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Title:
CONTROL PANEL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2008/125443
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A control panel for use in a network comprises a plurality of video signal processing mainframes and bears a plurality of hardware user interface elements for specifying operating parameters of said mainframes. An operating software of a processor of the control panel which enables the controller to transmit instructions for setting operating parameters of the mainframes as specified by a user at one of said hardware user interface elements is divided into a software framework for communication between the processor and said hardware user interface elements and a plurality of plug-in modules specific to a given type of mainframe for enabling communication between the processor and a mainframe of said given type.

Inventors:
FOEDROWITZ, Andreas (Georg-Storm-Strasse 19, Weiterstadt, 64331, DE)
Application Number:
EP2008/053543
Publication Date:
October 23, 2008
Filing Date:
March 26, 2008
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
THOMSON LICENSING (46 Quai A. le Gallo, Boulogne-billancourt, F-92100, FR)
FOEDROWITZ, Andreas (Georg-Storm-Strasse 19, Weiterstadt, 64331, DE)
International Classes:
H04N5/265; H04H60/04; H04H60/05; H04H7/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2000060852A1
WO2004088978A1
Foreign References:
EP1580910A2
US20040152951A1
Other References:
ROSS VIDEO LIMITED: "Dashboard Software User Manual" [Online] 26 April 2007 (2007-04-26), ROSS VIDEO LIMITED , CANADA , XP002489265 Retrieved from the Internet: URL:http://www.algolith.com/fileadmin/user_upload/User_Manual/8351DR-004_DashBoard_User_Manual_Issue01.pdf> [retrieved on 2008-07-21] the whole document
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LINDEMANN, Robert (Deutsche Thomson OHG, European Patent OperationsKarl-Wiechert-Allee 74, Hannover, 30625, DE)
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Claims:

Claims

1. A control panel for use in a network comprising a plurality of video signal processing mainframes, the control panel bearing a plurality of hardware user interface elements for specifying operating parameters of said mainframes, characterized in that an operating software of a processor of the control panel which enables the controller to transmit instructions for setting operating parameters of the mainframes as specified by a user at one of said hardware user interface elements is divided into a software framework for communication between the processor and said hardware user interface elements and a plurality of plug-in modules specific to a given type of mainframe for enabling communication between the processor and a mainframe of said given type.

2. The control panel of claim 1, wherein the plug-in modules are designed as stand-alone software programs .

3. The control panel of claim 1, wherein the plug-in modules are designed as dynamically loadable libraries .

4. The control panel of any of the preceding claims, wherein the plug-in modules have a common bidirectional interface to the framework.

5. A network comprising the control panel of any of the preceding claims and a plurality of mainframes, at least one of which is a source of a video signal, wherein the control panel is adapted to transmit instructions directly to said signal source .

Description:

Control Panel

This invention relates to a control panel (CP) to control video processing devices (mainframes) in a video production studio and to a network comprising such a CP and associated mainframes.

CPs in a video production studio environment usually control a single mainframe, such a mixer, or multiple mainframes of the same type or kind. Controlling of other devices, in particular of sources providing a video signal to the mainframe, is done through the mainframe, with the mainframe knowing the functionality of these other devices.

More specifically, conventional. CPs are tailored for a specific type of mixer and are adapted to communicate only with this specific type. Instructions from the CP which are to be carried out by other devices, e.g. by signal sources such as disk, cassette or tape recorders, have to be addressed to the mixer which "translates" them into a form which is understood by the signal source.

Accordingly, in a studio environment where different types of mixers are used, CPs have to be provided for each type of mixer. Studio operators are therefore reluctant to use new types of mixers, fearing interoperability problems with existing ones and overloading a studio workplace with many CPs, not all of which can or need be handled at the same time.

The object of the invention is to provide a CP which is more versatile than existing ones and a network in which such a CP may cooperate with a plurality of mainframes.

