In the mid 80's when I began my business, production and editing were my passion. Over the years, I've built a successful video production business and worked with people I admire. But, as with most industries, evolving technology and resources require that we adapt to the times. In my quest to stay current and provide my customers with the best possible results, I've incorporated live event production to my repertoire.
Jeff Hamor sets up the Canon XL-H1 for the long lens shots.
It started out simply enough. A long time customer who held a large year-end sales meeting asked me to provide the same type of video presentation I had for years. However, this year they were interested in doing another smaller event at the same time. I happened to be in the room when the company my client was contracting with for the live event said they could manage two live events simultaneously. I threw my hat in the ring to give it a try.
Since that day a little over two years ago, my company Video Lounge has seen a shift in the volume of live event jobs we handle. In fact, we estimate 75 percent of our jobs last year were live event related.
Keeping my company's services on the leading edge requires regular research. Earlier this year I learned about a new Edirol video mixer/switcher through a trade magazine review. What caught my attention was the SD and HD capability with VGA all in the same unit. I called an equipment dealer I've known and trusted for 15 years to verify what I read. We found out that Edirol offers demo units for this product, the V440-HD Multi-format Video Mixer.
Now for those of you who don't know what this unit does, it is basically an SD switcher on the left side (such as an MX-50 or 70) and an HD switcher on the right, which also up-converts the switched output of the SD bus to HD for mixing. Two features immediately impressed me: very low latency or delay, and the ability to mix PPT, video roll-ins, and Live Cameras all in the same box.
Getting the demo unit was surprisingly easy - even better was that the unit was really impressive. We decided to use it for Tiger Wood's Foundation Benefit in Anaheim, CA at the Grove. We still had a few technical questions, which were answered over the phone by the staff at Roland Systems Group (RSG) in Washington, who manage the sales, marketing and distribution of Edirol video products in the US. The team at RSG ended up being a big help the afternoon of the event for some last minute details, and I've called them on the last three jobs to make sure my way of thinking through the set-up was correct. They gave me the highest quality output.
At the benefit, our crew consisted of show director, producer, three camera guys and another two for AV set up. We projected onto two 9 ft x 12 ft screens using Panasonic DLP5600 projectors. We ran PowerPoint live into the V440-HD along with the live feed of the silent auction while recording back to tape. The Edirol unit worked better than we had expected. It's great because it has the capability to input four SD video sources and four HD or RGB video sources. The transitions were seamless. I feel it really improved our performance for the client. The only surprise was outputting to tape, since the Edirol V440-HD only outputs in HD. We were able to use a Sony 1024 to down-convert the final output back to DV-Cam. Of course, if you had an HD VTR, you could capture to tape in HD.
Based on our satisfaction at the Tiger Woods benefit, we decided to truly test the HD capability of the V440-HD at another event we do for Glenn Fry and Joe Walsh. We set the show up in Dana Point, CA on a hotel lawn for an evening performance.
A makeshift set-up with the Edirol and Marshall hi-def monitors.
We used three Sony Z1 HDV cameras and a Canon HD XL-H1 because of its longer lens, all fed to the V440-HD in component HD. The image quality was staggering. I found myself staring at the screens in disbelief at the picture quality from these small cameras. One other purchase I had to make was four Marshall 7-inch HD-LCD monitors to see my camera angles. Despite my initial attraction to the unit for bridging the SD to HD side of things, I must report that following a full live HD production - I am ready to sell off my Sony D-30 cameras and go all HD. The newer HDV cameras coming out soon all have a 20 x 1 lens, so I can be further from the stage. And, the V440-HD can stick with me since it can be used as an independent SD mixer or HD/RGB mixer. This whole learning experience has been great, and I feel like I've been able to step-up into the HD world at a very low cost. If you have any questions on signal flow or need another opinion, email me at Tim@videoloungeproductions.com. For more information visit www.EDRIOL.com/hd and www.videoloungeproductions.com.
Edirol V440-HD Specifications
Mix Multiformat Signals
Capable of mixing SD video, HD video and RGB signal from computers.
Choice of Output Format
Selectable output format; 1080i or 720p for HDTV or RGB for computer display.
Seamless mixing or switching of different signal formats with simple operation.
V-LINK for control from any Roland/EDIROL musical instruments; RS-232C for computer control.
Simple Effects Control
Simple button and dial operation to select type/time of transition effect. Intuitive setup of PinP and SD/HD Keyers.
Connect Multiple Units
With thru outputs and MIDI sync, multiple units can be connected for output to multiple screens (video walls).
Newly released Version 2.0 software for the V-440HD Multi-Format Video Mixer adds 20 new features that enable further operational benefits:
Newly Added PGM/PST (Flip/Flop) Mode Allows Choice of Switching Style
PGM/PST mode has been added as an operational mode. Select the input channel you like to next on PST side. The image is output on Preview monitor. Just press AUTO button to send the signal to Program output.
Optional Automatic Input Disable
The version 2.0 software can disable the input selector where no input signal is detected. This will avoid accidental selection of a blank input.
Custom Color Selection For Channel Buttons
You can now choose from a variety of colors to backlight the LED input selectors to customize the V-440HD to personal preference.
Auto Detection of RGB Input Format and Wider Selection of RGB Output
The RGB inputs formats will now be detected automatically. This enables rapid switching of multiple computers to one input.
1366x768 (WXGA) resolution is now supported as an output format enabling high quality native support of most mid-sized LCD panels. 1366x768 is the most common native resolution for LCD panels 32" and smaller.
Expansion of Menu and Panel Preset Functions
The aspect ratio of PinP foreground image (HD/RGB) can be set to 4:3 or 16:9 regardless of the aspect ratio of the source image.
The fade function for the master output can now optionally effect the dedicated standard definition output as well.
Users can now select different output fade modes.
Expansion of Menu and Panel Preset Functions
You can recall the default value of each and every parameter on the V-440HD. Convenient for instant recall of input parameters etc.
Short cuts for menu selection: Double-click any of the button for instant selection of related menu.
Master fade can be inserted while switching the Panel Preset. The V-440HD will fade to black and fade from black while switching panel presets allowing for smooth and easy panel preset transitions.
Panel Preset can now be limited to selectable parameters chosen by the user. (For example, exclude input select, master fade parameter etc.)
The convenience of linking with more external devices
System integration ability is expanded by the ability to link to more external devices.
Remote control from EDIROL PR series video presenters
For example, remote control of the V-440HD's input select function is now possible from the EDIROL PR series video presenters. * Version 1.2 or later of PR series supports the remote control. You can select an input on the V-440HD as you select a clip in the Preview Presenter.
More flexible back-up of mixer parameters and transfer to back-up units
A Master V-440HD unit can transfer mixer setup parameters via MIDI to a slave unit allowing for convenient Multi-Screen set-ups.
Data backup via RS-232C
Setup data can be backed up or transferred from or to a PC via RS-232C. Backup software will be a free download from website. www.edirol.com/hd.