NAB Opening Salvos in Video Wars

  • The video processing wars are heating up, as projector companies get into the seamless switching arena, and processing companies look to expand their offerings. The 2004 NAB show (National Association of Broadcasters), which wrapped up last week in Las Vegas, brought some surprises to even the jaded industry watchers who are used to seeing yearly quantum leaps in processing.
  • Both Vista Systems and Barco/Folsom have fired opening salvos in what is sure to be a major image processing/windowing battle as we head to InfoComm and beyond. Vista is starting from the high end (their Montage product) and migrating the technology downward to go after a bigger piece of the staging market, while Folsom is reaching for more of the high-end market that Vista has mined. Essentially, both companies are looking to expand the market toward the middle, rather that going after each others turf.
  • Vista Systems showed its new Spyder product line at NAB. The small and flexible Spyder will offer producers of audio-visual presentations and rental and staging companies a cost-effective powerful realtime compositing and windowing environment plus the superb image quality and processing capabilities Vista Systems Montage is known.
  • And Folsom (now Barco/Folsom) quietly introduced at NABI should say previewed their own multi-level video display system, called the Encore, that combines seamless switching with a variety of flexible video effects to provide a versatile video production tool for live event staging applications. (The Folsom Encore will not be unveiled officially until Infocomm.)
  • The Vista Spyder is at this point a software based processor, but Vista says that they are planning a console interface in the near future. So the product, as I saw it on the show floor at NAB, is more of a preset interface product, and is targeted to many marketsbroadcast, command and control, operations centers, church production, in addition to staging and is not a dedicated staging unit, per se. No doubt that will change soon, and the product will have both a console interface to the Montage and its own console interface for stand-alone use in the show environment.
  • The Folsom Encore is attacking the market from the opposite direction, combining Folsoms tried and true image processing with recent developments in Folsoms Athena scaling technology (as seen in the Folsom ImagePRO) to migrate Folsom expertise up the pyramid toward the Montage range.
  • Heres a look at the Vista Spyder and a preview of the Folsom Encore.
  • The Encore Video system consists of two major components: the Encore Video Processor and the Encore Video System Controller. Each Encore unit is essentially a single screen box with 6 scalers, and up to 2K resolution output. Up to three transitionable PIPs (Picture-in-Picture) or Keys can be displayed on a transitionable background. The unit supports universal analog and digital inputs and provides high performance scaling at input and output resolutions up to UXGA. High quality motion adaptive de-interlacing is performed on standard definition and HD video sources. The Encore features very low video processing delay (1.5 input frames max.).
  • The Spyder 200 and 300 series build on the Montage system introduced by Vista Systems last year. It uses an advanced architecture that creates virtual displays inside the system processor that are much higher resolution than any single display device can handle. The new Spyder 200 and 300 series provide the same key benefits as Montageflexibility for mixing sources in multiple windows, greater clarity of signal processing, seamless widescreen displaysplus realtime compositing for high-resolution applications in a modular, scaleable package. Each series features five different models; users can integrate any model from the 200 series with the 300 series to accommodate any application from a small plasma screen to multiple projection screens including support for the 2048x1080 projectors. Additionally, Spyder supports edgeblending.
  • The Spyder family of products makes video processing accessible to a lot more types of events, says Vista Systems president Clark Williams. The Spyder has a lot of the same features and benefits as Montage at a drastically-reduced price. In addition to these economies, the Spyder is capable of handling high-resolution HD-SDI and DVI formats and has extensive expansion capabilities.
  • The Spyder products act as building blocks, Williams explains. The 300-series models are stand-alone boxes which may be combined for large shows. The 200-series models are designed for smaller applications requiring less I/O. They offer rental and staging companies great flexibility: One week they may deploy individual small Spyder systems across the country and the next week they may need to combine the models into one large system for a big show.