In September, the IBC (International Broadcasting Conference) held at the RAI Amsterdam hosted over 48,500 attendees and 1,300 international manufacturers and suppliers across thirteen exhibit halls. The fall show gives manufacturers an opportunity to release new technology in time for end-of-year budget purchases, and introduces new products before NAB.
Predictably, 3D was a major element of the show this year. On the whole, video cards, distribution, routers/hubs, projectors and other devices are being upgraded with “3D capable” features. So, as churches upgrade infrastructure, it will be inevitable that some of the infrastructure will be 3D capable.
IBC had many new 3D wares to boast; camera rigs from Cartoni to shoot 3D with dual cameras, 3D displays that don’t require glasses, and live content being televised with 3D cameras. BSkyB, a satellite broadcaster in the UK and Ireland, demonstrated technology it used to become the world’s first commercial 3D television channel on air.
In conversations with church tech directors, 3D hasn’t yet been a target for investment. There are many who are advised to wait until the technical issues shake out, the prices drop, ease of use increases and until there is a push from within the house of worship with a compelling set of reasons for why they should go 3D.
Seemingly more of a priority for houses of worship is the full conversion to HD, increased flexibility in conversion equipment, and the acquisition of more affordable, higher quality production tools that can be easily used by staff and volunteers.
Ross Video expanded their built-in multiviewers into the production video switcher series – a first for this level of switcher. Multiviewers allow large displays to show all sources and all distribution without the investment in budget or space needed for multiple individual smaller displays. Although some integrated multiviewers are less flexible to configure than standalone multiviewers, they do offer pre-sets that may suit some applications well.
Apantac debuted the new TAHOMA-DE multiviewer series with inputs that can be configured to auto-detect 4 or 8 HDMI / DVI / VGA / YPbPr / YC / Composite or optional HD / SD-SDI sources. The DE family includes built-in CATx extenders, allowing the display monitors to be up to 35 meters (115 feet) away from the Multiviewer.
For-A introduced the 2 – 2.5ME Hanabi switcher with integrated multiviewer and built-in routing. 16 inputs are standard with a maximum of 48 inputs and 24 outputs. Features include 3GBps, HD/SD mixed input, 3D DVE, external device control, macro functions and video file support. 3GBps is 1080p. There is an optional up/down/cross converter card available.
IBC gave Blackmagic Design the opportunity to show off their recent acquisition of the Atem product line from Echolab. Atem is a multi-definition switcher with units in the 1ME and 2ME range. Blackmagic will review Atem’s current capabilities and integration possibilities with its existing product line and will re-introduce an updated Atem with more features in 1Q of 2011.
Through acquisition of Codan Broadcast, Ross Video now has a line of NK Series Routing Systems. NK Series Routers are available in sizes ranging from 16×4 to 320×320. Any matrix type can be incorporated into a system with any combination of other NK matrices and united under one control umbrella.
Blackmagic introduced the Universal Video Hub 288 card-based router that enables mix and match use of I/O cards. It’s expandable and cards can be changed on the fly.
Ross and Blackmagic introduced versions of a universal conversion device, an up/down and cross-format converter (UDC). These devices are useful for churches with some HD infrastructure and some existing SD devices that must be used together.
Broadcast Pix unveiled three new Granite 1080p-ready live video production systems. The 1 ME Granite 100 and 1000 and the 2 ME Granite 5000 provide simultaneous multi-definition SDI I/O for 1080i/50, 720p/50, and 576i/50 sources. The series is upgradeable to 1080p and there is an upgrade path from the Slate hybrid HD/SD/Analog switcher. The server runs Fluent workflow software, which provides up to 120 hours of clip store, animation stores, a graphics system with a new Harris CG, multiviewer, watch-folders that streamline file import from editing systems, and macros for file-based effects. Granite system prices start at $20,900 USD.
Grass Valley ‘s new line of ADVC G-Series converters include the ADVC G1, an “any in” to SDI multi-functional converter/up-scaler with frame synchronizer designed to convert virtually any kind of professional/broadcast signal to 3GBps/HD/SD-SDI. The ADVC G2 is an SDI & HDMI to analog and SDI multi-functional converter/down-scaler with frame synchronizer and audio outputs for the de-embedding of audio. The ADVC G3 is a twin-SDI to HDMI 1.4 with 3D support. The ADVC G4 is a sync generator with reference in and is designed with nine outputs that can be controlled in groups of three. The ADVC G1, G2, and G3 will retail for under $1,000 USD, while the ADVC G4 will retail for under $600 USD.
Cameras and Acquisition
Panasonic began the European introduction of its new AG-AF100/AG-AF101 4/3” HD camcorder, the first professional micro 4/3-inch video camcorder optimized for high-definition video recording. The memory card -based camera uses the Micro 4/3 compliant optical system commonly used in digital single lens (SLR) still cameras to shoot film-quality HD content. An adapter can be used to mount 35mm film camera lenses and prime lenses. This enables the videographer to be able to capture film-like images with distinctive lens characteristics such as shallow depth of field. The AVCHD camera can record video in Full HD (1080i/p)/720p formats including 1080/24p native mode with Full HD Variable Frame Rate function. The Panasonic AG-AF101 will be released in December 2010 at a recommended retail price of €4,900. Many in the Panasonic booth flocked to see the latest pro AV display product line-up, including the new 152” large format professional display panel, the world’s largest full HD plasma screen.
