Kahuna Does Double Duty
Snell switcher performs SD and HD operations simultaneously
By Ken Kerschbaumer -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/19/2004 8:00:00 PM
Five months after revealing its Kahuna production switcher at an NAB invitation-only sneak peek, Snell & Wilcox publicly rolled it out at IBC 2004 in Amsterdam.
"Many of the people who saw it in the back room didn't think it was real," says Joe Zaller, Snell & Wilcox vice president, strategic marketing and product management. Those who did placed 10 orders.
Kahuna, which can have up to four mix-effect units (M/Es), can also do simultaneous HD and SD operation. That means a sports production that uses both SD and HD cameras doesn't need expensive upconverters, graphics or Digital Video Effects (DVE) to make feeds from SD cameras ready for broadcast. "Why not do those things in the switcher?" asks Zaller. "That's what we're doing here."
The switcher can be configured with two, three or four M/Es that use SD and HD together and SD and HD separately. A switcher with all the bells and whistles costs approximately $500,000.
That price tag keeps it out of reach of the average station but makes it attractive for network, sports-vehicle, and large-TV-station production. Savings related to the upconverter, DVE and graphics devices alone can easily pass $30,000.
The technical innovation inside the switcher is "format fusion." With it, users can handle both SD and HD from one mainframe and control interface and get a mix of effects for both SD and HD on a single unit. "Technology has to act as an enabler to let them do their work," says Zaller. "It can't be a barrier."
The switcher takes up 11 rack-units of space even with four M/Es and eight channels of DVE. Each M/E bank also has four keyers for luma, linear and chromakeying, plus five transition-wipe generators.
The first customer to sign on for the switcher is Danish Broadcasting. Five Kahuna switchers will play a big role in the company's new $500 million production facility, which will be completed in 2006 and house all of Danish Broadcasting's operations (they're currently spread over 12 sites). Senior Project Manager Soren Henningsen says that, even though Danish Broadcasting will be in SD, the switcher was the right choice. "The fact that it can operate seamlessly in both formats at the same time gives us additional confidence in the future-proof capability," he says.
Two U.S. companies, as yet unnamed, have also purchased the unit.
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