Grass Valley returns to IBC with new message, eye on 4K


Among the highlights for Grass Valley at IBC2013 is the latest version of K-frame, the modular video-processing engine for the Kayenne and Karrera vision mixers. Upgrades include internal video-clip storage, greater macro flexibility, and an M/E multipreviewer function. But there is more, including a refined message to the market and the beginning of 4K planning. SVP of Marketing Mike Cronk discussed the latest news from Grass Valley.

What is the big message for Grass Valley this year?
It’s that Grass is back, as we have streamlined costs in a number of administration areas and taken that money and invested it in research and development and a product roadmap that drives innovation. Some of those fruits you are seeing here on the show floor, and others will be introduced next year, making for an exciting year overall.

At the end of the day, broadcasters need solid production systems that are reliable, as they spend a lot of effort to get a broadcast signal on-air. And that is a fundamental underpinning of what we do. You can develop whiz-bang products, but there is a certain amount of capex budget to go around, and that calls for a budget framework for our customers that make sense.

And, while everyone needs an over-the-top strategy, not everyone has figured out how to monetise it. So broadcasters spend money on the broadcast chain and then use the same people and equipment to deliver a broadcast signal and an over-the-top experience. CNBC, for example, is using Stratus to put content on the Web, thanks to a rules engine that publishes content to the right place. So the same person creating content for the linear channel can create content for the Web without requiring a two-times investment.

How is Grass Valley approaching 4K?
Some of our customers in Japan and Europe say they are gung ho for 4K, but there are also other major broadcasters that don’t care about 4K as there is an element of waiting to see where the business case develops.

We will design a camera that meets the requirements of broadcast, including the sensitivity and depth of field needed as well as [the ability] to use the existing infrastructure. And I don’t think anything on the market to date meets those requirements.

Our job is to create something that customers will want to buy, and that involves more than just putting something in the market and feeling good about it.

Do you think the transition to 4K will be similar to the HD transition?
I am wary of saying things like that, but, in every transition, there have been a series of trials, and Grass Valley listens to what the needs are and tries to meet them. We successfully went from SD to HD with camera solutions, editing, and other products so we see 4K as an opportunity.

Each of the industry transitions have their own intricacies, and we understand the customer requirements, and we are actively working on a 4K solution.

What’s new this year for HD broadcasters?
We have a new compact box camera that has the same board set as the LDX camera line as well as the same three ⅔-in. CMOS CCDs, and it opens up a lot of applications for the LDX camera. We also have a new OLED viewfinder for demanding applications like shooting in sunlight. And that is getting tremendous reviews for a prototype.

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