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AV Interview: George Birchall, Epiphan

Epiphan’s Vice President of Marketing, George Birchall, introduces Pearl Nexus and how Epiphan’s approach to producing reliable hardware video capture and streaming solutions is paying dividends.

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28 June 2024

Interview:/ Christopher Holder

Epiphan is a video capture and streaming pioneer. It has established itself as a reliable provider of high-quality video technology. The International Space Station was an impressive (if niche!) client to have in Epiphan’s early days, while now its hardware can be found in thousands of lecture halls, courtrooms, conference centres, streaming studios and more. We had the opportunity to sit down with George Birchall, Vice President of Marketing at Epiphan, to discuss the company’s journey, the recent release of their new Pearl Nexus, and the evolving landscape of video capture technology.

EPIPHAN’S EPIPHANY

AV: We’re here primarily to talk about the new Pearl Nexus release. But let’s start with the Epiphan origin story so we can understand where Nexus came from.

George Birchall: We have roots in the development of mission-critical video capture equipment. You’ll our capture cards aboard the International Space Station, used for capturing video in space. We’ve also supplied capture equipment for underwater exploration in the Arctic, in industrial wind tunnels, and other harsh environments where people care about capturing video and ensuring they never miss a frame.

For the last few years, we’ve transitioned more into more traditional AV spaces, such as education – the University of Western Sydney, for example – and conference centres around Australia, such as the Melbourne Convention Centre. We focus on capturing, recording, and streaming video, and we do all those things very well. That’s our bread and butter.

THE LONG HAUL

AV: What stands out to me with Epiphan is the longevity of its products. There are plenty of 10 year old Pearl 2s still going hard and Epiphan regularly supports legacy product with firmware updates.

George Birchall: Right. When you’re in the business of marketing and selling products, you don’t necessarily want them to last forever, but support of product does make for happy customers. Our Pearl product is designed to run every day, all day. We sometimes check the logs, and we find devices that have been turned on for a year and a half without losing power. That’s the reliability our customers expect. So, yes, we have devices in the field that last five, seven, even ten years. The same goes for our capture cards. We’ve tested their durability in various extreme conditions to show customers that we make things that last.

CURRENT FOCUS

AV: How would you describe the current market focus for Epiphan?

George Birchall: Most of the places we are now focus less on mission-critical video capture, though it’s still important. We focus on environments where people want an automated video capture experience. Think of a lecture hall where a faculty member wants to record and stream content without worrying about the technology. They want a system that just work. We cater to these needs with automated hardware that operates seamlessly, usually interfacing with cloud services and management tools. We consider both the end-users in the rooms creating content and the administrators managing the equipment behind the scenes. We want them to have an outstanding experience without having to worry about technology.

ENTER PEARL NEXUS

AV: Nexus is the newest addition to the Pearl range. It clearly differentiates itself, even by its looks – it’s a rackmount product. Can you tell us more about what led to the development of Nexus?

George Birchall: The Pearl family includes Pearl 2, Pearl Nano, Pearl Mini, and now Pearl Nexus. They all share similar traits: capturing video from various inputs – SDI, HDMI, USB, networked cameras like NDI – and professional audio via XLR inputs. Pearl Nexus is designed for environments like lecture capture, court systems, municipal governments, and convention centres. It connects all equipment in a space and then distributes the content wherever needed, such as CMS platforms like Panopto or Kaltura, or streaming services like Teams or Zoom. Think of Nexus acting like a switchboard operator, ensuring everything runs smoothly.

CHANGING LANDSCAPE

AV: Covid changed everything for many people. It felt like Epiphan was a winner out of Covid. Did it change your business?

George Birchall: It’s true that many organisations doing <some> video suddenly needed to do a lot more. Institutions like churches and schools realised they had to choose video or bust. The demand for video capture keeps skyrocketing because video’s value is increasing. AI capabilities now allow for editing and extracting valuable content from videos, making video recording more essential than ever.

AV: You mention AI. Are there other opportunities on the horizon for Epiphan?

George Birchall: Absolutely. We see expanding markets for video capture everywhere, from amateur sports clubs to community libraries offering production studios. Video is becoming more democratised. Unique sports and activities are being streamed professionally, creating niche markets. Video applications are endless, and the demand continues to grow.

Epiphan: epiphan.com
AP Technologies: aptech.com.au

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The demand for video capture keeps skyrocketing because video’s value is increasing

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