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On-campus and on-line, more and more educational facilities are using Hitachi cameras to teach and communicate every day. From distance learning to college sports venues, Hitachi cameras have been playing a major role in equipping today’s schools for tomorrow’s learning environment. Hitachi’s DK box cameras with PTZ are used everywhere from classrooms to courtrooms. From our cost-effective Z-HD production cameras to UHD/4K broadcast cameras, we are used extensively for teaching TV production and college sports acquisition.
The TV and Video Communications department at California’s Santa Ana College (SAC) strives to maintain and develop comprehensive curricula that provide current, innovative undergraduate and career training in the practice and theory of media production. Looking to modernize and future-proof the video acquisition capabilities in its studios last year, the department purchased six SK-UHD4000 Ultra HD cameras from Hitachi Kokusai to give the school a competitive edge and offer students practical experience on state-of-the-art, industry-standard equipment.
Established in 1915 and now serving over 29,000 credit and non-credit students per semester, SAC has evolved into one of the most energetic and fastest-growing comprehensive community colleges in the nation. Its Digital Media Center – a facility of both SAC and its college district – houses one of the largest TV and video production studios in the community college system.
When department chair Michael Taylor joined SAC in 2015, it was immediately clear that buying new cameras would be a high priority. “When I came into the program, they were using very old SD cameras for studio production,” he recalled. “Everything starts with the camera, so I knew replacing them would be one of the first decisions we needed to make in terms of raising some grant money and elevating the standard inside our facility.”
While the school’s studios would work in HD in the near term, the department was interested in 4K cameras to future-proof their programs. “We wanted to avoid needing to make another camera purchase in four or five years,” Taylor explained. “By going with cameras that could do both HD and 4K, we could be ready to basically flip a switch and move to a 4K production model when we upgrade the rest of the studio environment to 4K. We plan to do that when the overall television industry has greater adoption of 4K, since we’re preparing our students for careers in that field. ”
The department invited major camera suppliers to demonstrate their offerings in SAC’s studio. “Hitachi Kokusai stood out by offering a camera that was both 1080p and 4K-capable at an attractive price point,” said Taylor. “We saw the imagery that the Hitachi cameras could produce and what they were capable of doing in our environment, and it became a very simple choice for us.”
The Hitachi cameras’ ability to integrate with Ross Dashboard was also compelling, as the department had plans – which they have recently implemented – to deploy the open control and monitoring platform to complement its existing Ross Carbonite switcher.
Students now use the SK-UHD4000 cameras to produce weekly newscasts and talk shows, as well as in dedicated studio production classes. In addition to providing hands-on production education that will benefit the students when they enter the job market, these programs are shown on YouTube and the City of Santa Ana’s public access channel CTV3 – thus helping the department promote its curriculum and the college.
While learning studio production on the SK-UHD4000s provides valuable experience for students, the cameras also bring benefits to the college itself. “We love that our students will be able to go lock step into their first job having worked on state-of-the-art, industry-standard cameras,” explained Taylor. “The Hitachi cameras have also helped our school, as we can offer exceptional experiential learning at a community college price point. People see that this is a competitive program that is well-equipped to get them ready for their careers. And for us as a department, we are really enjoying the fact that we are creating fantastic images and productions with these cameras.”
The Department of Communication at Austin-Peay State University (APSU) is proud to offer students real-world, hands-on experience in a full array of television and sports broadcasting disciplines. Building on positive experience with cameras from Hitachi Kokusai in the university’s athletic arenas, the department has expanded its use of six Hitachi cameras into its instructional television studio by purchasing three more Z-HD5000s.
Located just 45 minutes from Nashville, APSU Television (APSU-TV) operates 24 hours per day and features student-produced news, public affairs, sports and special event programming. The APSU Department of Communication also offers the only Sports Broadcasting major in the state of Tennessee, providing students with live production experience on APSU football and basketball broadcasts, as well as video scoreboard productions.
While APSU-produced programming can be seen on outlets ranging from the campus cable channel to the EPSN+ streaming service, the department’s primary focus is on the educational experience. “Even though our department does productions, they are all embedded within our curriculum,” said Kathy Lee Heuston, professor and interim chair, Department of Communication at APSU. “Even our sports broadcasts are part of the curriculum. We properly train the students, and then they apply those skills on actual productions.”
