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Thomson Adds Final Cut Pro Compatibility, HD Super SloMo

Announces HD Kayak switcher By Charlie White

Over the past three years, Thomson Grass Valley has been a prime mover in the explosion of HDTV production equipment. At NAB 2004, the technology giant announced products that represent some of the final links in the HD production chain, including the first Super SloMo HD camera and a new HD version of the company's compact Kayak switcher line. The company also announced its collaboration with Apple, enabling Final Cut Pro compatibility with its NewsEdit system.

LDK 6200 Super SloMo Camera
Expected to be used extensively at this summer's Olympic games and then picked up by U.S. football broadcasters in the fall, the new LDK 6200 is the first Super SloMo HD camera to be released. "Super SloMo has become very popular in the last several years," said Jeff Rosica, VP, Business and Strategic Marketing for Thomson. "The LDK 23 is our current Super SloMo product in this market space. We have a large market share, about 80% in Super SloMo today. Now we have the LDK 6200, an HD Super SloMo camera that delivers the performance required for high definition. Up to this point, if somebody watched a high definition production, like a football or basketball game, they were watching up-converted Super SloMo. So this is a big breakthrough."

The double-speed camera also has the capability of being used as a conventional HD camera with the flip of a switch. Rosica pointed out the practical advantage of this new feature. "Let's say for the pre-show, you needed more cameras -- maybe you have a super SloMo on the field. You can flip a switch, use the camera as a normal camera, and then right before the game begins, flip it, re-patch it into super SloMo, and now it's a Super SloMo camera. That's a nice feature that really improves the utility of the camera."

The camera's signal can be sent to the switcher through standard HD triax cable, although the distance the signal can travel will be reduced by 10-15%. Even so, that will still allow cable runs of around 5000 feet. "When you go into double speed, you're operating at a very high data rate -- it's a very high bandwidth requirement to transmit the signal from the camera to the base station. We've actually figured  out a way to get that signal required for a disk recorder through standard HD triax, so our current HD triax that's used in the LDK 6000 Mark II, is also utilized in the 6200." The company has also released an HD triax repeater to enable longer cable runs. "Now you can actually double the length of HD triax, which is going to take care of 95% percent of the lengths needed for sports and entertainment production. For those people who require fiber, we also have a fiber version," Rosica told Digital Media Net.

Kayak HD Switcher
The company also announced a single-ME (mix/effects) high definition version of its Kayak line of smaller switchers. Because of the standard definition Kayak's quick uptake since its introduction last year -- it's now installed in 175 facilities -- the company said the Kayak line had exceeded expectations and wanted to capitalize on that popularity with an HD version. "We saw that and we said, 'We have to bring this to high-def.' So we've now launched a Kayak HD switcher which allows people -- in either compact situations or where they need a more affordable HD switcher for special applications -- to use a very powerful, cost effective production switcher for HD." The diminutive switcher, whose rack unit is only 3 RU (rack units) high, offers 16 inputs, four keyers and 10 aux busses. The company said there may be a two-ME version of the switcher in the offing, depending on customer demand. "If they demand it, we'll do what customers require," Rosica said.

Final Cut Pro/NewsEdit
In the News category, Thomson announced a collaboration with Apple that will allow Final Cut Pro to be used in a new environment alongside PC-based editing systems. The new software will allow users to use Mac G5s loaded with Final Cut Pro 4, and exchange files with Grass Valley NewsEdit systems and Profile servers. Rosica said the new Mac-compatible product will ship in the September/October (2004) time frame. According to Rosica, Grass Valley noticed that although 80 to 90% of production for newscasts involves hard news, meaning mostly cuts-only, quickly produced packages, the remaining production requires more-refined editing with effects, color correction, special transitions and "craft editing" techniques. "We looked at the marketplace, and saw who's out there. We wanted to know, first, who has good price-performance for this type of editing, second, who has a large following and a lot of buzz with their product. And so obviously we can't discount Apple's Final Cut Pro as a major part of that," Rosica said.

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Related Keywords:Thomson Grass Valley, HDTV production equipment, NAB 2004, HD production chain, Super SloMo HD camera, Kayak switcher, Apple, Final Cut Pro compatibility, NewsEdit

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