Workflow: Where System Cameras Really Shine

Workflow: Where System Cameras Really Shine

Published 5/15/2021

If the latest smartphones let you shoot 8K video, and new video cameras capture higher picture resolutions at ever-lower price points, why would anyone need a high-end system camera? What is a system camera anyway? And what’s its value proposition?

The short answer is workflow. System cameras go beyond exceptional video acquisition to enable an ergonomic, streamlined workflow or production chain. Unlike self-contained cameras, such as camcorders or DSLRs, system cameras essentially separate the camera from the camera control unit (CCU), which is typically situated in the production control room or mobile truck.

Besides being able to set-up, monitor, and adjust a system camera’s video settings and picture characteristics remotely from the CCU, the real beauty of this workflow is that when multiple system cameras are used simultaneously in a production, video operators can MATCH their settings and visual characteristics for a more consistent multi-cam presentation. Taking care of these technical tasks frees up camera operators to concentrate on creative tasks, such as shot composition, zoom and focus, and getting whatever shots the director may want.

These are just some of the operational benefits afforded by broadcast-class system cameras from Hitachi Kokusai. The entire Hitachi system camera line is designed to capture pristine, uncompressed picture quality and promote the most efficient acquisition workflow. Components that typically comprise Hitachi system cameras include: the lens, a small or large studio viewfinder, and the camera head that acquires the image. The camera head is attached to a cable adapter that connects to the CCU using an industry-standard camera cable, such as SMPTE Fiber, triax, or single mode fiber.

While we’ll be taking a deep dive into the wonders of SMPTE Fiber in a future blog, suffice it to say here that SMPTE Fiber carries program video and audio, return video, intercom audio, tally signals, remote control commands, and power over a single cable. This relatively lightweight cable makes it easier to move cameras around the venue because it delivers power to the cameras wherever they are in the venue, while allowing signal transmission over longer distances than triax, opticalCON, SDI or HDMI cables.

In summary, with advanced components working in a camera chain, Hitachi system cameras offer many operational benefits including the ability to:

  • Adjust camera functions like iris and shading remotely using the CCU
  • Match the look of multiple cameras for a more consistent production look
  • Free up camera operators to compose and capture the best shots, and
  • Leverage SMPTE Fiber for greater flexibility, mobility, and intercom communications

Source video quality matters. As images flow from the cameras through the production chain, any video noise or artifacts in the source signal could detract from the viewer experience, as well as diminish the content’s value. Discover how world-class system cameras from Hitachi can improve your live video acquisition workflow and, ultimately, the quality of your next TV show or stream.