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Production Solutions for Live Streaming, Part 2: Sony Anycast Touch

In Part 1 of this series on production solutions for live streaming, we looked at two key pieces of the live production puzzle: cameras and audio. Here we'll look at a product that ties it all together for live producers: the Sony Anycast Touch.

With v. 1.3 we also added 720p HD support. We now have flexible picture-in-picture configurations as well so you can do things like dual boxes. We have built-in chromakeying, and the media player I mentioned earlier. With a one-channel media player you can now play back content that you've imported from a camera, or that you've imported from one of your nonlinear editors.

Anycast Touch also supports up to 10 hours of recording at 35Mbps MXF, which is easily imported into any of the nonlinear editors that are out there. This gives you full 1920x1080p program recording of your live production stored on the built-in storage, which can be exported to USB hard drives, and can also be used in the media player.

Now you can immediately re-purpose something that you recorded earlier in the day. Let's say you got a great sound bite in the morning. You can actually use that as a source for your live production later in the afternoon.

Touchscreen-based Interface

Figure 5 (below) is a quick snapshot of what the user interface looks like on the Anycast Touch. This is just one of the main panels. The whole operation is done via these dual touchscreens. You have a main panel and a sub-panel for touchscreens.

Figure 5. The Anycast Touch’s touchscreen-based user interface

The idea behind the touchscreen is that it should feel intuitive to anyone who operates a touchscreen-based smartphone or tablet, even if they don’t have a video production background. Let's say you find yourself in a scenario where you're in a house of worship, or an educational facility, and you have a volunteer who hasn't been trained in video production, and you want to be able to hand them this device and say, "I need you to give me the highest-quality product you can, even though you have no experience whatsoever." You give them the Anycast Touch. They spend an hour on it, and we believe they'll actually be able to do that for you, because it'll feel intuitive.

On the left hand side of the interface in Figure 5 is built-in multiviewer. Whenever you use the inputs to the unit, these become live video thumbnails. You also have still pictures, and you can position your media player here. The right side of the unit is your options panel. This is where you'll build up your lower-thirds, choose your transition types, import your logos, and choose among an assortment of effects such as PiP and chromakey.

There is a dedicated AUX output for the Anycast Touch. You can feed a program output for the room, and you can feed an AUX output for the web, or you can even feed your program output to the web, because you have the ability to change what output goes to the streaming output.

Bottom center in Figure 5 is your Next window. Think of it as your preview window in a traditional switcher. Then there's your Program output. That is what is going to air.

Scenes

We've also implemented a feature called Scenes (Figure 6, below), designed to make the operator's much easier. If you think about a traditional switcher, or a traditional live production, when you go from one look where you have, say, a double box, and you have lower-thirds on it, and you transition away from that, chances are you're going to want to transition away to something that looks just as dynamic.

Figure 6. Scenes on the Anycast Touch. 

You're not going to want to go from this great on-air look to just one channel of video with no graphics on it whatsoever. In a traditional switcher, you would need to have 2 M/Es to create that. You're going to want to transition from one on-air look to another complex on-air look. With the Scenes feature, we've effectively faked having a second M/E, because this is a one-M/E switcher. With Scene 1, you can have your 1 on-air look, which has a camera input and lower-thirds, which we call titles. On Scene 2, you can have a different input for your background with a logo, and that same camera now minimized into a picture-in-picture box.

You transition between this Scene 1 and Scene 2 by tapping on it on the main touch panel. The same thing occurs with Scene 3. A whole different input in the background, that camera's still in a picture-in-picture, but it's in a different area of the window, a whole different lower-third, and a whole different logo. Now we can combine things like video inputs, effects, titles, logos, and even the media player all into a scene, so you can transition quickly between different scenes, and create your different on-air looks on the fly.

Another cool thing about Scenes relates to the Anycast Touch’s support for PTZ camera control. The Scenes will actually support camera locations for your PTZ cameras. You can create Scene 1, which had talent stage left, and you can create Scene 2, which has talent stage right. When you transition from Scene 1 to Scene 2, the cameras will automatically pan from stage left to stage right on the fly.

For a one-person operation, it's a bit of a dream come true.

 

Related Articles
In this 2-part series, we'll focus on some of the tools that are available to you as content creators when you're delivering content for the web, beginning in this first installment with cameras and pro audio gear.