That emphasis on experiential learning was core to the university’s earlier purchase of six Z-HD5000s from Hitachi Kokusai for its basketball and football venues, the Dunn Center and Fortera Stadium. “Our objective was to have a professional camera to teach the students on, so they would be prepared when they went out into the real world,” said Lee Heuston. “The Z-HD5000 met all of the requirements while best fitting the budget, making it the first time the department was able to purchase professional-level cameras.” When it came time to upgrade the department’s educational television studio, the Hitachi cameras were again a natural fit. “Our previous studio cameras were not professional-grade and were due for replacement, so we needed to upgrade to make everything function the way we wanted,” explained Lee Heuston. “Adding more Z-HD5000s gave us consistency, so once the students learn how to use them in the studio, they’re immediately able to use them in our other venues.”
“While streaming Ohio Valley Conference games on EPSN+ was not a consideration when we bought the Hitachi cameras, it was a huge benefit when we started with ESPN+ that we already had cameras that met ESPN standards,” added Steve Sawyer, video production coordinator at APSU.
While the three new Z-HD5000s are deployed in fixed positions in the studio, the arena cameras are deployed in various combinations of tripod-based, ladder-mount and handheld operation depending on the sport. Sawyer highlights the cameras’ durability as particularly valuable for the rigors of their athletic productions. “The Z-HD5000s are very rugged,” he said. “We’re constantly setting up and tearing down the cameras and moving them across campus. We’ve had absolutely no problems – they’re like tanks.”
Last but certainly not least, Sawyer compliments the intuitive nature of the Z-HD5000s as well-suited to their educational goals. “The Hitachi cameras are very easy to teach,” he said. “Everything is very well-placed in the layout of the controls.”
The department of Mass Media’s ‘TV & Film’ program offers an intensive, hands-on curriculum in which students work on a wide variety of programming that is broadcast on local television affiliates, streamed live on ESPN+ and entered into the university’s annual film festival. When the department needed to upgrade its cameras for Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) sports streaming and other television productions, it purchased four Z-HD5000 HDTV cameras from Hitachi Kokusai to meet its studio and remote video acquisition needs.
Within the university’s Holland College of Arts and Media, the department of Mass Media’s TV & Film students gain in-depth experience in all aspects of television production while working on news, cultural arts, public affairs and promotional programming. This student-produced content is broadcast as ‘SETV’ on the local CBS/CW and FOX affiliates in the 83rd DMA. Students also work as crew members to produce and stream over 100 OVC sporting events featuring the Southeast Missouri Redhawks each year on EPSN+, giving them valuable experience in the unforgiving, ‘make-no-mistakes’ world of live, multi-camera production. Quickly outgrowing the initial equipment it used to stream OVC sports, the department looked for new cameras that could be used across all facets of its program.
“When the OVC made it a requirement to stream sporting events, each school received a production pack with starter-level equipment including cameras,” explained Dr. Jim Dufek, professor, operations manager and SETV director in the department of Mass Media at Southeast Missouri State University. “After running into a variety of problems and limitations with it, we elected to purchase our own equipment that we could use for the Mass Media program as well as OVC sports coverage.”
The department now uses a combination of cameras from Hitachi and another vendor, with students getting their first training on other cameras before migrating up to the Z-HD5000s. “We looked at several cameras at the NAB Show, and at the recommendation of our trusted reseller Modern Communications in St. Louis, we chose the HITACHI cameras based on their quality, affordability and reputation of the brand,” said Dufek. “We chose the Z-HD5000s to match the local CBS affiliate’s in-studio cameras, enabling us to produce programs of the same quality while giving our students experience on the cameras that would help them make an easy transition into employment at the station.”
The Z-HD5000 cameras are deployed on Vinten pedestals for in-studio productions and Libec tripods in the field, and are used in conjunction with Marshall monitors and NewTek TriCaster switching and graphics systems. While each camera is equipped with a remote control unit for shading, Dufek notes that the remotes are rarely used in their studio setting “because once the cameras are set, they’re perfect.”
Comparing the results from the Z-HD5000s to those from the department’s previous cameras, Dufek highlights the new image quality as superior. “The HITACHI cameras have elevated the quality of our productions,” he said. “In a way, it’s both a blessing and a curse – the cameras capture everything, but that includes bad make-up, dandruff, and dings or nicks in the props. The students need to pay closer attention to detail, and their overall product looks better.”
The university had used older analog HITACHI cameras in the past, and the department’s experience with its latest purchase has continued its satisfaction with the brand. “The Z-HD5000 is a dependable, reliable and affordable product that provides excellent quality for all of our programming needs,” Dufek summarized.
