View Full Version : Help!!!! I have my first live switching gig coming up and I need advice.

12-31-2003, 03:26 PM
Hey Newtek live switchers:

You know how a client calls you and they ask you to do something that you haven't done before and you say I can do that. Then in the back of your mind you're wanting the Job because you want the money but at the same time you don't want it because you haven't done it before. Well I put my rather hefty bid in and suprisingly found out today that I got the job. So I'm looking for some experienced switchers out there that might answer me here in the forum or who I might be able to call if I have questions. I've mostly used the toaster as an editor but the reason I bought was to do the switching. So now I need to focus on that. Here's the gig: (Which is January 12th t 15th so not much time)

This is in a ballroom in a hotel. It will only be two cameras. One camera will be on sticks the other will be roving with a wireless link. I need to be able to overlay graphics and CG over live video and also play video from my raid on que. So I will have two camera inputs and probably two outputs to video projectors. I believe that I will be using YC as in and out.

Here's my system:

1. I just bought the upgrade to VT3 build 4744 Thanks to Steve Bowie at LIGHTWORX
2. I also bought an RS-8
3. Of course I have the SX-8 already
4. Computer - Dual 2.4 GHZ
MOB - P4DC6+
Dual LCD Monitors


1. I want to go S-Video/YC. How long of run can I get with a YC cable? Or do you recommend a cable.
2. I'm coming in analog is it possible to master to a DV deck via firewire? Are there sync problems with that or was the fixed with the VT3?
3. What in depth training tapes do you recomend on switching and is there a tape updated for VT3
4. Does anyone recommend an affordable com system for communication between the director and the cameraoperator?

Well back to editing. I'm sure I 'll have more questions soon.


INOV8 Productions, Inc.

PS- Note to Newtek. It might be nice to have a forum dedicated to those who do a lot of live switching. Just a thought.

12-31-2003, 03:45 PM
Originally posted by INOV8Pro


1. I want to go S-Video/YC. How long of run can I get with a YC cable? Or do you recommend a cable.
2. I'm coming in analog is it possible to master to a DV deck via firewire? Are there sync problems with that or was the fixed with the VT3?
3. What in depth training tapes do you recomend on switching and is there a tape updated for VT3
4. Does anyone recommend an affordable com system for communication between the director and the cameraoperator?

1- Go bnc composite. MUCH less expensive. Long svideo runs are a pain. I would say you will hardly see a difference if any and I wil say none at all if your only destination is projection.
4-We usr Porta Com. Less expensive than clear com and built like bricks. May be a little on the expensive side but they last a long long time.Good investment. If you want to put a wireless 2 way on the roving guy it starts to really get up there in price. Porta com doesnt even do a wireless version.
A power base, 2 belt packs and 2 headsets are around 850, but thats at B&H. They are always sky high.

Be careful if you get some consumer level hiking and outdoor wireless headsets. We tried quite a few 49mhz models and they were all pretty lousy. Sounded bad, interference etc.

I'm excited about the gig for you. What a great opportunity.


01-01-2004, 10:18 AM
Hey this is where it really gets fun.

The pressure builds thousands of people watching and ???
I have had just about ever kind of problem that can happen in a live switching event happen.

But what seems to have made the big difference for me is to have your preferences set approprately for your machine.

The funny thing is that is what everyone says but I have yet had anyone be very specific as to what those settings should be. most people say "you have to play with it to get it right"

But this is true.
I am just not sure what they should be. My VT3 is the same specs. as your.

I have to be honest with you and say I have had several times the VT3 lock up hard durning an event. and I seem to have had a common demoninator to the lock ups.
1. I had been creating graphics on the CG and did not shut down the system before starting my live event.

2. I had been doing edits for DDR loops and roll ins for the live event, and did not shut down VT3 and computer before beginning the event.

Now I dont know if there is anything to that or not. But it sure seems to work better if my Graphics, and Editing work are all done ahead of time and go into the event with as clean of a systems as possibe. clean old stuff of the Video drive seems to make a difference as well.

As for communciation - you may laugh but it has worked so far with just a little interferrence from outside but know one else knows that. We bought Radioshack radios and headsets and so far they do work for short term although in no way do we want to keep them long term.

Just curious what wireless romote product are you using to take your camara wireless?


01-01-2004, 10:30 AM
We did a live show at a stadium, 3 cameras, and output to the Jumbotron. Went in Composite and it looked great. There is no way currently to master to a DV deck via firewire.

