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Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Jul 25

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7/25/2008 5:33 AM  RssIcon

q-down123-a-afd.jpgCrystal Vision’s new area of speciality Picturestore gets its European launch on Stand 2.B11 at IBC. Picturestore combines the different strengths of solid-state fast reading and writing DRAM and Flash permanent memory to create a series of four picture storage products, each with a real technical advantage.

Designed for branding HD or SD television stations, MultiLogo is Crystal Vision’s sophisticated modular logo keyer – a space-saving board which provides three layers of keying from a variety of internal and external sources, including a generous 4 GB eight-port non-volatile video store that can read six images and write two images all at the same time. Three layer keying allows three still or animated graphics to be independently brought up either from the 4 GB video store or from four external sources. MultiLogo can be used either with graphics that have a separate key signal or with self-keyed graphics, while the three keyers each have separate gain, lift and opacity controls. Crystal Vision’s special drag and drop software runs on the graphics computer and will auto-convert images of most common file formats to the format required by the logo keyer before transferring them swiftly over 100MBit Ethernet directly from the PC into the board. Look-ahead preview facilitates sophisticated transitions, while industry standard software protocols help it to be used with automation systems. Those who just need one station ident can even use MultiLogo as a dual channel device – sharing the three keyers between the two channels.

Clip N Key is an affordable clip and sting store which has already awakened interest amongst broadcast engineers by being the most convenient way to add extra video sources to a mixer to enhance transitions, without tying up a valuable server port. Ideal for sports or live events programming, it allows a special clip or sting with optional associated key signal to be played repeatedly – for example, the same moving image each time a team scores a goal. Clip N Key features a sizeable 4 GB multi-port video store which can hold 30 seconds of moving HD video (15 seconds if it includes a key signal) or 150 seconds of SD video (75 seconds with key signal). A number of different clips can be stored, dependent on the total length of time used. Industry standard software protocols allow Clip N Key to be controlled by most video mixers.

Playback is Crystal Vision’s innovative instant replay device which can replay 30 seconds of HD video or 155 seconds of SD at a significantly lower price than the hard drive alternatives, making sports replay technology affordable for the first time. Featuring industry standard software protocols to allow it to be controlled from any third party hardware or software, Playback will continuously record (and overwrite) until something of interest happens at which point the operator will press Stop. The last 30 seconds of recorded HD video is then available for replay, with flexible playback options available including Play, Still, Continue, Jog and Vari Play.

The final product in the Picturestore range is ViViD HD-20 – a space-saving variable video delay line designed for engineers who need to match extra long delays in their system. Typically used as part of a profanity delay system, it is also ideal for MPEG encoders and decoders, MPEG-compressed HD radio links and virtual set graphics that require more than the standard half a second of HD delay. Allowing 12 delay lines in just 2U of rack space, ViViD HD-20 provides up to 20 seconds of delay in HD and 110 seconds in Standard Definition, with the flexible output timing adjustable in seconds, frames, lines and pixels.

With distribution amplifiers having proved some of Crystal Vision’s best-selling HD products over the years, the company has chosen them for its first foray into 3G. Housed in Crystal Vision’s standard frames and designed to be controlled from the board edge, the 3GDA105N and 3GDA111N provide economical distribution of 3G HD, HD or SDI, making them ideal for multi-standard environments. The 3GDA105N provides five non-reclocked outputs and uses the RM41 frame rear module which has been specially developed to get 3G signals in and out of the Crystal Vision frames. For applications requiring more outputs, the ‘double decker’ 3GDA111N provides eleven non-reclocked outputs.

Also new at IBC are three innovative products that provide vertical interval control of the aspect ratio, aimed at anyone making HD programmes that will also be transmitted by down converting to SD. Some HD installations use SMPTE 2016 to define a source’s Active Format Description (AFD), allowing a following down converter to operate differently depending on how the video content was created. HD programmes are often composed of a mixture of true High Definition sources and SD sources that have been up converted and have black pillars at the sides. The Standard Definition version of these programmes would consist of a down converted feed with black bands at the top and bottom of the 16:9 picture to fill the 4:3 screen, and this can therefore lead to an unwanted small 4:3 picture within the larger 4:3 screen for the parts of the programme that originated in SD. The AFD information will tell the down converter whether the source is a true 16:9 source with an active picture that fills the entire frame, or an original 4:3 picture made to fit a 16:9 frame by adding black pillars on either side. When the HD signal is originated from Standard Definition, the down converter needs to convert back to 4:3 by removing the black pillars at the sides of the picture and stretching the remaining image to fit the frame. There are two stages to ensure that the HD signals are down converted with the correct aspect ratio conversion. Firstly, all signals need to be labelled by inserting the SMPTE 2016 data to indicate the Active Format Description. Secondly, the down converter needs to read this signal and select the correct aspect ratio conversion to be used with the down conversion.

Crystal Vision has introduced two products that can insert SMPTE 2016 data into a signal to describe the aspect ratio and active format. SYN HD-AFD is a special version of Crystal Vision’s fully-featured HD synchroniser, while the Up-and-down-AAFD is a combined up, down and cross converter for embedded sources with the ability to add SMPTE 2016 data when up converting. Q-Down-A-AFD is a down converter and distribution amplifier that will adapt the aspect ratio conversion depending on the SMPTE 2016 data embedded in the video input, with three options. Firstly the SD output can be set to be always 16:9: it will down convert without changing the aspect ratio. Alternatively the SD output can be set to be always 4:3, in which case it will down convert and perform either a Letterbox or centre cut, depending on the source material. There is also a third, adaptive option. Here, if the HD input is 16:9 Full Screen the picture is down converted with no aspect ratio conversion and is output as 16:9 SD. If the SMPTE 2016 data indicates that the HD input is a 16:9 Pillarbox, however, a centre cut is performed and the output is 4:3 SD. In each case Q-Down-A-AFD can then add Wide Screen Signalling (WSS) to indicate the picture format of the SD output video to downstream equipment. With Q-Down-A-AFD it is only necessary to label those HD video images that are not full frame 16:9 images: when the HD input is not labelled Q-Down-A-AFD uses its default assumption that an HD image is a full frame 16:9, making it possible to create a powerful automatic system with the majority of signals not containing SMPTE 2016 information.

SYNNER-E HD has been designed to simplify system designs for those working in HD or SD Dolby E environments. Not only does it combine a video synchroniser, tracking audio delay, embedder, de-embedder and audio processor on one 100mm x 266mm board, it also includes special features for flexible processing of Dolby E. Dolby E can either come into SYNNER-E HD embedded on the video input or as external audio via a piggyback where it gets its timing either from the external reference or the input video. Up to two sources of Dolby E are possible: two channels from two embedded audio groups in the video, two channels from two input piggybacks or a mixture of the two. If the external Dolby E is locked to the reference it is assumed to be correctly timed and therefore in this case it is possible to have standard AES on the other channel – making it ideal for mixed Dolby E and AES environments. If the Dolby E is locked to the input it will be delayed and timed so that the Dolby E data is correctly aligned with the video frame to ensure the guardband is in exactly the correct place – the first Crystal Vision product to do this and meeting the strict requirements now recommended by Dolby to allow many more stages of processing. This is true even if the engineer has two Dolby E sources with different timings as they can be re-aligned up to 3ms.

Based at Whittlesford near Cambridge in the UK, Crystal Vision provides digital keyers and a full range of digital and analogue interface equipment including converters, decoders, encoders, aspect ratio converters and audio embedders to the professional broadcasting industry worldwide.

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