Taking a Multi-View Approach to Video Monitoring

There’s now a myriad of ways to monitor multiple video signals on a single screen, both for the large broadcast facility and the single camera operator. All have their benefits. Image courtesy Ross Video.

The advent of multiviewer processors and related software, which offer the ability to display multiple video sources on a single display panel, has literally changed the way broadcast and production control room are designed and implemented. This multi-view capability got its start in control rooms, in tandem with production switchers, but has since migrated to help engineers check signal distribution paths coming to and from their routers, and are now being offered as a high-quality multi-signal live preview and recording device.

Any way you look at it, and multi-viewers give you many options (now including 4K signal compatibility), depending upon your applications and how you or your staff likes to work, a variety of signals can be technically evaluated (with waveform and vectorscope features built-in) or they can be used on set for esthetic purposes.

Again, the production control room and master control viewing area have been the biggest beneficiary of advanced multiview technology. Today every production switcher manufacturers offers some type of ability to display numerous signals at the same time. This of course, saves on costs (and space) of having to buy separate monitors for each signal being used.

In The Control Room

Broadcast Pix offers its Flint, Granite and Mica integrated production systems with Fluent View, a multi-view option that offers the ability to set up screen configurations with a touchscreen display. Users can customize Fluent-View to show 8 cameras, 7 channels of files, 4 outputs, and 6 keys. They can also open a SoftPanel on the monitor or a laptop for a classic switcher layout. Users can also add a custom keyboard option, or even control it from an Android or iPad tablet.

Virtually every production switcher and router manufacturer, such as Broadcast Pix, FOR-A, Grass Valley, NewTek, Ross Video, Snell, Utah Scientific, and others. All offer flexibility and multi-format display and resizing support.

A new multi viewer from FOR-A, the 4K-compatible MV-1620HSA 3G/HD/SD/analog mixed high-resolution unit. Capable of accepting up to 16 channels of signals for monitoring on up to two screens, the 1RU unit is a compact but full-featured multi viewer that includes the option to cascade it with other units to display up to 64 sources simultaneously, and its Layout Manager tool enables the layout of 4K video in a seamless display.

The Grass Valley Kaleido multiviewer portfolio is available in a variety of models, including ones for IP signal monitoring. Every Kaleido multiviewer is designed to expand and interoperate seamlessly into any workflow, saving space and lowering overall costs. The common control systems, display layout tools and extensive router integration help streamline workflows and simplify operations.

The MTV International control room features Evertz MVP multiview processors to keep track of all sources.

The MTV International control room features Evertz MVP multiview processors to keep track of all sources.

Evertz offers its MVP solution, which gives users high picture quality, virtually unlimited layout flexibility and precise signal probing capabilities. A single Evertz MVP system can expand from 8 inputs with a single output, to as large as 1,000 inputs across more than 50 displays. The MVP includes the possibility of displaying any input signal to any output monitor (without the need for DAs or upstream monitor routers).

Apantac, provider of cost-effective multiviewers, video walls, matrices, extenders, and signal processing solutions, offers its TAHOMA DE-16 “Universal” Multiviewer, a DL-4+12 “Hybrid” Multiviewer. The key here is the ability to mix and match broadcast and multimedia/computer inputs on the same displays

With Apantac’s TAHOMA DE Series, users can monitor signals and equipment throughout a facility.]

With Apantac’s TAHOMA DE Series, users can monitor signals and equipment throughout a facility.]

The TAHOMA DE Series support 4-16 HDMI, DVI, VGA, YPbPr, PAL/NTSC inputs and optional 3G/HD/SD SDI inputs; while the TAHOMA DL Series of “Hybrid” multiviewers accepts a mix of multimedia HDMI, DVI, VGA, YPbPr and Broadcast 3G/HD/SD SDI, PAL/NTSC inputs. HDCP protected HDMI signals are supported.

Users can monitor signals and equipment throughout a facility, including: SDI outputs from multiviewers used in studios, continuity, for off-air monitoring, VGA signals from the SNMP manager with a real time logs of alarms and equipment status view, DVI signals from the playlist computer, VGA and DVI signals from various computers managing signal processing, matrices, or displaying a transmitters' status map, real time audience as well as a rasterizer output.

Cobalt Digital offers its 9970-QS 3G/HD/SD-SDI/CVBS Quint-Split Multi-Image Display Processor, which integrates five discrete 3G/HD/SD-SDI or CVBS inputs onto a single 3G/HD/SD-SDI quint-split output, with each input image being flexibly inserted into the output image area.

On-screen layouts can be configured using any of several one-button template presets or fully customizable layouts leveraging easy-to-use sizing/positioning custom controls. Custom layouts can be saved to user presets. Any template layout or custom layout changes can be done “on-the-fly” in real time, without needing tedious setup compiler or layout programs like many other split/multiviewer products.

Cobalt Digital’s Quint-Split Multi-Image Display Processor offers a built-in master output up-down-cross convert scaler that provides scale-to HD or 3G SDI formats for the combined multiviewer output.

Cobalt Digital’s Quint-Split Multi-Image Display Processor offers a built-in master output up-down-cross convert scaler that provides scale-to HD or 3G SDI formats for the combined multiviewer output.

