Roland V-1SDI Video Switcher Solves Problems for Varvid

by Nook Schoenfeld
in Projection Connection News
The Roland V-1SDI Video Switcher (foreground), in use by Varvid as part of their AV control setup at a recent event.
The Roland V-1SDI Video Switcher (foreground), in use by Varvid as part of their AV control setup at a recent event.

LOS ANGELES — Building on his experience in the IT industry, and from aiding businesses and educational institutions with the integration of technology as a value-added reseller, Aaron Booker founded Varvid – the company name a clue to its role as a value-added reseller (“VAR-“) and provider of video services (“-vid”) for corporate, education and worship clients.

More details from Roland (http://proav.roland.com):

“For our kind of clients and for the kind of work we do, we have to be quick,” shares Booker, who also serves as Varvid’s CEO. “We frequently don’t have very much time to spend worrying about every single device matching, or for messing around with changing video resolution from 1080i 60 to 1080p 60 or 1080p 30.”

Varvid has found solutions to this dilemma by implementing gear from Roland Professional A/V.

“Our first real engagement with Roland was with the VR-50HD switcher,” reveals Booker. “We had a need for something that did a better job of accepting various inputs. We fell in love with the VR-50HD. With its audio mixer included and its video solutions, it helped us get excited about Roland.” Recently, for lower-cost installations, Varvid has implemented Roland’s V-1SDI. The four-input video switcher – which also includes a 14-channel audio mixer – features two 3G SDI inputs, a third input that can be either 3G SDI or HDMI, and a fourth input that is HDMI only, but with a built-in scaler. Booker says that varied resolutions from devices with HDMI outputs are more likely to be problematic in a production, an issue that goes away with the V-1SDI having one HDMI input that has a scaler to automatically resolve to the resolution of the other inputs. 

The footprint of the V-1SDI was also a plus. “We do a lot of work where we’re throwing stuff in carry-ons and flying places,” explains Booker. “We’ve got teams in different places in the country, but we still end up getting on a fair number of airplanes. So, the size of it was super appealing. Simplicity is the key to survival when live streaming.”

Roland’s V-1SDI has even landed a full-time job for a Varvid part-timer. “We had a guy in Boston part-time,” Booker recalls. “When the V-1SDI came along, I made the plunge and invested in a V-1SDI and a couple of cameras for him to have, rather than renting local gear or shipping in gear as things popped up. He wouldn’t have been full-time if it weren’t for the fact that I could, at a low cost but yet still highest quality, deliver a solution to clients.” A case in point – Harvard grad students who’d formed an advocacy group called The Resistance School and were planning an inaugural online event, called Varvid right after the purchase of the V-1SDI and other gear for Boston. Over 10,000 individuals signed up for the event, leaving the planners in a panic. “They reached out to us,” shares Booker. “Four days later we streamed their first event. They ended up getting tens of thousands of views on Facebook over the four-part series. Of course, they had very little money, but we were able to deliver a very cost-effective solution for them in a hurry because of the V-1SDI – it’s a perfect solution for this kind of job.”

There are four Roland V-1SDIs in Varvid’s inventory currently. “We’re putting them out in all of the cities that we serve, for basic projects,” says Booker. “For many small projects, it’s only two or three cameras plus PowerPoint, so the V-1SDI is perfect.”

Recent Varvid sessions range from the major production of a 24/7 stream for an accounting firm’s annual conference to a massive two-day Dungeons and Dragons event to last minute streaming of a ping-pong tournament in Seattle. In the latter case, shares Booker, “This is the kind of thing that pops up where, with these little low-cost solutions, we can deliver affordably but yet still maintain a 1080p 60 solution. It’s fantastic.”

Booker cites the SDI inputs on the V-1SDI as “critical” and the price point as “unbelievable.” “The V-1SDI has a physical familiarity for video professionals because it has its T-fader,” he continues. “It really hits them at their comfort level and it reduces their concern as they’re engaging with new tech. Its simplicity is my favorite thing about the switcher, along with reliability.” 

The Roland V-1SDI has recently been upgraded with a free V1.5 firmware and Mac/PC RCS control software update. These combine to offer powerful titling creation, image capture, and keying capabilities for live production, plus support for 1/3 size PinP window in addition to the 1/2 and 1/4 sizes currently available.