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Author Topic: Presentation video Scalers
Owen Morgan
Film Handler

Posts: 41
From: Gosport Hampshire UK
Registered: Sep 2013


 - posted 11-20-2014 07:32 PM      Profile for Owen Morgan   Email Owen Morgan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi guys,

I hope everyone is well,

I'm just wondering what (if any) video scalers you guys have experience with, and what tips would you give to someone (me [Smile] ) looking to spec out a mid range scaler with minimal processing delay for our site!

I hear all sorts, and lots of contradictions. .. however I have learnt a lot of things from you guys in the past! I'm told that Kramers are a no no, with long processing delays etc.

Cheers,

Owen.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12814
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 11-20-2014 07:58 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It is a very open subject...one has to know what it is you are trying to accomplish. Regardless of brand, you will find those that cheer them or hate them.

The other question is if you need a scaler in the first place. We are needing them less and less as more and more sources are able to output 1080p to begin with. However, those with SD sources, analog or the need for seamless transitions will still need a scaler of some sort.

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Owen Morgan
Film Handler

Posts: 41
From: Gosport Hampshire UK
Registered: Sep 2013


 - posted 11-21-2014 02:30 AM      Profile for Owen Morgan   Email Owen Morgan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi,

Thats my exact issue, one person says 'Ahhh its awful' the other says 'its amazing' however at least hearing from others who have used various pieces helps inform me!!

Our purpose is wanting to be more than just cinema... we do want the ability to market our equipment (which is in a uni lecture theatre) as great for conferencing, so it needs the extra bits like fade, PIP etc.

Although I'm not sure our uni will bite, hence we still need good alternative inputs.

I was never able to get our Media PC to put an image on screen via the doremi IMB HDMI, but i think that might be to do with HDCP just as much as anything...

Owen.

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

Posts: 3357
From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted 11-21-2014 05:38 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
HDCP is really only an issue if you want to display content that explicitly requires encryption. Most commercial BluRay content for example. For those purposes, it's probably best to invest in a good BluRay player. If you buy one that can upscale to 1080p for non FullHD content (and most professional players should be capable of doing so), you can avoid a scaler for this kind of content too.

Your media PC should not require a scaler, any recent video card you can buy for a few bucks can do 1080p.

Scalers and converters might be interesting if you want more flexibility. If people are allowed to bring their own equipment for example. If you want to support stuff like 3D, etc. Still, you should make clear what your minimum requirements are, just to defend yourself against people showing up with any kind of media or device.

Have you already tried using a HDMI port on your projector instead the one on your IMB?

Another thing you might want to look at is sound and how it can integrate in your current setup. What formats do you want to support? Do you want to offer surround options for example? Do you need extra inputs for e.g. microphones?

Another challenging thing sometimes is running the signals from where they are created back to the booth. If people are giving presentations on their notebook, the signal is usually created in front of the theater. For such things, you will need stuff like HDMI extenders. The same goes for sound (if not carried over HDMI) and microphones, if you're not using a wireless system, you will require proper cabling infrastructure.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12814
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 11-21-2014 06:24 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Odds are, based on your description of the venue, a simple switcher/scaler is likely not your best answer. I've found that with such needs, particularly if you are talking Picture in Picture as well as seamless switches you are talking about probably a bit of a front-end that can handle the range of sources you need to handle (e.g. a matrix switcher) and then a switcher/scaler on its output to handle the "effects" you need for the presentation you desire.

Odds are the matrix switcher will need various types of signals converted to work in its native format...nowadays, HDMI is pretty much essential to ensure HDCP and Audio will be handled as well as other TMDS type signals.

With any TMDS signal (HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort)...you are going to have EDID management as well as HDCP keys and management...this all gets complicated as you go beyond a 1:1 of merely plugging the source into the display. Skimping on the input/switcher stage will bite you in the long run. For instance, your computer you plugged in...was it an Apple product? If it was, it defaults to having HDCP on, regardless of what it is playing. If you have EDID management, you can "tell" the laptops to not authorize HDCP and turn it off for all non-HDCP content (BluRays)...so if you are not playing BluRays or other HDCP type content from your laptops (and most don't), this would tend to alleviate such problems. A typical scaler will NOT do this. HDCP is a very nasty thing to contend with...you can have all HDCP compliant equipment and STILL have the screen go black/flash or otherwise fail and embarrass the show. The better equipment acts as both a sink and source to keep everything at bay so only one HDCP key is needed for each step in the chain.

