FORUMS: list search recent posts

Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?

COW Forums : Broadcasting

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
Mark Suszko
Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?
on Feb 3, 2011 at 9:45:55 pm

Making my studio upgrade wish lists, and while thinking about new HD cams and a switcher (maybe the Panny 400 or something like it), it occurs to us we have no HD character generator figured out yet.

We're small and very cheap, being a government facility facing cutbacks. I guess I can grab any old PC and use photoshop plus some kind of interface (what?) to the switcher, but that is kind of clunky. I wish there was the HD equivalent of our old (still running, thankyou) Pinnacle Alladin for use as a CG. Before that our CG was a Chyron VP-2, so I have a bit of a learning curve:-)

Anyway, as we move away from these steam-powered dinosaurs and add an overlay of modern HD-ness on the shop, what would you suggest I look at in the low-dollar/high value area for an HD-capable Character Generators/still stores?


Return to posts index

Tim Ward
Re: Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?
on Feb 3, 2011 at 10:20:23 pm

I don't know anything about it, but Softron Media's OnTheAir CG with a Decklink HD Extreme 3D might work, giving you HD output with key.


Return to posts index

Dave LaRonde
Re: Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?
on Feb 3, 2011 at 10:44:21 pm

Well, there are CG's and there are CG's. What do you expect this thing to be capable of doing?
For example, if you put up a fancy lower-third with an artsy background, do you need the background to be semi-transparent, animated and looping?

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


Return to posts index


Mark Suszko
Re: Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?
on Feb 3, 2011 at 10:57:51 pm

We're not too ambitious in the live work over here; we mostly use a CG to serve up stills pre-made in photoshop, titles and lower thirds for half-hour public affairs talking heads type shows. The stuff that's more challenging has graphics handled in post instead. Animated lower thirds sound cool but probably wouldn't get used much in our live-switched stuff. Yes, it needs a key output, I'm guessing it would feed a Panny 400 switcher's key bus via HD SDI cable. The real driving issue is value for (almost no) money, versus a lot of capability.

I saw this:

http://www.casparcg.com/

Any good, d'ya think? Sure it's free and open-source, but a PC with a Bluefish card and what-else still has to be sourced. Are PC -based solutions with a video output card our best bet in this lower price regime, or is there a dedicated stand-alone box for HD CG work, sort of a modern equivalent of the VP-2? We use an old version of Image North Inscriber right now, embarassed to say still running on a windows 98 system.

Well, I SAID we were poor.


Return to posts index

Chuck Pullen
Re: Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?
on Feb 4, 2011 at 2:47:03 pm

Cheapest "real" CG is probably something from Compix or CGenie, but you're still looking at a several thousand dollar investment at least. If you do go the Panny 400 route, you can get the DVI input card and they claim you can feed it from a PC or MAC running Photoshop and create decent graphics that way (See the brochure on the 400 page). My original plan was to use the Blackmagic card with key/fill outputs, but then you would be eating up two valuable inputs on the switcher, so you are looking at least one extra SDI input card.

Chuck


Return to posts index

Chad Brewer
Re: Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?
on Feb 6, 2011 at 1:48:40 am

I like the looks of that Caspar CG software being compatible with BMD Decklink and Bluefish cards. I'm going to look into that.

We don't have a need for live switching, but just live keys and static CG. Our Abekas A72 is still alive and well some how, but we've found that we can take a Blackmagic HD Decklink that is no longer in use and put it in a PC that is just hanging around and get what we need off that single SDI output. That being said, we have an extensive patch bay and SDI router, so all we need is for the CG to come out on that one SDI and then handle it with routing.

I'm curious to look into how the Caspar CG software could enhance a one PC/one SDI card setup on the cheap like this.

Chad Brewer
Senior Broadcast Videotape Operator
TeleVersions, LLC


Return to posts index


Chuck Pullen
Re: Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?
on Feb 7, 2011 at 3:53:09 pm

I'm thinking the same thing Chad. If Caspar CG works as advertised, this may be a great solution for the price (FREE! How often does that happen?)

