Sony Anycast Touch’s First Pitch at a Ballpark
The 14-Pound Portable Live Production System, Announced at NAB, Responds Like a Tablet and Lists for Under $20K
The ease of the touchscreen has come at last to the Sony Anycast live switching and production system. With the September release of the Anycast Touch (AWS-750), an upgrade to the AWS-G500 HD version introduced in 2007, Sony will bring together a live production switcher, audio mixer, special effects generator, multi-PTZ camera control for Sony BRC cameras, a real-time streaming encoder, image still store, character generator and scale converter with touchscreen control in a portable form factor for under $20,000.
Sony is touting the 14-pound Anycast Touch as the future of live-switched production, and as an affordable all-in-one system that responds like a smartphone or tablet, it certainly looks and acts like the next-generation of production switching for that sweet spot of corporate and industry events, community sports, educational production and houses of worship broadcasting to a filled-to-capacity congregation over dedicated networks. The system is also a natural for any live event, whether sports, a performance or ceremony—to be streamed over the Internet to a wider audience.
We got a chance to see an early production model in action with a group of other press at a minor league baseball game in Rockland County, New York, this summer, and even put the touchscreen's intuitive operation to the test by sitting at the controls while the CanAM League's Rockland Boulders battled it out with the visiting Quebec Capitales. In addition to the Anycast Touch, two Sony BRC-H900 HD cameras—remotely controlled over an IP-based network—a Sony NXL-IP55 IP Live Production system and camera joystick completed the full HD setup, seen below. Although the Rockland Boulders currently use NewTek TriCaster, Sony constructed the prototype to show just how stable low-latency IP networks have become.
An NXL-IP55-enabled Anycast Touch setup at a recent Rockland Boulders Minor League Baseball game in Provident Bank Park.
So how easy was it to live switch during the ballgame? Pretty darn easy. Each of us who had our turn developed a natural rhythm of cutaways and closeups made all the more enjoyable by the sheer transparency of the touchscreen controls. The Anycast has a tilt-screen that splits the touch video and audio controls; you pull up your next video source just by touching its thumbnail picture and can add graphics and logos and lower thirds by pulling up templated material that you can save for later use. To make us feel really good about the full HD media we were switching, we had our pick of the feed coming from the stadium's HD-SDI control room, where the excellent images from various Sony HD cameras throughout the ballpark were being switched by a Sony MVS-6000 switcher and fed to the giant screens in the stadium and the NXL-IP55 IP Live in Sony's suite. The full 10-bit HD images we switched were crisp and clean, but the Anycast Touch can handle any combination of SD and HD. We also stuck to video, leaving the audio controls to the other experts in the room. The audio controls, however, are as intuitive as those for video and could be mastered just as quickly.
Anycast's audio mixer controls
The Anycast Touch is expected to ship this month for a list price of $19,995.