Advice Needed for a Switcher
I really like the Tricaster TXCD300 for my 2 EX3's and 1 EX1 for its virtual sets, live keyer and very much like its control interface but the price requires extra people to approve the purchase; so, I need to keep each item below $10,000. I also like the Panasonic AV-HS400A and I would use a nanoFlash to record from it. The problem I have with the Datavideo units under $10k is that they do not embed audio into the outgoing SDI stream (and vice versa) so a nanoFlash would not work in this case as I need to record 2-4 inputs.
The switcher will be used mostly in our studio with talking heads in addition to several events but nothing live at the moment. I am trying to make my editing as simple and quick as possible so I can get these shows on air within 24 hours. (Each camera's internal recording will be backup only)
Do all switchers require choosing a single camera as the next camera to be switched on? I always had the idea it would be like multi-cam editing where I can hit the number of the source and go to any source afterward.
If I take your question right, my answer is that this is more a question of individual technical director operating style. In school you are are first (and properly) taught to load up each shot into the preview bus before you take it live, and you are oh-so-careful calling every step out loud in sequence. But there is nothing that will explode if you just punch direct on the program bus. It only means that you have to be more careful, because pre-setting shots on the preview bus and alerting the next camera with a vocal "ready two, take two" gives the camera op a last warning to keep stable and framed, and gives you one last chance to see what is next. If I had something complex set up on the upper effects bus, I would punch that to the preview bus first as a precaution and to double-check that those elements are right. I'll also do that for supering lower-thirds, at least for the first super at any time I've changed them. If they haven't changed, I will just key them in. This is possible due to the kind of work we do.
We shoot a lot of talk shows here with three cameras, and except for effecting in from the pre-produced intro tape and to get in and out of spot breaks, I generally just keep the fingers of one hand on the program bus with three fingers over the three camera buttons and I punch the cameras direct without pre-setting them on preview. I leave the preview bus on the camera three wide shot, and I have iso camera monitors close at hand to see what the other two cams are doing, if I need them, but in the case of a talking heads public affairs type thing, the cams are not highly dynamic shot-to-shot. I also do it this way so that I can instantly react the cameras to go with the flow of the conversation, following the rythm of the speech and the tempo of the reactions. If I have to pre-set a bus before taking the reaction to something one guy said, I've usually missed the reaction by then, and the whole show becomes a chase to catch up to who is talking, when in fact a good TD is going to anticipate the flow of the conversation and take the next guy's facial and postural cues *before* he opens his mouth to react, and cutting as a sort of visual punctuation of the conversation.
Our crew is so experienced, to a visitor in the control room it looks like we're doing eveything by telepathy; I rarely have to call a "set" or "take" (I switch my own show, directing and TD and graphics, and sometimes audio but that's really one step too many and is bad for show quality). That comes from years of doing the same show with the same guys: it is not that we get into a rut but that you all know instinctively what to do and when, and you get used to each director's timing and expectations. We have had shows keep going when the intercoms have died, and you couldn't really tell, because of that accumulated experience and shared rythm. It is very like jamming with musician friends when you all know the basic tune well.
You can check an app switcher. It will fully comply with your current needs at a fraction of the price.
You can connect 4 cameras via hdv,component,composite or hd/sdi depending on you needs and the product you choose. You have a lot of the functionality of a newtek system (which are great)You can insert graphivs,titles,videos,pip,and more works ntsc/pal interlaced and progresive. external monitor,record to hdd or deck. plus stream to internet at the same time.
All for much less than 10k. latter if you want you can get the newtek switchher.
I've kept one eye on these software-based rigs, but they always seem to have a catch here or there. The computer may need extra cards to handle the inputs, or like for ChannelStorm LiveChannel, only one of the inputs is firewire and the rest have to be USB at lower thruput and rez... there always seems to be a lot of compromises involved that are not apparent up front. I'm interested, yet skeptical, is what I'm saying. Avtake looks impressive at first blush but I'm wary. I'll need to read the fine print.
Noticed Adorama is selling standard-def tricasters at under 5 grand now.
Bang for the buck and for less headache, go with a TriCaster. My experience has been that most other "assembled" solutions (software included)tend to be more trouble than they are worth...excluding enterprise grade deployments of components, of course.
In addition, the Tricaster interface and control surface are very familiar to TDs or board ops. I've been involved with hundreds of clients, and the solution with the highest success rate in your price range has been the TriCaster.
The SD units are under 10K (street), including the nice Broadcast unit. Find a reseller, they commonly have units which were used for demo, or rental facilities may have gear it is time to sell, in order to buy more.
If you're on the West Coast, message me...I can give you some names.
.: michael kammes mpse
.: senior applications editor . post workflow consultant
.: audio specialist . act fcp . acsr
Never had a problem with my app switcher. I connect to 4 firewire cards without a problem. It works better than most hardware switchers in the same proceline but adds quite a few extras. I use 4 z1 cameras, and have 4 preview monitros and a program monitor. Tricasters cannot do that unless you have the tdz 300 one. I can insert video, have 7 pip windows, graphics ,
My system with program,computer and cards cost about $2800.00 If you want hd with decklink cards hd/sdi its about $4000.
With both you get broadcast quality video. You can record to external deck or any hdd, and have an external monitor.
I have done live to tape sports like voleibol and Boxing for direct tv. no problem at all. I also do some talking heads content.
This has most of the funcionality of broadcast pix and most tricasters.
If you got the money then then get a tricaster they are great but for your prsent needs i would take a look at avtake.com
I need an all-on-one solution so I have a single point of contact for hardware & software support.
I have been researching the Panasonic HS-50 and that unit looks to be almost perfect for basic needs. Plus, its the only switcher I found under $20k that does 24p rather than 1080 60i, and its only $4,000.
But, the keyer and virtual sets in the Tricaster TCDX300 are almost worth the extra $10k; however, I would still be stuck with only 1080 60i and 720 60p.
I just remembered the new Panasonic AG-HMX100 which is only $5500 and does 1080 24p as well in addition to 8 XLR inputs, which is important for me. I think this switcher might be the one.