New Granite System Is Rock Solid for Low-Cost Video Productions

Broadcast Pix continues to innovate in its efforts to allow small broadcast operations and venue video operations to deliver a top-notch video experience. The company’s latest product, set to debut at the NAB Show in April, is the Granite Video Production System, which comprises a native-HD switcher with a server that works as a clip store, graphics system, and more for $20,900.

“The problem we’re trying to solve is putting together an HD control room because [our other system] Slate is not native HD inside,” says Broadcast Pix President Ken Swanton. “This is a no-compromise live-video-production system.”

Granite is delivered in two components that measure a total of 5RU. An important attribute that the Granite switcher offers is a wealth of inputs and outputs, overcoming a common gating factor for products in similar form factors. In fact, the need for inputs is why it was split into two components, the switcher and the server.

Users will find 11 inputs or 22 HD-SDI inputs along with six or 12 HD-SDI outputs (and two DVI outputs). The system also auto-detects resolution of incoming signals as well as aspect ratio, and PCIe-file inputs allow easy access to clips, animations, and graphics. There is also only one frame of delay within the system.

“The two boxes are connected by PCI Express so the server can’t tell if the switcher is inside or outside of the same box,” says Swanton. “PCI Express allows us to expand the connectivity of the server and move files back and forth very quickly.”

The Granite server is based on an Intel quad processor and has up to 1 TB of storage with RAID 10 reliability.  It runs the Fluent video-system architecture and can import HD clips and graphic files from Apple Final Cut, Adobe Premier, and more.

The built-in HD clip store can hold up to 120 hours of h.264 clips, animations with key and also with audio. And an HD animation store, with two channels, can hold .tga, .jpg, .bmp, and .png clips of up to 5 seconds each. Also planned is an HD graphics store with four channels that can hold thousands of graphics in the same four formats. Clips, graphics, and animations can all be played instantly via an auto-start function.

Also helping with operations is the ability to build macros to recall both switcher moves and files. When the system coupled with the built-in Harris Inscriber GS character generator or the optional Fluent Rapid character generator (with drag-and-drop integration with databases), the macros can quickly transform production-crew workflows.

A built-in multiviewer provides conventional viewing of program, preview, sources, and tally but also can allow viewing of files, keys, clocks. and more.

Granite offers a number of control options for such devices as Telemetrics pan-and-tilt heads; cameras from Panasonic, Sony, and Hitachi; and even servers from Harris, Omneon, and 360 Systems. It can also control the ViewCast streaming system.

For controlling things, though, it is probably the iPix Panel app that will turn heads. Priced at just $195, the application allows the switcher to be controlled by an iPhone or iPad via WiFi.

“I think it’s going to be a great tool,” says Swanton of the iPad. “You can sit a whole control panel onto it, and it is great for bigger production teams that want to augment control of the switcher.”

In terms of pricing, the Granite 100 with 1 M/E and three keys is $20,900. The Granite 1000 with 1 M/E and three keys and a control panel that displays files on the buttons is $28,900. And the Granite 5000, with 2 M/E, six keys, and a large control panel is $49,900. Units will begin shipping in May.