Binghamton University Men’s Basketball Vs. University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at Dr. Bai Lee Court at the Events Center. Marlon Beck scoring his career 1000th point.
When the athletics department at New York’s Binghamton University seized the opportunity to stream 30 of its men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball games over ESPN3 – the online streaming service of sports television leader ESPN – it deployed four Z-HD5000 cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to provide the high-quality video acquisition required by the network.
Formally known as the State University of New York at Binghamton, the school is ranked among the elite public universities in the country, and offers students a broad, interdisciplinary education with an international perspective and one of the most vibrant research programs in the nation. The university’s Binghamton Bearcats teams compete across a wide range of sports in the NCAA’s America East Conference.
With an agreement between the America East Conference and ESPN bringing live streams of all of the university’s basketball matches to the online service, the athletics department needed to upgrade its production capabilities to meet ESPN3’s guidelines. “Our existing equipment wasn’t up to the task,” said Dave Van Gorder, video production and multimedia coordinator for Binghamton University Athletics. “We needed to create broadcast-quality video, and our earlier cameras were not capable of that. The HITACHI cameras are a huge step up from what we had previously, and the difference has been definitely visible in our productions.”
Two of the Z-HD5000s are deployed on tripods in high-center positions at the Binghamton University Events Center, providing a wide ‘game shot’ and a tight ‘hero shot’. The other two cameras are used in shoulder-mount ENG configurations on the arena floor, most commonly with one below each basket.
“Upgrading to HITACHI cameras freed us from the HDMI connectivity of our old units, which limited where we could locate them and precluded on-floor shots,” said Van Gorder. “Now we have the flexibility to move the cameras around during games, such as taking the floor cameras to mid-court for announcer stand-ups during breaks.”
In addition to ESPN3, live streams of the games are also available on the America East Conference website (www.AmericaEast.tv) for international viewers – an important audience given that the university’s teams include players from all over the world. The live feed and replays are also displayed on the arena’s 14 foot wide video board, enhancing the in-venue fan experience, while archived footage and highlights are distributed to coaches, the conference office, and the school’s social media channels.
With the cameras typically operated by student volunteers, the Z-HD5000’s ease of use has proven very beneficial. “The HITACHI cameras have enabled student operators to get great shots with just minimal instruction,” explained Van Gorder. “We’ve had more than 20 students using them over the course of the season. While we try to provide training in advance, sometimes students have had less than an hour before game time to familiarize themselves with the cameras, yet we still got good results.”
Beyond their operational simplicity, the cameras have also proven quick and straightforward to deploy for each game. “It’s really easy to put everything together, configure them and set them up,” said Van Gorder. “I can have all four cameras set up and ready to go in under an hour.”
The two fixed-position cameras are equipped with VF-701HD 7” color LCD studio viewfinders and mounted on Miller tripods, while the roving units are paired with VF-402 black-and-white ENG viewfinders. All four cameras are outfitted with Fujinon XA20sx8.5BERM lenses with 2x zoom extenders, and are linked to TU-HD1000 camera control units (CCUs) and RU-1000VR remote panels in the facility’s control room.
Building upon the success of their basketball streams, Binghamton University plans to expand their streaming coverage in the fall to include soccer matches originating from the Bearcats Sports Complex, as well as wrestling.
“The Z-HD5000s have been great tools for us, and as a department we are very pleased with the results,” summarized Van Gorder. “The cameras are just part of creating the final packages that are our ESPN3 broadcasts, but it’s meant a lot to our department that we can now put out such high quality productions, and ultimately that starts with the HITACHI cameras.”
BYU-Hawaii student Christopher Johnson operates one of the school’s HITACHI SK-UHD4000 UHD cameras.
Taking its first step towards a 4K production future, Brigham Young University-Hawaii (BYU-Hawaii) has purchased four SK-UHD4000 ultra high definition (UHD) studio and field cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to provide superior-quality video acquisition for its diverse projects and long-term content archives. Situated on the island of Oahu in Laie, Hawaii, BYU-Hawaii hosts approximately 2,500 undergraduate students who represent over 70 different countries and cultures. At BYU-Hawaii’s Media Production Center (MPC), staff and students produce programming for use both within and beyond the 100-acre campus. Internal productions range from recruiting videos to the live, campus-wide broadcast of the university’s weekly devotional on topics relevant to the LDS Church. Original programs including educational shows, documentaries and live BYU-Hawaii Seasider volleyball and basketball games are broadcast on BYU Television, reaching more than 53 million U.S. households via cable and satellite, plus a global audience through its website, Roku channel and mobile apps.
