While portable switchers vary on the functions and features they offer—robotic camera control, compactness, single-user control—what they all seek to provide is content that is at least the same quality as broadcast television.
by J.J. Smith
FOR-A’s HVS-300 FOR-A HVS-300
The FOR-A HVS-300 is a broadcast quality switcher with a compact console that can be integrated into small trucks, flypacks, or small studios, and is very user friendly. That is what the HVS-300 portable switcher offers, says Pedro Silvestre, FOR-A’s sales director. It is suited for a wide-range of applications, including studio, live event, sports, Flypacks, ENG/SNG OB vehicles, houses of worship, news, live staging and corporate productions, according to FOR-A. The unit has been extremely successful among houses of worship and universities, Silvestre added.
The HVS-300 is also used by companies that want to produce, and stream, video content over the web by adding a transcoder, he said. In addition, the HVS-300 supports a variety of inputs, including DVI, HSDI, as well as analog, allowing control of up to 12 cameras, he said.
The HVS-300 series also has keyer with chroma key, DSK, dual Picture-in-Picture, 16-channel Multi Viewer, Still Stores and much more. It has four HD/SD-SDI inputs and outputs in the standard configuration. That includes two PGM outputs and two AUX outputs. With optional I/O cards it can provide up to a maximum 12 Inputs and 8 Outputs, including analog component, analog composite, DVI, and RGB.
Mobile Studios’ PortaCast 50 While the HVS-300 is designed to be an all-digital switcher, it can be used by clients who still have analog cameras, Silvestre said. The switcher is “like a jack of all trades in terms of inputs, you can truly mix them up,” he added.
MOBILE STUDIOS PORTACAST 50
Richard Rubin, the president of Mobile Studios, Inc., says anyone who is doing remote production or taking production on the road, will be interested in obtaining Mobile Studios’ PortaCast 50, which has a portable switcher with a monitor built in, and multiple inputs.
“Whenever you have to take production on the road, this (the PortaCast 50) would be the answer,” Rubin said. It features a Panasonic AWHS 50 switcher, and a 22-inch LED in the flip top. It also takes four HD-SDI inputs and a computer input, a DVI, or a HDMI input. In addition, it offers the option of a robotic controller, he said. It weighs 35 pounds, has a pull out handle and is very easy to manage, Rubin said. “It’s also completely waterproof. If you were to check this as baggage in the baggage compartment of an airplane, and this stood on the tarmac in the rain waiting to be loaded, there’s no way it’ll get wet,” he said.
Rubin noted that the initial buyers for Mobile Studies’ portable switchers was the U.S. House of Representatives. House committees use Mobile Studies’ portable switchers to record hearings in committee chambers and when a hearing is conducted on the road, he said. The house broadcast staff take the equipment for remote broadcasting and web streaming, he added.
A feature that users find attractive is that the PortaCast 50 can be equipped with a robotic camera control, Rubin said. For those with limited budgets, the optional robotic camera control enables the unit to be a one-man operation. “Set up the cameras, plug everything in, and one person can control the cameras and the switching,” he said. “We feel there’s a big future in robotics, people are very price sensitive these days and they’re trying to cut expenses wherever they can, and the need for manpower, and the expense for that manpower is moving people to more and more use robotics,” he added.
NewTek’s TriCaster TCXD850 NEWTEK TRICASTER TCXD850
While the mobility and ease of use of a portable switcher are important, it is content “that looks like broadcast television” that is the standard, said Philip Nelson, NewTek’s senior vice president of strategic development.
Users want “the polish of broadcast television” from portable switchers, and to achieve that users expect control of multiple cameras; they expect to be able to include graphics, and “roll in elements like highlight reels, or pre-edited packages,” Nelson said. That can be found in NewTek’s TriCaster TCXD850, he added. It is a device that is easy to learn, and is portable, while still being able to do a full broadcast television show. “We have clients going live to TV out of TriCaster, you can’t tell the difference between a truck and a TriCaster,” he said.
The TriCaster TCXD850 provides video in up to 1080p resolution, and streams it live to the Internet and other digital media, in up to 720p resolution, the highest in the industry, and with the click of a button, users can simultaneously record productions in up to 1080p resolution. In addition, the TriCaster TCXD850 supports video input from up to eight cameras, in any combination of HD-SDI, HD component, SD-SDI, SD component, Y/C and composite; and includes support for four channels of AES digital audio or balanced XLR analog audio per camera, and SDI embedded audio support for each camera connected through HD-SDI or SD-SDI inputs.
In addition, the TriCaster TCXD850 is a 24-channel, HD/SD live production switcher which also includes benefits such as 18 HD live virtual sets and advanced matte generation; two network inputs for connection to an unlimited number of external displays from a Mac or PC; overlay with keying, positioning, scaling, cropping, and rotation in 3D, plus animated effects; enhanced media player capabilities; full field rate preview monitors, color Waveform and Vectorscope displays, and multi-view monitoring of all inputs and outputs; redundant power supply; and removable storage, according to NewTek.
“We have taken a very complicated work flow, live television, and made it simple to do, so it’s not just the guys who have worked in a truck for 30 years who can use it, but there are fifth graders in Las Vegas using a TriCastor to do their daily school news cast,” Nelson said. “That’s what makes it so exciting for us, is that we’re making live television available to anyone.”