Variosystems Takes Osprey Hardware to the Next Level

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[Note: This sponsored interview was recorded at NAB 2014.]

ViewCast might not be around anymore, but its highly valued products live on, thanks to Swiss company Variosystems. At the 2014 NAB conference, video professionals got a chance to talk to the people at Variosystems and hear what's next for the Osprey lineup.

"ViewCast had a financial trouble and we knew there was a great product with the Osprey line and it’s been a good reliable product for more than 20 years," explained Roger Bieri, deputy general manager at Variosystems. "So when all that happened, Variosystems decided to take on the challenge and keep the future going with Osprey."

In an interview, Jeremy Gerdes, business unit manager at Osprey, showed some of Osprey's new hardware, and explained that the company's large engineering group will be bringing more products to market faster.

"This is the Osprey 800a audio add-on card. This is a little different than all the other cards we have on display here as this is actually an add-on, which itself needs to connect to an Osprey 800-series card such as the Osprey 845e that we have sitting here," Bieri demonstrated. "It adds four additional inputs of audio, two of which will always be balanced audio, and the additional two can be selectable between unbalanced AES/EBU and SPDIF."

For more from Osprey and Variosystems, watch the full interview below.

 

Shawn: It’s Shawn Lam here for Streaming Media. We’re here at Osprey. And I’m here with Roger today. Now, we’re going to be talking a little bit about some of the developments you've had over the past year. But really for all those that are in the know and that have worked with Osprey in the past, you guys are the manufacturers of rock-solid hardware, video capture cards that’ve been used for many years and functions of webcasting, as well as a lot of broadcast applications. Now, Variosystems is the owner of Osprey. What has happened over the last year and what do you want to tell us about.

Roger: Well, what it is pretty much is that ViewCast had a financial trouble and we knew there was a great product with the Osprey line and it’s been a good reliable product for more than 20 years. So when all that happened, Variosystems decided to take on the challenge and keep the future going with Osprey. So I wanted to give you a little overview about Variosystems. We’re a Swiss company, actually, and we got locations in the U.S. and China and in Sri Lanka. And we got 1000 employees worldwide with a pretty strong engineering group as well. So that’s one of the big advantages that we have now with Variosystems and Osprey, because now we have a huge engineering group that can actually bring more products to the market even faster than what, probably, Osprey was able to do beforehand.

Shawn: So what does that mean for Osprey users of the past and of the future?

Roger: Well, we actually tried to keep our customer base or, let’s say, Osprey’s customer base the same, the distribution channels the same. But the main challenge that we had is we needed a strong partner especially in North and South America because we are not from the business. We have been manufacturing those cards for a long time but we’re not the experts. So we were looking for a strong partner. And while we did our due diligence then we actually focused pretty quick on GDI. And GDI, as a value-added distributor, has been really good in the past. They have a really good track record with the customer so it was the logical choice. So we said, “Okay, we’re going to go with GDI.” And GDI is now pretty much integrated actually into Osprey as well and we, as a team together for the American market and what we do in international market. Those markets we are still working on but right now, they’re supplied out of our Variosystems facility.

Shawn: So we’ve heard from Roger about some of the ownership changes at Osprey. Now, let’s talk to Jeremy about some of the technical things. We’ve got a new card here. What can you tell us?

Jeremy: Well, Shawn, this is the Osprey 800a audio add-on card. This is a little different than all the other cards we have on display here as this is actually an add-on, which itself needs to connect to an Osprey 800-series card such as the Osprey 845e that we have sitting here.

Shawn: And it adds on the functionality of audio, right?

Jeremy: Yes, it adds four additional inputs of audio, two of which will always be balanced audio. And the additional two can be selectable between unbalanced, AES/EBU and SPDIF. This connects to the existing Osprey 845, or 820 and 825, through a ribbon cable. All the power and necessary data come through this cable. So none of the connection actually goes to the motherboard. It would just connect like this and then be next to the card taking additional slot in your PC. It adds a great increased flexibility to the card because normally you would have only the embedded SDI audio present.

Shawn: Okay, and how do you get the audio into the card?

Jeremy: The external audio connects to the Osprey 800a add-on card through the use of two dongles which are provided when you purchase the card. One dongle has your balanced and unbalanced inputs and the second dongle has your AES and SPDIF inputs.

Shawn: Okay. With all the recent changes and looking forward, can you tell me a bit about Windows 8 and Linux support?

Jeremy: Windows 8 is a hot topic lately. Most of our customers have had a positive experience using Windows 7 drivers on Windows 8 Systems. However, we are currently in the process of releasing all of our Windows 8 drivers for our current cards. In the past a third-party developer has developed and maintained and supported all of our Linux modules for our cards. This has caused a lot of our customers frustration as Osprey could not provide a direct response when customers had Linux issues. To mitigate this we have now decided to bring all of this development and support for the Linux modules into Osprey by Variosystems. This should provide a much better experience for all of our Linux customers.

Shawn: In addition to the audio add-on card, have you made any changes to the video cards?

Jeremy: The Osprey 825e and Osprey 845e now support DVB, ASI, mpeg2 transport streams.

Shawn: What about for existing owners of the Osprey 800 series video cards? Can they purchase the audio card as a separate add-on?

Jeremy: Yes, they can purchase this separately to add-on to their existing 800-series card or they can order this with a new card and it will come as a kit.

Shawn: Can you talk to us a bit about some of the future growth markets that you see with Osprey?

Jeremy: Sure. There’s a lot of growth markets going on right now. Of course, broadcast. We’re here at NAB. Broadcast is the hot topic. Broadcast also was moved into mobile broadcast. This includes cellphones, tablets and other PCs. As well, we have a fast-growing market in the lecture capture and for higher education.

Shawn: What about the medical market? Are there opportunities for Osprey in that market?

Jeremy: We’re seeing a lot of growth in the medical market right now. We’ve been getting a lot of requests for Osprey cards for imaging devices and remote diagnostics for patients that are in the office.

Shawn: Well, thank you very much for a look at Osprey -- what’s coming up in the future as well as how you dealt with the ownership transition. Thanks a lot.

Jeremy: Thank you.

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