiently reliable and accurate for his needs. However, he found significant improvements when he evaluated the technology again this year, and enCaption4 stood out amongst the solutions he researched. “To me, enCaption4 was clearly superior to the others I looked at,” he said. “The form factor, the processing quality, the interface – everything seemed better to me. ENCO also partnered with Tightrope Media Systems, developers of the Cablecast automation and playout system we use, to make enCaption4 available to PEG stations as a special package.”
The city purchased a pair of enCaption4 units to support two live productions simultaneously and provide backup redundancy. The option to buy the units as a capital expense aligned perfectly with the city’s budget objectives, but the financial benefits didn’t stop there. “Even bundling a five-year support contract into the initial purchase, we calculated that the two enCaption units would pay for themselves in less than two years compared to what we were paying for human captioners,” said Jutson. “And after the two-year mark, we will be savingsignificant money.”
Jutson adds the names of council members, neighborhoods and other unique local elements into enCaption4’s dictionary to assist itscaptioning of hard-to-spell pronunciations, and has seen the systems learn and continue to improve since he started using them in mid-July. He also highlighted advantages that the automated systems offer over their human counterparts.
“We’ve had council meetings go as long as 13 hours recently,” Jutson explained. “When I watch them with closed captions, I see some really high-quality strings of perceptive and accurate captioning by the ENCO units that I didn’t used to get from human captioners after they’d been on the job for three to nine hours straight. Similarly, when one person is doing a long monologue, enCaption4 has been faster with fewer errors than human captioners sometimes are. enCaption4 doesn’t get tired and it’s very perceptive, so I believe it has done a really good job.”
In addition to captioning live meetings, Civic Center Television also uses enCaption4 to add captions to offline content from other city departments. enCaption4 generates standalone, ‘sidecar’ caption files from on-demand video clips that are copied into a watch folder. Jutson then takes advantage of Tightrope’s recent support for MCC and SCC caption files to bring the results into the city’s Cablecast video server and associate them with corresponding media for playout.
“The combination of enCaption and this recent Cablecast feature enables a new workflow that we use to add closed captions to almost everything on our play-to-air server,” said Jutson. “From live meetings to on-demand content, it’s easy for me to caption it. That’s a definite positive for us and for the public that’s watching our station.”
Founded in 1983, ENCO pioneered the use of computer-based, digital audio and program automation for radio stations and TV studios. The company has since evolved its award-winning product line to span all aspects of today’s automated broadcast and production workflows, including closed and open captioning, visual radio, audio compliance, instant media playout, remote contribution, and cloud-based web streaming. It also brings the benefits of its patented captioning and live audio/video playout innovations to professional AV environments including conference rooms, lecture halls, sporting arenas and event venues. For more information, please visit: www.enco.com.
ATLANTA, GA – October 20, 2020 – Visix, Inc. has released version 1.38 of its AxisTV Signage Suite digital signage software. This latest update includes a new template designer in the browser-based CMS, as well as an HTML5 message playlist viewer that’s designed to help communicators better reach remote employees, students and staff.
“A lot of folks are working or studying from home right now. But organizations still need to communicate with them,” says Sean Matthews, president and CEO of Visix. “Our new playlist viewer is just the first step in our plan to address remote communications. Instead of our clients having to recreate communications across different platforms like digital signs, websites and email, we’re giving them a way to design it once and share it anywhere with a simple URL.”
The new HTML5 viewer lets clients publish their digital signage playlists to a unique URL. The link can be shared directly for fullscreen playback in popular browsers, or the viewer can be embedded into websites and intranets using a simple iframe. Clients can assign more than one playlist to a feed, and can choose playback options and transitions. Because the feed is published using HTML5 markup, the playlist messages and videos scale accurately for any screen size.
The AxisTV Signage Suite CMS already offers over 900 fill-in-the-blank templates for quick messaging. The new Pick & Fill Template design hub lets clients create their own fillable templates in the CMS without having to work in the desktop designer. System users can then choose, fill and schedule templated messages in the browser-based CMS.
To see the full release notes and request the update go to visix.com/client-support/visix-software-updates. For more information about AxisTV Signage Suite, visit visix.com/products/digital-signage-software.
Visix, Inc. offers a robust suite of digital signage software, content designs and meeting room signs for any organization wanting to engage, excite, and inform their audiences. Our products work separately or together, are competitively priced and scalable, and have powerful interactivity and data integration features for a unified, enterprise signage solution. Our award-winning service and support teams consistently rank the highest in customer satisfaction for fast, professional responses and solutions. Learn more about Visix digital signage products and services at www.visix.com.
Available immediately, IP Former lets integrators add extensive IP functionality to existing loudspeaker installations
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND, October 19, 2020 — Barix is now shipping its cost-efficient IP Former for transforming analog loudspeakers into feature-rich, networked IP speakers. Enabling easy upgrades of existing audio deployments to support advanced IP functionality, the new module lets systems integrators and installers offer customers a digital audioenvironment without jettisoning their current speakers.
