Sunday, May 15, 2011

A new model for video production, take 2

Last August, I wrote an entry about how new technologies and the vastly improved quality of consumer- and prosumer-grade video and audio equipment would allow producers to build an HD webcasting studio with four automated cameras, a camera control unit and a production switcher for around $47,000. In that iteration of the design, I specified Panasonic's IP cameras and switcher. I also included a very inexpensive Zoom audio mixer/recorder, four Line 6 digital wireless microphones, four Litepanels LED lights and some other equipment.

After I returned from NAB last month, I reworked the budget and replaced many of the components with new, lower-priced models. For example, I replaced the Panasonic cameras with Canon XA10 camcorders--not automated, but for my money, they give a better picture and are much more flexible--and then went with third-party pan/tilt heads and controllers. The Panasonic switcher, which was bare-bones in the extreme, was replaced with Blackmagic Design's ATEM 1 M/E, which is better in just about every possible dimension.

I also dramatically improved the audio mixer, moving from the Zoom R24 to a PreSonus 16.4.2. By judiciously swapping out components (but without replacing anything with junk and without losing any functionality), I added four teleprompters, an intercom, a broadcast graphics server and a complete talk show call-in phone system, while actually saving $1,000 on the original system. That's in a bit more than eight months.

My goal is to get a studio built with this new design by the end of the year for a startup I'm working on. IBC, the other big broadcasting conference of the year, will be held in September. Who knows what else we'll see there, and what more you'll be able to do with $50,000?
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