Sony unveiled the latest to their XDCAM camcorder lineup, the PMW-500. The PMW-500 is equipped with three 2/3” Power HAD FX CCD image sensors and can record both 1080 and 720 HD pictures at 50 Mb/s. The unit records onto a solid state SxS memory card. As more units now record onto SxS cards, Sony introduced the XDCAM Station, a family of professional media recorders that bridges the SxS Memory card and Professional Disc. Depending upon the model chosen, users can copy material from SxS memory card or Professional Disc onto the Hard Disc or Solid State storage within the XDCAM Station. Sony showed many things 3D at IBC, in a standing-room-only Creatology Tour.
Hitachi introduced the new SK-HD1200 with native 3 CCD 1080p 1080p/3G and 1100 TV lines. The unit includes a solid state HDTV recorder option utilizing the Panasonic P2 format. The dockable SK-HD cameras allow multiple configurations due to fiber optic, digital Triax cable and wireless transmission adapters. Format options include 1080i/720p/1080p. In the Z-line, Hitachi also showed the new Hitachi Z_HD5000 portable, dockable HDTV studio and EFP camera, with HDTV signal format outputs in 1080/59.94i or 1080/50i.
JVC showed the new GY-HM790 ProHD camcorder, which offers new features for both studio and ENG applications. In the studio, its modular design allows cleaner integration, while in the field, its three 1/3-inch CCDs allow a lighter, more compact form factor. It supports 1080i / 720p / 480i multiscan formats. The GY-HM790 records to SDHC solid-state media cards, in ready-to-edit file formats with Apple Final Cut Pro (.mov) and other major NLE systems (.mp4).
Hardware-based Recording and Streaming
AJA introduced the Ki Pro Mini Portable 10-bit 4:2:2 Flash Disk Recorder. Its 5.9” x 4.4” x 3.5”. It outputs a 10-bit full raster recording to Apple ProRes 422 SD and HD format. The unit records media from any camera to Compact Flash (CF) cards (2 CF slots). Ki Pro Mini has SD/HD digital I/O including SDI, HD-SDI and HDMI, two channels of balanced analog audio input (2 XLRs) with switch selectable line/mic levels, and LTC timecode input.
AJA’s new KONA 3G video card features 10-bit Uncompressed video I/O, HDMI 1.4a support for 3D workfows, 16- channel SDI embedded audio I/O, and up to 16- channel AES digital audio I/O. The 3Gb/s SDI standard effectively doubles the data rate of HDSDI, allowing for the transmission of 1080p at 50 or 60 fps over a single coaxial cable rather than two.
Digital Rapids debuted new models in the company’s StreamZ, StreamZHD and StreamZ Live families of multi-format video and audio encoding solutions.
Digital models of StreamZ based feature standard definition SDI input, while digital/analog models offer the same capabilities plus analog component, S-Video and composite video; analog audio; and AES digital audio inputs. The new StreamZHD and StreamZHD Live ABR models include similar input capabilities plus HD-SDI and upcoming dual-link HD-SDI and 3G-SDI video input support, plus HD analog component video on the digital/analog version.
Minicaster introduced a hardware-based encoder using H.264 video and AAC audio. The form factor of the device is small – the 1.34” x 2.95” x 4.92” 225 gram units are mounted on top of each camera. The device takes the video and embedded audio feed from the camera, decodes it and distributes it via Flash streaming and other formats. The unit supports SD and HD resolution via composite, S-Video and SDI. As of now, the unit must be used with a specific content delivery network for distributing the content.
Software-Based Playback and Streaming
Softron introduced OnTheAir Video Express 1.1 Macintosh-based video play-out software. OnTheAir Video Express 1.1 adds support for DVI/Mini DisplayPort output and the HDMI port of Apple’s latest Mac mini. A Mac Mini could be used for cost effective playback of both SD and HD, and can play out any file that QuickTime can read including stills and audio only. If using the software with a Mac Pro and an appropriate video card, OnTheAir Video Express can play out QuickTime movies with embedded alpha channels (ARGB) for keying over live video. For example, files exported from Motion or After Effects can be overlaid in real-time over an incoming feed from a venue site. $1,095 USD (695 EUR).
Sometimes church media teams inherit facility issues that they’d rather not have, but still must handle. Wet conduit is an issue we find lurking in some facilities. The bad news: at some point this will likely affect your signal quality. The good news: there are less expensive ways in dealing with it rather than pressurizing it or replacing it. Belden expanded their line of ruggedized, waterproof wire and showed samples at IBC. There are options for video, audio, intercom, data, Cat5 that are not significantly more expensive than their non-waterproof counterparts.
Across many manufacturers, Apple’s iPad was used as a universal control device for multiple devices. This enables a tech director to be more mobile during service or an event. A few of the exhaustive list: Blackmagic’s Videohub Controller, Broadcast Pix iPixPanel switcher control panel, Allen&Heath iLive Tweak, Digital Rapids “Touchstream” portable live streaming, and the list goes on.