I'm really curious about these Bluefish cards though, does anyone use them and can you provide some insight? At this point they just look like overpriced BM cards for this particular application.

Chuck


Return to posts index

Hreinn Beck
Re: Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?
on Feb 8, 2011 at 7:22:11 pm

I can highly recommend CasparCG. At the moment I'm not sure I can classify it as a simple and user friendly CG but for the OP's request of serving up stills etc. the simple client that comes with the download is enough.

Caspar's real feature is that it's so open that you can do whatever you like with it. I recently finished over 40 hours of broadcasts where we had Caspar collect comments from Facebook that the PA ran as a ticker and lower thirds depending on the posts. Caspar was first used for election TV to simplify the data handling, not just on TV but also on the web (where they practically used the same Flash interface).

Caspar is built on a client-server architecture (though you can run both on a single machine) so that you can have one client control various servers and their outputs. Imagine going to a new segment and the projected backgrounds of the set change as the graphics come on screen, or changing just one screen with a competitors score in a game show.

If you have the time to do some digging around Caspar and the demo projects you'll see what a powerful engine it brings to the game. I for one won't be spending anymore time on other CG's.


Return to posts index

Chad Brewer
Re: Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?
on Feb 9, 2011 at 12:34:09 am

[Hreinn Beck] "At the moment I'm not sure I can classify it as a simple and user friendly CG"

I'm interested to get it to work. I installed the server and the client and it doesn't seem like a "drag and drop" in media type of interface. I only see the option of loading crx files (which I don't even know what those are).

I also downloaded Caspar's PAL Quicktime test file that they say can be "triggered" in the client, but I can't find out how to trigger anything in the client. They also said to put files in the _media folder which I don't see....

Perhaps I need to download another element for it to work or I need to dig further into the application to see how to operate it.

Trying to get it going with a Blackmagic HD card on Windows 7. I'll keep trying.

Chad Brewer
Senior Broadcast Videotape Operator
TeleVersions, LLC


Return to posts index


Hreinn Beck
Re: Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?
on Feb 9, 2011 at 2:30:40 pm

Your media goes into c:\casparcg\_media\ That is the default location for templates, graphics and videos (but you can change that if needed).

Once you've opened up a CasparCG consumer (be it GDI, Decklink or other) you have to make sure your'e connected to the consumer, click on File->Settings and then select the Outputs tab. There you should have the IP of the server (if it's a different machine) or just localhost if your running the client on the same computer as the consumer. Default ports and channels should be sufficient.

Then hit the NEW button on in the Rundown fieldset and a new event is displayed. Then go to the Pre-Rendered graphics tab of the Settings window (in the middle of the client). Select the video under the File pulldown and select wether it loops and how it transitions between events. Then you can hit Load and then Play in the Rundown buttons or just hit spacebar for instant playback.


Return to posts index

Chad Brewer
Re: Suggestions for an HD CG unit on a budget?
on Feb 11, 2011 at 8:16:06 pm

Thank you for your reply Hreinn.

I got the CG working on a PC, SDI out of a Decklink card, but ONLY with the test Quicktime that I download from CasparCG's site.
It won't serve any of the Quicktimes I've made for it - PAL Animation, NTSC Animation, NTSC PNG, etc...

I've read mixed reviews that it will and won't play out NTSC/lower field, but I also can't get it to play any other PAL Quicktime other than CasparCG's file. I'm trying to use this strictly for NTSC...

Any guidance would be appreciated.
Thanks.

Chad Brewer
Senior Broadcast Videotape Operator
TeleVersions, LLC


Return to posts index

Chad Brewer
Re: CasparCG
on Feb 15, 2011 at 1:52:38 am

Mark (who turned the thread on to the CasparCG free/open source) and Chuck, et.al.,

I've been doing a lot of testing with these very gracious people in Sweden. The current build of CasparCG is specifically designed for PAL. Considering our facility has both PAL and NTSC equipment and monitoring, but our true need is for an NTSC based CG, we're waiting for the newest build of their software that is supposed to support NTSC. They are supporting multiple flavors of HD as Mark, you were looking for, but currently based on 25fps. They are working on a new build which would support lower field NTSC and 29.97 based HD.

