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Broadcast Pix Unveils HD Upgrade Path for Slate

Billerica, Mass.-based Broadcast Pix is adding new high-definition capabilities to its line of Slate production switchers, which incorporate clip store and graphics functionality into what the company markets as a cost-effective “integrated production system.”

While over 25% of the existing 1,000 Slate installations are being used for high-definition production, says Broadcast Pix Ken Swanton, the Slate system’s internal processing and switching has only been able to support 480-line-progressive (480p) standard-def video. That means the Slate system has had to down-convert and up-convert HD video in order to switch it.

Now Broadcast Pix has installed a new Intel quad-processor-based workstation in the Slate “G Series” which allows it to deliver HD clips and graphics today, with support for compressed HD formats including Apple’s ProRes mezzanine scheme, MPEG-4 and H.264.A Harris Inscriber hi-def character generator is also included. The HD upgrade is available for $3,400 for all Slate models, which start at $10,995 for the 100G.

The new Slate switchers, which will be demonstrated at the NAB convention in Las Vegas this spring, can also be upgraded later this year to handle uncompressed 1080-line progressive, 3-gigabit-per-second video by installing a new processing board, says Swanton. He adds that the company will be the first to offer full 1080p operation with a one M/E (mix/effect) console. The 1080p, 3-gig upgrade is priced at $11,900 for 1 M/E models and $18,900 for 2 M/E models.

Other new features with the Slate G Series include “watch-folder” software that streamlines the transfer of content from edit stations into the Slate system, either through a local (LAN) or wide-area network (WAN). The watch-folders can be used by editors and graphic artists to feed Slate’s integrated clip stores and still stores; clips can simply be dropped in a watch folder on the editing interface and then a notification that content has been transferred pops up in the Slate’s integrated multiviewer.

“Wherever our systems are, there are usually [Apple] Final Cuts down the hall,” says Swanton. “But until now, there has been no way to get content from them into the Slate elegantly.”