Better Skype live shots

Whether you work for a TV station on a budget or you’re still involved in a college broadcast, a new type of converter is making it easier and less expensive than ever to go live, air video from YouTube, even pull graphics from a PC screen to incorporate into a show.

TV News Check does a great job of explaining exactly what equipment various news organizations are using and how they work.

MSNBC uses generic Windows PCs connected with Barco’s Folsom ImagePro HD ($7,499) and Analog Way’s Broad Scan HD ($6,250) scan converters. These converters can take any video on a computer screen and convert it for broadcast use.

That’s a bit pricey for most college TV stations, for example, but there is a low-end solution.

The basic Convert DVI, priced at $995, allows Skype calls, YouTube videos and other computer video to be used full screen on broadcast TV. The Convert DVI Plus, priced at $1,495 and introduced last April, adds region-of-interest scaling and positioning of the image. With this feature, the anchor’s image and the Skype subject’s face can appear on the screen simultaneously — a popular feature for interviews within newscasts.

And then there’s the mid-range, which the manufacturer says works well when it comes to dealing with lip-sync issues.

Ensemble Design’s Brighteye Mitto converters cost more, but add features. Ranging from $2,500 to $5,900, the Mitto converters can handle video from a wider range of sources with better processing and control. The top model allows several screens to be open at once; offers a memory register to store settings, lip-sync adjustment for audio, iPhone and iPad video inputs, a remote GPI control panel and switching from a PC screen.

However, the sweet spot for broadcasters doing Skype phone calls on the air is $3,900, said Cindy Zuelsdorf, marketing executive at Ensemble Designs. In addition to high-end scaling and filtering algorithms, the $3,900 model features audio delay controls that allows broadcasters to adjust the audio stream with respect to the video in order to achieve proper lip-sync.

The article goes on to include quotes from news managers who use a couple of the options outlined above.   It’s worth a read simply to find out how technology is once again changing the TV news game.