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Old August 15th, 2005, 07:15 PM   #1
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Sony Anycast Station and FS-4 or DV Rack

Sony Anycast Station and FS-4 or DV Rack

I have a new Sony AWS-G500 Anycast Station. This is their new, multi format broadcast switcher. Iím not happy but I will spare everyone the rant.

The short description and a full PDF are here:

http://www.sony.com/SonySearch/Search.jsp?doSearch=true

In short, it allows multiple video and computer inputs to be seamlessly switched and output to a variety of sources. Sony also states that it will record and play directly to and from external fire wire hard drives. This is not true. Those functions are not supported by the operating system, yet. The ďyetĒ I keep getting from Sony means that at some point in the future they will upgrade the software in the Linux based OS to activate the in/out ports and the controls on the unit that are now sitting there inactive.

To do hard drive recording in the meantime, Sony says I must use a FS-4 or similar device. Iím not sure even this will work?

The fire wire DV stream it exports is not OHIC compliant. It also does not output time code. It is recognized by my Sony DSR decks and my Canon XL1, but not a ZR70. It is a continuous stream from the program side of the switch (as it should be), not an individual input stream as the PDF brochure states.

If the FS-4 can recognize the signal will it generate time code and allow me to start and stop recording via the FS-4? I have no other control.

Does the FS-4 create a new DV signal, reprocessing the original signal again?

Can I go from the FS-4 to a fire wire hard drive instead of the internal disk?

The best solution for me at this time would be to somehow make the signal OHIC compliant. I use DV Rack, but of course it will not recognize the signal either. Will the FS-4 or any other device make the DV stream from the Anycast Station OHIC compliant so Windows can recognize it in real time, not just later when the files are transferred? I placed a Canopus AVDC in line to give Windows a compatible device to recognize but the DV I/O ports just passed the signal through so it is still not recognized. Yes, I can output S-video into it and out DV, but obviously Iím trying to maintain signal quality.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Steve
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Old August 15th, 2005, 07:44 PM   #2
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Steve,

Sorry I can't help with you problem but I am looking at the Sony Anycast also and would love to hear more on your thought and finds. I hope to have a demo on the unit next week and would like to know it's short comings or questions I should ask. Are you using any Sony Pan/Tilt cameras with it?

Would you happen to know if you can feed different sources to different outputs?

Thanks
Hart
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Old August 15th, 2005, 08:16 PM   #3
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Hey guys,


We just had a demo of Sony's Anycast station last week and we were not impressed. The salesperson conducting the demo wasted most of our time trying to setup the system to function properly and when questioned about why it wasn't working, he resorted to blaming the version of software. I'm new to video switchers and don't claim to know a great deal, but for the duration of the demonstration the salesperson could not get more than 15fps on playback. We decided to stick with Grass Valley.

Tim Brown
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Old August 15th, 2005, 08:32 PM   #4
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Hart,

This unit was clearly released too soon. I am very unhappy with it. Read the PDF brochure carefully, even though it is full of misinformation, then try it all with the demo you get. Make sure it does what YOU need it to do.

Again, the unit has no ability to pan or tilt any camera, even though they advertise it that way. VISCA camera control is another ďnot yet supported featureĒ. These features they advertise will become available someday when Sony figures out how to write the software to support what they claim it does now, in writing. If you donít ask they donít tell you it does not work yet. These future upgrades will require a memory stick down load when they become available, whenever that comes to be.

Iíll provide more info later.

Steve
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Old August 15th, 2005, 09:43 PM   #5
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More Info,

No you cannot send individual sources to more than one output. Thatís pretty standard with switchers unless youíre using true matrix switchers.

This is a strange product because some of what it does it does well, some of it is dummied down too much, and some of it does not work. I expected much more considering the price and the fact it is from Sonyís professional products division.

On 2 occasions it has lost sync with the computer signal during a show. Unbelievable, this must be fixed.

The phantom power was intermittently sending a very loud hum into the audio mix, totally destroying the signal. I am still trying to recreate that here in my office. Itís the old story; on the road every time I turned on the phantom power switch it killed me, now it wonít do it.

Make sure you play with all of the audio options. Because it simultaneously processes so many types of video signals the audio signals can be user delayed by up to 7 frames to stay in sync.

The manual is useless Ė it just repeats the menu steps you see on the screen.

Being a menu driven device it has a multitude of configuration options, one of its strengths. A salesman that does not understand it would quickly be lost.

The screen quality is incredible. The thumbnail input windows run at 15 FPS, the preview window at 20 FPS, and program view at 30 FPS.

I have seen other processors that output a higher quality image when scaling video. Be sure you set up the IRE correctly.

Overall it is an amazing piece of gear. I am irritated that it is not all that it is supposed to be, but I did not send it back. I am probably the perfect target market for this device; I just jumped in to soon, hopefully Sony will come through.

