PATHFIRE FAQ's

 

THE TRANSITION TO PATHFIRE IS COMPLETE FOR ALL DESIGNATED SHOWS. FOLLOWING IS SOME BASIC INFORMATION FROM THE TRASITION. 8/8/07

 

 

Pathfire FAQs for Viacom Video Services

Syndication Clients

Q. Who is Pathfire?

A.

At Pathfire, our customers are broadcast, cable, information and entertainment companies who

understand that delivering content in a digital format can offer many advantages in terms of cost

and efficiency. The Pathfire network allows customers to manage distribution of ads, news,

movies, syndicated productions, stock footage and other types of video content. Our highly

specialized, market-specific software application extensions can dramatically improve how our

customers use this content in daily operations. Pathfire serves major broadcast networks,

syndicators, advertising agencies, and leading media companies, who include ABC NewsOne,

CNN Newsource, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, PR Newswire Video News,

DWJ Television, News Broadcast Network, Point.360 (formerly VDI MultiMedia), and coming

this fall, CBS’s Viacom Video Services, Paramount CTD/CBS Worldwide Distribution, and King World

Distribution.

Q. What is the Digital Media Gateway (DMG)?

A.

Pathfire has developed a satellite-based IP (Internet Protocol) multicast store-and-forward content

delivery system to digitally transmit any form of broadcast-quality video to broadcast stations.

The system known as, DMG, is currently being used by ABC to deliver all of its NewsOne

affiliate feed service. Additionally, CNN is using it for its Newsource product, Warner Bros.

Television is using the service for syndication, and CBS’s Viacom Video Services, Paramount

Broadcast Services, and King World Distribution will be using it for their syndication content in

the fall of 2004

Q. What are the benefits of the DMG?

A.

Operational savings in manpower needed to move dishes, setup routers, load tapes,

record/QC/preview/prep programs and tape machine maintenance.

Long-term capital savings in tape machine replacements, router capacity and satellite

dishes.

Desktop access to metadata, format sheets, content availability and other information

anywhere in the station makes Traffic and Programming functions reduces the need for

traffic folks in the tape room.

High quality digital delivery of programming – removal of the analog satellite

transmission step. The content can now remain digital from the content provider all the

way to your transmitter.

 

Q. Will the video quality I receive through the Digital Media Gateway be inferior to the current

method of delivery?

A. No. The video you receive on the DMG server is in a digital file format, and the source material

will be encoded at bit-rates equivalent to your current linear method of content delivery. The

difference is that the source material is first encoded into a file before it is distributed to your

location - A file-based delivery method ensures the video file(s) will be delivered in their entirety

and will not be susceptible to environmental conditions that can impact video quality in a linear

delivery method.

Q. As a current syndication customer, how will this affect me?

A.

Syndication content arriving at your station will land on your store & forward server well in

advance of air. Having a dish fixed on IA-6 (formerly known as Telstar 6) and the Pathfire server

will allow your station to receive the syndicated content without the need for personnel to be

present. The DMG will help you streamline operations and improve efficiency, eliminating the

need to monitor and roll tape on scheduled satellite feeds.

Q. What is the deployment schedule for this syndication service? When will it be available?

A.

Pathfire began the station surveys in June 2004. The first phase of customer installations began in

the Summer of 2004. Specific station installation schedules have not been determined at this time.

However, as the information becomes available, your content provider and Pathfire will share it

with you.

Q. Will Pathfire send a separate server for each type of content available to my station?

A. This single DMG Pathfire server handles many different types of content for your station. We

currently have agreements with content providers, news providers, and dub-and-ship providers.

Each content provider has its own data path and dedicated storage, so no content can be pre-empted

by any other content.

Q. Where do I install this new server?

A. If your station gets an additional server as part of this deployment, the best location for your

server depends upon your specific circumstances. However, Pathfire recommends that you locate

your DMG server in an easily accessed location (such as Master Control or Edit Control).

Dubbing stations should also be located in centralized locations for easier access.

Note that your station may not be receiving a new server. Based upon your stations’ particular

needs and configuration, if you are currently an ABC, CNN or Warner Bros. station with a server

in place, an additional server may not be necessary. Please ensure that you fill out the survey

emailed to your station. If you have not received one or have difficulties accessing it, please

contact Pathfire at:

E-mail: mail to deployment@pathfire.com

Toll free: 888-345-0489; Option 6

Q. How can I facilitate the smooth deployment of this new service?

A. To expedite the deployment of the DMG service, respond to the station survey in a timely manner

and indicate when you want to schedule the installation by contacting Pathfire:

E-mail: mailto: deployment@pathfire.com

Toll-free: 888-345-0489

Q. I work in the News department. Since there is only one Pathfire server in my station, is the

other content (syndication programming and National Spot commercial ads) coming into

that server going to impact my news content?