As for training, the manual gives you quite a bit of info. Be sure to use or at least know how to use all the tools that you have. VT offers a lot of ways to do everything, find the one your comfortable with.

Make all of your graphics well ahead of time and have a VTedit project saved with them in the order that you want to use them. This will allow you to zoom in on the storyboard so you have a larger thumbnail and you know what you're grabbing. Use a DDR for the DSK and just drop the graphics in from the storyboard as you need them.

Com systems, we used FRS but they are not that great. In a hotel ball room they may be ok and I have used them in a hotel and they do work. Cheap enough that if you hate them or if you don't want to do this again you can throw them. Good enough to get you through, just be sure to test them ahead of time to be sure they will meet your needs.

Be sure to practice switching so you know all the shortcuts and you may want a second source that you can go to in the event of a lock up on the computer end. VT is very stable but anything can happen in a live switch. If it does lock up, quit VT, run winrtme and restart VT. You shouldn't have to reboot the system. If you have to do a Ctrl-VT to exit VT be sure that you have saved your desktop as a preset so you can get it back right away.

I hope this helps.


PS. know your keyboard shortcuts and be sure to practice enough to be comfortable. Know at least 2 of the ways to do everything.

01-01-2004, 01:58 PM
Thanks for the replies. It seems I have much to learn in a short period of time. I'll be working with it over the weekend and I have tons of other stuff to get done as well.

Daren: I'm not sure about what wireless remote they're using for the roving camera. The company that hired my company is taking care of that. Though I will find out to check on compatability issues.

A few more qeustions:

Audio: Let's say my static camera is 40 feet away and I'm running a composit signal from that camera to the Toaster. Let's say I hook into the ballroom sound system, which could be dangerous:), and I run that into my Mackie mixer and then into the Toaster. Will the audio be in sink? How do you generally hook up your adio. I suppose I could hook into the cameras and than to the Toaster but is this necessary.

DVEs - Anyway to cue a sound when a DVE is used. I suppose I could use the DDR but it would be neat if you could tie a DVE transition to an audio que

I'm sure I'll have more questions later.



01-01-2004, 04:13 PM
About a year and half ago I did a live event (after only having my VT2 for oh about 2 days). We had 2 Studio Configs and a Handheld Camera... on top of that we had 50 video rolls and CG titles for everything.

What I did (and still do) is open 1 DDR for just CG titles and 1 for just video rolls, I then load in all my clips in show order get my desktop all set the way I want. Then I shut the system down and reboot... I do this so that it saves the desktop and when I relaunch it all pops right back (that way if I have a lock up during the event I can reboot and select NO on the reset desktop after a crash option) ALWAYS make sure toy have your main camera running compsite into channel 1 on your SX-8... because if you do need to reboot it automatically makes that input live.

Anyway try to stay away from animated CGs as it can be very tricky trying to switch... Unless you creat your CG so that it fades up and out at the start and end that way you are not trying to mess with the fade controls.

Feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions as I have done a ton of critical live event switching (heck a few times for President Bush even)

[email protected]

01-01-2004, 04:34 PM
Good tip for restoring desktops after crashes is to save Toaster Desktop config then load that.

When you have your modules set how you would like, rt click on T desktop and choose save from bottom of menu.

Then choose the load option after a crash or module change and load that config.

Works great not just for saving show configs with loaded ddr's of clips but also to set up 'Capture desktop' 'Edit desktop' 'CG&Edit desktop' 'Streaming Desktop' etc.

If setting up generic desktops that are not show or job related, make sure ddr's and TEdits and such dont have clips loaded in them. When you reload the desktop config it will look for the clips.

01-01-2004, 07:43 PM
Yes I do the same thing Brett does after setting up one DDR for Graphics and One or Two for Video roll in stuff. I then shut down VT3, (for me I completely shut down the whole computer) it may not be nessesary but I do it anyway, it may not have anything to do with it but I have had problems when I havent complete shut down.

As for Audio, I too run house sound into my Mackie board first and then out to Toasters Input. That way I get to control the mix a little bit before the VT3 gets it.

I also have a line out of VT3 SX8 going directly to the house board, and I have a line out of VT3 SX8 going to a VCR to record and I am getting ready to buy a real time DVD recorder to record to as well.

