Channel in a Box specialist ToolsOnAir has worked with Sonnet Technologies to create a compact and powerful hardware platform. It uses the Sonnet xMac mini server, which includes a standard Mac mini and a Blackmagic DeckLink card with a Thunderbolt to PCIe expansion system in a 1U rack enclosure.
The just:Broadcast suite from ToolsOnAir is an integrated suite of QuickTime-based software which can be configured to create a complete production facility in a Mac mini computer. A typical configuration could include six iMac mini servers, each configured with a Blackmagic DeckLink Quad capture and playback card. This would provide all the control and processing power required to manage, process and record a live, 12 camera production workflow.
“In the previous generation of this solution, we needed 5U to rack mount a Mac Pro, and even then the system only provided four HD ingest channels,” said Manuel Grund of ToolsOnAir. “Thanks to the compact form factor of the xMac mini server, we have been able to quintuple the workload within the same space. When we tested the xMac mini server, we knew it would provide the ideal solution in terms of reliability and ease of deployment.”
In the 6U configuration, each Mac ingests two HD channels via the DeckLink card. The content is then stored in a ToolsOnAir NAS via gigabit ethernet. An external Mac, connecting over the integral 10 gigabit ethernet, provides control of live production. Content, including multi-camera synchronisation, can be exported in an XML sequence readable by Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro, with automatic launch of the editor on export.