You may have seen Skype used for interviews on cable or local news channels. I see it used regularly on the small One America News Network (OANN) for live interviews, with the "SKYPE" logo plastered large on the screen.
While the interview subject may be using the version you have installed on your PC, OANN and other cable news outlets use something very different, something called Skype TX. Skype TX is a "studio-grade" version of the software made for broadcasters to host guests and is integrated with their cable television infrastructure.
Microsoft launched Skype TX two years ago and is now up to version 4. Microsoft said it got feedback from broadcasters in nearly 100 markets around the world, and it based the new version on their feedback.
Version 4 is more flexible and scalable than its predecessor, so more studio-grade Skype video calls can be integrated into the broadcasting workflow. With only one system required for multiple calls, broadcasters need less equipment and setup time, therefore reducing the overall cost and control room footprint.
The new version's bespoke controller software allows up to 14 units to be controlled from a single interface and can integrate those users right into a show, so they appear on screen as though a professional camera crew with a broadcast studio or truck were present.
New hardware from Skype partners
Three Skype partners also announced new hardware:
NewTek announced TalkShow VS 4000, a multi-channel video-calling system designed exclusively for conducting multiple live, production-ready Skype video calls simultaneously. It's a facility-class, 1RU rack-mountable hardware unit with 4-in, 4-out industry-standard I/O for integration into SDI workflows and IP video workflows via NDI.
Quicklink announced the TX Multi, which also converts multiple Skype calls into studio-grade quality video/audio transmissions. Quicklink TX Multi covers HDMI, SDI and analog video and audio I/O. Audio and video quality is optimized for Bondio, Quicklink's networking software. It offers very low latency for instantaneous 2-way video/audio contributions and supports the AES67 broadcast standard. It also has real-time server hardware monitoring and an alert system.
Riedel announced the STX-200, which runs the Skype TX software and is fully compatible with standard free Skype clients. It's a 1RU unit with HD and SDI outputs, AES67 support, GPI in/output and Genlock input.
Microsoft, NewTek and Quicklink will be showing off the latest TX 4 offerings at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas April 18 to 21.