When it comes to educational television, equipment needs to be robust, durable, and affordable.
by Michael Bucca
A TV-21 student runs the Indigo AV mixer Students enrolled in the TV-21 educational program at the Toms River Regional School District in Toms River, N.J., have been fortunate to learn the craft of television production on the Grass Valley Indigo AV Mixer. This switcher and audio mixer combination unit has been able to let educational access productions grow in both professionalism and complexity.
Many educational facilities use a lot of different video sources, and the Indigo is ready to work with them right out of the box. It supports up to 12 inputs of standard-def video, including composite, component, S-Video, SDI and FireWire. The switcher also offers internal digital-to-analog conversions. It is possible to output in SDI, S-Video and composite.
There is also an option for high-res sources such as DVI, which allows productions to accept video from, and output video to, a computer source. Facilities that need to, use PowerPoint presentations or live websites as a part of their productions will find this invaluable.
Indigo has made the transition to HD easy to accomplish. The unit located at TV-21 is the high-res version of the switcher with the Grass Valley Acappella clean switch router. This router serves an HD expansion unit and can support up to eight HD-SDI sources, and two HD-SDI outputs feed into Indigo. Two additional outputs can be used as HD-SDI aux feeds. The router interfaces with the switcher via Ethernet, and allows the unit to switch HD sources and keyers right from the Indigo’s control surface.
Some educational facilities such as TV-21 do not yet have HD cameras or servers, but the Indigo provides a very efficient path for upgrade.
The control panel on the Indigo has three buses of 10 buttons each, and another 10 are accessible through a shift function. It also contains two keyers, which can be set as luminance, chroma key, or picture-in-picture. The T-bar is standard size and completes transitions professionally. The panel also contains controls for transitions, aux sends and E-MEM recall.
The touchscreen interface is attractive and very responsive, with the menus laid out in a tabbed structure. Located next to the switcher are the audio controls, which can be controlled by either the physical fader or a corresponding menu on the touch screen.
Grass Valley has stayed true to its long lineage of production switchers with the Indigo. Features such as multichannel still store, E-MEM recall, external routing and customizable digital transitions are tools once only available in the highest-end switchers.
The unit’s features go beyond a traditional switcher or audio board. The Indigo contains input color correction, internal digital and analog conversions and internal sync generation, which let a facility step away from outboard equipment. It also accepts an analog reference, demonstrating the unit’s flexibility.
Without the need for a time base corrector, sync generator, or converters, the Indigo serves purposes far beyond a switcher and audio board, saving an educational facility precious dollars.
The Indigo AV Mixer is a standalone unit that fits nicely on a tabletop surface. The unit contains no separate processing frame, as all of its inputs and outputs are located on the back of the unit.
Michael Bucca is a technician with the Toms River Regional School District in Toms River, N.J. He also is a freelance technical director for WABC-TV in New York.