With BYU-Hawaii’s six-year-old HD cameras due for replacement in the university’s equipment cycle, they turned to the added resolution of 4K Ultra HD to future-proof their content for subsequent workflow upgrades. “We are frequently asked by the Church or within the university to bring back historical footage, so the quality of our archives is very important,” said Brenn Nakamitsu, MPC field production manager at BYU-Hawaii. “The future of our footage all starts with the camera, so capturing and archiving it in 4K today will enable us to make the best use of it later when we move to full 4K production.”
Very satisfied with the performance and reliability of the university’s earlier HD HITACHI cameras, BYU-Hawaii looked again to Hitachi Kokusai for their move to Ultra HD and found a great fit. “The SK-UHD4000s gave us 4K at a price that fit our budget, while providing the same rich features we had in HD,” said Nakamitsu. “Their ability to directly use standard B4-mount bayonet lenses was also a significant benefit, as it allowed us to get started with 4K using our existing HD lenses until we have the budget to replace those too.”
The multi-format flexibility of the SK-UHD4000s has proven ideal for BYU-Hawaii’s transition from HD to 4K. “For now, we’re continuing to shoot HD for sports, but for bigger events such as the inauguration of our university president, we shoot 4K,” explained Nakamitsu. “The camera system’s concurrent output capabilities and built-in down-conversion let us archive in 4K while simultaneously broadcasting in HD.”
Used for projects both in-studio and in the field, the SK-UHD4000 cameras are connected over the campus’ fiber infrastructure to CU-UHD4000 camera control units (CCUs) in the centrally-located studio control room, with 4K footage archived to Atomos Shogun standalone recorders directly from the CCUs. The cameras and accessories were supplied by Utah-based reseller RIA Corporation.
Building on the outstanding picture quality that HITACHI cameras are renowned for, the move to 4K acquisition with the SK-UHD4000s has further elevated BYU-Hawaii’s visual results. “We can definitely see the difference when we shoot 4K, even when we’re using our older lenses,” said Nakamitsu. “In some cases, we’re still using old SD lenses, not even HD, and we still get great quality.”
Staff familiarity with operating HD HITACHI cameras made the transition to the 4K models straightforward, but the SK-UHD4000’s ease of use is delivering ongoing benefits even for new users. “90% of our crew members are students gaining valuable work experience in broadcast production, which results in high turnover each year as they graduate,” said Nakamitsu. “The HITACHI cameras’ short learning curve minimizes training requirements, and they’re simple enough to operate that we can quickly trust the students to use them.” Nakamitsu’s satisfaction with the new cameras extends to accessories such as the HDF-700H color LCD viewfinders, and is bound to grow even further as BYU-Hawaii transitions the rest of its production workflow to 4K. “The SK-UHD4000s have met or exceeded all of our expectations, and we look forward to realizing even more of their benefits when we move our remaining equipment and infrastructure to 4K Ultra HD too,” he concluded.
FATV volunteer Peter Hanley with one of the station’s ten HITACHI Z-HD6000 cameras
Public, education and government access (PEG) broadcaster Fitchburg Access Television (FATV) takes pride in bringing high-quality community programming to residents of Fitchburg, Massachusetts while also serving as a valuable partner to nearby schools. Unhappy with limitations of the HD cameras FATV had purchased from another vendor just two years earlier, the station replaced them with ten Z-HD6000 cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to improve productions, simplify operations and meet its educational goals.
FATV’s extensive production capabilities span across studio and mobile facilities. More than 200 shows per year are produced in the station’s two studios, while its mobile production truck powers live remote broadcasts for Fitchburg State University sports, high school and college football games, community events and more. The need to replace FATV’s existing cameras first became obvious in field use.
“The cameras we had initially purchased from another supplier when we upgraded to HD weren’t meeting our needs for on-site, live production,” said Scott May, executive director at FATV. “Not only were they proving cumbersome from an operational perspective, but the quality of our end productions was being compromised.”
Four HITACHI Z-HD6000 cameras are now dedicated to FATV’s mobile truck –with a fifth unit deployed as needed –and the improvements were immediate. “My favorite benefit is probably the HITACHI cameras’ simplicity,” explained May. “Our previous cameras were complicated and time-consuming to set up in the field, requiring a lot of effort by our full-time technical staff. The Z-HD6000s make it easy for our camera operators to quickly do it themselves, freeing our technical team for other tasks.”
