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Broadcast Pix iPixPanel Review

Jun 21, 2010 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

An Apple iPad app for wireless live production switching.


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Multitasking live production

Not all live productions are high-budget, nor does every production director have an assistant. Broadcast Pix has sold plenty of systems to organizations that do use a computer keyboard and mouse rather than a full-blown 2M/E panel, and to users for whom it's important to have everything in front of them in one place so they can run a production single-handed. While even Broadcast Pix doesn't envision too many productions running exclusively off an iPixPanel, it's clear that some could.

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Imagine a smaller-budget organization—such as a local access cable TV station or a mid-sized house of worship—with one AV guy, probably a volunteer, running an entire production solo much of the time. Those types of productions tend to have fewer fast back-and-forth cuts, so the tactile facility of a physical control panel is less critical. On the other hand, that one AV guy may also be the lighting guy, the sound guy, and the production assistant all rolled into one.

Now imagine that one AV guy setting up the lighting for a shoot. Instead of going back and forth from the lights to the panel time and again, he's carrying an iPad that can control his entire system. He can adjust the lighting and the cameras from the same stop, as well as trigger a computer-based presentation or do a sound check, all from one location in the studio or hall. What's more, if he's a camera operator too, he could even run the switching from his camera location. Ideal? Heck, no. Ideal would be a staff of five. But perhaps it is reality.

I've been around wireless technology long enough to remember connectivity issues, and I always worry about latency—particularly when video is involved. But with the iPixPanel, I found that latency was not an issue. Since there is no actual video traveling wirelessly, the amount of data—just small system commands—moving between the iPad and the system is quite insignificant from a bandwidth perspective. Naturally, the touchscreen controls don't offer the same response as a fader bar, and the joystick will take some getting used to, but takes are fluid.

Best of all, there is very little required in terms of configuration in order to use the iPixPanel. The wireless capability is a function of the Apple iPad and the Windows operating system that runs behind all Broadcast Pix switchers. Therefore, Slate and Granite systems, which already include the SoftPanel, natively include the functionality to run the iPixPanel.

Gadget freaks are probably going to love the iPixPanel, but it's an easy and inexpensive add-on for a variety of live production switching systems. Large-scale productions will use it to offload functions to one or more assistants, and one-man production studios will value the flexibility it affords around the studio. At less than $200, it's an easy, if not a relatively painless, add-on to the cost of a switcher.


Product Summary

  • Company: Broadcast Pix
    www.broadcastpix.com
  • Product: iPixPanel
  • Pros: Flexibility and freedom of wireless for offloading functions from the main control panel, remote control of external devices, low price for the added facility.
  • Cons: Touchscreen interface offers no familiar feel.
  • Applications: Live production.
  • Price: $199 (plus the cost of an Apple iPad)

Specifications

  • Required hardware: Apple iPad tablet computer; works with any Broadcast Pix Slate or Granite switcher
  • PixPanel functions: Device select, clip and graphics select, transition select, direct keys, take to air
  • Joystick functions: Key positioning, camera positioning
  • Other functions: Clip motion control, preview control, fill control, program/source control, shift view source, take to air
  • Wireless technology: 802.11n (built-into Apple iPad)





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