Using a live video production switcher | Tech, No Babel

Using a live video production switcher

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On today’s Tech, No Babel: Using a live video production switcher

If you don’t know what they all do, looking at a live video switcher can boverwhelming. Let’s face it, it looks like if you hit the wrong button, the Death Star will blow up Alderann. (There’s a reason for that. The controls of the Death Star in Star Wars were just a repurposed video switcher.)

[tweet “With all its buttons, a live video production switcher can seem overwhelming, here’s how to use it:”]

At its most basic, a switcher switches between video sources. So, you’d expect a button for each video source. Those buttons are grouped into buses.

The first is the preview bus. Hit a button there and you’re telling the switcher which video source you’re planning on transitioning to.

The second bus is the program bus. This shows what’s currently being sent to the output. If you need to, you can tap any button on the program bus and instantly switch to the that source.

Finally, we have the ME (or mix/effect) bus. This set of buttons tells the switcher what source should be used for keys (and other effects) placed on top of (or downstream) of the program bus.

To transition between the preview and program bus, you have three options. You can use the cut or auto-trans buttons or the t-bar. Typically, you’ll use the cut button, since the cut is the most common transition.

The auto-trans button and the t-bar do all other transitions. The auto-trans button does the transition at a predetermined rate, in the case of our switcher at my church, that’s 20 frames. The t-bar can be faster or slower, depending on the rate at which it’s moved.

While not done a lot anymore, you can stop the transition in the middle by pausing with the t-bar.

Finally, we have the keyers. There are three common types of keys. Chromakey is the kind that meteorologists use when they stand in front of a green wall and the switcher removes the green and replaces it with a weather map.

A luma key removes either black or white, but depending on your switcher, fine shades of each may or may not be affected.

Finally, there’s an alpha channel. An alpha channel is another set of information that tells the switcher exactly what should be removed and in what amounts, so you can have both transparency and translucency.

Like the transition section, the keyers can cut or auto-trans in and out.

For more on how to use a switcher, watch the video above.

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