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UK sports graphics specialist Alston Elliot is the first company to use Crystal Vision’s Clip N Key. The clip and sting store, which allows a special clip to be played repeatedly, made its live debut on 30th September with ITV’s coverage of the Manchester United vs Aalborg UEFA Champions League game, where it was used to replay the same wipe on the half-time action replays.

An existing Crystal Vision customer, Alston Elliot had been looking for a product to add extra video sources to a mixer for the start of the football season. Following a demonstration of the clip and sting store by Crystal Vision’s UK Sales Manager Ray Davis on 26th September, Alston Elliot immediately placed an order for a Clip N Key in a desk top box. Ray Davis then hand delivered the board three days later, helping Alston Elliot load its TARGA graphics files and convert them into three different SD wipes in Clip N Key’s own graphics format, with a fill and key signal of each. Clip N Key was used the following evening in a live studio broadcast from ITV’s London Studios, with the UEFA Champions League game shown live on ITV4, followed by highlights on ITV1. Clip N Key was connected to the London Studios’ mixer with GPIs used to trigger the star effect wipe to enhance the action replays at half-time.

Neale Connell, Director at Alston Elliot, particularly liked Clip N Key’s value for money and ease of use. Not only was Clip N Key entirely appropriate for this type of application, it also freed up the server they had previously used to play stings. Alston Elliot was so pleased with the Clip N Key’s performance that the company immediately ordered a second one for the BBC coverage of the Royal London Watches Grand Prix Snooker in mid October, which was delivered two days after the football transmission. For the snooker Alston Elliot is using a one minute looping background for one output with keyed internal graphics over for the other output. The two Clip N Keys will be used for more wipes for ITV in future.

Designed for sports or live events programming, 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). If a key output is not required Clip N Key can generate two independent video clips from its two outputs. Clip N Key can be controlled by VTR protocol to record and replay stills or short video clips, allowing any standard VTR controller or mixer with VTR type outputs to automate the operation of the board, and has the flexibility to work with both named images and timecode. Clip N Key is a space-saving 100mm x 266mm module which fits in Crystal Vision’s standard frames alongside any interface or keying products from the range and also includes relay bypass protection of the main input in the event of power failure or board malfunction or removal. Clip N Key is part of the Picturestore product range – Crystal Vision’s new area of speciality based on solid-state fast reading and writing DRAM and permanent Flash picture storage.

Alston Elliot provides computer graphics and software solutions to the sports broadcast market, providing a total solution from original graphic design through software creation to the point of delivery. The company works worldwide on a whole range of sports including football, rugby, cricket and snooker, and has seven purpose-built OB vehicles. Alston Elliot provides graphics on behalf of the English Premier League for all of the 380 matches played each season and provides both OB and studio coverage for all of ITV's football, including Champions League matches, UEFA Cup matches and Championship highlights. In 2006 Alston Elliot set up a South African operation to provide a similar range of services to broadcasters in South Africa.

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