Introduction

A lot has happened in the last year, but through it all work has carried on at Cinegy and so it is time to write another post detailing the changes we have made to our flagship video playout & automation platform – Cinegy Air. We’ve spent all summer polishing the release and have a number of top-tier customers broadcasting already with pre-release versions, so once again I am feeling very confident in recommending that this even the most cautious customers start their evaluation and rollout immediately. As in previous posts, I will callout the most important changes then cherry pick some of these for expansion with greater detail – but please do take a look through the release notes for a more exhaustive (if boring) list of the changes in the build.

Major Changes – ‘TL;DR section’

This is a list of major category changes in Cinegy Air 21.2, each of which have significant importance for customers and deserve calling out – you can dig into some more details in the follow-up posts, but please be aware of these headlines at least (in no particular order!):

  • SRT Feedback Streams, SRT library update and encrypted outputs now with passphrases.

  • Cinegy Subtitling Event Manager plugin.

  • Playout Engine API improvements, including realtime engine metrics for use in telemetry.

  • A new "pseudo interlace" mode for carriage of interlace material using Nvidia H.264 / H.265 encoders between Cinegy software – providing a low-bitrate work-around for moving signals with RTX / Turing and later Nvidia hardware encoding (albeit with interoperability issues).

  • Lot of enhancements around item updates and placeholders in the playlist grid, including a new automatic-update option for individual items allowing durations to change without operator intervention.

  • Audio only inputs, and IP audio injection for activities such as continuity or emergency announcements.

  • SCTE-104 / SCTE-35 transcoding.

  • Support for using MPEG-TS Stream as source files.

  • A really exciting beta-level of Air Control running in an HTML5 browser, supported by a whole new Air Control REST API.

Warnings and Caution

There are a few things that we need people to read and understand, and I have separated them into this section here; before performing any in-place upgrades please read and understand these statements:

  • GPU-acceleration for DANIEL2 assets – this is a pretty sizable change to anyone working with asset-heavy scenes. We now decode any D2 encoded assets within the GPU and do not cross over into system RAM, which can improve performance significantly. HOWEVER, the downside is that this can use more GPU RAM, so please do be aware that as we continue to enable more and more GPU offloading with each release, correspondingly we rely on the GPU computation and RAM to be available. Working with Air 21.2 on under-resourced GPU hardware may lead to issues, so please check your workloads and GPU utilization carefully before upgrading production systems. Remember also, that when you change your video effects acceleration to run on a GPU, this moves the playhead frames into GPU RAM – so you might need to reduce the ‘queue size’ value when moving from CPU acceleration to GPU acceleration.

  • After the formal announcement of Cinegy Type being unsupported and EOL in Air 14, we’ve gone and physically disabled use of this legacy graphics engine – so do not roll out Air 21.2 if you have not completed total migration of your old graphics scenes to the new Titler format!

  • Since people might be upgrading hardware at the same time as upgrading software, I’m going to remind people that not all Nvidia boards have equal encoding features! RTX (Turing) and later hardware dropped support for encoding H.264 in interlace, and while we keep updating our software to use more features you may try and use things your older board might not support (e.g. HEVC B-frames). Please carefully check the playout engine logs for warnings about not being able to initialize any encoders if you are setting up Nvidia offloading – perhaps even get everything working properly and then add the IP output as a final step to be sure any problems come from this feature.

  • AC-3 encoding libraries are not shipped within the main installer libraries. If you use AC-3 please contact support for access to appropriate files to use AC-3 within Air 21.2.

  • Due to problems reported with newer drivers when DANIEL2 encoded files are referenced, we currently recommend and support the Quadro Desktop Driver Release 430 (ODE) versions Nvidia Driver. Later drivers will be supported in future releases. And yes, trying to run this problem down is the reason Cinegy Air 21.2 has been so late.

Other Noteworthy Changes

Here is a list of other things that are worth noting but can be summed up a short sentence and don’t deserve further expansion:

  • Extended ‘find next’ playlist items functionality – so you can click on any item in the grid and find the next placeholder or automation interruption from that selected element.

  • Added highlighting updates for non-MAM playlist items in playlist grid and functionality for accepting/declining updates, allowing smoother workflows when referencing plain files rather than the Cinegy Archive database.

  • You can now configure the teletext stream bitrate and descriptor setting in an IP output, removing some of the hardcoding of the previous OP-47 modes allowing a more general use-case of teletext.

  • DTMF (tones) are now supported as inputs and outputs to signal changes – while this is a legacy technology, it’s been added to aid migrations where DTMF is still the only choice.

  • Continuing our throwback technology changes, we now also insert Teletext to a VBI line when outputting in SD over SDI (we already supported carriage of Teletext over VANC in SD and HD).

  • Items can now have a ‘discrepancies threshold’ set in the playlist grid, that allows customizable ‘wiggle room’ for items to be a little mis-timed before the grid will report them as an automation issue.

  • MCRList and MCRItem XML files can now have a channel name expressed as metadata, which will then check against the defined channel name during insertion – and provide a warning if the names do not match up, which can help prevent operator error.

  • A new ‘breaking live’ button is added, which effectively pauses the on-air item and goes to live, providing an easier path to come back to where a playlist was before the event.

  • Secondary events can now be edited while an item is already on-air, although obviously only events that have yet to happen!

  • A new ‘All’ selector is defined for Titler GFX secondary events, allowing all events to leave their loops or hide with a single command.

  • The titler engine has been expanded to now support multichannel GFX audio, which means that multi-language or surround-sound assets can be supported as inputs to the main Air outputs.

  • Improved numeric clock in titler with macros for formatting and display.

  • IGMPv3 (Source-specific Multicast) support, which permits switch-level filtering of multicast packets differentiated by the address of the sender (where supported by the network hardware).

  • UHD VANC on Deltacast/BMD/AJA plus Corvid 44 12G support.

  • NDI SDK upgraded to v4.5.3.

Important
Refer to the the more detailed post describing the major changes that have come with version 21.2 of Cinegy Air.
Note
Please note that the version number in this post has been corrected to reflect the recent rebranding of Cinegy Air.