I spent some time this past week writing and testing support for ProTally with Blackmagic ATEM switchers. I didn’t have one to develop with, and after posting on a discussion group about the software, a new friend sent me a unit to work on. Thanks again, Kyle!
Version 1.2.0 now supports:
Blackmagic ATEM switchers – it will auto discover any ATEM switchers on the network, or you can manually type in an IP Address as well
Ross Carbonite Black, Carbonite Black Solo, and Graphite switchers
And I now have a Windows release build in addition to a MacOS release build!
Awhile back, I wrote about the on-screen tally software I recently developed. We needed a way for our CG operators to know when their source was on-air or about to be on-air. I won’t rehash the definitions or inner-workings again, so if you didn’t read that first post, I recommend you read that before this.
I had hoped to give a release build much sooner but lost time waiting on some other people to test it in their environments. We’ve been running it in our environments for almost 2 months now with no issues, so I finally gave it some final polishing and bug squashing to get it ready for release. The interface has changed some, and for now, you can choose between a generic TSL 3.1 device or, specifically, a Ross Carbonite. (Not a Carbonite Black, Solo, or any of the other models.) Why specifically that model? Because I have two of them, and that’s what I know and use!
I hope to add support for the Blackmagic ATEM protocol soon. I need to connect with someone who has one, so if that’s you and you’re interested in testing with me, drop me a line!
And this should go without saying, but even though I’ve made software to augment your use of software like Renewed Vision’s ProPresenter and other products, it is in no way associated with any company or product. This is distributed under the MIT license and is available for anyone to use without cost.
As I said in a previous post, we rely heavily on our Clearcom intercom system to have good lines of communication between all of the tech team and the band as well.
In each control room, we have a “director’s station” which has a 4-channel intercom where he/she can talk to all four channels of the intercom system: the tech team in Auditorium 1, the band in Auditorium 1, the band in Auditorium 2, and the tech team in Auditorium 2. All other intercom stations are single channel and that person can only talk on the particular channel they are wired for.
For the most part, this works great and does well to keep intercom chatter down and keeps the director as the funnel of communication. However, I have found that quite often, when we are doing smaller events in our smaller auditorium, that I am sitting at the video switcher with no way to talk to the band without having to get up and go sit at the director’s station behind me.
When our integrators built out the AVL for our new auditorium, they installed a Clearcom RM-702 2-channel rack mounted intercom into the rack room for Auditorium 2. I found that after a year and a half, we never use it there, so I decided to move it to Control Room 2, which is the video control room that drives operation for Auditorium 2.
As I operate the video switcher, I like to keep my hands on the switcher (and my streamdeck!). Reaching over to press an intercom talk button is an interruption to my workflow. The nice thing about the RM-702 is that it has an accessory port, which allows you to connect a footswitch to activate the talk channels!
The accessory port is a DB-15 connector, so I bought an extension cable, along with a DB-15 plug. I bought these from Amazon:
I also bought two Yamama FC5 foot pedals.
To wire everything up, I had to cut off the plug at the end of the pedals to expose the wires. The wiring is pretty simple. Clearcom has it well documented what the pinout is.
Pin 1: Ground
Pin 2: Talk Channel A
Pin 9: Talk Channel B
The Yamaha pedal is a contact/no-contact switch, so it doesn’t matter which color wire goes to which pin.
Once I connected everything up, I realized that the Yamaha pedal works the opposite of what I needed: it was making contact when the pedal wasn’t pressed down (shorting the connection in the Clearcom, keeping the talk channel turned on) and then when I would press the pedal down, it would break the connection, turning the talk channel off.
I opened up the pedal and modified the two leads so that it would make a connection when pressed down. I basically just swapped the position of the two copper bands.
Voila! Now I have two footpedals that I can use to talk on either channel, hands-free! The next step will be labeling them and then taping them down to the floor.
All in all, this was a very inexpensive improvement. The pedals were about $15 each and the cable/adapter was about $10, and the project was simple.
I wrote a new piece of software recently that I’m really excited about. It’s called ProTally and it is designed to display video tally markers directly on the screen.
What’s tally? In broadcast setups, it is often helpful to be able to tell camera operators, computer graphics workers, etc. when their shot is being used on-air or visible on screens. Most broadcast equipment comes with some sort of tally light that, when connected to the right system, lights up to let the operator know.
