The SCTE-104/35/30 set of standards has been around for many years in traditional ad insertion systems. In these systems, SCTE-104/35 is used to delimit the ads, and SCTE-30 is used to control a splicer.
However, currently these systems are being used to create VOD assets, enforce DRM restrictions and even trigger DVR recordings, among other applications. Now the same infrastructure is moving into the OTT world, with the SCTE-35 messages being mapped into protocols such HLS and DASH (using SCTE-67), and with new protocols such as VAST, to achieve the ultimate goal of individual ads inserted at the server level or the user device.
As new and innovative applications of these standards evolve, system designers and operators are challenged with ensuring that all assets are individually identifiable and decorated with the pertinent metadata at all stages, frame-accurately.
In response to this critical requirement, Cobalt Digital has developed the FAST-STREAM Frame Accurate SCTE Trigger insertion and enhanced H.264 Streaming platform. This comprehensive linear playout to OTT solution is the result of a co-development effort between the Cobalt development team and a key Cobalt customer who knows that delivering perfectly timed segments based on the first and last frame is a competitive advantage in the VOD and OTT market.
The first stage uses programming information and timestamps from automation playlists to intelligently insert frame accurate SCTE 104 messages into linear baseband 3G/HD/SD-SDI playout channels. This SDI processing stage can optionally provide a range of additional functionality such as Text-To-Speech, Trouble Slide insertion, EAS crawl generation, Up/Down/Cross conversion and pre-compression Noise Reduction. These features can be installed to deployed FAST-STREAM systems via a license key which means the system capabilities can expand as the channel requirements change. This system component is the 9922-FS unit and is also available for frame-accurate baseband only SCTE 104 applications.
The second stage performs a mezzanine level H.264 video encode and AAC or MP1L2 audio encode. This encoding stage also converts the incoming SCTE 104 into SCTE 35, which is the 104 equivalent in the compressed domain. Additionally, Closed Captioning data is maintained through this process which makes FAST-STREAM a great metadata enrichment tool for all types of streaming applications. This system component consists of the 9223 series of H.264 encoders and is also available for stand-alone encoding applications.
The final processing stage is where the SCTE 35 messages are used to decorate the HLS (HTTP-Live Streaming) stream contents by inserting frame accurate program boundary and segmentation markers at the beginning and end of all programming and advertising clips. The SCTE 35 messages are carried in the HLS Manifest File for downstream use. This final stage of the process is accomplished using the 9990-TRX Transcoder which supports multichannel MPEG 2 and H.264 requirements.
The FAST-Stream platform is housed in the 2RU Cobalt HPF-9000 or OG3-FR openGear frame and is controlled via the DashBoard control system or via SNMP. The system is available in single or dual channel configurations and one 2RU openGear frame will support six FAST-STREAM channels. For added flexibility the system is available with a Pico PC computer module that is housed in the 2RU frame alongside the FAST-STREAM modules and takes advantage of the dual load-sharing power supplies and high-performance cooling. This PC can be used to host the DashBoard control GUI, middleware, local content, and destination folders as examples.