I was out all day yesterday learning how to use a Hippotizer. It’s a machine/software combination used to control video displays at concerts, plays, TV events etc. It allows you to place filters on the video, combine sources, and route them to different displays including LED boards.
It’s an impressively clever bit of technology, but what struck me most is that almost all of the clever is hidden. The app has very few arbitrary limits on it; a lot of software stops you doing certain things for perfectly good technical reasons, but from the user’s point of view there’s no obvious reason why not. The Hippotizer doesn’t really have that; it works with a certain number of inputs and outputs, but apart from that if you can think of a way to manipulate the tools it provides it will probably let you.
The second key feature is the amount of work it can do. Recent versions can handle multiple HD feeds, applying filters to each one and to the master output. That’s a huge amount of data to be slinging around, yet it manages it while keeping lag down to just one or 2 frames (they’re currently working on a feature that isn’t yet fast enough, because it lags by 5 frames, or around 1/5th of a second – too slow). And if that’s not enough, you can network multiple units together.
Oh, in case you’re wondering, I’m not on commission.