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Keeping an eye on the action – robotic camera control for sports broadcasting

Company:

Camera Corps Ltd, a member of the Vitec Group PLC, is a world leader in the development, manufacture and supply of speciality remote cameras and tracking systems to broadcasters for a variety of television shows and major events, including international sports. Camera Corps’ robotic camera systems provide HD/SD pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) capability for broadcasters in the most comprehensive, lightweight systems available today. Control of the robotic camera head is provided either by Camera Corps’ joystick controls or Camera Control Unit (CCU). The CCU panel can control up to five cameras, with PTZ capability, focus, exposure and colour control. Master Black level and Colour Saturation control enables much better colour matching where camera types are “mixed”. This is particularly the case with live sporting events when multiple cameras are deployed.

 

Issue:

When providing low profile systems, or mobile cameras for covering sports, fixed line controls can prove unwieldy or impractical. On these occasions Camera Corps will deploy wireless systems to supply control from the CCU at ranges of up to one mile. This was necessary when Camera Corps was contracted to supply nearly one hundred ‘Q-ball’ and other robotic camera heads to provide coverage of a range of sports during a major international sporting event held throughout summer 2012 in the UK.

To ensure reliability of control over the robotic camera heads, Camera Corps deploys a system which uses audio tones to control the movement and picture adjustment. The cameras need to operate seamlessly in complex, crowded facilities. For major events Camera Corps will reserve a number of clear transmission channels. Despite this, interference can occur across the reserved frequency which interrupts control of the camera.

To achieve the necessary flexibility and assured radio frequency control that this major sporting event would demand, Camera Corps required a range of reliable, compact audio receivers and transmitters which could be easily integrated with its data control systems.

 

Solution:

Camera Corps selected to use wireless specialist Wood & Douglas’ SR500 receivers as well as ST500 transmitters which are designed for compact or low power scenarios where wired control is not possible. During the summer events this included providing control over cameras mounted on equestrian jumps which had to be free of any trip hazards for the competing horses, and a camera mounted on a Keirin chase bike in a velodrome.

The SR500 is a commercial receiver designed to be low-risk, cost-effective building block module for OEM applications requiring radio connection. The radio module is housed in small lightweight screened enclosures with pcb mounting pins allowing for direct insertion into Camera Corps hardware. Jim Daniels, Technical Director, Camera Corps, says: “These products are an obvious choice for us. They are reliable, nicely built and small. We are able to produce our own printed circuit board and mount this directly on top of the SR500 for all our data control needs.”

This includes presetting up to eight frequencies on the SR500 for fast, simple channel switching to guarantee best quality reception. The receiver modules benefit from excellent sensitivity figures and are ideally suited for use in crowded radio telemetry bands, such as can be found in large sporting stadia where contention and interference can be an issue. The ability to quickly switch to a ‘clear’ pre-programmed frequency is very important for quality of service. Because the control tones are audible, the SR500 enables an operator to plug headphones into the receiver box and listen to the audio quality before turning on the transmitter. This simple, elegant solution ensures the frequency is clear of interference and the quality of transmission remains strong and reliable when turned on to broadcast live images to viewers around the world.

  • Compact, low power receiver / transmitter
  • Designed for easy OEM integration
  • Cost effective, reliable alternative to fixed line communications

Visit: http://www.cameracorps.co.uk/

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