Then, once you have this switcher/scaler system in place with all of the input types and quantities you need/desire, how are you going to control it? If you are doing seamless transitions or other fancy graphics like keying, PIP, backgrounds...etc....you need a user interface that will allow the operator to quickly operate the system without fumbling around...this would be true for both basic shows as well as the more complex ones. A control system for such a system is neither going to be low-cost nor simple to implement. And there are a whole range of system types there too.

And don't forget the scaler aspect of it all...it is a movie theatre of sorts. When you plop in a DVD that is "anamorphic" with a final ratio of 2.39:1...do you want the image to be the same size as your normal "Scope" image from a DCP? If so, you will need a scaler that "understands" how to accomplish that. MOST do not. Most scalers have some basic "scaling" presets...so you'll likely be able to get the image to the projector as a 1920x804 image (most scalers will understand the 33% horizontal expansion from 4x3 DVDs to 16x9...but not going the next step). So you are left with finishing the scale in the projector (if it is a series 2) or zooming the lens (possibly causing a less-than-seamless transition and some projectors really rack the lens when they go between formats and can take upwards of 15-seconds to move it). It would be nicer to present it to the projector as a finished 2048x858 image. Scaling is like amplification, you want to do it as few times as possible and as early as possible. Once you take the "hit" for applying a scale, try to just do it once since what ever negative aspects of the scale are only applied once rather than several times along the chain. You also will likely increase your latency in the image as you apply more processing to the image.

I recently did a system where I used a Barco ACS2048 as my scaler and seamless switcher (not it does not pass audio and can be persnickety with HDCP though it IS compliant). However, I set up my matrix switcher so that if one just wants to play the BluRay player without transitions, then one can merely press the "send direct" button on the touch screen and the signal path is very short...into the switcher, out to the projector, skipping the scaler. The ACS2048 is the lowest cost scaler that I can think of that will handle all of the aspect ratio scales as well as provide a seamless switch between two HDCP sources. However, it was designed as an "input expander" for series 1 projectors (e.g. turn the DVI inputs into a choice of SDI, RGBHV, DVI, Composite...etc. like would be found on traditional A/V projectors). Most people no longer need all of those inputs...the DVI or HDMI inputs on current projectors are sufficient for 95% of the theatres out there (probably closer to 99%) since most just need to be able to play a BluRay or a Satellite feed of an Opera or something. Most laptops now have some form of TMDS type signal so they are a direct plug in.

So, as you can see...before claiming that some brand of scaler is good/bad, you really need to fully define just what you need your system to do and then design such a system...also remember as the complexity of your needs go up, so does the cost in a geometric form as you make the system not only capable but USABLE.

And then there is the whole "preview" aspect to it all. You'll want to be able to set all of this up and know what it is going look/sound like BEFORE you open the douser for the public...that can add yet another layer of complexity to the whole picture and sound aspect.

Remember too, most "A/V" solutions will not think much about the preview aspect and they normally only concern themselves with "stereo" audio...not 5.1 and beyond.

But based on your limited description, a product like the Extron DVS 605 "could" work...it does PIP and seamless switch. My suspicion is that it won't do all you would want but again, based on a limited description, it is impossible to say.

http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=dvs605&s=1

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Pete Naples
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1565
From: Dunfermline, Scotland
Registered: Feb 2001


 - posted 11-21-2014 08:30 AM      Profile for Pete Naples   Email Pete Naples   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve sets out the scenario well, I'll add my £0.02s worth though, specifically brands/models.
NB I look on all of these as 'mid-range'.

I really don't like the Geffen much at all. But I'd say it's 'bottom range'

Barco ACS2048 has been working well for our sites.

You could do a lot worse than Calibre too;

http://www.calibreuk.com/product_pages/digital_cinema.php

Or also Kinoton

http://www.kinoton.de/en/products-solutions/d-cinema-accessories/scaler-dms-dc1-plus.html
http://www.kinoton.de/en/products-solutions/d-cinema-accessories/scaler-dms-dc2-pro.html

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 8146
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 11-21-2014 09:20 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Analog Way Pulse LE is popular around here and does most of what is mentioned here. HDCP compliant (and can be disabled), EDID management, PIP, seamless switching/fading among inputs, has preview monitor output, etc. It switches sound, too, but only 2-channel (not sure what it does with HDMI-embedded tracks, and SDI disembedding is sometimes wonky). The UI is just OK, but the needed functionality is there. I don't remember if it can properly scale a scope DVD to 2048 pixels wide.

