NAB PREVIEW: Grass Valley’s Infinity and beyond

When it comes to transformations will anything match up to Grass Valley s 2006 NAB booth? A spate of recent acquisitions, most notably transmitter and IPTV equipment maker Thales and Japan-based nonlinear editing company Canopus give Grass Valley s product line a depth that is unmatched in the industry (only the recently transformed Harris, which acquired Leitch and Encoda Systems or Avid, which acquired Pinnacle Systems, comes close).
And while the Canopus and Thales deals would be enough to raise expectations for an interesting booth visit its the introduction of the Infinity tapeless ENG system Grass Valley that promises to keep the booth busy.

Ed Casaccia, Grass Valley news workflow manager, says the company s philosophy is simple: Our approach is any file on any medium, he says. Infinity, with it’s ability to record on iOmega REV drives or Flash solid state cards, as well as in a wealth of formats from standard-definition DV at 25 Mbps to HD using MPEG or JPEG2000 at 1080i or 720p, and a number of output options ranging from USB and FireWire to SDI or HD/SDI, only proves his point.

Expect the Infinity camera and deck to be shipping around the end of April when the NAB show kicks off in Vegas. The company is currently manufacturing the first 100 units for delivery to a number of customers. Only the BBC has said publicly that it intends to use the new system (it will also use Panasonic P2 gear).

One of the more highly anticipated developments will be the public real-world demonstration of a customized version of the iOmega REV drive, called REV Pro, for the Infinity system. Along with being more ruggedized for rough-and-tumble ENG work the drives have also been optimized to meet the transmission and file size demands of broadcasters.

The standard REV drive is great for moving a lot of data off of a PC but the REV Pro has the added ability of playing two streams off of the media at the same time, says Scott Murray, Grass Valley director of market development. The dual stream playback can hit data rates of 55 Mbps, easing the editing process. The disks will be available in 10 packs for $669.

Also expect interoperability between Infinity and Canopus NLE systems to be front and center. Canopus Edius, for example, will now allow for mixed format editing on the same timeline, an important feature for editors working with multiple video formats. HD, HDV, DV, MPEG, Quicktime, and uncompressed material, among other formats, can all be edited native without being transcoded to another format.

This will help editors repurpose HD material and integrate it together [with older SD material, says Murray.

Along similar lines Grass Valley is also introducing the Canopus ADVC700, a rack-mountable unit that uses the Canopus DV codec chip to convert analog video to DV. It also includes PerfectSync, a technology that Grass Valley says ensures perfect output synchronization over FireWire. An external reference signal prevents skipped and duplicate frames, a different approach from current analog-to-DV systems that skip or duplicate frames for synchronization.

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