CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.—The University of Virginia Cavaliers compete across 25 NCAA Division I sports, but until recently, our live video productions were seen exclusively on large video boards within our own venues, engaging fans under our “Hoo Vision” brand. While our post-production workflows included some HD elements, our live production capabilities were only SD.
Anticipating the formation of a new distribution partnership, we held off fully transitioning to HD until we knew the specific technical requirements of our future outlets. When the ACC reached an agreement to bring live streams of league matches to ESPN3 we needed to upgrade our production equipment to begin broadcasting in HD.
UVA uses its SK-HD1300 cameras for indoor and outdoor athletics events.
MOVING ON UP
We were very satisfied users of Hitachi Z-4000 standard-definition cameras for the last seven years, and this prompted us to consider Hitachi Kokusai for our HD upgrade. We performed comparisons to other vendors’ cameras, but the quality, value and rich features of Hitachi’s HD models combined with our positive experience proved that our decision was correct.
We 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 our men’s and women’s basketball games. We chose the 1080p-native SK-HD1300 and DK-H200 models because, although the ESPN3 specification called for 720p video, we knew we would use the cameras for several years and would eventually take advantage of their full 1080p/60 capabilities.
Comprehensive Technical Group, an Atlanta-based systems integrator, did the upgrade, covering everything from installation and commissioning of the cameras to the design and implementation of our new control rooms. Meanwhile, the cameras’ 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.
BIG MAN ON CAMPUS
The SK-HD1300s are so versatile we can 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. We move the cameras around between the university’s indoor and outdoor athletics venues, all of which are linked via fiber to the engineering and control rooms located at our basketball facility, John Paul Jones Arena.
SMPTE fiber connections from eight of the SK-HD1300s are interfaced to our 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 used in a fixed position on our recently-built 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 been huge for us. For some productions, we don’t have the budget or resources for a dedicated shader and the Dashboard software platform allows a producer in the control room to handle shading remotely through an intuitive graphical interface.
We’ve now used the Hitachi HDTV cameras for more than 90 events and they have lived up to our expectations. They have endured heavy usage by numerous operators and continue to provide great image quality comparable to much more expensive cameras. Hitachi cameras deliver a lot of bang for your buck and would be a great fit for any venue looking for cameras to enhance their productions.
Matt Uncapher is senior producer and engineer for Athletics Video Services at the University of Virginia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, visit www.hitachikokusai.usor call 855-891-5179.