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Scan Converters Make Change Simple

Format conversion is part of any flexible system

DVIGear DVI-3551a

Any modern television facility has need for signal processors. In fact, a busy system could easily have a dozen or more of these increasingly ubiquitous devices.

Signal processors are used to convert one signal format to another, such as converting a standard video SDI feed into HDMI format for feeding a large-screen display. More elaborate signal processors can upscale old standard-definition signal into a decent-looking HD feed.

Government video operations often have need to display computer images on through their systems, and modern computers can create images that have a wide-range of resolutions. Converting computer images into standard video―either SD or HD―is the role of a product called a scan converter, often also called a scaler.

Scan converters and scalers have been around for decades, with the first ones appearing in the mid-1980s. What was once a very limited and expensive product back then has morphed into the modern reality of highly flexible and affordable products today.


DVIGear produces an affordable and adaptive solution for business meetings, lectures and presentations. The DVI-3551a accepts five different input types and can be mounted in position and controlled remotely through an RS-232 serial port and IR remote.

The unit has convenient front panel controls, with setup menus displayed on-screen. The IR remote control and RS 232 control port allow the unit to be integrated into a professional audiovisual system.

The DVI-3551a provides the flexibility to accept a wide array of signal formats, such as VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort, which may well be unknown until minutes before the meeting begins. It includes five input signal formats, including composite video, S-video, component video, analog RGB and HDMI/DVI (with or without HDCP encryption). Two high-performance scaling engines offer resolutions up to 1080p and 1,920 x 1,200, and provide 3D motion-adaptive de-interlacing, as well as digital noise reduction.

The DVI-3551a converts all inputs to digital HDMI with embedded audio. Each format supports a stereo audio connection and there is an auxiliary S/PDIF digital audio output as well as audio delay compensation up to 150 ms.

“Our converters/scalers products are used widely throughout various government applications, particularly in command & control applications, where performance and reliability are crucial,” said Steven Barlow, president of DVIGear. One control application where our scalers were deployed was at NASDAQ in New York. While this is an older application, it is typical of a command & control environment that we serve with our products.”

Extron IN1608

In April, Extron Electronics announced its new IN1604 DTP, which includes an advanced scaling engine to convert HDMI and analog inputs to a common high-resolution output. It provides 1080i deinterlacing and “deep color” processing maintain image quality.

The IN1604 DTP features Extron EDID Minder, which allows information from the monitor to be fed back to the source computer, thus maintaining optimum display characteristics.

The small size of the IN1604 DTP means that it can be fitted into a lectern, mounted on a wall or ceiling, or concealed under a conference table or behind a flat screen panel.

Ensemble Designs BrightEye Mitto BEM-2 scan converter

Also, in April, Extron Electrics introduced the Extron IN1608 IPCP, a new model of the IN1608 family. The IN 1608 is an integrated AV system in one box―along with an advanced scaling engine, it includes a multi-format video switcher, and an integrated receiver and transmitter.

The IN1608 IPCP allows the possibility of a large-scale control system, including multiple systems, rooms or potentially, remote locations around the world. INCP systems throughout a building, campus or far-flung offices can be managed and controlled with Extron’s Global Viewer Enterprise software. With a tablet or laptop serving as the primary control interface, the software allows for specific user roles in an organization. The new technology contains the same processing power and speed found in the standalone version.

“This scaling presentation switcher is now available with a built-in IP Link Pro control processor with … advanced capabilities in a configurable control system,” said Casey Hall, vice president of sales and marketing for Extron.


Teranex was purchased by Blackmagic Design in 2011. Since then, Blackmagic has maintained the original level of functionality, while significantly lowering the price.

Hudson Cable Television’s Terenex 2D scan covnerter is mounted just below the dual video monitors.

The new Teranex Express is now available at an even lower price point. The Express features a new scaling engine that makes it an expandable standalone solution with integrated capture/playback.

Before Blackmagic’s acquisition of the Teranex 2D Processor, it was the VC 100, selling at $70,000 and generally used for high-end applications. The company has brought the price down to a level at which individuals may consider purchasing a unit to convert old family videos to a more modern format.

It is almost a misnomer to call the Teranex 2D Processor a standards converter because it does much more than simple standards conversion and scaling. The device uses a technology called single instruction, multiple data to provide the functionality of 3,000 processors.

Using these SIMD processors, each pixel of the image can be analyzed and adjusted in real time. The unit’s controls make it easy to adjust parameters such as color rendition and edge sharpness. The source video appears on a small screen on the front of the unit and as decisions are made about its output format, their effect can be immediately seen in this display window.

MORE INFO Blackmagic Design:


Ensemble Designs: www.ensembledesigns


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Matrox Video:

Dan Gerbracht is the studio engineer for Hudson Cable Television, a PEG station in northeastern Ohio, and he chose the Teranex 2D Processor as one of the first purchases for the station’s upgrade to high definition. His choice was based on the model’s user-friendly interface and his understanding that it offered the widest array of conversion options.

“In the process of upgrading our studio, we found that the new HD production switcher did not work with our old equipment,” Gerbracht said. “By using the Teranex, we are able to upconvert from our graphics computer and from some of our older cameras. They look great running through the Teranex.”

The station is open to anyone living or working in the community who wishes to produce their own show, and it provides immediate access to emergency alerts or organizational cancellations. Gerbracht said that it the first place people turn for information about the area.

“By purchasing the Teranex, we have been able to save a ton of money by not having to upgrade all of our older equipment right away,” Gerbracht said. “We can gradually do it over time now.”

Kramer VP-728 scaler

He also found that, using the Teranex 2D, the station is now able to easily convert video to SDI despite a relative lack of experience with the new format, and also to embed or de-embed audio, as needed.

According to Blackmagic Design, there are more than 500 different conversions you can make using the controls on the front panel of the 2D Processor.

Blackmagic now has the Teranex 3D Processor that includes 3D capabilities. The new Teranex Express features real time processing, while including all the capabilities of the 2D and 3D versions. It can transfer data at a rate of 12 gigabits per second, fast enough to support Ultra HD (4K) video.

In a world in which video and computer display formats seem to morph every few months, a scan converter/scaler is a necessary product in a professional video system. This is especially true at government facilities, where there is generally less staff but more varieties of computers and other video sources that must be used to create programming.

Years ago, there was only one tried-and-true method to turn the image from a computer system into video: point a camera at the computer’s screen. With the introduction of scan converters and scalers, acquiring clean computer video is cleaner and far less prone to camera operator mistakes.