Now that my video production activities are all desktop-based, my habit of handling video crosses paths with my long-standing affection for small form factor computers. For the past year I’ve used a fanless Airtop-PC from CompuLab as my primary desktop workstation. It has shown itself to be a very capable host for vMix, which is my very favorite live video production tool.
In considering the purchase of the Airtop I also looked long and hard at Intel’s NUC line-up. There’s a lot to like about the NUCs. In particular, the Skull Canyon NUC, with it’s i7-6770HQ CPU, presented an attractive price/performance combination. Others in the vMix user community have noted that it runs vMix handily, despite the lack of an nVidia GPU.
My Airtop has an nVidia GTX GPU, which includes hardware H.264 encoding. vMix takes advantage of this, offloading some of the work from the CPU. While theoretically an advantage, in truth this has little impact given how I typically use the vMix. If vMix is emulating a webcam to a Hangout the hardware encoder is not being used.
All of that is preface to something that crossed my path today; a new NUC-based vMix appliance called Splyce from Switch Blade Systems. Splyce is a high-performance NUC that’s been modified to include a Yuan capture card.
The 4×4” NUC can accommodate one or two HD-SDI inputs via an M.2 slot. This provides a very handy, small format platform for vMix. It could be a complete vMix workstation for small productions. Acting as an HD-SDI to NDI encoder, it could be an upstream source to a larger system.
Since it’s running vMix, it could do some interesting and potentially useful things. For example, reseller US Broadcast Distribution has a YouTube video that shows an example of a Splyce being used to implement a region-of-interest function on a 4K source.
Given a 4K source, you can zoom in 4x and reposition without an loss of quality into a 1080p production. The “merge” effect in vMix delivers smooth transitional moves between the presets shots.
This possibility has been discussed a lot. It’s nice to see a real example being offered in the wild.
Small form factor computers are becoming ever more capable. I still think that my Airtop-PC has advantages over the NUCs (fanless, expandable, nVidia GPU) but I think these Splyce vMix appliances are destined to be popular. They’re certainly worth a look if you’re going to NAB in a couple of weeks.