If only there were a small, single rack-space unit that could monitor four, eight, even 16 feeds…mmmmm…
The MultiView 16 from Blackmagic design does just that. It’s a 1RU device with 16 looping SDI inputs on BNC. It’s capable of a 2x2 out for 4 sources, 3x3 for nine, and 4x4 for 16. Output comes from a single HDMI or 2 x 6G-SDI and 2 x HD-SDI BNC’s. REF IN is available when used with other gear, and it’s controllable via RS-422, USB, as well as Ethernet. It also has a built-in switching power supply for multi country friendliness. (A quirk I found odd at first on unpacking was the fact that it did NOT come with an IEC cord or any of the funky voltage adapters of old. I felt slighted at first, but then it dawned on me — what cable do I have more of than any other just lying around? IEC. How many adapters end up gathering dust or in a landfill? Lots. So good for BMD for thinking down that road!) Its panel and chassis are extremely rugged due to machined aircraft aluminum. It has some terrific features and also some quirks.
—Jeff Gooch, from “Video Road Test,” PLSN, Sept. 2015, page 70
InfoComm 2015 was fairly typical. Walking up one aisle and down another, we had the usual mega LED walls, mega 4K monitors, flame-thrower projectors and brightly colored fog banks. But down at the very end of the convention center was something remarkable - a mini-pavilion full of drones, live demonstrations, exhibits, training classes and subject matter experts. Based on what I experienced, we’re on the leading edge of a little revolution.
My original focus with regard to drones was clearly broadcast and commercial production. But after walking through the drone pavilion, my perspective widened way beyond that. Suddenly, a vast array of drone video applications became clear, and the connection is our AV industry’s ability to drive solutions and integrate multiple technologies.
Security, structural and rooftop inspection, power line inspection, precision agriculture, law enforcement, first response, firefighting, search and rescue and transportation are just a few that would lend themselves to this technology — each with a high potential to save customers time, money and lower risks to personnel. Perhaps a control room or a command center might be required to organize, dispatch and monitor footage from a company’s fleet of drones.
So, who has the skill to put this type of system together? Unquestionably, it’s the AV professionals in our industry. A Fortune 500 company won’t go to Best Buy to configure their shining new drone department - they’ll come to us.
—Paul Berliner, from “Video World,” PLSN, Sept. 2015
At Vulcan Gas Company, which revives a classic Austin, TX nightspot’s name, but delivers a new vision for the space, Wes Lane, lead designer and founder of Lightfaktor, says “good lighting is all about setting the mood and getting the correct emotional response. Most people don’t notice lighting, but they can feel it when it doesn’t feel right. Sometimes places feel flat and boring. They don’t know it was the lighting that caused it.” At the Vulcan, the idea is to make the space “come alive. There are pixels embedded in the walls, and the place lives and breathes. When it is pumping in there, you feel the vibe, not just from the bass but from the columns in the walls, which are audio responsive. It is interactive. We used a suite of High End Systems products including DLV digital moving projectors to add an extra dimension to the user experience. We are able to project onto the stage, crowd and walls allowing us to use the whole venue as a palette. There’s camera feedback, sensors, especially on the dance floor - people love to see themselves dance, but if you can add cool features that give people that feeling and it looks cool for everyone else, we like that kind of stuff.”
—From “Focus on Design” by Debi Moen, PLSN, Sept. 2015, page 72.
Automated lighting programmers are responsible for much more than just entering values into a console. We are usually also called upon to be a part of the creative team working alongside the lighting designer. We suggest looks, offer advice on what features exist within fixtures and organize the show layout among many other duties. One of the most important functions of a programmer is to complete the required programming within the allotted time. Quite often, this requires great forethought and planning to ensure that the time on-site is used most effectively. By preparing the patch, palettes/presets, cues and more, we can significantly reduce the work required once we enter the venue.
