Taking Switchers to the Next Level

PADUCAH, KY.—It’s likely that the term “integrated production systems” has evolved with the television broadcast industry. Early on, if the term IPS was used, it might have included an audio mixer, chroma key, or perhaps downstream key.

As digital electronics became more prevalent—long before SDI—production switchers could do more and more, in a standalone role, including digital video effects, clip playback, shadow keys, mnemonic buttons, and more. In recent years, the sky seems to be the limit with technology and innovation.

Broadcast Pix GraniteFILE-BASED WORKFLOW
File-based workflows have been a common theme among IPS vendors in recent years. According to Steve Ellis, president of Broadcast Pix in Billerica, Mass., the company has been expanding on its file-based workflow tools such as drop boxes for media, editable macros, clip players/recorders, and the copying of switcher setups for future use.

At the 2015 NAB Show, Ellis said they’ll release v4.5 for Granite and Mica, and v3.5 for Flint, along with the “show copy” utility. “This feature will give you the ability to completely back up all the elements of your prepackaged live production and move them to another Broadcast Pix switcher,” he said. “[It’s] handy if you are running more than one switcher at a live event, want redundancy, or for groups who may want to deploy more than one BP switcher at each of their stations.”

With most device manufacturers embracing open communication platforms these days, IPS manufacturers are starting to take advantage of that connectivity. Rush Beesley, president of RUSHWORKS in Flower Mound, Texas, said that the company’s REMO (remote model) and VDESK (Desktop) IPS products not only offer PTZ control for several popular brands of cameras, they also offer the “Locked On” product, which is a lighting system that can track multiple targets, in real time, using a motion predictive algorithm. Staying true to open platform, Beesley added that RUSHWORK’s CTRL R Production Studio integrates its PTZ camera control with Blackmagic Design ATEM switchers.

Grass Valley Ignite To maximize their production value, Broadcast Pix recently introduced PixPlay, a software option that allows any Broadcast Pix integrated production switcher to provide slow-motion control to a Blackmagic Design Hyper- Deck or AJA Video Systems Ki Pro disk recorder. It also provides complete third party control of clip players including Ki Pro, Hyperdecks, and similar players from Imagine Communications and Grass Valley.

Grass Valley is expanding machine control capabilities in its Director and Ignite products, and will soon offer connectivity between the two, according to Bill Hadsell, product manager, digital media workflows, Ignite and Vertigo Suite. For more flexibility, Grass Valley’s traditional KIotz Brand-Only audio console connectivity for audio control in the Ignite family has been expanded to include Lawo and Solid State Logic consoles as well.

Hadsell added, “Ignite connectivity with Director, K Frame, Kayenne, or Karrera, combined with Stratus and DNP, provides a connectivity between production, creation, and automation.”

With social media and IP technologies allowing TV production from almost anywhere, this new business model is wide open. Scott Carroll, public relations director at Newtek in San Antonio, indicated that Talkshow, the company’s latest hardware/software solution, integrates Skype TX software from Microsoft and combines the ease and reach of Skype with studiograde professional broadcast controls and features, including audio and video processing, tally, and call recording. The new feature “promises to take audience participation to a whole new level,” Carroll said.

For portability, Newtek features the Mini, the smallest version of the company’s popular TriCaster production system. The ultra-compact four-camera Mini is HDMI native, quick to set up, and streams directly to the web. “The Mini is what its name implies, the smallest version of TriCaster to date,” Carroll said. “It is a four-camera, all-HDMI input machine small enough to fit in a backpack or the overhead bin on an airplane, while it has nearly all the same software functionality as our professional TriCaster line. It’s ultra-portable and set-up takes a few minutes.”

From Broadcast Pix, Ellis reports the recent addition of embedded audio I/O in all their switchers, and the Broadcast Pix Producer touchscreen which provides “just press the picture” workflow, which should be easier for non-professional broadcasters.

Grass Valley’s Hadsell added “With Stratus and DNP, broadcasters and production units can produce a show to all your screens, but delegate content specific to each, for example content embargoed from one platform can be replaced, or commercial content could be different for each of the distribution platforms.”