Capturing the big picture in a little box

June 18, 2009— Iroquois, Ontario

Ross Video Limited

To television viewers, a well-produced television show appears seamless and simple. However, behind the scenes is a harried crew rushing around to make it look that way. Each crew member has specialized skills needed to operate dedicated pieces of equipment. They see to the complex array of tasks necessary to make images and sounds show up in the right place at the right time.

Much of this unseen commotion has settled down in recent years. Fewer people carry out these strictly technical functions, while others use their enhanced creative potential. This change has been driven by a significant amalgamation of television production technology, much of it led by a relatively small firm in eastern Ontario.

Ross Video Ltd, a family-operated business founded in 1974, has established an international profile at the forefront of this industry. Their reputation has been built on switchers – critical devices that transfer or combine video feeds from different sources. Switching systems have enabled such visual innovations as inserting a variety of additional information behind the shoulder of someone reading a news report. Thanks to Ross Video, a technique that was once considered all but impossible has now become commonplace.

"It used to be that if you wanted to bring up a still image, or an animation, or a moving background, that would be done by a $200,000 box sitting beside the switcher," says David Ross, the company’s president and CEO.

His firm integrated these and other functions into their switchers, adding a substantial amount of technical value to their product with no additional cost to customers. "We have been gobbling up the technologies that entire companies used to be responsible for; companies that have since disappeared from the marketplace."

One of Ross Video’s most recent accomplishments has been introducing the next generation of compact switchers. These innovative switchers are capable of handling traditional Standard Definition television images as well as the emerging High Definition format that is being adopted by broadcasters around the world.

This ground-breaking undertaking led the company to work with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). The program offers advisory services as well as financial support to small- and medium-sized enterprises engaged in research and development projects.

NRC-IRAP helped Ross Video develop its very first switcher many years ago. Together again, they are working to acquire the leading expertise to bring a compact, multi-definition switcher to a waiting market as quickly and effectively as possible.v

For the company, the results are much more than an addition to their product line. The work has enabled them to update older software, setting the stage for even more powerful switchers to come. And what appears to be a modest piece of equipment is actually much more.

"There’s a lot of big switcher ideas under the hood of this small switcher," explains Ross. "If we’d done it on our own without NRC-IRAP, we’d most likely have used existing technology or small ideas. Instead, we redeveloped the technology from the ground up, to be fast and to come up with new responses to the marketplace."

Ross credits NRC-IRAP for the successful launch of the new switcher technology at the International Broadcasters Convention in Amsterdam last fall, with every expectation of further success this year.

"The investments made by NRC-IRAP are allowing us to make major technological advancements, compete at a global level, and contribute to the local economy," he says. "This is partnership with government at its best and a major advantage of being located in Canada."

Enquiries: Media relations


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