-Brad Schiller, from "Feeding the Machines," PLSN Sept. 2015
Have you ever noticed that the top programmers in our industry are not those that just started programming in the last few years? When building your perfect programmer, remember that it takes time to make perfection. In fact, I would argue that there is no “perfect” programmer - all great programmers are continually learning and cooking.
—Brad Schiller, from “Feeding the Machines,” PLSN, Aug. 2015 page 57
Four years ago, I started working with a famous artist. I was only a few months into being his LD, a position that was more like Russian roulette, based on the long line of predecessors. I was setting up Front of House around noon that day. This older gentleman was putting up his personal video camera right in my sight line. Instead of attacking him about what he was doing (“You can’t video the show!) Or dissing him over poor cable management (his were very messy), I simply asked him in a very nice tone if he wouldn’t mind moving just a bit to the side and keeping it clean. We were expecting a lot of guests at FOH today. Our soundman, who’d been with the artist a long time, was nice enough to stop what he was doing and introduce me to the artist’s father. Gulp. Point being, if I had barked at him, there probably would be someone else writing this column about the jackass he replaced on that gig.
—Joel Reiff, from “LD at Large,” PLSN, Aug. 2015
The name Leko is a contraction of the original manufacturer's names, Joseph Levy and Edward F. Kook, founders of Century Lighting, which formed in 1929, launched the Lekolite ellipsoidal reflector spotlight in 1933 and merged with Strand Lighting in 1969. Many companies make ellipsoidal fixtures, but only one makes an “official” Leko — Philips’ Strand Lighting division.
PLSN editor Nook Schoenfeld caught up with BML Blackbird crew chief Russ Felton and asked about his plan of attack for handling a gig requiring five semi-trucks of lighting gear. Felton spoke of the need for stashes of spares and gear dubbed bone yards. “I have seven distinct areas to cover, hence I will create seven different ‘bone yards’ on site,” Felton noted. “Each one will have the fixtures the LD spec’d and whatever hardware that I need…The bone yard is simply all the gear that I possibly might need to pull off lighting that area, no matter what the designer throws at me. As far as cable, there’s only one thing I can do. I bring along one 5-foot, 10-foot, 20-foot and 50-foot jumper cable for every fixture. Since I have lots of LED fixtures, I will two-fer a lot of circuits together on site. Sure, it’s a lot of cable, but better safe than sorry. I’m in a 400-acre field in Delaware; can’t just run to the shop for something.”
—Russ Felton, as interviewed by Nook Schoenfeld for “In the Trenches,” PLSN, July 2015
The concept of BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) is becoming increasingly important in video and business circles. When you walk into a meeting room, the best thing would be that your own device (cell phone, tablet, PC or whatever), immediately and natively discovers the Wi-Fi receiver in the room, discovers the display device, sets up and authenticates a connection, enables you to push video to the display, and assigns a participant as the moderator. And the next time you meet in the same room, you’re logged on again. If only it was that easy…but we do now have EZCast, which combines both the Miracast and Chromecast ideas with cross-platform support, including Apple. It’s also an inexpensive HDMI-enabled dongle, with auto-discovery and arbitration. Users can send video from their desktop to a device with the attached EZCast dongle, which then acts as an integrated Wi-Fi access point. In the conference room, you can mirror your screen, stream from the Internet, or connect to a webcam. EZCast becomes a remote control, a video transmitter, a desktop mirror — and by the way, it has 256-bit AES encryption.
—Paul Berliner, from “Video World,” PLSN, July 2015
Gravity and its related safety hazards never sleep, so crews working at height need to be vigilant about protecting themselves and others. Mountain Productions is helping with an expanded array of fall protection offerings including harnesses, lanyards, fall arrest systems, helmets and more. Their inventory from DBI-SALA includes personal harnesses and self-retracting lifelines along with other fall safety items. They also offer KASK’s Super Plasma helmets to keep crew members safe on site, with comfort features that can help assure the helmets are used on the job, and Python Safety’s drop prevention products to help ensure that fumbled tools don’t become hazardous projectiles in the first place.
—From “Product Spotlight” by Thomas S. Friedman, PLSN, July 2015