Remote access to the Z-HD6000’s extensive image controls is bringing both operational and visible benefits to FATV’s mobile productions. “Our previous cameras did not allow remote control of picture settings, making it difficult to adjust for changing conditions."
Three HITACHI Z-HD6000 cameras at the ready for newscast production in James Madison University’s SMAD studio.
At James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the vision of the School of Media Arts and Design (SMAD) includes delivering innovative media education programs that integrate traditional concepts, values, and skills with new and evolving technologies. When the university undertook a major upgrade and refresh of the equipment in its television studio last year, it selected Z-HD6000 HDTV cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to give students valuable, practical experience while meeting the school’s uncompromising quality, performance and budgetary goals.
Three Z-HD6000s are deployed in the SMAD studio for hands-on instruction in a broad array of multiple-camera production disciplines, from media arts fundamentals to filmmaking and television news. Weekly newscasts produced as part of the university’s Broadcast Journalist curriculum are seen live on its on-campus, HD cable network and online, while select programs from SMAD’s Studio Production class including variety and talk shows are also seen on the school’s closed-circuit channel.
SMAD set out on its studio refresh project for both educational and practical reasons. “We wanted to stay current with technology for instructional purposes, providing students with experience that will benefit them in their subsequent careers,” said John Hodges, technology manager for SMAD at James Madison University. “At the same time, much of our existing equipment was showing its age, and we wanted to avoid the expensive maintenance and parts costs that would have been required to keep it going.”
When choosing products and vendors for the upgrade, the school’s criteria were similarly two-pronged. “We wanted high-quality equipment for the studio, but without spending excessively for an instructional environment,” Hodges explained. “With the HITACHI cameras, we were able to strike the perfect balance, giving our students real world, hands-on experience on high-quality gear, while fulfilling our duty of stewardship to the taxpayers of the state who ultimately pay for it. Great image quality is most important, but being able to get that in a cost-effective way is a tremendous bonus.”
Hitachi Kokusai’s well-earned reputation for outstanding image fidelity was a key factor in his decision, and the video created by the Z-HD6000’s 2/3”, 2.6 million pixel MOS sensors lived up to his expectations. “As technology manager, I always try to keep up with what’s out there and what other users are saying, so I was aware that they were really good cameras,” he said. “I knew they would look great, so I had no hesitation whatsoever in switching to HITACHI cameras over our previous vendor, and they definitely did not disappoint. I’m just thrilled with the Z-HD6000’s picture quality.”
Supplied by systems integrator Digital Video Group, the cameras are connected to HITACHI CU-HD500 camera control units (CCUs) using the studio’s SMPTE fiber infrastructure. Hodges points to the Z-HD6000’s uncommonly rich array of built-in features – such as dual-channel communications, and prompter/floor monitor power and video at the camera head – as simplifying wiring while delivering additional benefits. “It’s so nice that we don’t have a bunch of extra cables hanging off the camera that the students could get tangled up in, or even just looking unsightly on the studio floor,” he noted.
Hodges also highlights the cameras’ seven-inch VF-701HDA high-resolution, color viewfinders as a significant upgrade from their previous units, and the ability to transfer setup parameters easily from one camera to another as both efficient and effective. “Our students really enjoy having the menu-driven, color viewfinders, which are great for critical focus and adjustments, and make it easier for them to follow directors’ instructions,” he said. “And we really like that we can set up one camera and copy its settings to the others, so we get an absolutely consistent look across all three cameras.”
The Z-HD6000s have proven reliable in their first semesters at the university, while delivering the quality and cost-effectiveness that Hodges had sought. “We’re a year in, the cameras haven’t given us a lick of trouble, and they look great,” he concluded. “I think it was a great decision. Bang for the buck is such a cliché, but it’s very true here.”
Implementing its first broadcast-quality video production initiative to support new online and social media distribution opportunities, the Athletics department at the University of Maine selected Z-HD5000 cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to provide the pristine picture quality and outstanding ease of use they needed. Building on the benefits the cameras bring to their live sports productions, the university also plans to extend its use of Z HD5000s to the educational curriculum with new video production courses next year.
Located in Orono along the banks of the Stillwater River, the University of Maine advances learning and discovery through excellence and innovation in undergraduate and graduate academic programs, while addressing the complex challenges and opportunities of the 21st century through research-based knowledge. The university’s UMaine Black Bears compete in the America East Conference of NCAA Division I for all sports except hockey and football, which compete in the Hockey East conference and Colonial Athletic Association, respectively.