Having got the current version to work with PAL sourced files, it is basic. You need to rely on an NLE or graphics program to create exactly what you're looking to serve out, not the CG program that seems to only add basic transitions and looping unlike more complex CG/switchers.

But hey, it's still free and I can be patient for free. If the new build does support serving graphics and pre-rendered video files for our needs with a $300 BMD card and a computer that is just there keeping us company, then it could still serve certain purposes for the price. I'll post if I find out anything further.

Chad Brewer
Senior Broadcast Videotape Operator
TeleVersions, LLC


Return to posts index


Chuck Pullen
Re: CasparCG
on Feb 15, 2011 at 6:47:16 pm

Hey Chad, thanks for doing the homework on this and reporting back. Just curious if you could elaborate on the status of their new build that would support NTSC and 30 frame Hd? Did you chat with them directly on this and reiterate that there is a huge demand for their product on this side of the pond as well? Are they currently working on the new build, or is this a planned project for them?

I have read on their message boards that someone with some basic coding knowledge can manipulate the program to deal with the frame/field dominance issues? Do you feel that that is something that is easy enough that we here on the board can work through it and share the results?

Sorry for all the questions and thanks,

Chuck


Return to posts index

Chad Brewer
Re: CasparCG
on Feb 19, 2011 at 1:56:24 am

Hey Chuck, sorry for the delayed response to your inquiry.

I have been talking with the developers and they are very gracious, yet very PAL oriented. Some of them work for Swedish broadcast and understandably they aren't "that" concerned with our legacy NTSC issues. The new build is not a future project, but one they are working on now and I did express to them that there is a demand for their product on the West coast of the Atlantic.

As far as working through the code, their stance is that if the new build is buggy, we can help fix the open source through testing, because they don't really have NTSC plant-based equipment to test it like we do. By the way, I hate code and want nothing to do with it - I have my hands full with video engineering.

I'd suggest downloading their free client to see if the interface and capabilities are what you'd look for in a CG. Even if it soon supports NTSC, it is basic. It supports playlist serving of pre-made video/graphics, but honestly our old Abekus A72 has more capabilities than this software. At this point, outside of running pre-made playlists, if we have a dedicated SDI signal off a PC like a Blackmagic card, we can just use an NLE like FCP or Premiere to serve things out in the same manner and have more control, just not completely live, and no I haven't tested its live switching ability with playlists.

But I take my hat off to them for making something free and open-source and striving to make it better.

Chad Brewer
Senior Broadcast Videotape Operator
TeleVersions, LLC


Return to posts index

Jonas Hummelstrand
Re: CasparCG
on May 25, 2011 at 10:01:01 am

While the current version (1.8) of CasparCG Server doesn't support NTSC, the upcoming CasparCG Server 2.0 will support NTSC and include many more features. I encourage anyone interested in playing out real-time graphics and videos to check out the features ( http://www.casparcg.com/features/ ) case studies ( http://www.casparcg.com/case ) and tutorials ( http://www.casparcg.com/tutorials ) and then to ask questions in our forum.

Here are some of the features in the current version that might interest you (and that you will find it hard to do with an Abekus or an NLE:)
* Playing real-time graphics being fed from data (such as XML.)
* Transition between multiple video files (with fill+key+audio) played from disk in real-time without caching.
* Add graphics (with alpha) on top of incoming video without the need of a DSK (DeckLink cards only.)
* Open protocol that allows you to control the play-out from your own controller.

Jonas Hummelstrand
http://twitter.com/CasparCG
http://facebook.com/CasparCG
http://about.me/hummelstrand


Return to posts index


Chuck Pullen
Re: CasparCG
on May 25, 2011 at 2:46:32 pm

Thanks for the update Jonas! Can't wait for version 2.0 to come out!

