Learning about Video Editing Switchers
One of the best tools a video editor has to work with is called the video switcher, video mixer or production switcher. A switcher is typically used in live events where several cameras and pre-recorded video is output to a live audience or for broadcast. The switch operator, also known as the technical director, operates the switcher. Aside from pre-recorded video and live video, computer graphics, titling, animations and other elements can be thrown into the mix, hence the phrase ‘video mixer’.
The switcher also allows the operator to apply special effects to the video itself as well as transitions in-between shots.
When Video One produced a three camera, live switch of a music concert, our videographers wore headsets and took their cues from the switch operator. He told each videographer when he would go to them for the next shot. So they had to be ready with whatever shot the director asked them for. Sometimes the director would ask for a camera move and other times just to stay on a particular part of the action. Sometimes it’s a wide shot. Other times it’s a close up. An experienced director will be aware of the best sequence and combination of shots to keep the video fresh and exciting.
Generally, we not only record the event at the switcher, but we also shoot ‘iso’ or isolated. This means that not only are all of the shots being recorded at the switch, but each camera is also recording the footage for possible later editing. If there is a technical or other error in the video compiled at the switch, it can always be fixed in ‘post’ or post production, otherwise known as the editing process, with the footage that was shot in iso. Chances are great that there will always be a better choice for a shot if something needs to be changed.
Video Editors and Switchers Bring Everything Together
Nowadays, switchers are used during live, online broadcasts. We’re currently bidding on a project where we will integrate 5 cameras recording a cooking contest, interviews, training, reactions from the contestants and other events over a period of 5 days. We will edit the interviews of the contestants for a showing at the awards dinner on the 5th day. Throughout the week and at the dinner, the live events will be broadcast throughout the buildings of the facility to several audiences, as well as online. In addition to the pre-edited interviews, we’ll have graphics, logos, branding and other video elements ready for our switch operator to output for a live audience, online and to a hard drive for future editing.
As you can see, the switcher is an important piece of equipment that in competent hands brings lots of video assets together to create a dynamic viewing experience.
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