modified on 9 May 2014 at 12:45 ••• 6,082 views

What is Raven?

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Raven is a multi-port broadcast video server, currently only available within the BBC, using Blackmagic SDI video cards.

The project was commissioned by BBC Newsgathering as a VTR replacement for their satellite trucks, but it has found many other applications.

The main advantage of Raven is its flexibility. It uses off-the-shelf consumer PC hardware, and can be configured in a variety of different ways:

  • 1-4 ports of video input/output
  • fast SSD or large SATA drives
  • rackmount case or small form factor
  • quad-core i7 processor for 4 port recording or ITX-motherboard and core i5 for mini form factor.

We recommend particular hardware combinations that have been tried and tested, but if you want to come up with your own spec, then go ahead. Make sure you test it fully before using it in for any serious use, though.


  • up to 4 ports of record/playout (SD)
  • up to 2 ports of record/playout (HD)
  • robust nuget video server (running on Ubuntu)
  • ability to connect multiple ravens to another raven acting as a storage 'ravenstore'
  • multiple record profiles available (DV25 mov/IMX30 mov/IMX30 mxf/XDCAM EX35/XDCAM EX50/DNxHD/ProRes) and more
  • many record/playback modes available (pal/ntsc/1080i50/1080i60/720p) and more
  • add items of any format together to form a playlist (drag/drop)
  • create virtual subclips for quick playout
  • create new clip from playlist contents
  • create real subclips back into the library
  • export to external media (USB Devices)
  • multi-user control using web interface
  • local GUI (just plug in a monitor)
  • automatic chunking / stop
  • auto-detection of external clips + ability for user to override all detected clip properties
  • ability to swap field-dominance on the fly
  • ability to change clip name even once you’ve started recording
  • local clip HTML5 / flash player and keyframe browser
  • inbox - drop files over the network and play direct to air
  • ability to play full-frame stills - with transitions
  • manual chunk facility
  • automatic creation of audio WAV files
  • automatically creates cut-scene detected and metronomic keyframes (every 30 seconds)
  • VITC on playback (SD only)