4k video is not a thing of the future. It is here. The Roland V-600UHD is a great way to get started in the 4K world.
[Ed note: Watch Tom's unboxing video here: http://svnnextmonth.cloudaccess.net/equipment-mainmenu-32/productprofiles-mainmenu-56/2431-unboxing-roland-v600uhd.html]
On the surface, the V-600UHD is a standard switcher.
Eight channels of video, a T-bar, audio meters, and of course the cut and auto buttons that are standard issue with all switchers. On the back, there are 4 HDMI and 2 SDI inputs paired with audio in.
As for outputs, you have 1 SDI out, three HDMI outs, of course a multi view out and a pair of XLR outputs for audio. Again, pretty standard stuff… But just like frosty, there is a lot of magic under that hat.
Let’s start with the outputs and save the big surprises for later. The multiviewer is precisely what you would expect. I like how simple Roland keeps their multiviewer, boxes with video images. Nothing crazy. Too often, I see multiviewers that have too many things going on. The SDI out is the program out, which is paired with Three HDMI outs that can be assigned. Rarely do you find switcher at this price point with not only two different output types, SDI and HDMI, but to have three assignable HDMI outs is ultra-rare.
While I typically focus on live broadcast production, I think having that number of outputs without having to go through a router is amazing and has a ton of applications. For example, I think about the things we produce in our performing arts center and how it would be great to be able to send footage to a monitor on the stage or a projector while we also produce a live show using footage shot in the room mixed with the stuff sent to the stage. Our room isn’t big enough for us to do IMAG so we would just take a slideshow or highlights, etc and use those in the mix for the broadcast. Did I mention that the outputs can be scaled too… You can send video to anything you need. You can scale each output individually.
Now for the video inputs. Like I said before, you have 4 HDMI and 2 SDI inputs. All of these inputs are scalable. You can mix a variety of camera types and get the output you are looking for. You can change the zoom and position for each input.
The only issue I have is the simplicity of the menu. It feels “not cool.” It’s very powerful but very basic at the same time. The look doesn’t match the coolness of the switcher. I know it’s petty but remember that I am thinking about what the students will say when they are using it. It’s not about me. I don’t care but I know students will immediately think “old” when they see the menu. The fact that this switcher allows you to scale each input up and down is a major win. Again, 4k is here to stay and this allows you to be right there in the mix no matter what cameras you have.
Earlier, I mentioned that this is an eight-channel mixer and have only listed six inputs. The final two inputs are super cool if you are producing a lecture or event where you want to show still images or capture images from your broadcast. First, the USB input on the top of the switcher will allow you to load still images to be used as inputs 7 or 8. If you have a graphic that you want to air to hold a position at halftime or need to show some sponsors some love, this is a great way to do it. You have to load each image through the menu, which is a little cumbersome, but you can load to channel 7 and 8 each time you have to load an image, so it’s not too bad.
The other way to get images into the system for a broadcast would be the image capture. Again, my brain goes back to sports, so if you want to use an image from the current game, you can simply assign a user button to capture the image, and it will store where you tell it. Pair that with a graphic overlay, and you have a pretty cool halftime image if you aren’t going to play commercials.
Even with all of that, I haven’t touched on the coolest part of the switcher. I have taught my students for years how to take a 1080 video and edit it 720 and scale and shift the video in post-production to replicate having multiple cameras. Roland has built this concept into the V-600UHD with the Regions of Interest (ROI). Here’s the concept: you use a 4k camera as an input. Inside the switcher, you determine your “regions of interest” and assign those to the channel you want. For example, you have a shot of two people on a stage. You set your main input to be an establishing shot with both people framed in the shot. You then assign another input to use the ROI function, and you isolate the person on the left. Then you assign another input to the person on the right. All three of these inputs will look like separate shots and will be output at 1080. Once it’s done, you can lock off your camera, and you now have what looks like a three-camera shoot from 1 camera.
Outside of the inputs and outputs, the Roland V-600UHD has all of the things you would expect from a high-end switcher, including a downstream keyer, picture in picture, and a variety of built-in wipes.
Another great tool that Roland built into the V-600UHD is the memory function. You have the ability to store your settings from shoot to shoot. So if you have to do a signing day three times a year, you get your set up knocked out, store the settings, and you are good to go the next time. I think this is really important because, as you know, as educators, we pretty much do the same things over and over each year.
Overall, I would say that if you are looking for a great switcher with a ton of tools that is rack-mountable and can be taught extremely easily, the Roland V-600UHD is for you. There is a bit of a learning curve to navigate the menus, but after a couple of times around the block, it gets much easier. The number of inputs and outputs makes this switcher extremely versatile, so you can do your job as a live broadcast producer while still taking care of in house needs with the multiple scalable outputs.
For more information about the Roland V-600UHD go to ProAV.Roland.com