Personally I find it unforgivable to hype a product and tout itís features after it is on the market when the features arenít there. I canít imagine making promises to one of my clients and then telling them later ďOh, I canít do that part of your show yet because I donít know how to support that claim, but someday I will.Ē

Steve
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Old August 17th, 2005, 06:44 AM   #6
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Thanks for the information on the Sony AnyCast as I will make sure to look at those areas.

Hart
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Old August 17th, 2005, 01:56 PM   #7
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what i don't get is why a pc-based system like that won't record the firewire stream to an internal hard drive inside the anycast, so you can go back and get it whenever you want.

fwiw, didn't someone post recently that the new version of scenealyzer can capture firewire streams? i doubt that would help, but maybe the free demo is worth a try.
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Old August 17th, 2005, 03:23 PM   #8
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The system has a forty gig internal hard drive and a Linux OS. They are not user accessible except for Sony software upgrades. This does make sense; they are dedicated to running the system.

Can anyone help with the HDD record questions? I will be happy to answer questions about the equipment. I just donít want to hijack my own thread.

Steve
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Old September 13th, 2005, 08:55 AM   #9
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Sony Anycast vs. NewTek TriCaster

Anyone seeking affordable, portable production really should give a serious consideration to NewTek TriCaster. It provides a lot that Anycast doesn't:
- 6 hours of integrated storage for recording PGM out or clip playback
- Tightly integrated DDR playback which auto-cues clips when called up
- Less than one cubic foot, only 10 pounds
- $4995

There are features where Anycast excels, such as flexible audio mixing, camera controls and more, but TriCaster is gaining a lot of industry acclaim, with 5 industry awards, and it's even been nominated for a technical Emmy(R) award!

You can read more about TriCaster here:
http://www.newtek.com/tricaster/

I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have via e-mail, as I have no intentions of hijacking this thread.

Thanks for your consideration,

Paul Lara
NewTek, Inc
video evangelist
plara@newtek.com
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Old December 11th, 2006, 09:19 AM   #10
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Anycast update

This thread is not as dormant as it appears. I have received many phone calls from individuals that were seriously considering the purchase of a Sony Anycast System so I will update you on my experience.

The original reason for this post was to find the best way to deal with the .dv video files output by the machine. This was rectified by Sony. Shortly after my post an OS upgrade became available that changed the firewire output to a standard type 2 .avi file.

When I was considering the purchase of this devise I was told that the operating system would be updated regularly. I was also told that the combination of hardware design (some user changeable) coupled with an upgradeable operating system would keep this device up to date and useful for a long time. Sony has exceeded my expectations in that area.

My machine has been through about 5 or 6 upgrades. I download them periodically from Sony. With each new offering have come many surprises. Sony not only fixed all of the major issues I was disappointed about when I received the devise, they have continued to improve it. The Anycast now does everything I expected and more. It is quite interesting to receive upgrades and improvements to areas I never expected to be improved.

In the beginning there was clearly some miscommunication between me and Sony that had me upset. Over time, my Sony Anycast has evolved into everything I expected it to be, and more. Sony is continuing to add features I did not expect it to have when I made the purchase. The Anycast is an important part of our operation, for live shows and video production. I would recommend this device to anyone needing a quality switcher with its capabilities.

Steve
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Old December 11th, 2006, 09:30 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Digges
This thread is not as dormant as it appears. I have received many phone calls from individuals that were seriously considering the purchase of a Sony Anycast System so I will update you on my experience.

The original reason for this post was to find the best way to deal with the .dv video files output by the machine. This was rectified by Sony. Shortly after my post an OS upgrade became available that changed the firewire output to a standard type 2 .avi file.

When I was considering the purchase of this devise I was told that the operating system would be updated regularly. I was also told that the combination of hardware design (some user changeable) coupled with an upgradeable operating system would keep this device up to date and useful for a long time. Sony has exceeded my expectations in that area.

My machine has been through about 5 or 6 upgrades. I download them periodically from Sony. With each new offering have come many surprises. Sony not only fixed all of the major issues I was disappointed about when I received the devise, they have continued to improve it. The Anycast now does everything I expected and more. It is quite interesting to receive upgrades and improvements to areas I never expected to be improved.

In the beginning there was clearly some miscommunication between me and Sony that had me upset. Over time, my Sony Anycast has evolved into everything I expected it to be, and more. Sony is continuing to add features I did not expect it to have when I made the purchase. The Anycast is an important part of our operation, for live shows and video production. I would recommend this device to anyone needing a quality switcher with its capabilities.

Steve
Steve, you may already know this but I just learned a couple weeks ago that Sony has now come out with HDSDI input boards you can upgrade each channel with. I'm glad that the firmware upgrades are adding functionality for you. I am having a similar experience with the F350 camera. It's first firmware upgrade resolved several key issues and added new and very useful functions to the camera.

I also applaud you for coming back and re-visiting this thread to post your positive experiences. Most folks probably wouldn't have done that. This is good information to pass along to the forum.

-gb-
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