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Live switching an event can be a little overwhelming if you've never sat behind the controls of a switcher before. But if you keep it simple, you can nearly eliminate the need for post-production. In this segment we talk about getting video and audio into a switcher, the basics of switching, and adding live graphics over your shots. If you prepare properly and practice a bit, live switching can be an exhilarating experience.
Live switching an event can be a little overwhelming if you've never sat behind the controls of a switcher before. But if you keep it simple, it can nearly eliminate the need for post-production. In this segment we talk about getting video and audio into a switcher, the basics of switching, and adding live graphics over your shots. If you prepare properly and practice a bit, live switching can be an exhilarating experience. There are many different types of switchers available today for a wide range of prices. We'll be using a tricaster 40 for our example, but the concepts we're covering will apply to most switchers. Let's start with the setup. In this example, we'll use 3 of the 4 available component video inputs, and attach BNC to RCA adapters on the input connections so our cables will work. Two of our cameras have component out signals, so we can simply run the cable from the camera to the unit. If you need to extend the cables, you can pickup an RCA female to female coupler. Our third camera only has an HDMI output, so we'll use an HDMI to component converter to get the signal into the tricaster. There are two audio inputs on the tricaster 40. A line level stereo RCA input, and a quarter inch unbalanced mic input. If you've got multiple mics, you'll need to run them through an external audio mixer, and then into the switcher. To set the level of a mic input, set fader 2 to zero, then adjust the gain until you have a healthy level. Now you can use the fader to set your desired volume. If you're taking in a line level source via the RCA inputs, you can control the volume using fader 1. To control the level of the audio outputs, use the stream fader controls for the internet stream, and the master fader to control the outputs on the front of the unit. The headphone control sets the level of the headphone jack on the front of the box. Now that we've got our video and audio into the unit, let's take a look at the interface. Along the top of the interface, you have the multi-viewer. On the left you'll find all of your potential video sources. In this case, we've got three cameras coming in. To the right of your sources, you'll find your preview and program monitors. The program monitor shows you what is being broadcast or recorded. This is what your audience will see. The preview window shows you what source will go live in the program window if you perform a switch. We've got our main buses below the multi-viewer on the left. The switcher itself is made up of three rows. the FX bus, the Program bus, and the Preview bus. To the right, is the take button, auto button, and virtual t-bar. What ever is selected on the program row is output to your recording or live broadcast, and displayed on the program monitor. The preview row is used to see what will go live to the program bus if you use the take, auto, or t-bar to switch sources. There are a few different ways to switch your shots. The take button will use a cut to swap the current program source with the source that is selected in the preview row. The auto button will use a preselected transition to switch the source from preview to program. Then the T-Bar will use the preselected transition to make the switch at the speed at which you pull the bar. You can change the transition by clicking on different options in background row. To change the rate of the auto transition, you can use the drop-down triangle, or Click on the duration, hold, and drag the number to the left or right. Another way of switching is clicking directly on the video source monitor. Clicking once on a source monitor will bring up the source in the preview window. You can see that it's highlighted green. Clicking a second time will make the switch and bring up that source in the program window. Holding the shift key on the second click will use the preselected transition to make the switch. Notice also, that when you perform a switch, it flip-flops your program and preview, so if you're switching back and forth between 2 cameras, you can simple hit take, auto, or use the t-bar to change back. Now if you're just switching between camera shots and using some transitions, you're ready to go. But if you're going to be using live titles or graphics, it's time to go a little deeper into the switcher. There are a couple different ways to add graphics via the switcher. The most direct way is to use the local layer controls located to the right of the Main transition controls. The tricaster 40 has two downstream keyers that you can assign sources to. In this case, we've got graphics one assigned to downstream keyer 1, and graphics two assigned to downstream keyer 2. We can select the graphics one tab below and click add to use a preset graphic that we can customize. Simply right click on the graphic and select edit to change the text. We've got the graphic highlighted, so now we can select take on downstream keyer 1 to bring our graphic up over our background shot. You can also select a custom transition and use the auto button to bring up the graphic. Clicking auto or take will then remove the graphic from the shot.From here, you just go with the flow of the event, and try to get the best on-the-fly coverage that you can. We've only scratched the surface of what some switchers are capable of, but these basic techniques should be enough to get you through your first multi-cam shoot.