While the university had previously performed some live video production using entry-level equipment, the conference’s agreement to bring Maine Black Bears basketball games to multi-screen sports network ESPN3 required the school to deploy higher-caliber workflows and solutions. For sports that are not shown on ESPN3, the school also wanted to deliver similarly high production values when streaming matches to social media platforms including YouTube.
Familiar with HITACHI cameras from his Communication Studies courses at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, University of Maine Athletics director of digital content Sam Hallett knew they would be an ideal fit for the project. ”I had worked with Z-HD5000s in my own educational studies, so I knew I wanted to go that direction and that they would be easy for the students to learn and operate,” he explained. “I don’t need to spend a lot of time training the users. Within 10 minutes I can have a student ready to work the controls and knowing how to make any changes I might need.”
The university currently uses two Z-HD5000s on tripods to provide main game and close-up shots, with a goal of adding two more as handheld cameras on the sidelines in the future. Video, audio and intercom signals are transported over a single SMPTE fiber cable per camera to half-rack width CU-HD1000 camera control units (CCUs) in custom flypacks, minimizing cable runs and speeding setup times as the equipment moves between venues.
“The Z-HD5000s are super-quick and super-easy to deploy,” said Hallett. “The longest part is probably just carrying the equipment up the stairs. It takes us just 10 minutes to run the cable and set up, and it’s straightforward enough that I can trust the student operators to set up the cameras properly while I focus on other tasks.”
Hallett also praises the quality of the video produced by the Z-HD5000s. “The cameras don’t need a lot of adjustment to look good in a variety of environments, which gives me peace of mind when I deploy them in the field,” he said. “The image quality is night and day compared to the lower-end cameras we had previously used, and the quality holds up very well even as available light diminishes, which is significant when we shoot outdoor sports such as baseball.”
Initially used for basketball, baseball and softball, the cameras will shoot an expanded array of sports in upcoming semesters, including soccer and field hockey. Hallett also plans to bring the cameras’ benefits to a classroom setting, with a goal of teaching video production through new course offerings in 2018.
“We rely on student operators for our productions, so in addition to giving students valuable hands-on experience they can use in the workforce, educating them will help provide an ongoing supply of crewmembers for our broadcasts,” Hallett explained.
While that future looks bright, the cameras have already delivered the tangible benefits that the university had sought to achieve.
“The Z-HD5000s have simplified the whole production process for us, taking a lot of the technical burden off the student operators so they can focus on the actual task at hand: great game coverage,” Hallett concluded. “From their visual quality and reliability to their ease of use, the result is that the cameras have made our overall productions much better in my book, so my hat’s off to Hitachi Kokusai for that.”
Sebouh Majarian, assistant director of new media at UMass Lowell, operates one of the Tsongas Center’s four Hitachi Z-HD5000 cameras.
Furthering its commitment to delivering high-quality entertainment experiences, the Tsongas Center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (“UMass Lowell”) has expanded its complement of Z-HD5000 cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to boost its live production capabilities and take optimal advantage of expanding distribution opportunities.
Owned by the university and managed by Spectra Venue Management by Comcast Spectacor, the multi-purpose Tsongas Center facility is home to the NCAA Division I UMass Lowell River Hawks hockey and basketball teams. Seating up to 7,000 visitors, the venue also hosts a variety of non-sporting events including concerts, job fairs, graduations, and major university activities.
An agreement between the NCAA’s America East Conference and ESPN to bring live basketball games to multi-screen sports network ESPN3 created the need for the Tsongas Center to upgrade its video equipment roster. Previously using two HITACHI Z-HD5000s alongside other vendors’ cameras for productions shown on the venue’s in-house video boards, the university and Spectra’s on-site team chose to standardize on HITACHI cameras for their ESPN3 broadcasts, in-venue displays, and other distribution outlets.
“We were very pleased with the quality and reliability of the existing HITACHI cameras we’d been using to drive our scoreboard productions, so when we looked to increase our production flexibility and ensure visual consistency for our new ESPN3 streams, the Z-HD5000s were ideal for our upgrade,” said Ben Jewart, director of audio visual services at Tsongas Center. “We did our due diligence and evaluated all of the other major camera brands too, but everything led us right back to Hitachi Kokusai.”
Four HITACHI Z-HD5000s are now used for the university’s live hockey and basketball streaming broadcasts. Two of the cameras are stationed in fixed positions capturing high and tight shots, while the other two Z-HD5000s are operated handheld at ice or court level. While the school’s ESPN3 broadcasts typically use freelance crewmembers, other event productions often use current and former students as camera operators, making the Z-HD5000’s short learning curve valuable.