Replacing the 70/100V transformer traditionally used with analog loudspeakers, IP Former adds IP networking capabilities to new or existing speakers. It provides an IP network interface, audio stream decoder and amplifier front-end for a two- to eight-ohm speaker, with power supplied over PoE for streamlined cabling and installation. Current analog speaker installations can be retrofitted by simply switching their transformers with IP Former units, maximizing the lifecycle of customers’ existing investments.
“Many end-customer projects include advanced IP audio features amongst their requirements, but they already have perfectly good analog loudspeakers in their facilities,” said Davide Nossa, Product Manager, Barix. “IP Former lets integrators and systems designers simply upgrade those existing speakers with powerful IP functionality, saving the customer significant money compared to new speakers while avoiding the environmental impact of discarding the old ones.”
IP Former is ideal for bringing IP capabilities to applications ranging from background music and in-venue announcements to paging and emergency warning systems. The flexible device decodes audio streams delivered via HTTPS, RTP or UDP in codec formats including PCM, AACplus, MP3, Opus, G.711 and G.722. SIP negotiation provides compatibility with VoIP phone systems and enables each speaker to be addressed individually, while pre-recorded messages can be stored within the device for fast playout. Native support for the Singlewire’s InformaCast and Syn-Apps’ Revolution platforms enables speakers equipped with IP Former to seamlessly integrate as endpoints for the popular mass notification solutions.
Built on Barix’s programmable and secure IPAM 400 IP audio module, IP Former can be extended with new or custom functionality, providing future-proof flexibility. The solution’s standards-friendly, open architecture enables it to integrate seamlessly into multi-vendor environments.
To learn more about IP Former, please visit barix.com/ip-former. The initial IP Former model, the TPA400, is available immediately and offers 8W RMS output. Systems integrators with different power requirements are invited to contact email@example.com to discuss their specific needs.
Barix: We Move Audio (www.barix.com)
Barix supplies simple and reliable solutions and components to systems integrators and end users worldwide. We move high-quality audio across IP networks, adding value to customer solutions for nearly two decades with hundreds of thousands of devices installed worldwide. Background music distribution with dynamic advertising insertion for retail shops, bars and hotels; public address solutions for schools and public spaces; and intercom and entry systems for facility surveillance, protection and security are among the many applications of Barix solutions. Barix also supports OEM projects for a number of Global 500 listed companies serving many industries worldwide.
Expanded role unifies leadership of portfolio strategy and engineering as company prepares for future growth in rapidly shifting landscape
SAN JOSE, California, October 15, 2020 – Atlona, a Panduit company, has promoted David Shamir to VP of Product Management. Reporting to Atlona co-founder and CEO Ilya Khayn, Shamir will continue to lead the company’s product strategy while expanding his responsibilities to oversee engineering and product development.
Shamir takes on his new role as the AV industry navigates many disruptive changes, from technology transitions to pandemic-driven shifts in how people work and learn. Combining product management and engineering leadership into a single role streamlines Atlona’s internal processes, increasing the company’s agility and responsiveness to rapidly evolving market needs.
“Our industry was already very dynamic and constantly changing, but the pandemic has accelerated many existing trends while making AV more critical in environments such as small and home offices,” said Shamir. “With COVID-19, things are changing by the minute, making it challenging to accurately predict how the AV market will evolve. We will stay as nimble as possible to address our customers’ changing needs, while offering flexible solutions that help them adapt to world conditions and whatever their ‘new normal’ becomes.”
Shamir notes that the agility of Atlona’s solutions is strengthened by its leadership in the convergence of AV and IT, a hallmark that he intends to continue. “One of our core philosophies is ‘AV built for IT,’” he explained. “As remote learning, work-at-home, and hybrid working models become more prevalent, IT infrastructure is even more important for keepingeveryone connected. We are crafting our products and roadmap with IT managers’ challenges in mind, while helping dealers and systems integrators efficiently meet customer needs.”
Shamir has served as Atlona’s Director of Product Management since 2015, following senior product management roles at media technology companies including Magnum Semiconductor, Harmonic, and Scopus Video Networks. He has introduced new processes and methodologies at Atlona to quickly and effectively take product ideas from concept to reality. He successfully led several major product line launches, including the OmniStream™ AV over IP platform; Velocity™ SystemAV control and management platform; and Omega™ Series of AV integration solutions for modern workspaces and meeting environments. Shamir takes Atlona’s engineering organization under his umbrella as co-founder and VP of Engineering Michael Khain retires after 17 years with the company.
“David’s insight, experience and process implementation have been major factors in Atlona’s growth and innovation over the past five years,” said CEO Khayn. “We look forward to his expanded leadership as our company tackles the new challenges faced by our customers, and we thank Michael for his exceptional contributions in making Atlona what we are today.”
