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Kahuna SD/HD Multiformat Production Switcher Gives France’s Soft a Competitive Edge in OB Production

Snell & Wilcox announced that French production company Soft, based in Lyon with offices across the country, is using the Kahuna SD/HD multiformat production switcher to expand the HD handling and output capacity in its new 14-camera outside broadcast (OB) unit. With its familiar user interface and transparent handling of both SD and HD sources, the Kahuna provides Soft with a cost-effective means of working with any type of signal received during production.

“We found the Kahuna to be the only switcher capable of handling SD and HD formats without any problems, and we felt confident selecting it because it offers good quality for the investment and comes to us from a well-established vendor with a history of delivering reliable products,” says Michel Reulier, director of broadcast development at Soft. “The Kahuna is the first switcher we’ve purchased from Snell & Wilcox, and it’s been a great fit for our truck because of its capacity and ease of use. The system allows for simultaneous SD and HD outputs of the program being produced, so we’ve been able to expand our services to include simulcasting of live events.”

Kahuna is the first production switcher on the market to enable simultaneous SD and HD operations on the same control surface and in the same mainframe. Snell & Wilcox’s FormatFusion technology allows operators to integrate any SD video into HD productions seamlessly or to output HD material as an SD feed, both without the need for upconversion or downconversion. The conversion of material, such as camera feeds, graphics, and so on, is invisible to the operator and managed internally, allowing Soft to spend less on external gear, to conserve space inside the truck, and to reduce the amount of heat created by its production systems.

Soft’s new Kahuna SD/HD system is configured with two control surfaces, one 4-M/E (mix/effects banks) board, and one 1-M/E board, as well as an IMPAKT 3D DVE card. In SD, HD, or both, the twin-channel 3D DVE enables both background and fill-and-key manipulation. The Kahuna IMPAKT provides a variety of powerful effects, including spheres, slabs, zooms, warps, tiling, ripples, rolls and peels, fragmentation, lighting effects, and corner pinning. All these options are housed in the Kahuna’s compact, 11RU mainframe and require no additional connections or extra rack space. Kahuna IMPAKT comes with ready-made models that allow operators to create compelling, dynamic transitions quickly and easily.

Operators can assign M/Es to either SD or HD sources, or mix the two formats on a single M/E. Many of Soft’s productions are just output as HD feeds, but when the company’s OB unit is required to provide more than one feed, the Kahuna enables not only simultaneous outputting of HD and SD, but also creation of feeds customized for multiple clients.

The Snell & Wilcox switcher is installed on the new OB van alongside a variety of HDTV signal processing components from the Snell & Wilcox IQ Modular range, the industry’s most comprehensive line of infrastructure products. Soft’s HD IQ modules perform a broad range of tasks, such as decoding, synchronizing, audio mux and demux, and distribution. Also incorporated into the truck are 14 cameras and 15 record servers, including five slow-motion engines. The HD OB van was put into operation on July 1, 2006, and it’s been in great demand since then.

“The Kahuna’s multiformat flexibility was key to our decision to include it in our newest OB van,” Reulier says. “We also appreciate the very low delay of the Kahuna system. The quality of the switcher’s conversion processing ensures the quality and continuity of audio and video in HD or mixed-format productions. With the Kahuna onboard, we’re ready to take on the challenges of any live production.”