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Barco’s new multiformat production switcher

Ahh, editors have a rough life, spending hours in front of a computer racking the brain for pithy new stories on new television technology. Like right now.

I’m sitting in the lodge at Copper Mountain directly overlooking the American Eagle ski lift, filled with skiers heading to the summit for a day’s fun. I have a Diet Dr. Pepper at my side, and I’m really trying hard to be productive. This is a tough assignment.

The reason I’m working from the Copper Mountain ski resort is that Barco is holding a partner’s meeting, and I’ve been invited to participate. My goal is to interview some of Barco’s product managers and get some hands-on time with the broadcast products.

On my list of must sees is Barco’s new FSN series of video production switchers. These 3G-ready multiformat production switchers come in two sizes — the FSN 150 is a 1.5 M/E switcher, and the FSN 250 is a 2.5 M/E switcher.

The FSN looks and operates like any production switcher. Jed Deame, VP image processing products told me, “If you can operate a Grass 110, you can operate the FMS switchers.” It’s true because even I quickly learned to make it jump through some basic video hoops.

The FSN series is a multiformat video production switcher designed for live shots, small broadcast installations or any installation requiring seamless mixing of computer and video sources. The switcher integrates any analog, digital, computer and video resolution in a powerful and flexible package. Positioned for the future, the switcher is purpose-built for SD-SDI, HD-SDI and 3Gb/s signals.

The base configuration includes one eight-channel native input card and one two-channel universal input card that is capable of accepting any video or computer format. The switcher can accommodate up to five additional input cards, providing a maximum of 38 inputs. The base system also includes the M/E output card that provides program, preset, clean-feed and six native aux outputs. A touch-screen GUI is also standard in the base configuration.

A couple of key points to consider. First, this is a fully 3Gb/s switcher. It can handle all input and output signals up to and including 1080p. And, this is a standard feature.

Second, Barco knows scaling and format conversion. So, the FSN can handle any type of signal format. From SD to HD to 3Gb/s, all inputs can be mixed, keyed, routed and outputted in any format.

Also, the FMS switchers can accept and format convert/scale as needed any computer formats. For instance, the new Macs can output a 16:10 format. That signal is fully compatible with the switcher. If some geek shows up with a Mac file, no problem.

The switcher provides internal storage of 100 still frames, with up to three frame buffers online simultaneously and up to four channels of optional internal 2-D DVEs.

The switcher can drive up to two (one multi-image display is standard) multi-image display panels, making it perfect for high-speed production environments. It is a good fit for OB/ENG trucks, requiring only a small footprint. In addition, with Barco’s extensive expertise in staging, engineers can be secure that the switcher is rugged and can withstand any rigors supplied by trucks and remote environments.

List price is $40,000 for the 1.5 M/E version.

Detailed product information is available here, or at the Barco broadcast Web site.