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Broadcast Pix Slate 100 HD

Mar 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

Video switcher built on a Windows XP computer features accessible interface.

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Broadcast Pix Slate 100 HD

For installation professionals, “video switcher” generally refers to a presentation switcher — a rackmountable device with buttons on the front that mixes multiple visual sources, such as computer presentation slides, with a live video of the presenter. Increasingly, however, the faster pace of live-production environments with multiple live cameras has fueled calls for the broader feature set of a video-production switcher or broadcast switcher, such as you might see in a TV control room. Such switchers are more powerful, but also more complex — if not intimidating.

Broadcast Pix grew out of the video-production switcher industry. The company understands both how powerful and how foreign a broadcast switcher can be to the uninitiated, and it's done something about it. The Slate 100 HD is a full-blown production switcher, except rather than being a freestanding, tabletop device, it is built into a Windows XP computer. That gives it a number of advantages. By putting everything needed for producing a live broadcast on a computer screen, the Slate 100 HD brings point-and-click functionality to a switcher and adds powerful clip- and still-store features that would ordinarily require more dedicated hardware. (Ideally, it should be a dual-monitor configuration, given all of the desktop elements, but it doesn't have to be.)

The Slate 100 HD is the base version of a family of switchers, all using the same Windows-based elements. Higher-end configurations add hardware options such as a dedicated tabletop control panel and an I/O breakout box, thus moving even further toward traditional production switchers. However, the Slate 100 HD includes all the visual-interface tools that make the entire line both powerful and accessible.

Visually, the Slate 100 HD interface is a little like a nonlinear editing system desktop with a preview-monitor window, a program-monitor window, and a multi-tab bin window of visual elements across the top half of the screen. (The interface is completely configurable, so all windows can be un-docked and moved anywhere on the screen to suit your personal preference.) Yet unlike a typical editing interface, the preview and program windows are live, with video playing all the time during your live show, just as you would see if there were separate video monitors attached to the outputs of a production switcher.

Below the preview and program windows, there are also smaller monitor windows for each of your sources, including camera feeds and cued video clips from disc. These windows are all configurable to match your sources, live or stored, and they too can be playing live video. You can even play through stored QuickTime clips without affecting your live output — for example, to find a mark-in point.

Switching between sources is as simple as clicking on them with your mouse. In fact, depending on your choice of workflow, you can click them into the larger preview-monitor window at the top of the interface or click them straight to air in the program-monitor window. To make it even more intuitive, many Broadcast Pix dealers offer the option of a touchscreen monitor, allowing you to literally point with your finger at what you want to go live. The Slate 100 HD also includes a standard Windows keyboard with custom keycaps that put the tactile functionality of a tabletop control panel at your fingertips.

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