With today’s broadcast equipment, a lot of this tally information can be communicated directly over the network, in real time using a variety of protocols. One particular protocol is TSL UMD, from Television Systems Limited for Under Monitor Displays. It is supported by a wide variety of broadcast industry equipment and allows the devices to know the tally state of one another.
In church environments where we use computer software like ProPresenter to send CG content to a video switcher, it can be very helpful to have a tally light that the user can see so they don’t accidentally change a graphic while it is live or on the screen. While there are a variety of external tally lights available for this purpose, I wanted to design something that would allow for a green (in preview) or red (in program/on-air) box directly on the screen that the user can easily see while operating the software, without having to purchase additional hardware.
For this project, I used Node JS and the Electron libraries, along with an existing Node JS module that acts as a TSL 3.1 Protocol server. I was able to whip up a demo in just a few short hours. Then it was just a matter of finessing and adding features.
Using ProTally, you can monitor up to 4 Tally Addresses using TSL UMD 3.1 and keep track of their Preview, Program, and Preview+Program states. You can even customize the colors as needed! The boxes can be resized and moved around on the screen and those positions will be saved and recalled the next time the software launches.
I decided to add options to allow the user to choose whether they wanted a filled-in box or a transparent box with a color border. It also reads the label data and stores that as it comes in, to give names to the tally addresses. And, because we use two Carbonite switchers at my church, I also wrote in an object array that uses the TSL UMD protocol implementation described by Ross here: http://help.rossvideo.com/carbonite-device/Topics/Devices/UMD/TSL.html
Due to some limitations of the Electron framework, I had to make the windows appear “always on top” of other windows, to ensure they would be visible while clicking around in ProPresenter (or ProVideoServer or whatever software being used). This can be a little annoying if you’re using the computer for another task and don’t want to see the tally boxes, so to help with that, I added a “Hide All Boxes” option that can be used rather than quitting the software.
Here is ProTally in action:
This solves a problem for a lot of people who want on-screen tally for ProPresenter, ProVideoServer, or whatever software they may be using. You can even use it to monitor general inputs like cameras, etc. Just assign the tally address, position the box, and you’re set!
I will have this available in my GitHub repository soon. Feel free to check it out and if you use it, let me know how you like it! I plan to add more features to it as I have time.
Accurate clocks and countdowns can be a huge help when it comes to keeping services and productions on time. In our control rooms, we use these clocks:
They’re made by a company called ESE and they are basically network-based POE-powered NTP clocks. Because they are synced to NTP (Network Time Protocol), they are all in sync to the exact same time down to the second. We like them because they are big and grab your attention. We have them mounted above the multiviewers in each control room along with a couple of others in the actual tech booths out in the auditoriums.
But what about everyone else, like the band or people on stage? We don’t have clocks like this where they can easily see. And, the ESE clocks just tell the time, they don’t count down to a specific time.
I decided to do something about that. We have a server in the video rack room that has a video out connection into the video systems. It’s just a simple output of the secondary monitor. So, I figured it would be pretty easy to display a clock in a browser, and run it full screen on that secondary monitor, that feeds into the video router where I can then easily send it to any screen in the system that needs it.
This computer’s time is synced to NTP, so it stays in sync with the clocks in the control rooms, too.
I quickly decided to take this a step further and incorporate some countdowns. I had a couple of self-imposed restrictions though:
I wanted the countdowns to be customizable as our needs change, not just always count down to the same date/time.
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="30">
Dashboard has a built in date picker and time picker, which makes it super easy.
I added two options in addition to the date and time, publish time, and expire time.
I’ve made the files available on my Github, if you can benefit from them! We will be giving this a trial run on Sunday.
We have a Panasonic AW-HE40 located in each auditorium at my church to allow the control room operators to see the space. We also occasionally use them as on-screen cameras since they have HD-SDI outputs. The quality is surprising for the size of the device.
The cameras come with a fully functional webpage that allows you to control them.
By peeking around at the code some, I was able to figure out how to send HTTP requests to change presets of the camera.
Here is my Ross Dashboard custom panel that allows our volunteers to quickly pull up presets:
If you use my panel, you’ll still need to manage/modify the presets using the existing interface. We don’t change our presets often, so I didn’t feel the need to recreate any other functionality than recalling presets.