It would be something to look into, anyway, as would the offerings from Barco (the Image Pro HD was popular for a while and worked well, but the original ones did not support HDCP).

Otherwise, Steve had made all of the important points and his posts here are worth re-reading before buying anything.

One more consideration would be what your operators are familiar with using. If every D-cinema installation in your area is using scaler X, you should consider that one before buying something weird and nonstandard that will confuse people.

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Owen Morgan
Film Handler

Posts: 41
From: Gosport Hampshire UK
Registered: Sep 2013


 - posted 11-21-2014 09:46 AM      Profile for Owen Morgan   Email Owen Morgan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Guys!

I intentional tried to be a bit broad as i wanted to see your comments and thoughts!!

when I have better internet access I will write a full reply!

The matrix scaler units was what I was thinking of, didnt kniw the best way to say it though!

As for the analogue way, I know the outgoing tech guy at the Royal College of Physicians, and he says thats the exact same thing they have bought for the same purpose as what I was thinking...

Owen.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12814
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 11-21-2014 05:40 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have definite mixed feelings on the Analog Way stuff. The Pulse is a non-starter for me since it forces everything into a 2-channel (HDMI is only going to have multi-channel or 2-channel, not both).

I've used the OPS200 and it doesn't suffer from the 2-channel HDMI audio.

As scalers go, I don't think the Analog way stuff cuts it for a cinema...it really doesn't handle aspect ratios properly. Lets say you have a standard def source (Digi-beta or even a DVD) and it is letterboxed to 1.66...it can't scale that and give you a 1792x1080 image...you'll get a 1440 x 868 thing in the middle of a 1920x1080 raster (or 2K if you set it to that). You can "zoom" it to a 16x9 preset and crop the top, I guess. Worse yet if you have a 2.39 letterboxed standard def...again, the best you can do is treat it like 16x9 and then let the projector take it the rest of the way.

Also, Analog Way is the HDMI police and will not accept 480i nor will it handle PsF variations like 23.98PsF. So forget harmonizing your system around HDMI...you'll need to keep HDSDI if you deal with some broadcast sources.

One also has to be careful about frame rates...if you have 24fps sources, including DVDs that have been 3:2 converted, you really want that stuff running at 24fps or you will get motion artifacts. I've the Analog Way stuff to be less than enjoyable there too but honestly that is a tough nut since there is no graceful way to have multiple frame rates in a mixed show...you can't seamless switch between frame rates. The projector is going to lose sync when you do.

I strongly agree with Pete on the Gefen stuff. It is definitely in the lower-end of things. Their scaler isn't great, their aspect ratio controls are pedestrian, and their handling of sound is inferior...they only handle the low-bandwidth audio (no Master Audio or True HD). I understand why some use it but I think like other low-end scalers, it quickly becomes a case of "what is the point?" It doesn't even handle composite! For most, a direct HDMI feed to the projector is all they need and skip the scaler. The other thing about Gefen is the incredibly high failure rate I've had with them. Oh, and they also get their genders wrong on the output of their multichannel audio. They need to stick with consumer where they belong. I have not tried the Christie SKA-3D...which is clearly build by Gefen but it does seem like a custom build...perhaps Christie was able to hold them to a higher standard than their normal stuff.

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Owen Morgan
Film Handler

Posts: 41
From: Gosport Hampshire UK
Registered: Sep 2013


 - posted 11-21-2014 07:22 PM      Profile for Owen Morgan   Email Owen Morgan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Guys,

here is a proper reply to everyone!

Thank you for your responses, I started of general in order to see people thoughts, and they have been most helpful indeed!!

As for all the audio comments, I don't think we are all too bothered about audio as our intention would be to run them separately into the CP750 we have... I would not envisage having more than 2/3 devices at any one time, however, a device that could sufficiently handle audio would be a bonus.

