Snell launches mid-range production switcher, modules to extend life of broadcast infrastructure

Snell has launched Kahuna Flare, the newest member of the company’s suite of SD/HD/1080p multi-format production switchers. Kahuna Flare offers production-switcher technology in an affordable and highly accessible package.

“With Kahuna Flare, we’ve concentrated core Kahuna 360 technology into a form that redefines affordable production switching by marrying an outstanding feature set with an amazingly low price point,” said John Carter, senior product manager at Snell. “With features such as a powerful keyer toolset, dedicated resize engines, freely assignable 3D DVE, and Snell’s unique FormatFusion3 technology, Kahuna Flare has everything necessary to create world-class programs and productions.”

Kahuna Flare a mid-level switcher that offers standard single-link 1080p support alongside SD and HD formats — making it useful for over-the-air broadcasts, IP, or Internet delivery platforms, and even large progressive screen presentations. With versions ranging from 2 M/E to 4 M/E, Kahuna Flare offers four keyers per M/E and two channels of 3D DVE, all in a single 6U rack frame. The system comes standard with 48 inputs and 24 outputs, with the option to upgrade to 60 inputs and 32 outputs.

Snell’s unique FormatFusion3 gives Kahuna Flare users unmatched versatility in working with multiple signal formats, enabling them to mix SD, HD, and 1080p inputs and outputs simultaneously as required to meet any distribution need. A Kahuna Flare system is comprised of an industry standard Kahuna control surface, a graphical user interface, and a 6U electronics unit, all designed for ease of installation and operation.

In addition, Kahuna Flare offers a 3D DVE package that reflects the industry-leading image processing and manipulation credentials that Snell has developed through many generations of production-switching innovation. The various DVE models can provide instant DVE effects in bus-based or source-based mode, depending on the operator’s preference. The switcher also comes standard with an internal, fully integrated 10-output clipstore, with unrestricted outputs that can be assigned to any bus. The clipstore supports up to 48 seconds of uncompressed video and includes animated wipe transitions that can be easily programmed into a macro.

“Never before has an affordable, mid-level production switcher offered such elegant operation – and that’s because Kahuna Flare comes from the same team of multi-award-winning design engineers that created Kahuna and Kahuna 360,” said Carter. “Whatever the application, and in even the most mission-critical live switching environments, this powerful switcher will deliver reliable, resilient production resources. Plus, the skillset for operating Kahuna Flare directly applies to any model from the Kahuna family, for straightforward SD/HD switching to 1080p and beyond.”

Snell also announced the release of a new range of IQ Modular products that enable broadcasters to extend the useful life of their current SD or HD infrastructure. These new modules incorporate low latency and virtually lossless video compression in order to allow high-bandwidth HDTV signals to be transported efficiently and cost-effectively over existing lower-bandwidth SDI infrastructure, without any compromise of video quality. The new Snell modules also enable 3Gbps signals to be carried through existing HD-SDI video networks.

The commercial benefit of these new IQ Modular products is immediate — they enable broadcasters to continue using their existing infrastructure as they migrate their operations to new formats. By “future-proofing” existing infrastructure, these Snell products eliminate or delay the immediate need for substantial investment in HD/3Gbps video infrastructure or fiber networks.

“To add channels and create networks with restricted budgets, broadcasters need to implement the best-performing systems at the most economical price,” said Steve Cole, product manager at Snell. “Our new IQ modules offer this valuable price/performance combination while also meeting key technical challenges associated with broadcasters’ HD upgrades and future-proofing for potential 1080p (3Gbps) production. Going into IBC2012, we’re making these format translators and 3Gbps encoder/decoder modules — along with all of our IQ Modular 3G/HD distribution amplifiers — available at extremely competitive prices.”

The following new IQ Modular products will be introduced at IBC2012:

• The IQTDA30 3Gbps format translator provides signal translation between SMPTE 372M dual-link and SMPTE 425M single-link sources, facilitating signal integration into a single system standard. Applications include the integration of dual-link equipment into single-link workflows, as well as translation between SMPTE 425M level B and level A standards.

• The IQCTX30 provides ultra-low-latency compression for 3Gbps-SDI or dual-link 1.5Gbps signals using SMPTE VC-2 (Dirac-pro) multi-level wavelet transform encoding. All metadata from the 1080p source, including up to 16 channels of embedded audio, is preserved without compression. Confidence monitoring is possible at any point in the signal path, thanks to the use of a compression technique that allows the encoded bit stream to be viewed as an HD-SDI signal for basic monitoring.

• The IQCRX30 provides complementary high-quality decoding to return the compressed signal to full-bandwidth 1080p50/60 3Gbps SDI.

