Grass Valley gets flexible with modular system

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Remote production truck makers looking to save space have a new option: Grass Valley Group modules for the GeckoFlex modular system, a new 2RU frame that can hold up to 10 modules, making it ideal for remote production trucks and other areas where space is at a premium.
GeckoFlex makes for a very flexible environment for signal conversion and transportation in tight configurations, says Don Thomas, Grass Valley product marketing manager, modular. ENG-type vans and full-size production trucks and even studios can benefit from the system. NEP Supershooters recently purchased the upconverter unit for use in a new truck.

The modules announced include a compact frame synchronizer for HD signals and a variety of distribution amplifiers. The new frame synchronizer is the first from a major supplier to deliver HD performance in a 2RU form factor. It supports SD-SDI and HD-SDI signals at all common formats, and can be converted to fiber connections simply by plugging in a compact small form-factor pluggable (SFP) fiber I/O device SFP that common in the IT industry. It includes an advanced-processing amplifier with RGB, gamma, and hue control, and is capable of passing through embedded audio, including Dolby E.

The new HD-SDI and SD-SDI distribution amplifiers feature a variety of equalization, reclocking and monitoring options; they also integrate the new frame synchronizer to time incoming lines and asynchronous sources in production. .

The DA and frame synchronizer GeckoFlex modules are already shipping. Further additions to the range will be made in the coming months, including a synchronizer with video delay, up and down converters, audio embedding or de-embedding, and audio-processing modules.

We have a roadmap for a whole suit of HD/SD products, says Thomas. Up next are a family of fiber modules that can take four electrical signals and covert them to fiber and a module that can take four fiber signals and convert them to electrical signals. In addition Thomas says the system can take legacy modules that are not Fiber ready and turn them into a fiber I/O by adding a small SFP device.

A third module will be introduced in October. It optically multiplex 8 fibers onto 1 or demuxes 1 fiber out to 8, allowing for several sources to be sent to a booth and other monitors. Also look for a small optical router to be introduced at IBC in 4×4 and 16×16 configurations.

Thomas points to system control and monitoring as a big part of the GeckoFlex value proposition. There are three ways to set up the modules: Newton, NetConfig and NetCentral.

All the modules come with NetConfig which allows for configuration via Web pages, says Thomas. You enter the frame IP address in the PC and it takes you right to the frame and module for set up.

NetCentral is a subset of a larger facility-wide monitoring system that uses SNMP. While Newton is on-hand control for real-time control NetCentral allows for control over a fiber network. Several modules can also be joined together for multi-function needs, allowing rapid set-up or changes across multiple units.
GeckoFlex supports all HD/SD modules, including distribution amplifiers, frame synchronizers, proc amps, and up and down converters. GeckoFlex merges the 8900 modules with the new platform, says Thomas of the long list of existing 8900 modules and the 9 new HD/SD modules.