After nearly a decade of lackluster growth and sluggish performance, in part due to heavy saturation, then made even worse by the recession, the video switcher/vision mixer market is enjoying a kind of rebirth. That trend is seen in the recently published Video Switchers World 2010 report from D. I. S. Consulting in New York. […]
After nearly a decade of lackluster growth and sluggish performance, in part due to heavy saturation, then made even worse by the recession, the video switcher/vision mixer market is enjoying a kind of rebirth.
That trend is seen in the recently published Video Switchers World 2010 report from D. I. S. Consulting in New York.
What is driving the new growth in production switchers are multiple factors. First, the aging installed base, where many professionals who were still using SD models have been under increased pressure to be HD quality and/or to accommodate 3 Gig. Others have sought switchable models that could handle both HD and 3D. Some users wanted mixers that could blend their need to control their audio and the video. Finally, there has been a real move away from the massive consoles of the high end and to small footprint models that can be transported easily, in part because of the dynamic growth of the freelance sector which involves laptop video editing, small format camcorders and similarly small scale production. Many of the most popular switchers are very small, standards switchable, almost what we could call shoulder-bag sized, lightweight, use less power (and are battery operable) and cost much less. Remarkably, some of the most desirable units are even being sold at prices under $5,000 USD.
Among the most sought after features in video switchers today are multi-camera inputs beyond two, such as for four or even more cameras (or camcorders); the ability to change HD channels to 3D inputs to accommodate small 3D remotes and independent productions as well as SD/SDI switch-ability or VGA; extreme compactness; ultra light weights; slim profiles; illuminated keypads (formerly found mainly in higher priced large multi-bus consoles); Ethernet, SCCI, USB, Fire-wire and other necessary connectivity; built-in keying and sometimes frame sync options; picturein picture; some accommodate multi-viewing, which is becoming an increasingly sought after attribute.
Of course, not only are the small footprint pocket switchers getting a bounce, but also there is a new found surge in large switching consoles as mobile/OB trucks and extra or rebuilt studios, which had been placed on hold during all of 2009 and early 2010 have gotten a go-ahead. This has made such venues look to upgrade their switchers and that has caused a growth status in the large-scale models as well. In that regard, most interest has been in HD / 3D switchable models and in 3-Gig architecture. Additionally, there, the emphasis is also on memory scene and chosen effects pre-sets, such as logos, as well as in programmable keys and buses. No bargains here, though. This is what supports the six-figure part of the industry.
The sources of the small switchers in particular have changed substantially. While the USA, UK and Japan remain the derivation of most switching products, today, especially in smaller compact models, China is increasingly the source of the least expensive gear. Beneficial if you are a freelancer or small operation, bad news if you are a traditional manufacturer.
Douglas I. Sheer is CEO and chief analyst of D I S Consulting in New York.