“The great usability of the Z-HD5000 makes it an excellent teaching platform,” said Nolan Mercer, AV manager at Tsongas Center. “It is a huge benefit to have cameras that we can quickly show students how to use, and to have the students jump right in and immediately understand their operation. The industry-standard nature of the HITACHI cameras has also been helpful in attracting volunteers, as the students know they are getting practical experience on equipment they may encounter professionally.”
Jewart also touts the video quality produced by the HITACHI cameras as a major boost for the center’s broadcasts. “The Z-HD5000’s low-noise, 2/3” chips and digital signal processing gave us a significant improvement in quality over the other camera models we had used,” he explained. “The colors really ‘pop’, and we get consistently high image quality even under dramatically changing lighting conditions, such as when we darken the arena for effect before games, or when we chase the lights when goals are scored.”
Sports from the Tsongas Center are now streamed live on ESPN3, the America East Conference website (www.AmericaEast.tv) or the university’s own GoRiverHawks.tv site. Beyond the streaming broadcasts, the shooting flexibility provided by the HITACHI cameras and accompanying Fujinon lenses has elevated the center’s in-venue productions and raised fan involvement. “Whether shooting all the way across the court or further into the crowd, we’re now able to get great-quality video at angles we couldn’t capture before,” said Jewart.
“This enables us to incorporate more interactivity with the crowd, which has increased fan engagement and excitement,” added Mercer. “Our mission is to create memorable fan experiences, and the HITACHI cameras play a key role in doing that.”
Sebouh Majarian, assistant director of new media at UMass Lowell, echoes the positive impact that the new cameras have had for both the Tsongas Center team and its audiences. “Our experience with HITACHI cameras has been tremendous,” he said. “They have been easy for our operators to use, and helped shape and advance the quality of both our in-venue and broadcast productions. Our job is to put on a good show for our teams’ fans, and the Z-HD5000s have helped us achieve that.”
Radford University Professor Michael J. Meindl with one of the new HITACHI Z-HD5000 cameras.
Radford University has a rich history spanning well over a century, and has earned a strong reputation for its use of technology in the learning environment. When the school recently upgraded its educational television production studio to a fully HD environment, it purchased four Z-HD5000 cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to provide reliable, high-quality video acquisition while giving students valuable, hands-on experience with professional equipment.
Serving the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation through a wide range of academic, cultural, human service and research programs, Radford University is a comprehensive public university with more than 9,400 enrolled undergraduate and graduate students. As part of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, the university’s School of Communication offers a choice of Communication or Media Studies majors, within which students can focus on particular concentrations.
The Production Technology program prepares students for positions in creative production in corporate, industrial and other professional environments, as well as working in the areas of Web, multimedia, radio and television and field production. With construction of the College’s new building completing last year, the School of Communication was looking to update its production abilities.
“Our objective was to upgrade our studio to a fully high definition setup,” explained Michael J. Meindl, assistant professor of media production in the School of Communication at Radford University. “The systems integrator for our new studio, Digital Video Group (DVG), suggested the HITACHI Z-HD5000 cameras to us, satisfying our specifications including quality standards and expandable optical fiber connectivity.”
The Z-HD5000s are now used for experience-based student education in many of the school’s video production courses, which explore a variety of production types ranging from sitcoms to newscasts. Three of the Z-HD5000s are manually operated on tripods and used in classes spanning on-camera performance, electronic field production – teaming up with electronic news gathering students in the school’s Journalism concentration – and TV studio production. The fourth camera is deployed in a robotic configuration with a Ross Video CamBot pan/tilt head, with the robotics, zoom and focus controlled over a TCP/IP network.
Productions created by the students are distributed online, with a new on-campus television channel in the process of being deployed. Students also film stand-ups in front of a green screen for background compositing, with the results used to promote various programs around the university.
“The new environment and new cameras allow us to give students a better idea of how real-world television studios work, and enable the students to produce high-quality videos for their portfolios,” said Meindl.
Matt Uncapher, senior producer and engineer for athletics video services at the University of Virginia
At the University of Virginia, the second-highest ranked public university in the country, the athletics program combines a tradition of academic excellence with an uncompromising drive to succeed. When the department upgraded its live video production workflows to high definition, it chose ten HDTV cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to provide the outstanding image quality and rich features it sought to meet both immediate and future needs.