A. No. The single Pathfire DMG server handles many different types of content for your station, and

can process these simultaneously. Each content provider has its own data path and dedicated

storage, so no content can be pre-empted by any other content. So, the DMG can be receiving

syndicated programming and at the same time the news department users will still be able to work

with any of their news stories.

Q. Do you integrate with GV, Sony, Harris, or Pinnacle systems?

A. The Pathfire DMG currently integrates with Sony's BVW interfaces. Pathfire is developing file

transfer capabilities to various downstream play-to-air servers, news editing systems, and

automation systems, including Profiles (GXF), VDCP, MOS, and Flip Factory.

Q. When will this new Syndication service begin delivering content through Pathfire?

A. Viacom Video Services will begin delivering content in a test phase during the latter part of the

3rd Qtr. of 2004. Your station will receive test material when your DMG server is provisioned to

receive the syndicated material. Beginning 4th Qtr. of 2004, the syndication content will begin a

dual service, in which the same shows delivered in the current linear-based method will also be

delivered to the Pathfire DMG server. As stations become comfortable with using DMG for

syndicated material, the content provider will begin to phase out the linear-based method of

delivery of syndicated material. A detailed show transition schedule will be provided to your

station as the project progresses.

Q. How will the content be delivered to my DMG server?

A. The Syndication content will continue to be delivered via IA-6 (formerly Telstar 6).

Q. I only occasionally point my dish to IA-6. Do I need a dish locked onto IA-6

A. Yes, the Pathfire network requires a dish that is permanently looking at IA-6. You may contact

Pathfire should you require a fixed dish.

Q. Do I have to pay for a new Pathfire DMG server?

A. No, you do not. However, note that your station may not be receiving a new server. Based upon

your stations’ particular needs and configuration, if you are currently an ABC, CNN or Warner

Bros. station with a server in place, an additional server may not be necessary. Please ensure you

fill out the survey emailed to your station.

Q. Who do I contact with questions about Viacom Video Services’

Syndication deployment? -

A. Questions for Pathfire should be directed to:

E-mail: mailto: deployment@pathfire.com

Phone: 888-345-0489, press Option 6.

Questions concerning Syndication content should be directed to:

Technical Questions - Myra Cole, Viacom Video Services’ Director of Technical Operations at5 (212) 975- 2728.

Non-technical questions:

Paramount Broadcast Services 1-212-975-8139 Kingworld/Viacom Video Services: Karen

Buck at 212-975-7227

Q. What do I need to provide in order to activate the Syndication service on my DMG Server?

A. 1. Standard rack unit, 19 inches by 32 inches deep, up to 32 RU located in a central location,

preferably in your master control area

2. Surge- and spike-protected power to support the equipment, preferably on UPS with a 15-

minute minimum safe runtime.

3. Dedicated data-quality analog phone line (POTS line) for ISP back-channel connectivity,

or LAN connectivity through Pathfire ports to the Internet.

4. Permits or clearances for any construction and installation.

5. Station installation of RF drops to the receiver equipment, including cabling, IFL splits,

signal amplification, and termination.

6. Digital connectivity beyond the provided rack-length cabling between the DVB-IP

receivers, DMG Receive Server, 10/100 switch, DMG Series 300 Workstation, and your

station LAN/WAN workstations.

7. Two IP address on your LAN/WAN: One for the DMG Receive Server and the other for

the DMG Series 300 Workstation.

Q. What equipment will be provided for this installation?

A.

The equipment deployed at a station for the Syndication project is dependent upon the result of

each station’s site survey. Based upon your station’s particular needs and configuration, if you are

currently an ABC, CNN or Warner Bros. station with a server in place, an additional server may

not be necessary. Please ensure that you fill out the survey emailed to your station so Pathfire can

finalize the equipment configuration required for your station.

Q. What kind of PC do I need to run the DMG client software?

A.

To access the DMG client software from a LAN-connected PC, the minimum requirements are:

PC: 233-MHz CPU with Pentium II Processor (or greater)

RAM: 64-MB (or greater)

Free disk space: 120-MB for software installation process

Free disk space: 60-MB for software operation

Operating System: Windows98 (or greater)

LAN: 100-MB from the DMG server to the DMG client

Q. What types of VTRs work with DMG?

A. VTRs and VCRs communicate with Pathfire's systems by means of the standard RS-422 Sony

VTR protocol. If your VTR does not have Sony protocol capability, then simply use the DMG

manual tape deck control option, which can be configured during the installation process. When in

the manual tape deck control mode, DMG will prompt the user to manually control the VTR.

Q. What is unattended program delivery?

A.