Do I have sync problems? the answer is sometimes I do and I am not sure why sometimes I do and sometimes I don't, it may sound weird but there are times wheren it seems to be perfect and other times where I can see a little difference in time, not at the toaster but at the IMAG - screen projection and large flate screen TVs we use. It is usually not that bad even when it is off but enough that it bothers me. I dont know what to do about it yet. But sometimes after turning everything off and then back on again it gets in proper sync again.

If you find an answer I do not use any firewire of DV I use as input Componet and Y/C but everything out of the VT3 as componet YCV


01-02-2004, 10:39 AM
When feeding audio to or taking audio from another source; either a in-house pa system or seperate mixing board, it is a very good idea to have some direct boxes between your system and theirs. I use a Mackie 1402 with my live video switches and always buffer my audio sends and recieves via a direct box. I usualy have to turn on the ground-lift switch to eliminate horrible ground loops. I use a line balancer/spiltter box made by Whirlwind. These lifesaving humstoppers are available at most profesional audio suppliers.

And having everything plugged into a ups aint a bad idea either.

As far as YC runs go, I don't like to go farther than 50 feet max. Most of the time, I use composite runs, and run tape in the cameras in case I need to fix a bad switch decision.

Another good use for wireless A/V transcievers is if you have to feed into a hotel headend system and are getting a real bad ground loop when you make a hardwired connection.

01-02-2004, 02:12 PM
Chris thanks for the info. By direct box I assume you mean mixers like the Mackie1402?

Thanks for the advice everyone and keep them coming. Also please check my post. "Weird Switching Clitch" and let my know if you have any ideas what might be the problem.

Oh yeah. If you don't want to go further than 50 feet with YC is there a limit to composit.



01-02-2004, 02:33 PM
>>Oh yeah. If you don't want to go further than 50 feet with YC >>is there a limit to composit.

If there is we haven't hit it and we use 200+ ft runs all the time.
Mostly for projection.

Wish I had more T3 switching advice. When we go live production its all Sony SP CCU cables to hard switcher. The multi faceted and wonderful T3 has to sit aside and becomes a simple DSK to the main switcher.
Sad kinda.

01-02-2004, 03:40 PM
Originally posted by INOV8Pro
Chris thanks for the info. By direct box I assume you mean mixers like the Mackie1402?

Oh yeah. If you don't want to go further than 50 feet with YC is there a limit to composit.

No, this is what I mean by direct box. (Front and back view) I wish Mackie had these built in, but you don't always need them. But when you do, they're worth their weight in gold.

And if the event I'm switching is simple enough, and dosn't need any fancy graphics or pre-rolls, I usualy just bring my old Panasonic MX-10 and a couple of monitors along with my Pota-com system. (I don't trust wireless system that cost under $2k. I've been burned too many times.)
For more elaborate affairs, (like a world mystery convention awards ceremony) I'm still using an Amiga Video Toaster/Flyer system since I still need to get a BOB and a faster computer for my VT3.

01-04-2004, 07:17 PM
My 3 cents:
1) Connect a third (static) camera. I find this very useful as I know I can always go it.
2) I have not had great success with the wireless video broadcasters. I always bring a box with about 250' of RG-8 in case I have to run cable to the "wireless".
3) For intercoms, you can go cheep and try one's like radio shack or FRS or for about $150 each you can get business band radios (no interference, greater range esp indoors) but these solutions are not full duplex (meaning you will need to push a button to talk to the camera operators). I haven't tried them, but Markertek (http://www.markertek.com) sells a full duplex wireless intercom by Eartec [EAR-TD900] for $339 that includes 4 radios.

01-05-2004, 12:07 AM
Don't forget rental of intercoms. We do this all the time for our corporate shoots. The Audio guys usually set it up for the video crew as well. They usually use RTS wireless and wired mixed. The rates are resonable and you are assured it will work great. I don't have the names or numbers with me but we use some big rental houses out of Dallas, Houston or up the East coast, out of Chicago or NY. Maybe worth it for some shoots for peace of mind. If you need the numbers let me know and I will look them up.

Here is some listings from Google Direcory:

Audio-Visual Rental List (http://directory.google.com/Top/Business/Business_Services/AudioVisual/Equipment/Rental/?il=1)

Business : Arts and Entertainment: Tools and Equipment/ (http://directory.google.com/Top/Business/Arts_and_Entertainment/Tools_and_Equipment/)