The university’s Virginia Cavaliers compete across 25 NCAA Division I sports, and have captured 76 Atlantic Coast Conference championships since 2002 – more than any other ACC school during that time. Until late last year, the athletic department’s live video productions were seen exclusively on large video boards within on-campus venues, engaging and exciting fans under its ’Hoo Vision brand.
“While our post production workflows included some HD elements, our live production capabilities were only SD,” said Matt Uncapher, senior producer and engineer for athletics video services at the University of Virginia. “Anticipating the formation of a new distribution partnership, we had held off fully transitioning to HD until we knew the specific technical requirements of our future outlets.”
When the Atlantic Coast Conference reached an agreement to bring live streams of league matches to multi-screen sports network ESPN3, the time had come for the department to upgrade its production equipment and begin broadcasting in HD. The school’s past success with standard-definition HITACHI offerings led it to consider Hitachi Kokusai again for the HD upgrade.
“We had been very satisfied users of HITACHI Z-4000 cameras for the last seven - 2 - years,” recounted Uncapher. “We performed comparisons to other vendors’ cameras, but the quality, value and rich features of Hitachi Kokusai’s HD models combined with our positive experience to make our decision clear.”
The university purchased nine HITACHI SK-HD1300 studio/field production cameras and one HITACHI DK-H200 compact box camera in September 2016 and went operational with them in November, starting with live streaming broadcasts of men’s and women’s basketball games. While ESPN3’s specification called for 720p video, the school chose the 1080p-native SK-HD1300 and DK-H200 models in preparation for its future needs. “We knew we would use the cameras for several years and would eventually take advantage of their full 1080p/60 capabilities,” Uncapher explained.
Systems integration firm Comprehensive Technical Group (CTG) performed the entire upgrade project, from installation and commissioning of the cameras to the design and implementation of new control rooms, under very tight time constraints.
“The cameras’ outstanding ease of use and our familiarity with the earlier SD models made the transition simple for our crew of freelance operators and paid interns, with practically no learning curve,” said Uncapher. “Meanwhile, the versatility of the SK-HD1300s enables us to deploy them in various combinations of handheld operation and hard camera positions on studio kits, letting us tailor each production to the specific sport we are covering.”
Production teams move the cameras between the university’s many indoor and outdoor athletics venues, all of which are linked via fiber to engineering and control rooms located at the school’s basketball facility, John Paul Jones Arena. SMPTE fiber connections from eight of the SK-HD1300s are interfaced to the campus’ single-mode fiber infrastructure using MultiDyne SMPTE-HUT universal camera transceivers, while the ninth SK-HD1300 is deployed wirelessly. The DK-H200 box camera is deployed on a new green-screen studio set, which uses a Ross Video Trackless Studio to create virtual camera moves.
The HITACHI cameras’ integration with the Dashboard open control and monitoring platform from Ross Video has also proven valuable for the university. For productions where the department does not have the budget or resources to send a dedicated shader to the venue, the Dashboard software platform allows a producer in the control room to handle shading remotely through an intuitive graphical interface.
“We have now used the HITACHI HDTV cameras for over 90 events, and they have lived up to our high expectations,” said Uncapher. “Their robust durability has endured heavy usage by numerous operators, and they provide great image quality that is comparable to much more expensive cameras. HITACHI cameras deliver a lot of bang for your buck, and in my opinion would be a great fit for any venue looking for cameras to enhance their productions.”
These UHD cameras will support educational initiatives in broadcast, journalism and more, as The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication finalizes the HD transition of its production studios.
The SK-UHD4000 is a multi-format studio and field production camera suitable for HD and 4K workflows, enabling users to gradually transition to 4K as requirements evolve. That flexibility was a significant reason for selecting Hitachi, according to Evan Cornog, Dean of The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University. “We have set out to create the best possible HD facility with our infrastructure rebuild”, said Cornog. “Camera technology is well ahead of studio infrastructure equipment, and we saw an opportunity to leap forward on the content acquisition side as we finalize our HD transition”.
Randy Hillebrand, training coordinator and professor of Radio, Television, Film at Hofstra University, envisions the 4K production and Hofstra’s proximity to the production hotbed of midtown Manhattan will be attractive to students.
“These cameras will introduce us to that next level of 4K technology,” said Hillebrand. “This means we can absolutely proclaim to prospective students that we offer a state-of-the-art learning environment. We are excited about helping our 1200 dedicated students learn about the future of communication, and how the richness of the 4K environment can help them tell stories in new and innovative ways. We have a real opportunity to be explorers.”