With the Pathfire DMG, the content arrives at the DMG receive server without the need to

actively schedule receipt of a feed, since the content is "caught" by the DMG server. Once

installed on the DMG server, the station can dub or transfer the content according their schedule

before the airtime.

Q. How long will the shows stay on my receive server?

A.

Your local Pathfire receive server cannot be used as an archive server .The DMG receive server

has an application algorithm that is time-based. The timing begins when the show arrives on the

server. For shows that are distributed Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, the content will remain on

the server no longer than 48 hours after its’ arrival on the server. For shows that are distributed

Thursday and Friday, the content will remain on the server no longer than 96 hours (to allow time

for dubbing of the weekend shows).

It is strongly recommended that you dub the content from your server soon after it arrives.

For your convenience, there is a pending delete feature on the user interface of the receive DMG

that displays all episodes and their pending delete status. Additionally, an icon will appear over

the episode name in the show folder approximately 4 hours in advance of any delete action to

advise the station user of the show’s pending delete status.

Q. When will all the DMG servers be upgraded? We are still on an earlier version of the

application?

A. The upgrade to Version 3.0 DMG, which includes the Viacom Video Services folder on the

Content Provider Panel, is now available. All DMG servers are upgraded automatically via

satellite, however you will need to update the individual client stations (your desktops, if

applicable). If your server has been upgraded, you will see an Upgrade Available button on your

main DMG page. Just click it and the on-screen instructions will walk you through the rest of the

upgrade process. If you do not see the upgrade button, contact support@pathfire.com or 1-888-

345-0489.

Q. Is documentation available?

A. Yes. You can download a PDF copy of the most up-to-date user’s guide by going to the Pathfire

support site: http://support.pathfire.com/ and clicking Documentation. You will require a

password to access this which can be applied for though the website, contacting

support@pathfire.com, or 1-888-345-0489.

Q. Which version of DMG do we need loaded to ensure we can receive the syndicated content?

Where do we get it?

A. The latest version is DMG 3.0. For a first-time installation, open your Internet browser and type

in the following web address: http://x.x.x.x/install/clientie.html (where x.x.x.x is your station’s

server IP address). If you do not know your server IP address, consult your Chief Engineer or IT

department. Your station’s server is automatically upgraded via satellite when a new version of

the software is available. However, should your station also receive news via the DMG, you may

update the newsroom PCs by clicking the Upgrade Available button and following the on-screen

instructions. If you do not have this button, your server may not have received the update, yet.

For more assistance, you may contact Pathfire technical support at 1-888-345-0489 or

mailto:support@pathfire.

Q. When will we get our user name and password to replace the one that was set up during the

installation process?

A. The System Administrator at your station has control over the assignment of user names and

passwords. If your Administrator is in need of further assistance or for more information about

this process, refer to the Pathfire website: http://support.pathfire.com/

Q. Is there a way to move a show to the VTR icon shown on my DMG interface?

A. Yes. After opening the format sheet, drag the dubbing icon to the Destination window and drop it

on the destination device icon.

Q. How does the Pathfire format sheet differ from the one I am currently being faxed and can

I print it?

A.

You will no longer have to depend on a fax for the timing, commercial, and show information as

you do now. The Pathfire format sheet travels with the content as part of the file. The frame-accurate

format sheet will include all the same information as the format sheet you are being

faxed now, along with additional notes if necessary.

It may be printed from the dub station associated with the receive server or any desktop that is

running the DMG 3.0 client. You must first have the format sheet open, and then either press the

printer icon on the toolbar or go to the File menu and click on the Print option.

Q. Can I separate the segments from the ads in the format sheet and dub them separately?

A. No, The DMG Syndication application requires that the segments and ads be dubbed together as

an individual or single entity.

Q. Is my show and format sheet frame-accurate?

A.

The syndicated programs being sent via the DMG are frame accurate. The format sheet you see in

the application has the in-points and durations stated for each segment and ad and are frame

accurate. The Pathfire system knows the exact in-point and duration of every segment and

commercial in a program, hence it can deliver frame accurate format sheets to the stations.

Q. Are the audio channels from the hi-res clips, split, stereo, or mono?

A.

Audio is delivered to users in the same format it is sent by the content provider and is show-specific.

Q. How long does it take to dub?

A.

Dubbing occurs in real time. However, with DMG 3.0, the application provides the ability to

begin dubbing syndicated programming before the show has finished downloading to the dub

station, reducing the total time needed to dub content and allowing broadcasters to efficiently

manage their workflow. Depending on your network speed, a certain portion of the program is

downloaded and cached on the dub station so that dubbing can begin while the remainder of the

show is downloaded in the background.

