Telestream Switch 5 Pro test: comprehensive quality control software

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Telestream’s quality control (QC) and transcoding application has been upgraded to version 5. It is compatible with Mac M1 (Rosetta), has improved performance and reduced frame decoding, playback ProRes RAW, reading IMF / DCP package and more. Switch Pro allows you to play a variety of web and professional media formats, inspect and adjust file properties, and export or overwrite to a new file.

Telestream is well known for its automated broadcast quality control solutions such as Aurora and Vidchecker, with which Switch Pro integrates and is the link between automatic quality control results and the eyes of operators. The application is available in three versions: Player, Plus and Pro. To get the full range of quality control and editing features, you will need the Pro version, which is covered by this review.

Switch 5 Pro gives you precise playback of all your media and lets you see detailed information about it including metadata (e.g. AS11 with UK DPP, AS03 and others metadata), bitrate, gasoline video and codec, audio channels, speaker assignments, and sound levels. You can also compare multiple files in one window and play and convert Windows Media content on your Mac because Switch is a fully licensed Windows Media player (all three versions).

Controls with Switch 5 Pro

Switch Pro offers multi-format playback support including MXF, IMF, GXF, MPEG-2 Program Streams and Transport Streams, as well as formats like MOV, MP4, WMV, etc. It can also play HEVC and 4K, DNxHD and JPEG2000 files (requires Plus or Pro). I tested Switch alone, but it also allows full team collaboration, for example to set up chapters, comments, etc. (Plus only lets you see what Pro users have done).

The switch allows visual inspection of files on screen or via HDMI / SDI (Blackmagic Design and AJA devices supported) on an external monitor and allows you to compare / contrast multiple files at the same time. With previous versions, especially on slow Macs, the split view comparison feature was frustrating to use on 2K or higher footage with lots of dropped frames. This has been improved because all versions of Switch 5 natively support Metal on macOS and Nvidia QuickSync on Windows for significantly better playback performance. In addition, you can now configure reduced frame decoding which makes playback of 4K / UHD files smoother. On both Windows and Mac, you can also index the file from cleaning points, further improving playback on low-end systems like mine.

When I say “considerably better”, that means on my 27-inch iMac mid-2017 with only a 4GB Radeon Pro 570 on board, I can now play two 4K files simultaneously in split or alternate view at full frame rate without jerks or dropouts. . The split view is very demanding on the Mac’s resources, but it’s a must if you want, for example, to compare the same footage with different colors side by side.

It wasn’t until I loaded RED 8K files that Switch started to fall apart. To test 4K + footage, I uploaded sample 6K files from RED’s website and these worked fine. Even an 8K movie from a RED Epic first converted to ProRes 4444QX played, but on my system as expected many frames were deleted.

In the Viewer, you’ll be able to check and monitor the clip’s GOP structure, data rate, and metrics you’ve entered and changed, all in a combined, switchable “Timeline” running under the actual footage. Overlaid on the image, you can display gutters and indicators that show the frame rate and number of frames lost while playing the clip, as well as some image metadata.

Video properties or metadata that you can check include format, bit rate, downsampling, color space, aspect ratio, Clean Aperture (the region of the video free of transition artifacts caused by signal encoding) and more. Audio quality can also be checked, including parameters such as channels, speaker labels, format, and sample rate. The app has professional audio level meters with volume monitoring (momentary and short-term average volume, built-in volume and volume range) and supports up to 64 tracks.

The Pro version also plays subtitles, including CEA-608 and CEA-708 (the latter including advanced features only 708 like support for Unicode characters), as well as SCC, DVB, TTML (iTT and SMPTE- TT) and WebVTT, SRT, STL and Lambda CAP subtitle files to verify timing and accuracy.

With the Pro version, you can export a file in different ways. For example, if you want to publish as a Telestream Intermediate Format (TIFO) or MPEG-2 TS file, you can change several settings from the File tab. The video tab supports transcoding in H.264 (smartphone, tablet, Blu-Ray…), H.262 (DVD, XDCAM EX…), ProRes (up to 4444) and WMF (Video 9 and Video 9 Adv), all limited to a maximum resolution of 1080p with the exception of ProRes.

You can also change the color space with separate settings for primary colors, matrix coefficients and characteristics and transfer range (Studio, Full or SLog) and language of the video. You can set a crop, resize to any ratio relevant to the output format, set a clean aperture, and change the pixel aspect ratio and display size.

Switching the video portion and changing only audio settings (or vice versa), including language, codec, Dolby-E passthrough via SDI, etc. are all supported. You can even completely omit video or audio. Subtitle manipulation is also supported.

Finally, you can trim clips and set chapter markers and flags, although the latter are of limited use as they will only be included when you export as an iTunes package. Chapter markers defined in your NLE are not supported, which is disappointing but understandable as each NLE has its own chapter “format”.

Is Switch Pro Worth It?

Switch Pro is a tool for editors, post-production professionals, and broadcast and media quality control professionals, priced at $ 999; peanuts for a broadcasting company but expensive enough for a small operation. The price includes one year of Premium Support (renewable annually for $ 110).

Whereas it has a rich set of tools, the power and flexibility to quickly export files to wrapper / codec combinations for broadcast, streaming and cinema, and even for further editing in NLE which process ProRes up to 4444, and compared to the cost of the files being rejected due to compliance issues, I think it’s worth every penny.

There’s also Switch Plus, which is probably powerful enough for editors and post-production pros (check out the comparison chart on Telestream’s site). Switch Plus is cheaper at $ 699 but lacks ProRes RAW and DCP / IMF decoding / playback, comparison views, and more.

Learn more on the Telestream website.


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