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Switching It Up: Carbonite Ultra 60

Posted on Jul 20, 2023 by FEED Staff

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Ross Video’s revolutionary Carbonite Ultra 60 delivers a new class of production switcher to the industry, providing big performance in a cost-effective package

Ross Video’s Carbonite switcher was originally introduced in 2011 and is now known as the world’s most popular mid-sized production switcher. Building on the Carbonite track record and familiarity, Ross introduced the Carbonite Ultra 60 at NAB 2023. It’s designed to allow media groups looking to undertake larger, more complex productions to do so without having to spend a considerable amount on one of the largest switchers available.

The Carbonite Ultra 60 is the first modular Ross production switcher with a 3RU frame, supporting an I/O of up to 60×25 in HD or UHD. It is designed for facilities creating content for news, sports, corporate communication, education, esports and places of worship that need the power, affordability and feature set of Carbonite, though require more inputs and outputs than previously available.

“The first ever Carbonite was introduced back in 2011 – and was very much a disruptor,” asserts Nigel Spratling, vice president of production switchers and video servers at Ross. “If you wanted to produce multicam live video and required something bigger than 1ME, your only choice was to go with what we then classified as ‘big switchers’. 

“It changed the world for everyone, it’s really true. Thousands of technical directors have turned to Carbonite. Now, people’s view of a mid-sized production switcher is based on what we did with Carbonite. We are now in the fourth generation and it has done incredibly well. We’re still on this massive roll and going from strength to strength,” he declares.

New production paradigm

The Carbonite Ultra 60 platform goes beyond layering, transitioning with on-board frame syncs, format converters and multiviewers. From SD to UHD and beyond, the Ultra 60 supports most major formats and frame rates, with built-in HDR and wide colour gamut (WCG) support. It is also the first Carbonite with an internal power supply for easier installation.

“We’ve been asking for a while, what is a big switcher? What is the difference between medium and big? It used to be how many MEs it had – but we’ve now put so many in our medium-sized switchers, that argument is missing somewhat. It really comes down to the I/O count,” says Spratling.

“We’ve been thinking we should be able to change the face of the market again. So at NAB, we launched the Carbonite Ultra 60, the first we’ve ever designed to be modular. Other Carbonites are fixed-function in terms of I/O count and so on.”

Spratling observes that, in the live OB production business, especially in Europe, many companies rely heavily on freelance vision-mixing operators who develop a familiarity with certain switchers and brands over time. “The interesting thing about Carbonite is, unlike other flavours of big switcher, nearly every operator in the world is now familiar with it; they have used it, everybody knows Carbonite. 

“We knew, if we could come up with a Carbonite that accommodates the requirements of the big switchers, the availability of operations staff is now there. Carbonite Ultra 60 is good for OB vehicles, and probably at least half the price of the least expensive big switcher you could buy before,” he explains.

“For somebody who is thinking of replacing a large production switcher right now, in their minds, the choices are only big switchers because of the I/O requirements. This is 60 inputs, but it’s modular, so it could be lower if you wanted – 36 inputs for example. Beyond that, though, what we have actually put inside has got so much room to grow.

“Carbonite Ultra 60 works under automation – it’s part of the Ross solution, based on a software-defined hardware platform, with managed graphics and all the elements we’re famous for these days. I personally think it really changes the paradigm of how you manage a big production – and what it’s going to cost you to do it,” concludes Spratling.

“What we’re trying to do is give our customers the choices they want. As far as we’re concerned, success is all about providing choice. If we’ve got the option for you to single out that works for you – achieving your goals within your budget – then we don’t care which one it is, as long as it is a Ross product.” 

Originally published in the Summer 2023 issue of FEED.

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