Sony is introducing a high-definition version of the Anycast Station system, a portable "all-in-one" studio for live content creation. The new HD-only version of the system (model AWS-G500HD) retains the original multi-functionality of its standard-definition predecessor. It combines into one package the capability of a six-input video switcher and six-stereo channel audio mixer, special effects generator, LCD screen for GUI control and preview/program monitor, control of Sony PTZ robotic cameras, RGB connection for PC and projector display, and an encoder and Web server for delivering streaming media, as well as a still store, character generator, scale converter and frame synchronizer. However, the new system comes preconfigured with an HD analog component interface module (BKAW-560) and an HD-SDI interface module (BKAW-590).
"The system's internal signal processing has been HD-ready since day one," said Tatsuro Kurachi, marketing and business development manager in Sony Electronics' professional audio/video group. "With the latest software, end users can easily migrate from analog to digital or SDI to HD simply by swapping out various modular interface cards. And professionals ready to begin HD production can keep their operating costs low by avoiding the SD modules they may not need, while increasing their connectivity options to our professional line of HDV camcorders, decks and displays."
The third interface module slot on the new version is left empty, giving users the option for adding specific boards based on their individual needs. This slot can be configured with any of the available system modules, including the BKAW-550 PC RGB module, BKAW-570 SD video interface module or BKAW-580 SDI interface module, as well as either of the two new HD boards. Since it was first introduced in 2004, Sony's Anycast Station system has been enhanced, with several software upgrades adding new functionality.
Capabilities that have been added include a multi-language GUI, the ability to record program output on an external hard disk, exporting edit decision lists to other devices, chroma key, picture in picture, VTR control via an iLINK IEEE-1394 digital connection, video switching by an RM-BR300 Remote Commander unit and VOD file creation, among many others. According to Kurachi, the Anycast Station system can be an invaluable tool for production crews and broadcast organizations with heavy live event schedules. The system can be used to record events and also to produce broadcast feeds more easily or stream content live over the Internet. With the Anycast Station system, live event logistics become easier, potentially even reducing the number of personnel needed to operate individual pieces of equipment.
The system's ability to control robotic pan-tilt-zoom cameras—such as Sony's EVI series of cameras or the BRC-300 and BRC-H700 units—helps crews capture shots that wouldn't have been possible with camera-operated personnel, while still allowing them to remain unobtrusive. Cameras can be positioned on rafters or other out of the way places that would be hard for human operators to work in.
The system's "all-in-one" design can also remove many of the headaches traditionally associated with live production, specifically during set-up and tear-down, allowing crews to focus on the event itself, rather than technical logistics. The HD-only AWS-G500HD model is now available at a suggested list price of $19,500.