The object is achieved by a control panel, also referred to in the following as a multi-mainframe control panel (MMCP) , for use in a network comprising a plurality of video signal processing mainframes, the control panel bearing a plurality of hardware user interface elements for specifying operating parameters of said mainframes, characterized in that an operating software of a processor of the control panel which enables the controller to transmit instructions for setting operating parameters of the mainframes as specified by a user at one of said hardware user interface elements is divided into a software framework for communication between the processor and said hardware user interface elements and a plurality of plug-in modules specific to a given type of mainframe for enabling communication between the processor and a mainframe of said given type.

The Multi Mainframe CP (MMCP) can control any kind of mainframes, even if the mainframes are completely unrelated to each other in means of type and functionality. The MMCP framework itself does not know anything about the mainframes' types and functionality.

The software in the MMCP provides a framework for plug- ins that control the different types of mainframes. The plug-ins are either implemented as stand-alone programs or dynamically loadable libraries (DLLs) , with a standard bidirectional interface to the MMCP framework. The MMCP

hardware has interfaces (Ethernet, RS242/422, Firewire, USB, ...) to the mainframes that can be used by the plug- ins to control the mainframes.

The MMCP can easily be extended to control new types of mainframes. Adding new plug-ins does not require the framework to be changed. Controlling multiple mainframes from a single CP will save space, will provide a common look and feel and will have related functions in close reach.

Fig. 1 is a block diagram of a network comprising a control panel 5 and a plurality of mixers 7 and signal sources 1, 2 (also referred to as mainframes 1, 2, 7) according to an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 2 is a block diagram of the operating software executed by a control processor of the control panel.

The control panel 5 has a board with a plurality of hardware user interface elements (widgets) 3, 6, 9 arranged on it. The widgets comprise buttons, turning knobs, linear displaceable handles etc. for processing video signals. Those widgets which have a user movable portion such as a handle, whose position is indicative of the value of an operating parameter, comprise a motor controlled by a control processor 8. The functions of the widgets, i.e. the effects their operation by a user can have on a television signal output from one of the mixers, being conventional, need not be enumerated here.

An overwiew of an operating software of control processor 8 is given in Fig.2.

A framework portion 11 communicates with the various widgets, i.e. provides input data representative of an operating parameter specified by a user by operating (pressing, turning, displacing) the widget, and feeds back to any given widget the operating parameter value as actually set in the mainframe associated to that widget, provided that the widget is adapted to display such a feedback to the user. The feedback may be displayed by e.g. lighting a lamp associated to a key-type widget, by controlling a motor associated to a knob-type widget (such as 9) or a slide controller type widget (such as 6) in order to place a tip of the knob or a handle of the slide controller in a position representative of the parameter value.

The framework provides slots for plug-ins 12, 13, 14. Each plug-in 12, 13, 14 controls a different type of mainframe 1, 2 or 7, for each mainframe to be controlled an instance of a plug-in is created. The interface between the framework 11 and the plug-ins 12, 13, 14 is standardized and bi-directional :

• MMCP ^ Plug-in : CP events like button pushes, knob turns or other predefined control sequences are sent to the plug-in, the plug-in in turn will convert these events into the native language/protocol of the mainframe associated to it and then send the resulting commands to said mainframe.

• Plug-in ^ CP : Commands retrieved from the

mainframe in the mainframe's native language/protocol are processed and turned into commands for the framework to provide feedback to the user as described above, by setting lamps or writing into a display 4. These commands are sent to the CP framework 11.

A set of user-changeable configuration files specify which widget (button, knob, ...) in the CP is associated with which instance of a plug-in and what function or function type is to be executed, i.e. which operating parameter of which mainframe is controlled by a given widget. A further software module 14 enables a user to edit these configuration files, so that he may assign operating parameters to the widgets individually or by groups, thus adapting the CP to his needs and wishes.

The invention is applicable to any kind of CP that has a "generic" layout (common types of controls like buttons, knobs, faders) and that is used to control a set of mainframes that are all used within the same production process (e.g. a video live production).