—The U.S. Food
and Drug Administration, which is responsible
for advancing the nation’s public
health, has one of the largest HD television
studios in the Washington area. Our facility
is used both for FDA productions and by
other federal agencies through interagency
The studio is equipped for many types
of productions, including shows with live
studio audiences of more than 100 people,
agency news programs, green screen productions,
and presentations with multi-monitor
feeds. It’s designed to allow quick reconfiguration
to meet the needs of any type of
production, providing us with the flexibility
to work with many interagency partners.
To take advantage of the size and flexibility
of our studio space, we turned to Grass
Valley for a production switcher that provided
a great deal of power, flexibility and
reliability at an affordable price. Grass Valley
has always been a leader of innovation with
production switchers, and the company’s 3
M/E Karrera video production center switcher
with K-Frame was just what we sought to
meet our present and future needs.
The Karrera switcher allows multiple
users to control different features simultaneously
without interfering with the each
other’s on-air switching operations. The
switcher software can be loaded on a regular
PC and when connected to the network, users
can access all of the switcher’s functions.
Of the many advantages the Karrera
switcher offers, one of the most significant
for us is the built-in 10-channel stillstore. It
can be controlled by the show’s technical
director or from a PC. Changing stills is a
simple and intuitive point-and-click operation,
allowing us to add a dedicated stillstore
operator whenever production calls for it.
The switcher’s built-in RGB color correction
is another feature we’re using to advantage.
In fact, we’ve set up an additional user
station to take advantage of the color correction
on the outputs feeding studio monitors,
PLAYS WELL WITH SERVERS
We also integrated the video server playout
control of our Avid AMS and Omneon
servers, providing the technical director full
control over eight channels of video playback.
This can also be programmed in an EMEM
or macro. This allows video effects and
roll-ins to be performed by the technical
director, with no need for coordination of efforts
with the tape or server operator.
The addition of the Grass Valley Karrera
switcher to our operation has really
sparked the creativity of our producers.
In the past, ideas were limited by the capabilities
of the system, meaning that we
frequently had to adjust show rundowns,
blocking and scripts to compensate for
limitations in the production equipment
we employed. That’s all changed now. Actually,
it seems now just about anything
that producers or directors want to do is
already available in the Karrera switcher.
Chad Heupel has served as director of
the FDA’s division of communication media
since 2008. He may be contacted at
For additional information, contact
Grass Valley at 514-333-1772 or visit