Atlona, a Panduit company, is a leading global manufacturer of AV over IP distribution, connectivity, and control solutions. The company designs and engineers innovative, award-winning products for a diverse range of residential and commercial AV and IT markets. Backed by an award-winning 10-year warranty, Atlona’s products are developed to enable our customers’ ability to connect and collaborate with simplicity. More information about Atlona is available at atlona.com.
Global connectivity leader Panduit Corp. creates innovative electrical and network infrastructure solutions for applications across the enterprise. Headquartered in Tinley Park, Ill. and operating in 112 worldwide locations, Panduit’s technology leadership and robust ecosystem help support, sustain, and empower business growth in a connected world. panduit.com
Z-HD5500 Cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Help Boitnott Visual Communications Impress Discerning Live Event Clientele
Flawless handling of LED backgrounds and native 1080p acquisition elevate IMAG and archiving quality for live event production experts
Woodbury, NY, October 14, 2020 — Virginia-based Boitnott Visual Communications (BVC) provides turnkey design, staging and live production services for corporate meetings and special events across the United States. When the company upgraded its camera technology last year to meet increasing client expectations, they chose Z-HD5500 cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to deliver the visual quality gains and operational benefits they sought.
BVC serves clients ranging from small businesses to large Fortune 50 corporations and organizations such as the Richmond Forum, which hosts high-profile events featuring speakers including past U.S. presidents, sitting heads of state, and leaders from the sciences, arts, and business. The premium nature of many of its projects makes the quality of its productions extremely important.
“Clients like the Richmond Forum are very particular about the quality of their events and related video productions, as they should be since their attendees are paying for the experience,” said A. Keith Sturtevant, video department head at BVC. “Another of our clients, a financial services company, is also well known as a technology leader, so they want top-notch quality for their live event video even if it’s only for their own internal use.”
With clients requesting higher visual quality, BVC began evaluating new camera options in mid-2019. “The cameras we had been using were getting long in the tooth,” explained Sturtevant. “They were native 720p, and we were upscaling them to 1080i. We needed to get cameras that were technologically capable of directly supporting the higher resolution and better quality our clients were asking for, so we wanted to upgrade to 1080p.”
Systems integrator Digital Video Group (DVG) pointed BVC towards Hitachi cameras, and the ability of the Z-HD5500’s global shutter sensors to flawlessly shoot against LED backdrops proved compelling. “We were using LED walls not only as a main source of IMAG display, but also for backgrounds,” said Sturtevant. “The Z-HD5500 was able to handle that setup, so the LED wall wouldn’t play havoc in the background of the video. Hitachi Kokusai is also a well-known player in the live event space with a great reputation, and you get a great camera with a lot of features for the price of that particular model. It became pretty much a ‘no-brainer’ at that point.”
BVC purchased three Z-HD5500s from DVG alongside upgraded flypacks that also feature a Ross Video main switcher; a Blackmagic Design secondary switcher for streaming; AJA distribution routers and recorders; and Behringer audio mixers. BVC typically deploys the Hitachi cameras and flypacks for larger live events with audiences ranging from 2000 to 5000 attendees, where the equipment powers large IMAG (image magnification) displays and recording for archival purposes.
The Z-HD5500s immediately delivered the quality boost that BVC was aiming for. “The Hitachi cameras have performed wonderfully,” said Sturtevant. “They provide nice, clean, crisp, bright images and great color reproduction even with just the default settings, and regardless of which video walls we’re shooting against.”
Sturtevant also noted that the Z-HD5500’s SMPTE fiber connectivity has simplified setup compared to the multi-cable requirements of BVC’s previous cameras. This combines with the cameras’ ease of use to speed on-site setup. “The new cameras have reduced our setup time, and we can now go into larger venues without cable length challenges,” he explained.
As a service provider, BVC has also enjoyed an additional benefit of the Z-HD5500’s technically-advanced appearance. “The Hitachi cameras look great both inside and out,” Sturtevant said. “You can tell they’re a true broadcast-grade camera just by looking at them, so when we roll in with them, people are impressed before we even turn them on.”
When asked to summarize his experience with the Z-HD5500s, Sturtevant was effusive. “I’d tell people ‘you need to get you some,’” he praised. “I have been nothing but happy with the Z-HD5500s since we acquired them.”
The improved visual results have also been noticed by BVC’s clients, which ultimately is the most important benefit. “Our large clients were very excited to see us step up our game, and they are impressed with the picture quality compared to our old cameras,” Sturtevant concluded.
About Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc.
Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a company that manufactures broadcasting systems, security and surveillance systems, wireless communications and information systems. For more information on Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc., please visit the company’s website at https://www.hitachi-kokusai.co.jp/global/en/index.html.
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