One of the key tasks in today’s live productions such as news, sports and studio shows is handling multiple live video boxes. Typical layouts include the 2-box (e.g. news anchor plus one remote guest), 3-box, 4-box and even 5 or 6 boxes are becoming popular. These screen layouts are usually built using a process involving the assignment desk, production switcher, multiple DVE channels, character generator and video server. Such on air presentations are labor intensive and require close coordination between a significant number of operators and devices. The production is becoming even more challenging in dynamic scenarios that require instant switching between video sources and immediate changes to the video box’s layouts.
TD Control was designed to better handle such workflows. TD Control converts the complexity of the existing workflow by consolidating all tasks into a single user interface while enhancing the on air look.
TD Control allows the Technical Director (TD or vision mixer operator) to call up different video box compositions, assign different video sources to each box and populate it with the correlating graphics and data manually or automatically. TD Control is based on a touch screen user interface which gives the TD the option to control the software from TD Control’s user interface or directly from the vision mixer. TD Control allows the TD to select the different video box compositions and assign different video sources to each of the video boxes, enabling tasks that could not have been achieved before like switching on air from 8 video sources to completely different video sources with one click of a button. As soon as the video box combination is selected and the video sources are assigned, the preview channel is instantly updated and with a single key stroke the layout goes on air.
Complete flexibility and control over video box presentation
The TD Control provides the TD full flexibility and control over the video boxes’ presentation. Each of the defined layouts could be stored as a pre-set which could be immediately called to air either directly from the switcher or from the touch screen interface, based on the TD’s personal preference. Once a layout is selected the TD can route into the different video boxes any live video source, image or clips and can switch them, even while on air, as well as reposition, scale and center the incoming video signal if needed. The TD Control application allows the generation of different types of transitions between one video box layout to another. The TD can simply change the video source while on air in any or all of the video boxes; he can cut between one layout to another (for example from a 3 video boxes layout to 6 video boxes layout) or can generate a 3D DVE effect to change the on air presentation.
Video server playback control
TD Control now offers extended control with the ability to control video server clips directly from the TD Control application. These controls allow combining video playback events with boxes and graphic, and playing them to air. Using the TD newsroom interface, the clips can also be played directly from the news rundown (playback automation), enhancing the TD’s capabilities and efficiency.
Seamless integration between video and graphic elements
One of the common practices with multi video box presentations is associating graphical elements to each of the video boxes, typically with the name of the person or the location from which the video is generated (supers). Such a task requires the assignment of a CG channel, coordination between the TD and the CG operator, and involves complex masking and keying in order to match between the video that is generated by the switcher and the graphics which are independently overlaid. TD Control removes such complexity altogether. At the heart of the TD Control is its seamless integration between video and graphics elements. TD Control has the ability to generate synchronized video and graphics elements eliminating the requirement for an extra CG channel altogether, providing the TD the ability to easily introduce relevant text from the TD Control’s touch screen GUI.
Streamlining production workflow
In order to streamline the production workflow, TD Control interfaces with different newsroom systems. The journalist can select from the predefined video boxes layout the required template assign the relevant video sources, type in the text associated to each of the video box graphics, and publish it to the rundown. Once published, the data is automatically transmitted to TD Control via common protocols. The TD can instantly call the layout, preview it and take it to air. In case of an error such as a spelling mistake, the TD can override the content and modify it prior to going on air. Such functionality allows on one hand for the editorial team to better plan their items and on the other reduces the risk and effort during the production as the video box composition was pre-defined prior to the production.
In a typical configuration, the TD control supports up to 16 live video sources in either HD or SD which translates to up to 8 video boxes when working in program \ preview mode. In its basic configuration, the system is comprised of a single program out channel which can be enhanced with a second preview channel. Having the preview channel allows the TD to prepare the composition on the preview channel and once ready it can be taken to air to the PGM out, as well as serve as a backup for the main program channel.
On air graphics
TD Control can be further extended even beyond the video boxes’ presentation. Since the system is so powerful, it could be used to generate not just the video boxes but also lower thirds and any other type of on air graphics, using sophisticated logic. Thanks to the server-client architecture of the system, the CG operator can control the on air graphics from his station utilizing the same on air channel that is used for the video boxes. Despite the fact that the video boxes and on air graphics are controlled by independent operators, they are actually generated by the same system and therefore sophisticated logic could be introduced between the video boxes layer and the on air graphics layer. For example before a transition from one composition to the other there is no need to take off the on air graphics, generate the transition and bring back the on air graphics. Instead TD Control will automatically remove and bring back the on air graphics before and after the transition, simplifying the workflow and minimizing on air mistakes.
Countless transition and graphical element possibilities
By relying on Orad’s 3Designer authoring software for designing the 2D and 3D DVE effects as well as any other graphical element that is associated with the video boxes (such as on air graphics), TD Control does not limit the number and type of transition effects or graphical elements that can be used, allowing maximum design freedom even with additional audio effects, automated data and sophisticated logic that will be triggered along with the DVE effects and transition.
Generating and controlling content for video walls
Video walls are becoming ever more popular in today’s productions and one of the main challenges is how to generate and control the content being displayed on the video wall. TD Control is an extremely efficient tool to control not only the on screen video box’s presentations (the foreground) but also for managing the video wall content (the background). By using Orad’s HDVG4 for generating the video signal, TD Control benefits from extremely sharp, pixalization free, configurable aspect ratio, and up to 16K resolution output from a single box, allowing the display of perfectly synchronized graphic elements, which are easy to maintain. In order to even further enhance the production’s efficiently, the same TD Control application can control both the foreground and the background from the same TD Control surface by switching between the different tabs. TD Control’s GUI supports both foreground and background on air look.
TD Control integrates with all known vision mixers, such as Sony, GVG, Snell, Ross etc. This is done through the common protocols of each switcher via a RS422 serial cable. Additional switchers support will be available soon. The TD Control system is an extremely reliable and redundant solution. It is based on Orad’s known HDVG platform which runs the stable and virus free Linux operating system. It is equipped with hot swappable dual power supplies, RAID protected disks and mechanical and software bypass mechanisms ensuring no on air failures.