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At the December 12, 2005 meeting...
Introducing a New Live Production Technology
A touchscreen-based video switcher

We were treated to an advance peek at the Visual-Venue VV-100 integrated video production system. It's a touchpanel-based switcher that will allow users to use standard DV camcorders to produce live multicamera productions.

Important features are that it can use BMP and TGA files from a pocket drive or networked laptop for graphics - they can even be changed while on the air to do things like sports scoring. And it can play back DV videotapes in a really cool way: It will pre-cue them and then roll them for playback as you switch to them. When the clip has played through, it'll even (optionally) switch back to whatever is on the Preview monitor so you don't have to worry about missing the cue. Then it'll pre-cue the next clip automatically.

It has a lot of other nice touches: For example, a two-channel intercom that allows the director to talk to the camerapeople without disturbing the talent on the separate channel. If you're wondering how they provide intercom and tally to standard DV camcorders,it's with a simple gimmick: small boxes with tally lights and intercom connectors that velcro onto the camcorders. The cable also acts as a more secure connection than a firewire-only connection would provide - it doesn't pull out so easily.

The special effects capability can produce live transitions and effects with up to four layers of video (all effects fully previewable) It has a built-in audio mixer.

But what makes the VV-100 really unique is its touchscreen control panel. Users select video sources by pointing to the moving images themselves. This makes things really simple and easy. Even complex transitions and effects are easily programmed with context-sensitive software panels that present the user with the relevant controls when they need them.

Craig Cook, the engineer behind the system told us a bit about what was under the hood too: The VV-100 uses nonlinear technology to decode, mix and re-encode video with standard PC components and the use of a single specialized add-in card. They're hoping this makes their system particularly cost-effective to build, a discount I hope they plan to pass on to the customers! It still needs some finishing off - the number of transitions is somewhat limited and the engineering prototype needs to be made into something that can be produced easily in mass quantities.

Nevertheless, they hope to ship shortly after NAB.

More information can be gotten by emailing or

Special thanks to Tom Sprague and all the folks at National/Boston Video Center for letting us use their facility for our meeting!

Posted: 30 December 2005
Bob Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor