Grass Valley addresses needs of sportscasters

Grass Valley will introduce a number of products in 2006 designed to meet the needs of sports broadcasters looking to improve the quality of their HD productions.
Highlights include a new wireless HD transmission system and larger and HD-upgradeable Kayak production switchers.

All of the products come at a time when HD seems to be reaching a tipping point where it becomes a must-have for sportscasters rather than a luxury. With the sale of HD sets exceeding those of conventional sets HD for the first HD is clearly becoming a mass-market opportunity for the industry, says Jeff Rosica, Grass Valley VP, worldwide strategic marketing and business development.

The most exciting development is HD wireless transmission, a source of much consternation for sportscasters wanting to get HD signals from sideline and other ENG cameras without the need to run cables. The system is compatible with the Grass Valley LDK 4000, 6000, and future cameras and uses JPEG2000 compression and the 802.16 physical layer for transmission. It can transmit both 1080i and 720p with low latency and has a coverage area of 300 meters. But repeaters can boost the signal up to 1 kilometer, making it an ideal solution for massive productions like NASCAR or golf tournaments.

Grass Valley will also roll out a new family of standard-definition Kayak production switchers that are upgradeable to HD. The current Kayak line has quickly become popular in the market, with two of the units heading to Torino for the Winter Olympics.

Mark Narveson, Grass Valley production switcher director of product marketing, says the new switchers will be available in the same frame sizes as previous SD/HD Kayak switchers but will be less expensive because they aren t HD capable. But they can bring in HD sources and down-rez material for standard definition, he says, a feature which could prove useful in sports productions where the visiting team broadcaster has access to HD feeds but can only send SD signals to viewers.
The Kayak line is also expanding, with Grass Valley adding a 2.5 and 3 mix-effect version with 32 crosspoints per row. Keys can be white or colored, depending on the users preference.

Another interesting feature to the Kayak line is MatchDef, a video input scaler that takes an incoming source and scale it up, down or cross convert to any other format. Up to 16 scalers can be included in an 8RU frame and up to 8 in a 4RU frame. Expect the switchers and MatchDef to be available in May.

Look for more Grass Valley news during the last week of February when we report from its annual NAB press meeting.

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