Stryder TV is based in Oxfordshire and for decades we have provided both British and International broadcasters with a complete video production services. Our camera crews have operated in 45 countries from the Arctic to the Tropics and we produce anything from web content to beaming live pictures across the world with our satellite truck.
We needed a simple vision mixer for what I have nicknamed our 'OB Lite' concept - a fully featured, but inherently simple satellite uplink truck that is capable of multi-camera operation and geared to the fast-moving requirements of the news/current affairs environment. The 8x2 composite matrix unit we had was not meeting our requirements. We needed to upgrade to a mixer that would let us do live cuts/mixing and enable the truck to work in the SDI environment as well as have optional composite inputs, and do it all at minimal cost.
The vision mixer I wanted had to be as small as possible, easy to operate by walk-in directors and we wanted to present a professional looking image to our clients. I spent considerable time researching all the alternatives and finally chose the Callisto-P, a new portable switcher made by Brick House Video. I looked at units in similar price ranges as the Callisto-P, but they were much heavier and more complicated, and had many features we did not need. The more expensive solutions with separate rack and head units were too big with fewer input options. Other mixers were not available with SDI, or not available in the U.K.
The Callisto-P is a super piece of equipment - all in one package, and smaller than a shoebox, and because Brick House is headquartered in the U.K., I know we have technical support. I chose their lightweight 12V unit designed for portable use in vehicle or helicopter. It is a one piece unit, can be battery-powered and has 6-inputs instead of the 8 of the Brick House Callisto-R rack-mounted version. Like the bigger unit, the Callisto-P has an on-board downstream keyer, separate composite and SDI inputs for simultaneous analogue and digital operations, and includes live format switching. If all the gear we carried in the truck were as compact and versatile as the Callisto our truck could be half the size--and with the price of fuel, that can’t be bad.
Naturally, weight and size are always of paramount importance in any OB vehicle and because our uplink vehicle is a VW Transporter, it is even more critical. The Callisto has big, well-lit buttons and a very simple method to choose between composite or SDI input for each of the channels. Our truck is fully redundant with the ability to transmit two vision paths and the mixer has two Aux SDI outputs. This enables us to be able to feed one vision path with the mixer output and then use one of the Aux outputs to feed the second path with any of the SDI inputs, or preview, or program --and we avoid the need for a separate matrix...and there is still a spare SDI output.
Bottom line, I would recommend the Callisto-P. It has been a valuable addition to our equipment and makes us more attractive to news and current affairs customers who want the flexibility to live mix multiple sources in both SDI and composite with greater functionality.