Connectivity in the studio
I'm interested to know how devices in the studio (cameras,
broadcast-decks, monitors) all hook together and if there
is a need for that to evolve.
I believe the best technology today, is a video hub/switch
to which all devices plug-in. Static "links" are then
established through software settings on the hub/switch.
Is that flexible enough?
Is there a need for studio devices to dynamically connect
to any other device in the studio without user intervention
(ie, similar to an IP network.)? Such a standard is being
defined in IEEE, but not sure if it has much utility in
I'm interested to hear your thoughts.
[Faisal Haq] "I'm interested to know how devices in the studio (cameras,
broadcast-decks, monitors) all hook together"
Routing Switcher here.
There are only two ways to do this. Nothing has changed in decades (other than the evolution from analog video to SD SDI video to HD-SDI video). You either use PATCH BAYS or Routing Switchers.
The least expensive way to do this is with patch bays (audio bays, video bays, RS422 bays). Manufacturers of these products include ADC, Trompeter, Canare, Switchcraft, Bittree, AVP, and countless others. Even when routing switchers are used, it is always advised to use patch bays as well (cameras, VTR's, etc. normalling thru the patch bays into your router) because the router can die.
Historically routing switchers were expensive. As new manufacturers got into the routing business, the prices have dropped dramatically. These companies include Kramer Electronics, Sigma Electronics, Sierra Video Systems, and others (for less expensive routers). However, because of the need for multiple types of video (analog composite, analog component, SDI, HD-SDI), and different types of audio (analog audio, AES audio), and RS422 VTR control, multi format routers from even these cheap companies has still been very expensive.
At NAB 2008, a radical new product was introduced by Blackmagic Design. It is the 72x144 crosspoint SDI/HD-SDI router with integrated RS422 control. This router, at $14,995, is the lowest price router in the history of routing switchers for this size. In the past Blackmagic had a 12x24 router for $4995, but this was considered too small by many facilities with multiple rooms. With the release of the new massive 72x144 VideoHub from Blackmagic, this is a new era in routing switcher technology. Of course, the only downfall is that this is not a multi level router, which means that if you have analog component or analog composite sources, with analog audio, this must be converted to SDI or HD-SDI with external converters. Blackmagic released an inexpensive series of A/D D/A converters for $495 each, but if you have 20 devices that need conversion, this adds up quickly.
With that said, $499 for a video patch bay is cheaper than any router.
Thanks, Bob, Matte.
I guess the added flexibility of a routing-switcher isn't
always enough to justify its cost. It'll be interesting to
see how the Videohub takes off.
In time these routing-switchers can get even more sophisticated
(web-enabled control/monitoring, access policies, network-mounted
storage, etc.) Do you think these capabilities would be of
interest in a studio?
I don't understand your question.
I build facilities, and deal with clients that have no money.
Nothing is cheaper than patch bays. Any electronic solution may be wonderful, any IT solution may be wonderful, but at the current time, nothing is cheaper than PATCHBAYS that are manufactured in China.
I too am having a bit of trouble seeing where you're going with this, but I think most of what you mention is already available if you have the budget for it. I work part time filling in as an engineer in a local branch of a channel here, and although I won't pretend to be an expert on all our gear yet, we control our router from a computer interface, and yes, we do have to log in to access the router.
As for web control/monitoring, in the sense of using a web browser to make connections, it seems a bit slow and unreliable to me, compared to dedicated software. There's enough stuff that could happen in those busy minutes before going live that I imagine those extra seconds waiting for a web page to refresh/reload or loading another sub-page wouldn't be worth it. But controlling the router over a LAN? Sure, we already do that here (and I wouldn't be surprised if, given the right permissions, the branch in the next county could control the router in our control room).
But, this is all based on my workplace, and I've only been in this business for a couple years. Might well be other situations the stuff you're mentioning is more useful. Larger editing facilities, perhaps? Or I might just be missing your point entirely :-)
Sorry folks...not trying to be cryptic...I'm just trying to
figure out if there is a need for components in a studio
to internetwork better...and if so, in what way.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, there are evolving standards
that define how devices will distribute video/audio more
efficiently in the future, but I'm not clear how they would
apply in a studio. Hence my question.
Thanks for all your comments.
However, remember that with the widespread change over to server based play out systems rather than traditional VTR's at most broadcast facilities these days, the connectivity between these servers is relying more heavily on traditional "IT" distribution methods. Many server based systems are transferring data via CAT5 or CAT6 Gigabit.
I believe that the traditional routing switcher is still a very necessary piece of equipment but a solid and fast network is quickly becoming just as necessary for smooth operations in a modern broadcast plant.
I am going to answer your question. If you are trying to "future proof" your facility - FORGET IT. No matter what you buy, no matter what you plan for, no matter what you predict, new equipment will come out, and your equipment, cabling, and investments will be outdated. Modern companies in 2008 must plan for obsolesence. There is no more "10 year plan" to make sure that your expensive purchases today will work well in 2018. The only things that will probably work in 2018 will be the racks that you screw your equipment into. EVERYTHING ELSE will be obsolete.
Buy what you need, because tomorrow, something else will come out. For example, why would you wire now for 10Gig Ethernet with CX4 cable, when conventional RJ45 for CAT 6 will be out in a few months. People who "planned" with 2 Gig Fibre channel, not only had to deal with the development of 4 Gig Fibre products, but now, ATTO is releasing 8 Gig Fibre. What will your investment in 2 Gig Fibre Channel fabric switches do for you now - they are USELESS.