ToolsOnAir Advances Ingest and Post Workflows with AJA I/O Gear

(Image credit: AJA)

GRASS VALLEY, Calif.—ToolsOnAir and AJA Video Systems are highlighting the role that AJA hardware plays in the ToolsOnAir technologies used for audio and video ingest and playout. 

ToolsOnAir launched the first Mac-based client-server ingest, playout, and real-time graphics solutions for broadcast, in 2010 at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Convention in Las Vegas, NV. 

Since then, the Austrian solutions developer has expanded its line of products to support live automated playout and live closed captioning, and launched a Linux-based ingest solution. Broadcasters, production facilities, houses of worship, government organizations, and educational institutions worldwide use ToolsOnAir technology to accelerate audio and video ingest and playout for production with an assist from AJA I/O hardware.

“Whether editing a religious sermon, college lecture, highlights reel, or other content, our ingest solutions help customers capture and turnaround content quickly for post,” explained ToolsOnAir ingest solutions manager Christian Schabasser. “We design all systems with AJA I/O gear to be multi-format, so users have the flexibility to work with industry-standard codecs such as Apple ProRes, XDCAM HD, AVC-I, DNxHD/HR, or H.264/HEVC in the related MOV, MXF, MP4, or AVI containers. Many clients also want to play out material to HDMI and SDI devices while simultaneously recording, whether for monitoring or streaming. In this case, we recommend complementary hardware like the AJA HELO Plus H.264 streaming and recording device.”

Depending upon the customer’s preferred operating system, ToolsOnAir solutions are either built by a reseller or systems integrator, or ship turnkey. Mac customers typically acquire the necessary Mac, AJA I/O hardware (either PCI or Thunderbolt), and a Sonnet PCIe enclosure for PCI cards, and ToolsOnAir provides the software licenses.

“Our Mac-based solution supports a range of I/O hardware, but we always recommend AJA Io and KONA solutions. We recently had a Norwegian customer use multiple AJA Io X3 in their setup, and I suspect they won’t be the last,” said ToolsOnAir Head of Operations Manuel Grund. “Io X3 is a perfect I/O box for HD needs with Thunderbolt 3 support and feature additions via AJA Desktop Software updates. It is modern, quiet, and has nearly everything imaginable, including a multi-viewer feature and many audio input options. It’s also easy to get started; you plug it in, install the drivers, and you’re off.”

ToolsOnAir builds its Linux systems in Vienna and the US, and ships them to customers with an AJA Corvid 88, Corvid 44 12G BNC, or Corvid 44 BNC card integrated.

“For clients working in HD and UltraHD, we use the Corvid 88, as it offers eight inputs, enabling eight for HD or two for UltraHD via quad-link connection. In other scenarios, where four inputs are required we use a Corvid 44 12G BNC or Corvid 44 BNC,” noted Schabasser. “Overall, our customers are enthusiastic about their experiences with these cards, and we’re seeing more demand for 12G-SDI from customers working in UltraHD.”

“As more professionals are working in high frame rate 4K and UltraHD, especially for sports and prime time productions, 12G-SDI is gaining technological favor. About 90 percent of our clients working in UltraHD are using native 12G-SDI tools,” Grund added. “It gives them the power and bandwidth required to move UltraHD signal content through the cable, still keeping the flexibility to work in HD should the project call for it.”

Considering the prominent role of I/O technology in ToolsOnAir’s line of work, the company has been an AJA Developer Partner since its inception. Grund concluded, “When we first got started, we had long discussions about choosing the proper hardware and SDK foundation to build upon, and that’s what AJA is known for in the broadcast space. Their driver base stood out, but more importantly, as a developer, their SDK allowed us to talk directly to the metal. We knew and still know that with AJA, our customers will be able to see how every single frame that goes through the card looks and can easily process each. Having a solid I/O partner like AJA has made our journey from 2010 through today much simpler.”

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.