Brick House Video switcher helps Thomson Reuters bring Chilean miners’ story home

Thomson Reuters brought live HD images of the plight and rescue of 33 trapped Chilean miners to audiences around the globe with the help of a Callisto-RC video production switcher from Brick House Video.

Indeed, the world’s largest international news agency relied on the Callisto’s mixed transmission ability every day from the switcher’s arrival on Oct. 2 until Oct. 13, as the last miner was lifted to safety from more than 2000ft underground.

George Johnson, technical coordinator for Reuters, said the Callisto worked flawlessly on-site, powered by gas generator, as temperatures ranged from below zero to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The switcher was hooked into Thomson Reuters’ transportable uplink and installed within a reconfigured mobile vehicle on-site for the duration of the story. Operators were able to mix four local cameras — one wireless and three cabled, in NTSC SDI, with the TVN pool available as backup.

Johnson had three inputs connected into the Callisto: a cabled roof camera position, a cabled handheld camera and a wireless handheld camera. Two feeds were SDI NTSC, and the wireless was composite NTSC. In fact, the switcher’s ability to support either composite or SDI inputs, PAL or NTSC, and sync switching the output to line were important features to Johnson.

Capable of operating in stand-alone mode or genlocked to an external reference, the Callisto features 270Mb/s signal processing and a DSK/chroma keyer that can handle fully asynchronous (unlocked) inputs in a mixed signal format (SDI and analog) environment. The program and preview outputs are available as both SDI and analog composite with 10-bit processing throughout. There are two SDI auxiliary switched outputs for monitoring and routing, and switchers fitted with the composite input option also have a separate composite switched output.

Reuters is a long-time customer of Brick House Video and now owns three Callisto switchers for its various international divisions. Two of the units travel within flyaway pack transportable earth stations to cover stories all over the world, and one is mounted in its European uplink vehicle that is used every day.

Johnson said that over the last five years they have only had one intermittent fault and that was repaired free of charge within a few days.