Vaddio’s ProductionVIEW HD

I had the opportunity this week to get a real close look at Vaddio's ProductionVIEW HD system this week at a dealer show here in Toronto. It was an event that allowed me to get a close look at the system and "kick the tires" as the saying goes. The intended application for the technology will be in Ryerson's SPIRIT (Student Produced Internet Radio and Interactive Technologies) internet radio station. Internet Radio is quite interesting. The station currently employs a traditional radio station DJ set-up, an automated radio station package and several security video camera's connected to a small switcher to add video to the stations Internet stream. We're in the process of relocating the station to a new part of the Rogers Communications Centre at Ryerson so we're modernizing it with the move.

In a nutshell Vaddio’s ProductionVIEW HD system has been designed for simple one handed operation and control of remotely controlled cameras. In addition to Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) control, its console provides for switching video –up to 1080p!!!– between cameras or computer graphic sources. Its video mixer provides for six inputs and switching functions includes cuts, dissolves, basic wipes, picture-in-picture and graphic/computer display integration. As a system it can deliver and receive all signaling between its control console and cameras up to 500 feet away using Cat 5 cable.

Signaling includes the camera PTZ control, HDTV quality video and power. The delivery of power is a great feature of this system as it greatly simplifies installation of the cameras. The system also employs Camera Control Units (CCU’s) that provides two important functions. First the unit has the required painting controls so one can colour match the various camera’s and provides the capability to store two video presets. Secondly PTZ camera’s lose their colour set-up when they power down. Because the CCU stores the set-up, the system can quickly become operable at a very high quality.

The unit we looked at was equipped with a single Sony BRC-H700 high definition pan/tilt/zoom camera and a Mac laptop. The Sony BRC-H700 camera employs three CCD sensors and has a 12x optical zoom lens and I believe is widely considered SONY’s best PTZ camera. The camera when on its own and when mixed with the computer images produced gorgeous High Definition images on the ProductionVIEW HD’s output screen.

While the camera and images really shone I thought the real star of the show was the layout ProductionVIEW HD console. As I mentioned earlier, the console been designed for simple one handed operation which is important in the SPIRIT environment where the talent is usually the operator. According to Vaddio’s Jesi Wytonick the company took a lot of input from users in the field and employed it in the design of the layout of the ProductionVIEW HD console. All of the operable controls were brought to the surface so operators wont have to go digging through menus. These show up in terms of switch selectors, knobs and buttons to quickly activate the desired function.

A first look at the console shows (click on all pictures for full rez images) how the design was implemented. Each function on the operator panels surface is divided into quickly digestable operator controls. A closer look at each of these functions reveals how Vaddio incorporated their design strategy to create usable operator controls. You can download the PDF on the product that explains it in terms of Vaddio’s marketing but basically the features are as follows;

Camera Controls

Six Camera Control Selectors with each allowing for 12 camera presets

A top quality joystick camera PTZ control that allows for very fine camera movement. Outboard Pan, Tilt, Zoom Speed Controls. Button on top of joystick that returns selected camera to "Home" position.

Focus and Iris controls that can be set to Auto or operated under manual control

Focus and Iris controls that can be set to Auto or operated under manual control

Switching Controls

ProductionVIEW HD contains a traditional Program/Preview switcher bus arrangement with two individual outputs each for Program and Preview on the back of the console

The output resolution to both preview and program outputs can be set independent to any resolution meaning that an operator could simultaneously switch both busses and provide an HD output from the Program output and a standard definition feed from the Preview output

Vaddio’s switcher operates in the traditional manner where typical cut switching can be accomplished directly on the Program or Preview busses. Wipes, dissolves as well as cuts between Program and Preview busses can be selected and accomplished with the Take button and associated selector controls. To keep the interface simple the ProductionVIEW HD has a modest selection of wipe patterns and positioning options

Another option on the switcher is the ability to put Picture In Picture. Once again the unit limits the positioning to four screen locations but the unit does provide for small, medium and large window sizes

The unit does not “key” in the manner that a standard broadcast production switcher does but the unit will place the lower third of a computer screen –such as a PowerPoint or Keynote slide— overtop of a live camera

In addition the ProductionVIEW HD offers several levels of transparency for overlaid graphics that assists greatly in reducing the “look” of harshness

The ProductionVIEW HD includes the ability to accept computer inputs of resolutions and has graphic capabilities by making use of computer inputs. The unit allows for full computer outputs to become a source with the same mixing, wiping and picture-in-picture functions as live cameras

Building Vaddio’s ProductionVIEW HD system has been designed to be as simple as possible. One thing that system designers need to take into account is frame delay. While the Vaddio ProductionVIEW HD console introduces only one frame of delay, on the system we viewed the Sony BRC-2700 camera adds an additional 3 frames of delay. So in our installation we’ll have to add at least four frames of audio delay to the audio feeds emanating from SPIRIT’s audio board prior to distribution to the Internet and HDTV programs that will appear on Ryerson University’s in house TV station RUTV and globally via the Open Student Television Network.

As mentioned earlier another strength of this system is the ability to run to run three Cat 5 cables to each camera location. To accomplish this each camera connects to its own CCU. As mentioned earlier the CCU’s provide painting controls and the capability to store two video presets. In addition the CCU contains a connection for a preview monitor and takes the unit accepts the input for the camera tally. It’s actually from the CCU that the three Cat-5 cables are run to each camera location. The maximum cable run from the CCU to the camera location is specified at 500 ft. At each camera location the three Cat-5 cables are inserted into a small breakout box and camera specific breakout cables that connects to each camera.

To make ordering simple Vaddio offers various WallVIEW packages that combines the appropriate camera, camera wallmount, breakoutbox/cabling and CCU. All one really needs to do in this scenario is just add mount the cameras, run the CAT-5 cables, mount the CCU’s and displays, connect everything together and provide power. It is quite the simple yet powerful system.