This article is contributed by Leon Kiong.
The ease of touchscreen has finally come to the professional world of live-production switching with Sony’s release of the Sony Anycast Touch AWS-750. Sony recently invited HardwareZone to Wave House Sentosa for a hands-on session with its first all-in-one portable live production system; and we saw the Sony Anycast Touch in action, covering the 3rd Annual FLOW Tour Asia Finals via live webcast and filming of the event.
The Sony Anycast Touch is a video switcher, audio mixer, special effects and character generator, video recorder, image still store, clip player, remote camera controller, real-time streaming encoder, and scale converter rolled into one unit. With all these features packed into an extremely light (for its kind) and compact 6.5kg unit, it definitely scored major points in terms of portability.
The Sony Anycast Touch’s star feature is definitely its dual touchscreen interface: the top panel controls video, title and graphics, while the bottom panel controls audio and effects.
We found the touch controls intuitive and easy to use. It’s very much like operating a tablet or an all-in-one PC.
Sony has streamlined and simplified live-switching operations to such an extent that everyone who had a go during the hands-on session easily picked up basic video-switching after a couple of tries.
The Sony Anycast Touch features 6 (HD/SD-SDI, HDMI, RGB and/or Composite) video inputs and 5 (2 HD-SDI, 3 program/aux) video outputs with 1920 x 1080 10-bit processing.
For the flowboarding competition coverage, the Sony Anycast Touch was able to mix a multitude of SD (Sony Robotic camera) and HD (Sony broadcast cameras) video input sources.
What we found extremely interesting was the remote camera operation feature, which allowed us to pan, tilt, or zoom the Sony Robotic camera remotely via the Sony Anycast Touch, without a video camera operator. This sets up intriguing possibilities for future one-man live production operations involving multiple remote cameras, with pan and zoom presets configured for a comprehensive and easy live-switching of an event.
The Sony Anycast Touch supports real time streaming over the Internet, LAN and other dedicated lines. In our case, Sony broadcasted the flowboarding competition coverage onto the Internet live via Ustream, reaching out to a wider audience on the web.
Marketed as a next generation device for the live event video production, the Sony Anycast Touch would be ideal for organizations and small/medium businesses with low experience in live video switching operations. Many may bulk at the hefty price tag (list price: US$20,000) compared to similar classed Matrox or NewTek live production units, but cost savings from cheaper software upgrades might make purchasing the Sony Anycast Touch a wise business decision in the long run.