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Author Topic: looking for low budget video switcher for a friend  (Read 4917 times)

brian frost

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looking for low budget video switcher for a friend
« on: April 30, 2012, 05:53:01 pm »

Hello,

Im an Audio guy by trade who was asked by a freelance employer who i regularly mix FOH for to recommend a "economy" priced video switcher for a regular talking heads show they put on.  The show is comprised of 4-6 different computer based demo's presented in tandem to a single consumer level video projector. Currently he's using a really poor excuse for a "crash box / bang box " w/ 4 channels that, at-best, works 40% of the time without having to detect displays on the computer multiple times.... all the while making the audience wait, as they fumble on stage live to work things out.  Before anyone asks, no they cannot share one computer due to various installed pieces of software & customizations on each machine :)

Ideally, I wanted to recommend him a switcher that pre-acquired computers prior to making them live to the projector.  Having a preview out would be nice, but I'm sure that comes at a cost, and is not in his budget.   Worst case, they can acquire and test all machines prior to top of show. The video head next to me on this union gig is saying Folsom Presentation Pro.  He also mentioned Barco has come out w/ an entry level model that is similar, but is not familiar w/ pricing on either.  I did a quick google search but couldn't find any concrete pricing.  Can anyone recommend an online market place for used video switchers? and secondly, is there any other makes/models i should take a look at?

Best,
Brian
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 05:55:48 pm by brian frost »
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Sam Feine

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Re: looking for low budget video switcher for a friend
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2012, 11:47:02 pm »

For this type of thing I would recommend one of the entry level tricasters, if the feed does not have to be hd then they have a good mixer for a relatively low price. That said, they are still expensive so going used is defiantly an option. Other than that, BlackMagic Designs has an entry level switcher that is computer controlled for about 1k new. This is going to probably be the best you can get for a low price range. The Barco you mentioned is going to be expensive no two ways to put it, it is a great switcher but is designed for people looking to do much much more than switching between computers on a desktop projector.

If I were you I would look into the tricaster and blackmagic designs switchers, they would be your best bet for pro level inexpensive switchers.
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Ray Cerwinski

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Re: looking for low budget video switcher for a friend
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2012, 12:17:31 am »

I looked into the TVOne c2-3350. It will do everything you are looking for while also accepting and scaling a number of analog sources via included adapters. It also has a preview output to verify connection and operation before switching to it. We ended up getting an excellent deal on a used Folsom ScreenPro, so we went that direction.
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Brad Weber

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Re: looking for low budget video switcher for a friend
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2012, 02:21:19 am »

Semantics may be an issue here as a "video switcher" may be taken as referncing more of a production video switcher type product like the Blackmagic Design or Tricaster products, however those are not necessarily appropriate where you may have multiple sources with different types of connectivity, different resolutions, etc. and in such application a switcher/scaler or seamless switcher may be more appropriate.
 
For example, the $1,000 Blackmagic Television Studio switcher that Sam referenced may not be the best choice for this type of application as in terms of computer connectivity it supports only four HDMI inputs and only HDMI outputs, which may or may not work well, if at all, with your sources and projector.  But likely a greater limitation is that all of the sources and destinations have to be the same resolution selected from among a rather limited list of supported video oriented resolutions and scan/refresh rates, it does not sclae the inputs or outputs as seems to be one of your primary goals.  That unit also does not support HDCP and to operate it requires either a computer running its control software or a dedicated, and much more than $1k, controller.
 
So to decide what may be appropriate, a few pieces of basic information are required.  Do they need 4 or 6 inputs or perhaps want more inputs than that in order to allow for future expansion?  What physical connections (i.e. VGA, RGBHV, DVI-A/D/I, HDMI, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, etc.) are required and/or supported for both the computer sources and the connections to the projector?  What input and output formats (4:3, 16:9, 16:10, etc.) and resolutions need to be supported?
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Kellen Tyburski

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Re: looking for low budget video switcher for a friend
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2012, 09:56:49 am »

I believe the Barco equivalent to the Folsom Pres Pro would be the DCS-100. I have quite a bit of experience with this switcher, and would take an old working Pres Pro over it any day of the week for your basic computer/video switching.

I agree with Brad, that when searching for a "video switcher" that you really need to nail down what the application will be, and define a scope of use -- especially the physical connections, scaling/conversion needs. Also it sounds like seamless switching is a must, which will raise the price a bit. Once you nail this stuff down, you can pick a price range and start the hunt... Good luck! If you guys narrow it down to a couple, I would be curious to know which ones and what the budget is.


KT






 
« Last Edit: May 02, 2012, 11:15:37 am by Kellen Tyburski »
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John Caniford

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Re: looking for low budget video switcher for a friend
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2012, 12:10:46 am »

Ive been using the Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio. It a extremely powerful HD switcher for under 1K.

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/atemtelevisionstudio/
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Brad Weber

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Re: looking for low budget video switcher for a friend
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2012, 12:08:35 am »

Ive been using the Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio. It a extremely powerful HD switcher for under 1K.

http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/atemtelevisionstudio/
See my comments above, the ATEM series are, like many video production switchers, based on use in video production applications, e.g. standard 'video' resolutions and signal types, non-HDCP compliant, etc.  And while very powerful for the proper application, like most lower cost production switchers they also have many limitations, for example on the ATEM Television Studio there is no internal scaling or format conversion, you select one common resolution and scan/refresh rate from among a limited list that then affects all of the inputs and outputs, thus all source and destination devices must accommodate and be set for the option selected for the switcher.  Put these together and many entry level video production switchers are not always the best options for computer and multimedia applications. And that is why it is important to know the details of the application.
 
Also, while the ATEM Television Studio is rather amazing for under $1k, that is the cost for just the box.  You also need an attached computer running the control software, monitor and keyboard/mouse or the optional production controller in order to have a working device, which along with any interfaces, converters, etc. required can potentially make the actual total investment required much greater.  Again, the details of the application can be critical in some cases and can affect the viability of a product and/or the associated cost.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 12:10:51 am by Brad Weber »
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