The Blackmagic Design Smart Videohub is an ultraportable professional video routing system that’s extremely easy to use.
The Smart Videohub is a 1-rack U-sized 16-input 16-output video routing system that allows you to assign any inputted signal to any outputted connection with the push of a button.
The 16 SDI inputs are all up to 3GB HD capable and auto-switches between SD, HD and 3GB content making it truly format independent. Simply attach your pro camera into the input and assign that input to any of the 16 SDI output connections. It will be as if you attached the camera directly to your destination.
Unlike its sibling compact Videohub, one special feature unique to the Smart Videohub is the physical buttons on the front of the panel that allow you to assign inputs to outputs without the need of an additional control surface. Simply select the output you wish to assign, then select the input you want to assign to it, illuminating both. You can easily remove the button caps to place a label underneath them as well.
For those who want to use a remote device, you can attach a computer via USB to the Videohub and control the signal assignments from the included desktop app. The Videohub also can attach to your local network, providing even more remote control of the device via the free iPad or desktop apps. You can easily leave this router inside your central control room and use an iPad down on the set to control signal assignments.
Finally, the Smart Videohub also includes an input for gen-lock signals if your studio uses them to sync your cameras and a serial port for linking to VTR decks.
Who is this useful for?
In the professional video world, there usually will be a number of different video sources placed all over the studio and control rooms from different cameras and playback devices. In addition to that, there usually will be a number of different receiving devices, such as video switchers, video processors, and recording devices. Normally, to switch inputs and outputs around, an engineer would have to go in and physically rearrange cable connections from one setup to another.
This is obviously time consuming and risks damaging connections on equipment. In order to have maximum flexibility in configuration, you need some kind of routing system in place, which is where the Blackmagic Design Videohubs come into play.
Using remote apps, you can reconfigure your entire video pathway without ever needing to disconnect a single cable, saving time and headache. As an added bonus, assigning the same input to multiple outputs acts as a video splitter/clone device, allowing you to send the same feed to multiple devices or displays as needed.
The Smart Videohub itself is special as well in that it includes both the connections and the control interface all in one while fitting in a single 1U space. It excels in ultra portable and mobile setups where every inch of space comes at a premium.
Here at Geek Beat, we use the Smart Videohub as our central patch system which controls how all of our studio cameras and Skype machines feed into our Tricaster. One day, we may want all 5 cameras plus a laptop feeding into the Tricaster. The next day we may just have a 4-way Skype call. With the Smart Videohub, changing out the inputs is just a matter of pushing buttons.
There is one benefit, though, of going with the sibling Videohub Micro ($1420) and a separate Videohub Smart Control Panel ($495). The Videohub Smart Control Panel allows for more control assignments, macros, and an assignable preview/take system. The integrated Smart Videohub on the other hand merely allows you to live patch inputs and outputs. Having Macros would make it much easier to mass change out setups as a single push of a button.
At $1895 retail, the Smart Videohub is a pricey product, but the utility is unquestioned, and it’s downright affordable when you consider the cost of equipment in the professional space. If you are looking for an entry-level professional video router or are building a compact system where space is at a premium, the Smart Videohub is a good way to go.
You can find the Smart Videohub at various production gear retailers.