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Blackmagic Design's Videohub Beats At The Heart Of Lightmill

Spread across four floors, London post production house Lightmill started life as a graphics and effects company in 2000, gradually moving to a mixture of broadcast programmes and high-end commercials. We believe in continuous reinvestment in equipment, constantly updating software and hardware as often as necessary to keep our editing suites current.

The latest addition is the new Blackmagic Design Broadcast Videohub. The investment followed an expansion project to create a new online and finishing department; the Broadcast Videohub became part of our master control room routing video to the suites around the building. When we built-out our new online and finishing department, we already had ten Avid Nitris DX, three Avid Symphony DX online suites, sound dubbing facilities, a Pro Tools sound suite, as well as 3D/ Flame graphics workstations, DVD authoring facilities and full colour grading capability based around a Quantel Pablo system.
In the past, when we added new pieces of kit, it meant re-cabling into our existing machine rooms which are spread over three floors. What we needed was a solution to patch all our existing and new machines together, whilst maintaining the highest quality connections for our HD and SD suites.
Prior to installing the Broadcast Videohub, we had patch panels in the control room that were full to capacity. Space was also an issue and the operator often had to manually patch the video connection - often to find that someone else had unplugged it by the time they got back to their suite.
I had seen an unreleased demo unit of the Broadcast Videohub at NAB 2008 and again at IBC and, after planning how to integrate the system into the company, I placed the order.

We had used Blackmagic Design cards and converters in the past, but nothing as big as the Broadcast Videohub. Even our dealer had not seen or tested the Videohub as it was so new. However, having seen a demo at NAB, and my existing experience of Blackmagic equipment, I was confident it would work.

The easy setup and operation of the Broadcast Videohub was a big plus point for a facility with a high proportion of fast turnaround jobs and projects running late into the night. Being able to avoid installing a complex routing system to add to the task was a major bonus as was the customizable router set up. Many of our suites constantly change projects from HD to SD, so the auto-sensing provided by the "Hub" is another great feature.

 Our new Broadcast Videohub is mainly used to interface between the Avid edit suites and the various VTRs. However, it also connects to the Unity server when digitising media, the Flint for graphics, the colour grading suite and the video encoder for web streaming. The latter is used particularly for client approval of material via the client area on Lightmill’s website.

In the short time since we installed the Broadcast Videohub, we’ve already used 59 of the available 72 positions on the system, connecting suites, monitors, decks, etc. for the whole facility. Now the person responsible for managing the suites outputs the Broadcast Videohub GUI to a large LCD so that they can immediately see at all times what is connected to what. A far cry from the old patch panel system!


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