Inexpensive Switcher Incorporates Cloud Content, Integrates Advanced Control Features for Streaming and Broadcast
Broadcast Pix is going after the low end of the live production market with Flint, a live video production system that incorporates HD streaming, file-based input, and access to cloud-based content. The Flint supports up to six cameras (HD/SD-SDI, HDMI, and analog) and eight channels of clips and graphics.
What sets the Flint switcher apart from its competition — and if you guessed the Flint was aimed at TriCaster users, you'd be correct — is its ability to integrate camera sources with files and cloud-based content sources like Twitter, Skype, and Dropbox on ingest, as well as to offer lip-sync'd output as a stream or video format, or to make a real-time recording.
"We wanted to have a production system that could take all these different types of content, create a live production of high quality, and then shove it out to all these different delivery vehicles — streaming, television, or whatever you want," Broadcast Pix VP of Marketing Ken Swanton told StudioDaily.
The mantra for the Flint system is "End-to-End Integration," referring to the system's flexibility on both ingest and delivery. It can bring in video from up to six cameras, mixing HD- and SD-SDI, HDMI and analog video in 1080i, 720p, and SD resolutions. Video can also be brought in from a PC or Mac using HDMI. Data from such sources as Twitter and RSS feeds can be used to automatically update on-screen graphics, with a pre-screening option keeping unwanted content from going out live. Local files, such as animations and graphics, can be pushed into the system during a live broadcast using watch folders. And files dropped into cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft SkyDrive can be pushed into shows the same way.
The Adobe Flash format is utilized for streaming to services like Ustream and Livestream, and Broadcast Pix says it has a patented process that maintains lipsync throughout the stream, eliminating a common problem seen with live streaming video. The Flint can also push out video via HD- and SD-SDI, HDMI, analog component, Y/C and composite outputs for broadcast or live display.
But Swanton stressed that the ins and outs don't tell the whole story. "When we say end-to-end, we also mean the middle," he said, noting the system's extensive production control capabilities, which borrow from Broadcast Pix's experience with high-end production systems and video control centers. The clip server can hold up to 30 hours of clips and animations, and also allows users to record programs right inside the box (in formats including ProRes, DNxHD, and H.264), if they choose. The box also has an internal Harris Inscriber CG providing six graphic channels.
The production control environment also includes the Fluent-View heads-up monitoring and multiviewing, with dual-monitor support; Fluent Macros, which can be thought of as complex templates for graphics and effects that can be assigned to a single button and fired off easily; virtual sets; and external control of robotic cameras, video servers, audio mixers, and other devices.
The whole shebang can be controlled with the included keyboard and mouse, though a touch-screen is an attractive option. It's also controllable via iPhone and iPad, or via an optional control panel purchased from Broadcast Pix. (The company's Fluent Keyboard, 500 compact panel, 1000 panel with dynamic PixButtons, and 2000 broadcast-grade panel are supported.) Multiple operators can access the system if extra hands are required for a complex show.
Speaking of options, Flint's entry-level $8995 price point buys you a lot of power, but the one thing it doesn't get you is HD- and SD-SDI input and output. SDI connectivity brings the Flint to $12,500. The Flint will be on display at Broadcast Pix's NAB booth — Swanton tells us they're actually giving one away at the show — and it's expected to ship sometime in April.