Chuck Pullen


Return to posts index

Robert Nagy
Re: CasparCG
on Jun 23, 2011 at 8:46:14 pm

CasparCG 2.0 Alpha has been released.

Feel free to try it out.

We appreciate any feedback.

http://www.casparcg.com


Return to posts index

Jonas Hummelstrand
Re: CasparCG
on Jul 6, 2011 at 9:10:43 pm

Version 2.0a has a bunch of new capabilities that might interest you:
  • Play NTSC, PAL and HD output with progressive, and upper-field and lower-field interlacing to screen or DeckLink or Bluefish video cards.
  • Use multiple video cards and cards with several outputs, supporting both Bluefish and DeckLink cards.
  • Now works on Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP.
  • Better performance by taking advantage of all your processors (fully multi-threaded,) and moving many operations to the graphics card.
  • Stack multiple videos, Flash graphics and images in any order and output (both fill and key) to one or several video cards and screens. You can even swap the stacking-order in real-time!
  • Generate key (alpha) from separate files (video, Flash and images) with support for non-alpha-capable codecs, such as H.264. You can even generate key (alpha) from different media types, for example using a Flash template to cut out a part of a video file.
  • Play many types of bitmap images with the new Image Producer which replaces the TGA Producer.
  • The new "Screen Producer" replaces the Fullscreen Producer and the GDI Producer and supports both fullscreen and windowed output at different resolutions.
  • Scale, move, mask and change the opacity and video gain of one or several clips with the new real-time Mixer. Use a number of animation types for professional results.
  • Display all available channels (with content such as videos, images, Flash templates and colors) in a grid.
  • Use input video+audio fed into DeckLink video cards just like any other media type.
  • Select a custom loop in-point for video files.
  • Pause both videos and Flash graphics.
  • All video transitions can now be animated with a number of animation types.
  • Fully interlaced video transitions (previously they were only progressive, even when running in interlaced mode.)
  • Audio is now mixed during video transitions.
  • Audio levels can be changed in real-time using gain.
  • Embedded SDI audio support with both Bluefish and DeckLink video cards.
  • Monitor the performance with graphs in the new Diagnostics window.
  • Video, audio and image files can now be placed in subfolders, just like Flash files.
  • Smoother animations and better interlacing in the Flash Producer.
  • Blend modes between layers (coming in later release.)
  • No installer required, all configuration is now done in an XML text file instead of in the Windows Registry.
  • Consumers can now be added and removed at run-time, without having to restart the Server.
  • Swap producers between layers and channels during run-time.
  • Asynchronous file I/O with improved buffering.
  • Parallel decoding of audio and video.
  • Real-time commands viewable in the new Console window.
  • Improved logging with full exception details, and a new log file for every server start.
  • Backwards-compatible AMCP protocol supporting all new Server features.
  • Find out the running version of the CasparCG Server and the TemplateHost via a network query.
  • DeckLink output is now using the card's hardware clock.
  • BlueFish drivers are now loaded on-demand, making it possible to have a single Server application.
  • Per-sample mixing between source and destination clips during video transitions.
  • The Flash Producer now uses DirectDraw access, resulting in improved performance.
  • All new GPU-accelerated internal pipeline with the following functions all being done on the GPU: Compositing, Colorspace transforms (rgba, bgra, argb, yuv, yuva, yuv-hd, yuva-hd), Interlacing, Per-layer image-transforms: opacity, gain, scaling, clipping, transform, The Color Producer
  • Major code refactoring for improved readability and maintainability. 66% of legacy code removed.
  • Rewritten to take advantage of common standardized libraries instead of custom solutions.
  • Work done to facilitate cross-platform porting (the greatest challenge for full platform-independence being the Flash Producer.)


Still free and open-source:
http://www.casparcg.com/casparcg-server2alpha

Jonas Hummelstrand
http://twitter.com/CasparCG
http://facebook.com/CasparCG
http://about.me/hummelstrand


Return to posts index

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
© 2017 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]