Playout on-premises, in the cloud, in hybrid operations
Unique integration with Harmonic VOS360, Spectrum VSX, Spectrum XE
On-premises, in the cloud and in hybrid operations, Aveco’s Astra MCR playout automation has a 30+ year reputation for reliability, dependability, 24/7/365 operation and support.
Systems scale up from a single channel on-prem to include large numbers of channels on Harmonic VOS360 and on-prem channels – all in the same unified Master Control Playout Automation user interface.
Understanding that one model does not fit all users, ASTRA’s flexible architecture offers a variety of designs with specialized tools for different types of channels, multiple-location operations, for handling country-by-country regulatory requirements and for different combinations of on-prem and Harmonic VOS360 cloud deployments.
There are special automation tools for News channels, Sports channels, Music channels, Movie channels, Government/Legislative channels, pop-up channels. There are highly centralized multi-location MCRs using Aveco or Harmonic Integrated Ingest-and-Playout systems, and ones which fully integrate news production automation and master control playout in the same system.
Aveco has a large array of master control designs, along with vast experience accomplishing many of the world’s most advanced systems, while also offering simple inexpensive systems – often within one organization.
Master Control Automation Tools
Specializing in multi-channel systems, ASTRA MCR automates all master control room functions. It controls ingest, QC, playout, routers, master control switchers, graphics and other devices. Single and multi-site operations are supported with full redundancy or selected redundancy and with implementation of different tools for the range of programs.
On-Prem and cloud in the same system
ASTRA MCR allows operators to control local and cloud channels in the same user interface – making hybrid broadcast architectures easy. Users just focus on the program flow and monitor the progress on our Information by Exception GUI, while ASTRA handles all technical aspects and media management across the on-prem / cloud boundaries.
Aveco has a great body of experience integrating with traffic platforms via BXF and proprietary interfaces. Operators have a responsive system able to make last-minute changes, and change in the playlist to delete or replace any item. Centralized ingest and rules-based distribution of commercials nationally to all outlets is easily handled by Aveco and dynamic as-run log updating via BXF keeps traffic aware of any changes.
Specialized Sports System for Master Control - Aveco's Ad Juggler
Aveco developed one of the best innovations in broadcast sports history in conjunction with one of the giants in global sports channels. Ad Juggler allows for play-level sponsorship, on-scale, for the first time. A standing order from traffic of sponsors for each type of play comes into ASTRA MCR and a physical control panel has buttons with the names of the selected plays.
All eyes are on the TV screen during highlight plays, commanding the highest price. A master control operator simply presses the appropriate Ad Juggler button on a director’s call and the sponsorship message is implemented as creative-and-management have decided – e.g. a DVE push with a graphics or video segment acknowledging the achievement. Scores sponsored by banks, long runs sponsored by shoe companies, long passes sponsored by airlines, great defensive plays sponsored by insurance companies and military recruiters. Ad Juggler rotates through the sponsorship messages as set up by traffic orders and as-run confirmations go to billing. It’s a way to produce substantial additional revenue from sports events, on scale, easily.
Aveco’s Ad Juggler won the coveted Best of Show award at NAB in 2018.
Standalone Master Control System
A basic ASTRA MCR system consists of an ASTRA server running all ASTRA applications on a robust industrial-grade server. It includes the ability to control up to 48 devices under serial control and unlimited number of devices via their respective APIs. Up to eight playlists can be run on this entry-level system. Mirroring is an option for full redundancy. Standalone can be a channel-in-a-box or server control plus Aveco Redwood Lite graphics, or control of any piece of master control equipment. Aveco has the industry's largest library of API integrations and hardware interfaces.
Orbiter Distributed Architecture - on-Prem and in the Cloud
The Orbiter design is a distributed model in which functions are separated into application-specific modules either on-prem on in cloud configurations. Orbiter facilitates the control of high channel count systems and provides various levels of redundancy. Costs can be saved by sharing resources between servers without jeopardizing reliability. Additional channels can usually be added while the rest are still on-air.
- BackOffice – contains the centralized database and system functionality. This is generally mirrored to provide absolute protection of the database and the system.
- Playout Orbiters – these pods control the broadcast chain for playout. They can be mirrored as needed with seamless switchover in case of failure.
- Ingest Orbiters – since ingest is often separate from playout, a dedicated Orbiter can be used for this purpose and shared by all Playout Orbiters.
- “N+1” Redundancy – a spare Orbiter pod can be used to replace another Orbiter in case of a failure, for testing or for occasional use as additional playout or ingest channels.
AVECO SHS Multi-Path Architecture
For larger systems, SHS offers another cost-effective redundancy option. In this design, any control room can use any set of equipment that may be assigned to another control room. This “Network Transparency” provides many options for channel control, facility upgrades, and device failures.
ASTRA provides support for various multi-site operations. From a fully centralized operation to a Hub & Spoke design, ASTRA can customize each channel for localized commercials. Control can either come from the central site for all channels or remote sites can control their own channels.
Disaster Recovery Sites
ASTRA offers various options for a Disaster Recovery site. Both Orbiter and SHS architectures can be used depending on the user requirements, budget and workflow. ASTRA system engineers are available to consult with you for the most cost-effective solution.
Mistakes in master control are expensive. ASTRA is unique in its core design. Built on a powerful Real-Time Operating System (RTOS), it is not impacted by viruses that threaten most PC-based systems. Hardware and software module failures can be protected with complete mirroring. An “N+1” model offers a cost-effective playout solution that in most scenarios provides seamless failover. Automated failure recovery solves detected problems before they appear on air.
Hot Swappable Software Modules
ASTRA can be easily upgraded, repaired or have new capabilities added quickly and transparently with its design around Hot Swappable modules. These modules or applications are separate from the operating system in such a way that the system continues to run while new modules are added.