NAB PREVIEW: Snell & Wilcox brings motion estimation to upconversion

Snell & Wilcox will head to NAB with its own version of the triple play: Quasar. The next-generation SD-to-HD upconversion system will combine three of the company s Emmy-award wining technologies into a single RU box that will be priced at less than $20,000.

For sportscasters looking to upconvert standard-definition video into HD video the system could prove a boon. The three technologies it incorporates, for example, typically cost more than $20,000 each.

The design criteria was to be the best, says Joe Zaller, Snell & Wilcox vice president of marketing. So we combined three of our Emmy-award winning technologies: motion-estimation, upconversion, and Prefix pre processing.

For the first time, says Zaller, Snell & Wilcox s PH.C motion estimation technology is being used for the de-interlacing, an important feature for high-motion sports content. The technology lets us handle fast, complex motion where the camera is moving very fast, he says. Lines on the field and other diagonal information, for example, can upconverted more cleanly and accurately.

The Prefix compression pre-processing system also improves image quality by reducing noise and filtering dropouts. It s our best decoding technology and has a robust front-end for legacy sources, says Zaller.

Zaller says he expects the system to be a hit in Europe, especially with European broadcasters moving to HD in time for the World Cup this summer. It also will shine in handling international standards as it can convert directly from 625-line standards to 1080i standards without throwing away information to get down to the U.S. 525-line standard like some competing systems

Snell & Wilcox will also introduce new features for the Kahuna production switcher (Zaller says it will be in heavy use during World Cup in European OB vans). The big addition is IMPAKT, a suite of 3D digital video effect systems. With IMPAKT, Kahuna has up to four twin-channel 3D DVEs that users can apply in either SD, HD, or both. They also work in source-based or bus-based modes, allowing both background and fill-and-key manipulation.

Effects include spheres, slabs, zooms, warps, tiling, ripples, rolls and peels, fragmentation, lighting effects, and corner pinning. All these options are housed in Kahuna s compact 11-RU mainframe and require no additional connections or extra rack space.

Snell & Wilcox will also introduce compact versions of the Kahuna control surfaces. A micro-control panel will be rolled out along with compacy 1, 2, and 3 mix-effect versions.

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