View Full Version : Need feedback: VT4 vs. real switcher/CG

08-17-2005, 02:23 PM
I work for a small, privately owned, non-profit tv station in Springdale, Arkansas. Without going into too much detail, allow me to summarize what we do and what we're planning to do. We've had this tv station since 1995, and our productions include live studio shows, field productions, public service announcements, and various other works for local non-profit groups. The studio is a typical 3 camera setup, coming through a switcher/CG system, and going to a DSR-1800 or svhs deck. Shows include various talk shows, pet adoption, cooking, painting (art), yoga, and just a wide variety with new show ideas on the horizon.

Right now we're in the process of building a new studio and relocating our operation. With the new building comes new equipment as well. Right now we use a Trinity box as a switcher and CG system. We bought it in 2000 and it has served us well. But now its time to upgrade and take the station to a new level of capibility, quality, and professionalism. With a fairly substantial budget in mind, I'd put together a master list of all equipment including studio/control room, EFP, portable system, and editors. In the studio equipment, I'd researched and quoted the Echolab 1716x SDI switcher (16 in 16 out), along with their XP workstation, remote commander, Inscriber IncaCG, and dps DDR system. We have limited staff here, so having a control room that could be run by just one or two people was essential. The move to SDI is something I feel is important. Our new studio cameras are Ikegami HL-DV7AW 2/3" 16:9 cameras in studio config with SDI out. Productions will happen after the new studio is up and running that, I feel, will be quite graphic intensive and require a very "mainstream," flashy modern look.

So how this ends up on this forum... well... apparently some cutting of budget came to be, and now we're asked to cut back on things if we can. It was suggested by a man acting as a consultant for us that this Echolab/Inscriber solution was "overkill," "a bad investment," and "a big waste of money." His suggestion is that a VT4 will give us "every bit of capability that we need, that SDI isn't a big deal at all, and that no matter what system we get, we'll be wanting more eventually anyway.

So the question to all you toaster users on here is this: in a live production environment where dependability, capabilities, graphical elements, 16:9 (letterboxed through an ARC), and ease of use are all important... how would you compare the VT4 to a full blown SDI production switcher with broadcast CG such as I've recommended. Now I know it seems like a silly question, cuz the two systems fit into such different categories, even based on price point alone! But without the obvious difference in cost, what are other issues to consider when choosing a live production switcher and CG system? I may get biased opinions from this forum. But please be honest and realize the specifics of what I'm comparing here. Not only are capabilities addressed, but this purchase should be considered an investment as well. We have the money now, and the decisions we make have to keep us happy and "futureproof" for the next 7-10 years. Thanks in advance for the replies!

08-17-2005, 06:52 PM
I'll take a shot at a few of these questions.

No way are you going to be "future proofed" for 10 years with anything you buy today especially if it's computer based. Expect to replace the computer every three to five years if not more often. Plus you will want uprades for your software one in a while.

The VT can has an optional SDI board, this gives you one in and one out so if you need an sdi switcher the VT ain't it.

And you are comparing apples and oranges because the Echolab switcher is in a completely different market then the VT for live switching. The VT doesn't have some of the features of the Echolab like multiple chroma keyers and a mix bus and of course the SDI I/O. If you really need those things and have staff who can use them the VT again isn't the best choice. But if you just need straight ahead switching with a key and integrated CG the VT rocks.

So I think it comes down to exactly what do you need to do and how big is your budget. A VT system is going to run 8k to 10k or so while I'm sure that Echolab is a bit more.

08-18-2005, 08:11 AM
With 30 years in the broadcast business, there are no gurantees for a "future proof system no matter what any salesperson may say. While I like dedicated boxes for dedicated roles, the fact is very few things will last several years or more... especially software driven systems. Technology is moving fast. I have a room full of "Name Brand" late model editing and switching equipment that is no longer supported by the manufacturer. Like most things, it was probably dated by the time it left the factory. If you have funds regularily flooding into your treasury, and can keep up with the whims of both manufacturers and regulators, then you really can't beat a dedicated box in my opinion. If you are looking for the most bang for the buck, you can't beat a well built toaster system. "Well Built" is critical. Cruise around this forum, people will be happy to share the "good, the bad, and the ugly". Those who are the happiest, trusted their money to people who build toasters for a living.

08-18-2005, 02:38 PM
I'd also look into ROSS for a switcher, they make great, really powerfull stuff for reasonably good prices.

I'd ALWAYS prefer a real switcher over a VT (sorry folks) but if money is an issue..

Heh, you could always get on e-bay and buy up a Grass Valley 110 Composite switcher for $2k - For basic multicamera stuff it'll still work great :-)

- Mikko