• IQCTX20 and IQCRX20 versions enable HD signals to be compressed and transported over SDI infrastructure, and have a feature set similar to the IQCTX30 and IQCRX30.

Lastly, the company announced that its Sirius 800 family of routing switchers has been enhanced with the availability of frame synchronization on the units’ AHP (Advanced Hybrid Processing) input and output cards. The resulting router architecture enables independent processing of audio and video signals with no restrictions on signal formats, timing between signal types, or number of audio channels. Building on the Sirius 800 series’ audio de-embedding, embedding, and audio processing capabilities, this new functionality not only allows all inputs to be retimed before switching and enables operators to guarantee SMPTE-compliant switching, but also supports synchronization of incoming lines to a local studio reference.

“In addition to giving users total control over signal routing, timing, and levels, all in one system, Sirius 800 AHP with frame synchronizers saves huge amounts of space, power, weight, and cabling as compared with traditional routing architectures and first generation hybrid routers,” said Alan Smith, product manager at Snell. “Unlike other architectures, where processing is effectively ‘wrapped around’ the router, our approach with the Sirius 800 AHP saves a significant number of input and outputs, greatly reducing initial costs as well as ongoing operation and maintenance costs.”

Frame synchronizers, combined with audio processing and delay capability, allow a Sirius 800 AHP router to serve as the single point at which incoming signals are correctly adjusted for use within a facility. Each signal can be synchronized to a local reference, and operators can then swap individual embedded audio channels, adjust levels as required, and mix these inputs to create additional channels (e.g., for simple monitoring of surround sound as stereo) to match house standards. Video and each audio channel can be individually delayed to maintain lip sync.

AHP is available on each of the Sirius 800 router’s inputs and outputs, offering track swap, gain, delay, and mixing capability for input-level correction, standard channel setup, Dolby 5.1 surround sound downmix, stereo-to-mono mix, output level adjustment, DolbyE delay compensation, video and audio timing delay correction, sample rate conversion to house standard, and now also synchronization.

All base-level Sirius 800 AHP cards (i.e., embedding and de-embedding, with audio processing) can be firmware-upgraded to add frame syncs. Operators can use this new functionality to implement multi-format frame syncs (SD, HD, and 3Gbps), with the full independence of every channel supporting the use of mixed formats. Each channel can be synchronized with any of four references, whether for multi-format or multi-standard operation, or to allow for different timing planes throughout larger installations.

A line sync mode minimizes delay and ensures clean switching. Adjustable video and individual audio channel delays allow compensation for contribution channel and audio encoding/decoding delays. These and other controls can be adjusted on the fly either via Snell soft panels or via Snell’s RollCall hardware panel. The Sirius 800 router is available with both fiber and coax interconnections.

Snell’s Kahuna 360 video switcher is driving production for Sky Sport News HD, the first 24-hour sports news channel to serve viewers in Germany and Austria. The Kahuna 360 is driven by a studio automation solution from Mosart, and it joins Inews, Avid Interplay, and Vizrt systems to provide a complete workflow for switching and playout of multi-format video and graphics sources to air.

Sky Sport News HD is a production of Sky Deutschland Fernsehen GmbH and is available to Sky subscribers in Germany and Austria as part of the satellite provider’s Sky Welt package. Snell partner Wellen + Nöthen GmbH provided systems integration for the Kahuna 360 installation. Kahuna 360 features up to six mix effects (M/E), four of which are currently in use by the Sky Sport News HD production. The reserve power provides ample room for growth as the new channel expands.

As a native 1080p/3G switcher, Kahuna 360 supports any format in and any format out, on any input or output including 1080p (single link). Kahuna 360 offers seven keyers per M/E, 120 HD/SD inputs, 64 HD/SD outputs, and an audio/video clip store with 40 minutes of capacity for SD or eight minutes for HD. The switcher also supports up to 16 simultaneous broadcast productions from a single mainframe.

Sky Sport News HD is a real-time, graphics-intense channel that relies on a highly automated editorial and production environment that uses templates to feed the rundown of the news bulletin; therefore, the Kahuna 360’s capacity to manage several key layers was a large selling point for Sky Deutschland.

With the ability to control up to seven concurrent graphics presentations in a single M/E and four channels of comprehensive and integrated 3D DVE effects, the Kahuna 360 gives Sky Sport News HD the ability to deliver high-powered, multi-level graphics presentations with each broadcast. In addition, the Kahuna 360’s extensive internal clip store enables the broadcaster to play out clips directly from the switcher, without having to rely on external devices.

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