Broadcast Pix develops voice-activated video production

For the increasing number of radio stations that are beginning to simulcast their shows on TV, Broadcast Pix, based in Billerica, MA, has developed a new control interface for its Granite‚ Mica and Slate integrated production systems that detects when a particular microphone is being used and triggers sophisticated software to switch to a predetermined camera position and add the appropriate graphics.

Called VOX, it facilitates voice-activated video productions while eliminating the need for an operator. Conditions can be set to prevent coughs or one-word comments from changing cameras, thus minimizing unnecessary camera changes. Microphone inputs can also be prioritized, so a host, for example, can be given priority over guests. Plus, a host can control VOX using a small override panel, through the included SoftPanel software on a laptop or Android device, or with an iPad or iPhone app. As a result, the host can roll an introduction or a commercial, or even override the automated VOX control to bring up a specific shot.

The company said VOX is ideal for government and corporate meetings, interviews, video coverage of radio programs, and other productions with multiple microphones, and can be used for television broadcasts, Internet streaming and in-house projection.

“Broadcast Pix is known for integrated production systems that create compelling live video with minimal staff,” said Ken Swanton, president of Broadcast Pix. “Now, VOX can create great video with no operator at all.”

While VOX can simply switch cameras, it has the intelligence to do much more. VOX integrates with Broadcast Pix’s built-in Fluent Macros to create automatic video-follow-audio. Fluent Macros can be programmed to select camera presets, roll clips and animations, add or remove titles, and even execute powerful compositions such as up to six picture-in-pictures for interviews. Multiple macros can be assigned to each microphone — and selection criteria can be established — so automated productions can offer variety in shot selection and graphics, as if a technical director was at the controls.

VOX is already in use at Q-music, a radio network in Belgium and Holland. Q-music broadcasted live concerts and other events from its Q-Beach House in Ostend, Belgium, and streamed video programming on the Internet. The video productions were part of a pilot project for the network’s upcoming studio-based “Visual Radio” programming, which will be produced in three facilities with VOX and Broadcast Pix Mica systems.

The house was rigged with 12 cameras, including four in the on-site radio studio that were controlled through VOX. With the help of integrator Burst Video, Q-music created several macros for each studio microphone. As a result, while the video followed the audio, there were a variety of directing commands (selected randomly by the system) to produce more appealing production value.

Encased in a 1RU chassis with eight microphone inputs, VOX includes camera control software for Panasonic and Sony robotic camera systems, and connects to any Broadcast Pix system via an RS-232 serial cable. Multiple VOX boxes can be cascaded to support up to 104 microphones.

The VOX software will be available worldwide in December 2011.