Advanced graphics such as user-specified text, PiP input video format, audio meter bars, tally/UMD, reticules, and timecode can be burned into any PiP with full user attributes control. User-configurable Quality Check allows subjective criteria such as black/frozen frame or audio silence events to propagate an on-screen alarm/alert to the output image (such as alert text burn-in or border alert highlighting).

A master output up-down-cross convert scaler provides scale-to HD or 3G SDI formats for the combined multiviewer output, which also includes an HDMI output (with audio embedding) to directly feed a wall monitor.

The openGear card-based form factor of the 9970-QS provides scalable, easily integrated multi-image functions for the 20-slot frame form factor with easy to use DashBoard remote control. Each PiP input is provided its own independent timing alignment controls with lock to reference, allowing asynchronous inputs to be directly accommodated.

On The Camera/Standalone Units

This technology is now also being leveraged in small, camera-mounted and standalone units that have a variety of display and recording capabilities for the independent operator. Companies such as Atomos, Convergent Design, and Matrox offer multi-signal recording features displayed on a single monitor that sits on the back of the camera or a separate unit that monitors and records multiple video signals simultaneously.

For example, the Atomos Ronin recorder, player and monitor is a ½ RU rack-mountable solution for professionals working in both fixed-facility and on-location video production. The Ronin captures 10-bit 4:2:2 video and audio direct from any camera with HD/SD-SDI output. An Atomos Connect H2S and/or S2H can be added to the Ronin for HDMI capability.

The Ronin recorder captures Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD and allows professional monitoring and edit review on the fly.

The Ronin recorder captures Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD and allows professional monitoring and edit review on the fly.

Key features of the Ronin’s Atomos operating system include record triggering via a start/stop flag or timecode, SmartMonitor focus/exposure monitoring assist (including focus peaking and false color) and SmartLog for pre-editing (reviewing, marking and tagging) footage in real-time.

In addition, the Ronin offers balanced XLR inputs and outputs and a front panel headphone jack with channel monitoring selections.

The Matrox VS4Recorder Pro multi-camera recording and multiviewer application frame-accurately captures up to four live audio/video feeds using a Matrox VS4 quad HD-SDI capture card, which can be used to create files for editing and archiving. As a multiviewer, it offers pristine video quality even when monitoring interlaced sources on progressive computer monitors.

The Matrox VS4Recorder Pro offers high-quality video monitoring of all inputs.

The Matrox VS4Recorder Pro offers high-quality video monitoring of all inputs.

The Matrox VS4Recorder Pro software gives you two different recording modes: “multicam,” which provides synchronized frame accurate captures, and “independent,” which offers a wide range of video and audio codecs to choose from.

The Matrox MPEG-2 I-frame codec at up to 300Mb/s is provided in an AVI wrapper. H.264 is provided in either MOV or MP4 wrappers. And DV/DVCAM, DVCPRO, DVCPRO50 and DVCPRO HD QuickTime files are provided in MOV wrappers. Global audio settings include audio codecs for .wav and .aac files with bit rate, bit depth and stereo/mono options.

Users can connect video sources, start the VS4Recorder Pro and begin recording. The VS4Recorder Pro then automatically detects the correct incoming video format. And, each input is independent so you can capture HD and SD in the same recording session.

VS4Recorder Pro offers high-quality video monitoring of all inputs. It accurately represents incoming video signals at any video window size and offers single- and quad-view modes for a customizable multi-viewing experience. A quad-view mode can be used to preview all four inputs simultaneously or switch to single-view mode and cycle through the inputs. Users can also customize the VS4Recorder Pro interface with labels and file name overlays in each quadrant that can be set to remain on screen or “auto-hide” after a period of mouse inactivity. Each quadrant also provides controls for source recording, audio monitoring, view mode, elapsed recording time and hard drive status in a popover area that appears/disappears on mouse activity/inactivity. VS4Recorder Pro also provides visual cues showing the amount of storage and the length of record time remaining on your target hard drive so you don’t miss important content.

Broadcast Stream Monitoring

Other products that offer multiview capability include Volicon's Observer Media Intelligence Platform. It now includes multiview capability that also leverages the Observer platform's recording capability, users can access live or recorded audio and video, complemented by frame-accurate data, on a monitor wall or other display.

Volicon's Observer Media Intelligence Platform gives users time-shifting capability, effectively allows users to keep their eyes on every screen, listen to audio on all channels at once, and look past audio and video impairments to examine the integrity of metadata

Volicon's Observer Media Intelligence Platform gives users time-shifting capability, effectively allows users to keep their eyes on every screen, listen to audio on all channels at once, and look past audio and video impairments to examine the integrity of metadata

The Multiviewer for Volicon's Observer Media Intelligence Platform enables users to watch multiple live or recorded programs on a network wall and use the desktop interface to inspect or troubleshoot a suspect stream without delay. The platform captures and stores content from any source and enables users to review that content in real time, from anywhere and at any time, for applications ranging from compliance, quality assurance, and competitive analysis to production and repurposing for multiple platforms and social media outlets.

Basically, there’s basically a myriad of ways to monitor video signals, both for the large broadcast facility and the single camera operator. All have their benefits to the user and have allowed those who might not be able to afford more costly systems in the past to benefit as well.

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