Turbo Power

There’s a particular Broadcast toy that’s been cropping up at more and more events that I film. It’s called the Grass Valley Turbo – basically, a sort of disk based VTR which can also work as a play-out solution.

For those of you of a certain vintage, it’s a virtual betacart-in-a-box. Transfer all your tapes for a show into it, make a virtual running order, and just keep hitting the cue button. You could run a TV station on a couple of them.

So I’ve been supplying either DVCAM tapes or even DVDs. But from EX1, it required encoding to SD DV and laying off to a deck with bars and a clock, or authoring and burning a couple of DVDs, which took up time.

Of course, Grass Valley’s sales literature says you can shove almost any video file into it and it will cross convert into its own internal format. We tried this some time ago. It took a long time and the results weren’t wonderful. And it doesn’t like EX1 footage. Been there, tried that. No cigar.

And I now have a very elegant solution. But it’s costly unless you really really need it.

There’s no real secret here – Episode from Telestream has a pre-set recipe buried deep in its provided templates for ‘Grass Valley Profile_K2, GXF_SD_PAL’ amongst others (better off calling it ‘GV Turbo’?). It creates a file that doesn’t play on Macs, most will never try it. If you do, you’ll find that it’s a demo, ‘enabled’ by upgrading to Episode Pro. But there’s an issue about Episode. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives and in the world of high quality Open Source encoders, you may baulk at paying $500 for Episode. Or even $1000 for the Pro version. Gulp.

I have spent a lot of money on encoders over time. Some are great, like Episode. Others have been a waste of time, like MegaPEG. What you’re getting with the good ones is a different order of speed, flexibility and quality. Convenience has different meanings depending on the situation you’re in. But don’t get me wrong. Episode, for me, is a great FLV and WMV encoder but you should look elsewhere if you’re doing DVD, format conversion or H.264 (start with Compressor).

Then there’s the ‘pro’ version of Episode. Double the cost simply to add some esoteric MXF formats (and GV Turbo). Few users will ever need it. But if you want to play with the big boy’s kit, Telestream’s got you. What you get is a quick encode from your exported edit (be that XDCAM-EX, DVCPro-HD or even plain old DV) straight to GV Turbo. No messing, no conversion. SD or HD, PAL or NTSC. And it’s QUICK.

Definitely NOT the sort of purchase that most will want to make, but if you’re delivering lots of short newsy clips over a week’s worth of exhibition or other event, and look into hooking up a separate encoding machine, file server (when Episode’s Watch Folder is fixed for NAS) and Turbos on a network, it’s one more giant leap beyond a tape based workflow.

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