Q. To which devices can we dub?

A. The Pathfire server is capable of outputting analog and digital signals to all video devices. For

downstream integration options, refer to the Pathfire support site: http://support.pathfire.com/.

Q. What about dubbing to servers/profiles?

A. You have the ability to play back SDI video directly into these servers. For downstream

integration options, refer to the Pathfire support site: http://support.pathfire.com/.

Q. How can I ensure frame-accurate dubbing?

A.

To ensure frame-accurate dubbing of syndicated programming, it is necessary to configure the

VTR appropriately to accept Vertical Interval Time Code (VITC) from the Pathfire DMG Server.

Specific information may be found in your Pathfire Syndication Receive Guide. You can

download a PDF copy of the most up-to-date user’s guide by going to the Pathfire support site:

http://support.pathfire.com/ and clicking Documentation. You will require a password to access

this which can be applied for though the website, contacting support@pathfire.com, or 1-888-345-

0489

Q. When you transfer the show to a VTR or other device, does it remove the show from the

server?

A. No, it saves the episode information in the list in the application. However, there is a 48-hour

period from the time the show arrives on your drive in which to dub. The “store & forward”

concept of this application is not to retain the shows on this server.

Q. We're dubbing into a server; can more than one person dub at the same time?

A. The number of people you are limited to depends on the number of Pathfire dubbing stations you

have. Most stations have just one dubbing station and so they are able to make one dub at a time.

Q. My station currently uses the Pathfire DMG for News. Do I still have to upgrade my

server?

A.

Yes. In order to receive all the benefits of the upgrade for news and syndication, your server will

require the upgrade to DMG 3.0Pathfire will upgrade your server. Without an upgrade, the

syndication content provider panel will not be visible and you will not be able to access the

syndication content for Viacom Video Services.

Q. When will the linear analog feeds be discontinued?

A. An exact date for the linear feeds to discontinue has not been set by the content provider. Stations

will be notified on a show-by-show basis before these feeds are discontinued.

Q. Do we use the same log in IDs and passwords for Viacom Video Services as we do for ABC,

CNN or Warner Bros.?

A. Yes, the same user names and passwords will apply but depending on your user‘s access set-up

certain users may not have access. You can download a PDF copy of the most up-to-date user’s

guide by going to the Pathfire support site: http://support.pathfire.com/ and clicking

Documentation. You will require a password to access this which can be applied for though the

website, contacting support@pathfire.com, or 1-888-345-0489

Q. Can you watch the video before dragging it over?

Yes, you can perform a high-resolution preview prior to dubbing by simply double-clicking on the

item.

Q. Will wires interface with other systems such as Avid?

A. Interface modules are available directly from Pathfire. For a full list of these modules and further

details, refer to the Pathfire support site: http://support.pathfire.com/. For any other technical

questions, you may contact Pathfire technical support directly at support@pathfire.com or 1-888-

345-0489.

Q. I’m a current news user of the Pathfire DMG; can I build a media list using the syndication

content?

A.

Media lists are currently a feature in news only. Syndication and news applications, while similar

in many respects, vary in the number of and complexity of features. News DMG features are

more “news-centric” and Syndication DMG features are more “syndication-centric”.

Q. How does the DMG 300 series workstation fit in?

A. The Pathfire DMG 300 series workstation is the dubbing station where you dub your syndication

content video to tape, server, etc.

Q. What version of DMG do I need to use the Syndication service?

A. DMG 3.0 will have the current version of the syndication folder in the content provider panel. It

will be set up as Viacom Video Services.

Q. What impact will adding the Viacom Video Services syndication content have on my existing

Pathfire system?

A. The single Pathfire DMG server handles many different types of content for your station, and can

process these simultaneously. Each content provider has its own data path and dedicated storage,

so no content can be pre-empted by any other content. So, the DMG can be receiving syndicated

programming and at the same time the news department users will still be able to work with any

of their news stories.

Q. Will all my syndication shows be delivered using the DMG? What version of DMG do I

need to use the Syndication service?

A.

No. Some day/date shows will still be delivered via linear analog or digital satellite feeds. A

complete list will be provided by your content provider when available. DMG 3.0 will have the

current version of the syndication folder in the content provider panel. It will be set up as

Viacom Video Services.

Q. The only show(s) that I carry are day/date and will not be delivered using the DMG. Do I

still need to install the Pathfire DMG system?

A. Yes. Currently, the DMG is only being used for store-and-forward content but at some date in

the near future, it may be that promos, refeeds or other content components may use the DMG.

Q. If the Pathfire service fails, how will I receive my content?

A. You will be provided with an IRD and splitter for the same satellite you are using to receive

Pathfire delivered content. If you are unable to receive the content via Pathfire, you will be

instructed to receive the content via this IRD, another linear method, or by tape delivery.