Providing a graceful path to HD for popular integrated live production system. First production switcher with aspect ratio management as standard equipment
BURLINGTON, Massachusetts (February 15, 2007) Broadcast Pix, who redefined the production switcher to include multi-view monitoring, a character generator and clip store, now adds aspect ratio management, and later this year will add HD inputs and outputs.
New AutoAspect software enables 16:9 and 4:3 inputs, clips and graphics to be used interchangeably and mixed together in the same live production, while maintaining the native aspect ratio of each element rather than stretching them. As an option, AutoAspect can simultaneously output 16:9 and 4:3 versions of the same show, with graphics in the corners of each rather than limited to a common safe area. The new HD-SD I/O board will enable all new and existing Slate switchers to add HD cameras and produce an HD show. Each input and output can be HD-SDI 780p or 1080i, or SD-SDI. The HD board is priced at $4,900, and is expected in late 2007. AutoAspect is a free software upgrade, and available now.
According to Broadcast Pix President, Ken Swanton, “Broadcast Pix is all about providing tools for solo operators and small teams to create great-looking live video that once required a large control room and staff. Today’s announcements add innovative tools for widescreen and HD production. AutoAspect solves the many challenges of mixing 4:3 and 16:9 content in the same production. The HD board turns Slate into a powerful, yet easy to run, HD-SD control run, with switcher, monitoring, CG and clips. Together with emerging HD studio cameras, Slate will accelerate the democratization of HD live production.”
AutoAspect addresses the many challenges of dealing with wide-screen production and content. It enables traditional (4:3) and widescreen (16:9) cameras, clips and graphics to be used in the same production, while preserving the aspect ratio of each.
Each input on the Slate switcher can be set for one of four AutoAspect treatments: box, crop, 14:9 or anamorphic (stretched). Conventional switchers provide only the anamorphic, which stretches images when crossing formats, resulting in people shot with 4:3 cameras looking too wide in a widescreen show, and people shot with widescreen cameras looking too thin in a 4:3 production. Instead, AutoAspect’s box, crop and 14:9 settings all maintain the original aspect ratio of the camera. The box setting adds bars in any color selected. Crop expands the image until the bars are gone, and crops off the extra video. 14:9 is a great in-between setting, with two thin bars, and just a little cropping. When a wide screen production is done right after a full screen one, AutoAspect automatically sets the right sources now pass through untreated, and treats the others. Only a few other switchers offer aspect treatment of inputs, and only as an expensive option, while on Slate it is standard equipment on every input on every model.
AutoAspect also works on clips and animations within Slate’s built-in, four-hour uncompressed digital clip store, as well as the graphics in Slate’s five stores of titles, stills and logos. Each clip or graphic can be individually set to one of the four aspect settings, enabling 4:3 and 16:9 clips to be used interchangeably in all productions. There is no need for separate stores for each aspect ratio. AutoAspect also manages each DVE box, so clips and graphics can be dropped into a picture-in-picture box without worrying about their aspect ratio. A clip or graphic’s aspect setting can even be instantly changed on the fly in the middle of a show.
As an option, AutoAspect can be extended to outputs to simultaneously create 16:9 and 4:3 productions, such as for wide and full screen TV, or Internet and digital TV, or a projector and cable TV. Unlike conventional aspect ratio output converters that simply crop off the ends of a widescreen production to create a 4:3 one, AutoAspect can automatically handle the best placement of graphics and other keys, such as placing the logos in the corners of each production, and sizing picture-in-picture boxes appropriately for each.
HD-SD I/O Board
The new HD-SD I/O board is the third I/O board for the Slate switcher, joining an SD-SDI digital board and an analog board. The new board supports HD-SDI in 1080i or 720p, as well as SD-SDI. It provides 4 inputs and 1 output, each of which can be HD or SD. Up to two boards can be added to a Slate workstation, for up to 8 HD live inputs which are then combined with Slate’s many internal clip and graphic inputs.
The new HD board takes advantage of Broadcast Pix’s unique EDTV architecture to create an HD production with very good picture quality. EDTV (enhanced digital television) has twice the data rate of DTV, because EDTV is progressive 480p (576p in PAL). So, unlike external HD converters added to a conventional standard definition SDI switcher that must compress the HD signal all the way to DTV, the new Broadcast Pix HD board needs to only convert to EDTV, where all switcher motion processing then occurs with 10-bit precision. Progressive is well suited to switching video because of its ability to provide better smooth motion effects. And progressive integrates well with the contemporary workstation environment that hosts the Slate switcher and its digital clip stores, graphics system and CG.
All new Slate switchers are HD-ready, as the new HD-SD I/O board can be added to any model. The new HD board can also be added to all existing Slate switchers installed worldwide, including those in broadcast and sports applications, mobile production, corporate, education, religious and government productions.
About Slate switchers The Slate 100 touch screen-based switcher (priced from $9,995) was introduced at NAB 2006, and includes a switcher, integrated Inscriber character generator, still stores and full motion, multi-view monitoring. Input formats include SDI digital and analog composite, S and component. The Slate 1000 (from $19,000) adds a control panel, DVEs and clip store and was introduced at InfoComm 2006. The Slate 2100 switcher, introduced at IBC 2006, adds more inputs, keyers, clip channels and redundancy to address the needs of the most demanding live television applications. Robotic control of cameras is optional.
About Broadcast Pix Broadcast Pix is the leader in live television production systems that are more powerful, easier to use, and far more cost effective than a traditional control room of individual components. Broadcast Pix Slate switchers enable a single operator or small team to create engaging live video. Broadcast Pix is the technology leader in the fusion of production switcher and computer technology, and is based in Burlington, Massachusetts, with offices in California, North Carolina and Amsterdam. Customers include over 300 leading broadcast, cable, entertainment, mobile, corporate, education, religious and government studios in 30 countries. For more information, go to www.broadcastpix.com. Broadcast Pix, Slate and AutoAspect are trademarks of Broadcast Pix, Inc. Patents pending.
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