Multiviewer technology evolved from its origins in signage as video walls and large Jumbotron-style screens that were used in stadiums, arenas and presentations. These early displays were CRT video cubes and a variety of CRT, fluorescent and LCD technologies for the large indoor and outdoor displays. With the introduction of flat-screen technology for video and the image quality meeting acceptable standards, the displays began to appear as monitors in program origination, master control and network operation control rooms. Flat-screens became larger, and multiview technology appeared to maximize the use of the large screens and found its way into production control rooms and remote production vehicles.
There are a number of obvious benefits in using multiviewers as well as a considerable number of other not so obvious benefits. The use of multiviewer technology reduces the number of physical monitors. Using fewer screens for the same number of images reduces the power and HVAC requirements in the control rooms.
Multiviewer technology continues to evolve. It is introducing new concepts in monitoring and consolidating many features and functionalities that previously required a lot of outboard gear. The integration of audio metering, under-monitor and clock displays allow each source to have an audio meter if needed, an under-monitor display instead of white tape and multiple clock displays, which are just appearances in the multiview controller. As broadcast and production technologies become more IP-centric, multiviewers take on the additional role of monitoring the network and servers.
During the introduction of multiviewers into broadcast and production monitoring, they were separate devices and added outputs to the router and required a separate controller. This added cost, engineering, cabling and infrastructure. Still, there are considerable benefits: They occupy less space, need less power and do not generate the heat of CRT monitors. Space savings, while expanding the monitoring capability in control rooms and remote trucks, are substantial.
Using a multiviewer in a production control room or remote production truck provides the ability to have multiple configurations that are easily changed using a management dashboard in the image processor. There can be multiple profiles for different productions in a truck serving different productions needs for multiple users without having to do major repatching or rerouting.
Multiviewers are powerful tools that are now being fully integrated into routers. They are now cards in the router frame and use the same input cross points. The immediate benefit is that all of the sources on the router are available to the multiviewer without needing additional router outputs. This is a considerable cost savings in equipment and infrastructure.