New Softel Solution Manages Configuration and Monitoring of Subtitle Transcoding and Transmission Operations

Softel, a UK-based company that claims to have over 25 years of experience in providing ancillary data solutions--including solutions for interactive TV, opt cuing/ad insertion, subtitling and captioning--to leading broadcasters and service providers across the world (note: the company recently revealed that it is powering Showtime Networks' new HD EBIF application--see the article published on, March 24th), said Tuesday that it is expanding its Swift product range for subtitling and captioning via the launch of Dashboard, a solution that is designed to manage the configuration and monitoring of an entire subtitle transcoding and transmission operation. According to the company, Dashboard provides a central, unifying point from which to administer multichannel, multi-language subtitling and captioning installations.

Softel bills Dashboard as being designed to help broadcasters deliver the highest level of quality through an ever more complex workflow, while containing costs. According to the company, the platform allows operators to administer multiple Swift TX units (note: Swift TX is Softel's subtitle and caption playout and management solution), and configure subtitle processors, monitor subtitle streams and oversee a subtitle archive system that allows broadcasters to manage their subtitle assets throughout their lifecycle. It aggregates subtitle monitoring information from across the broadcast infrastructure, Softel says, and presents it clearly, while diagnosing and highlighting any issues within the chain.

According to Softel, Dashboard's "intelligence" is built on a central communications server that is connected to all Swift TX units in the broadcast chain. Each unit communicates with this intelligent hub using a Softel-designed configuration and monitoring protocol, the company says, and the operator can remotely assign configuration and see each unit's status, subtitle flow and current configuration. In addition, Softel says, its Swift Archive solution offers "fast and efficient" retrieval of subtitle files with an advanced, searchable archive store. A fault-tolerant architecture that uses mirrored servers protects against loss of data and safeguards investment in subtitle content creation and re-purposing, according to the company. "We understand the challenges that broadcasters are facing as the requirement for subtitles and captioning increases," Softel CEO, Sam Pemberton, said in a prepared statement. "The proliferation of format and platforms is pushing the complexity of modern workflows, and could potentially decrease productivity and increase operational costs. With this in mind, Softel continues to deliver tools that not only simplify subtitle processing, but also improve overall efficiency while reducing costs."

Softel bills Swift TX as integrating seamlessly with broadcast workflows and as supporting an extensive range of input file formats, with transmission to DVB, Open, VBI and closed-captioning, as well as outputting other ancillary data such as XDS. Configured as a multichannel unit, the company says, Swift TX enables rack consolidation and savings on equipment, power and cooling costs. It claims that this provides "outstanding" reliability and flexibility for master/standby and "N+1" configurations, with superior output quality delivered by a specially developed font rendering engine.