Grass Valley Not Betting the Farm on 3D

Grass Valley cameras and switchers have already been used in a number of 3D productions — including last weekend’s NCAA Basketball Championship produced by PACE — but, at the NAB Show, the company is not putting all of its eggs into the 3D basket.

“We’re not betting the farm on 3D, nor are we dedicating half of our booth to 3D,” said Grass Valley CTO Ray Baldock at the company’s NAB press conference on Saturday. “We believe our customers are looking for powerful, flexible, cost-effective tools to do 2D today and 3D tomorrow and into the future.”

Just as important for Grass Valley is showing its customers that they are 3D-ready right now, thanks to some upgrades and enhancements to the Grass Valley products that they already own. The company’s booth at the show features the tag “You’re 3D Ready — Today!” and demonstrates a complete 3D system from the camera to the home, built mostly with products that Grass Valley customers already have in their equipment arsenal.

“People don’t want to make 3D-buying decisions right now,” Baldock said. “They want to work with the equipment that they already have. Most of our equipment is 3D-ready right now.”

Additions to the Team
The Kaypso and Kayenne production switchers are already 3D-ready, and a new feature will allow users to set up keyers in 3D mode. “That allows the operator to adjust the depth and placement of titles,” he said. “This is another tool to help them experiment with and try different graphic placements in 3D space.”

The K2 Summit production server has a new channel-flex feature to make 3D easier.

“We are adding additional inputs and outputs on every server channel, and the connectors are already there,” Baldock pointed out. “They can link a pair of inputs/outputs to create a 3D left-eye/right-eye pair locked together.”

Friends in 3D Arms
One interesting addition to the Grass Valley booth will be a product from a competing company. Grass Valley will be showing Panasonic’s handheld 3D camcorder alongside its own LDK8000 cameras hooked up to mirror 3ality Digital 3D rigs.

“Interoperability is very important for our customers,” Baldock said. “We’ve been working with Panasonic to make sure we have service solutions ready when that product hits the market later this year.”

Democratizing Slo-Mo Replay
Headlining Grass Valley’s 2D news is the release of the K2 Dyno Production Assistant. Intended to level the playing field in the world of replay servers, it is designed to make metadata tagging easier and more accurate, specifically for sports applications, so that operators do not have to be so highly trained to use it.

The software allows users to create metadata grids, such as player names and relevant plays, in advance of an event, so that producers can quickly log plays during an event using those pre-made tags. The software was designed with sports fans in mind.

“Fans are likely to be more accurate and enthusiastic than a server operator, and they’re probably cheaper,” said Scott Murray, general manager of live production solutions. “K2 Dyno is so easy to operate that the sports enthusiast could do it. It does not require highly paid talent to operate it, which boosts productivity and reduces errors.”

Because producers are always looking for more and better ways to tag their content, the Production Assistant was designed with a common-denominator interface. “When it becomes simple and easy, you make it more accessible,” Baldock said. “We are trying to democratize super-slo-mo replays with affordable tools.”