A Robust Workflow for Controlling Broadcast-Ready, Full-Frame HD Skype Calls from Any Connected Device

NewTek today officially launched TalkShow VS 100, a hardware solution in a single 19-inch rackmount chassis that converts a Skype call from any device into a professional-quality video signal without the need for a scan converter. Built upon Microsoft's Skype TX software platform, the turnkey box features HD/SDI input and output and gives studio and live event producers automatic aspect ratio conversion and color correction, balanced audio and a full set of studio-level controls to improve picture and sound quality on the fly.

Aimed at a range of broadcast news, live event and corporate and institutional video productions, TalkShow will let a producer initiate or receive calls from anyone with a Skype account on any device that can run Skype software, whether a video-enabled desktop or laptop, a mobile device, a conference room, or an Internet-connected Smart TV or game console. Features unique to TalkShow include full-bandwidth call recording, proc amp controls, Video over IP via NewTek TriCaster, audio over IP via NewTek Dante and video preview display and tally support built right into the system.

"Broadcasters have already been using the free version of Skype," says Scott Carroll, NewTek's director of public relations tells StudioDaily. "And everyone's pretty much been on their own, cobbling together scan converters on both ends of the call in order to make it work on air. But that's just not a stable way to broadcast a remote interview. You're subject to pop-ups [and] interference from other calls, and you have zero control over video and audio quality. TalkShow was essentially designed to address all those issues in a low-cost, easy-to-use 1RU solution, bringing audience participation into any live broadcast."

The box was optimized for low latency and built with standard input/output options to connect and genlock with any switchers and recording devices already in a broadcaster's on-air pipeline, added Will Waters, senior video specialist at NewTek. "It takes the headache out of the equation for the video engineer. TalkShow addresses both the producer's creative demands and the engineer's potential problems, and that's a truly valuable thing. You also gain access to so many more experts and contributors to your show."


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The system's tally support, says Carroll, is critical for smooth studio operations. "Callers will know when they are on the air and when they aren't. There is a separate signal back to the operator that lets them talk to the guest and better position the caller for an optimal on-camera moment."

That signal also lets producers hold onto a call even when an Internet connection is unstable, says Waters. "You are still using the public Internet with Skype, so even if you have trouble with the connection and things degrade to a point where you can't keep video on screen, instead of dropping the call altogether, TalkShow will keep the audio going while giving the TalkShow operator a chance to specify a still image as a placeholder." Although it is primarily designed for studio setups, Waters says the system could also easily fit in a flypack for mobile productions. A video director in another location could even use TalkShow to direct a live show.

TalkShow is now shipping for the introductory price of $3995 (the monitor in the photo at top is not included) through March 31, 2015.