Almost 20 years ago First Orlando purchased state of the art broadcast television production equipment.
Almost 20 years later, we still have it. It is a testimony to companies like Grass Valley, Sony, and Fujinon that we still use their gear to create decent looking broadcast-quality video for TV every week. Oh, the gear has issues, but we can make it work.
Recently, though, it has been fading… fast. The lenses are literally de-laminating. Back focus and zoom issues plague us. Every time we have to shut one off, I wonder if it will turn on. The cameras color just drifts. By the end of the service what was once brown may now be a shade of green. The light handling capability of the cameras is getting so bad that pretty much anything under 100 foot candles is too dim for the best picture.
But all those things can be over come with skilled operators and engineers. For a while longer anyway.
But the Grass Valley 200A at the broadcast switching position has come to the end of it’s road. A few months ago the main program out card began to glitch (see photo). We patched around it. We eventually got that back in line, but we don’t trust it anymore.
Then the fan died, and we placed an external cooling device on the mainframe so it would continue to operate. When the power is on, the fan is on. If the power goes out, the fan stops. Once, we moved the fan to try to re-time something, and watched as the outputs began to do some very strange things.
Most recently, right before a major event, the color black simply stopped being black. it insisted upon being a m=nice shade of purple. we had one of the best engineers in orlando in for the event. He tracked it back to the internal black generator. The switcher would not time out to any external black, and no amount of tweaking would deliver the actual color black. it is simply broken. In order to fade from or to black, we iris down a camera, and fade from to to that.
It is time for a new switcher. There is just no telling when the one we have now will stop working. And most likely, it will stop working right before a weekend service or event. A couple of years ago we installed an SD Snell & Wilcox Dave switcher at the IMAG position. It does SD SDI, and has worked well. But while Snell makes great switchers, they can be pricey when you start looking at the features we need to take us into the realm of HD production.
A few months ago we began to talk with Blue Hat design, which is a part of Technical Innovations. They have been great. A few weeks ago we got a quote from them for a Snell & Wilcox Kahuna switcher. I was amazed at the price. I don’t think I can actually mention it in public, but it was very competitive.
Last night I was able to brief the Trustees, and gain permission to purchase the Kahuna. Though it is a good price, it is still an expensive purchase, but we routinely get donations from the TV broadcast. After over 47 years of broadcasting, without even asking for money we see a decent amount come in from people who want to help support the ministry. Because of these kind of donations, we were able to fund the entire purchase of the switcher without impacting the general operating budget of the church.
Today we sent off the paperwork to get it ordered. It should be installed well before the Singing Christmas Trees this Christmas.
A few of the features: 3MEs with two control surfaces (1ME for the broadcast position, and a 2ME for IMAG), 4 full keyers for each ME, 64 inputs with 24 outputs, Full SD and HD functionality, 2 dual-4 tiles of 3D DVEs, and an aux panel.