Really, in terms of presentation scaler we are looking at switching between laptop/mac, our Media PC in the booth (maybe for skype/internet feed) and the dcps of the projector.

in terms of ECinema we are looking at the media PC which has a Blu-ray player, although a separate blu-ray player may be needed (Bluray and PC's seems not to yet work amazingly)

and Alternative content from games consoles (who doesn't want to play a great game on a 9m screen!

in terms of a control interface, that is something I had considered, although there are easy ways to send HDMI from the front of the auditorium to the back (ie. powered HDMI via cat6 extenders) can you do the same with VGA?

however, for a more professional layout you'd want to minimise the equipment at the front in favour of a guy at the back, or a remote control held by the speaker (sometime the less tech way can be just as effective).

These are all things to consider, and the best advice thus far is the real technical point of first hand experience of equipment (I'd never think that a professional scaler would suffer with aspect ratios). though again, things can be fixed with creating suitable projection macros, but the time to change is a factor...

All I really want a decent starting point that we can work with!!

we are looking at a £2k - 3K budget, i'd like to push for a higher end product as much as we can, but as you may see, I'm all at sea with so many different companies saying theirs is the best, yet someones personal experience is that they suck at the bread and butter...

Owen.

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Geoff Newitt
Film Handler

Posts: 49
From: FARINGDON, OXFORDSHIRE, UK
Registered: Dec 2011


 - posted 11-26-2014 01:52 PM      Profile for Geoff Newitt   Email Geoff Newitt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I concur with much of what Pete Naples says. I'm a big fan of the Calibre which he linked.

Just to stick with the theme of general disagreement, however, I really don't like the Barco ACS-2048. Our teams found them confusing and unreliable. I think they're pretty flimsy as well - within a couple of years we started finding the BNC sockets on the front working loose and going intermittent. But I do know that some people love them!

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David Buckley
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 525
From: Oxford, N. Canterbury, New Zealand
Registered: Aug 2004


 - posted 11-26-2014 02:07 PM      Profile for David Buckley   Author's Homepage   Email David Buckley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Owen Morgan
we do want the ability to market our equipment (which is in a uni lecture theatre) as great for conferencing, so it needs the extra bits like fade, PIP etc.
In our theatres we have Extron IN1608s [Link]. Don't think they do PIP, but they are very connectable and integratable, and in the connectivity and usage environment of a lecture theatre, these features are important. Issues like remote input plates and how to connect to the room lights etc are pre-solved.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12814
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 11-26-2014 08:39 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I neither love nor hate the ACS2048. I respect it for its capabilities and despise its HDCP finickiness. Then again, I despise HDCP.

You are correct in that it isn't inherently "user friendly" unless you just want to plug something in, press a button and let it put an image up. However, if you want to use its scaling power (getting aspect ratios right), it isn't quite as simple as others. I tend to tell people that when you use it to that degree, you really need a control system to make it user friendly.

Note, those that are familiar with other Barco/Folsom products like the ImagePro will feel right at home with the ACS2048...it is clearly a stripped down ImagePro that is purpose built for cinema.

I have not run into the connector falling apart issue and I've had them in use since it came out. Then again, I don't think any of the ones we put in have people plugging/unplugging on a daily basis.

Extron stuff is good and the company stands behind their products very well. It is definitely in the "A/V" category and most of their stuff is geared towards stereo audio rather than 5.1 or better for cinema. We have used and will continue to use their products...they may cost a little more than other A/V stuff but the quality is there as is the support.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12814
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 12-04-2014 06:55 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was in error earlier, ALL Analog Way products, if they support embedded audio only support 2-channel embedded audio (regardless if it is coming in on SDI or HDMI/DVI). In the site where we are using OPS200...we are breaking the audio out ahead of the scaler and switching it via Crestron DM to a Crestron HD-XSP decoder. The feeds to the Analog Way are picture only in that site.

So keep that in mind if you are going with Analog Way...it will pollute your EDID and be requesting 2-channel from the source unless you have a sufficient HDMI switching up stream with EDID management to keep the multi-channel signal in tact.

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Owen Morgan
Film Handler

Posts: 41
From: Gosport Hampshire UK
Registered: Sep 2013


 - posted 12-10-2014 08:29 PM      Profile for Owen Morgan   Email Owen Morgan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi, Thanks for the comments.

in terms of audio, the only thing i need to be careful of is HDMI, its the only consumer interface with embeded audio, and as you suggest an extractor unit is required, but a simply Hdmi passthrough with spdif output is a nice solution.

other than that we have to handle the audio seperatly.

This has given me loads to think about thats for sure! anything with good scaling abilities and minimal delay is what we need to focus on!

Thanks guys,

Owen.

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