Instructional Technology Coordinator

Variety of Hitachi Cameras Help Maui Community College Say ‘Aloha!’ In Beautiful Detail

Variety of Hitachi Cameras Help Maui Community College Say ‘Aloha!’ In Beautiful Detail

Maui Community College

My background is in television and film. I started in 1979, worked in film for a number of years and then migrated to television. I worked on both the "Hawaii Five-O" and "Magnum PI" series and independent film shoots for local ad agencies. Then after 10 years at an ABC affiliate serving as a producer/director and doing freelance work for all three major networks, I felt it was time to start paying back what I had learned, so I embarked on a career in education.

(click thumbnail)Reuben Dela Cruz, a University of Hawaii electronics technician, works with Hitachi Z-3000W digital, 16:9/4:3 switchable cameras at Maui Community College. That’s how I found myself at Maui Community College. We have an impressive television studio for news and public affairs programming as well as facilities for distance education. MCC’s interactive closed circuit programming is all lower division classes such as Biology 100, Physics 120, and history courses, and our University of Hawaii statewide link offers upper division and graduate courses.

We rarely shoot inside a "normal" college classroom. Instead, we have four interactive television classroom studios where we tape classes. That instructional programming is then transmitted statewide via an analog microwave network. We also have a real-time distance education classroom in Hana, about a three-hour drive on the other side of the island.

Right now we’re programming four channels of two-way real time distance education, which is like having four classrooms in operation all over the state at the same time. The network extends to colleges across all seven Hawaiian islands, with the furthest link being Kauai Community College across Oahu a few hundred miles away.

In addition to the interactive closed-circuit system, we have a cable classroom, which is used for live broadcasts. The classroom sessions are also taped onto DV-Cam and replayed in the middle of the night.

We’ve used a Hitachi Z-One camera with a Canon lens for about seven years, mostly as our field camera. While I was working with another camera manufacturer in the early 1980s, I was introduced to a Hitachi camera. It was about half the price of the camera I was using and the image was just as impressive.

When I came here 10 years ago we used an earlier model Hitachi as a field camera. Then we upgraded to a Z-One. I found that the new camera could handle just about any kind of shoot in any type of climate. Because of our success with the Z-One, we’ve just purchased three Z-3000W portable, 16:9/4:3 switchable digital cameras and three SK-2700PW 16:9/4:3 switchable, portable, digital studio cameras, all with Fujinon lenses.

We’ve never encountered any difficulties with the Z-One at all. I can use it outside in bright sun, or in low-light. I used to shoot a lot of products in the studio in 20-foot-candle light because I like to light film-style. When we took delivery of the Z-One, I experimented with it to see what it could do and was really impressed. You put a good lens on that camera and the picture is amazing.

We’ve used the Z-One for all kinds of programming — including videos for the state Department of Health and commercials for the college. We take it out in the field at least a couple times a week. We just completed a half-hour video describing various hazardous materials. We shot re-enactments of chemistry experiments that go awry and cause explosions. We’ve taken the Z-One camera into the auto body shop and stuck it under a car with oil pouring down.

I’ve taken that camera everywhere — into rain forests, up mountains, on the beach in all sorts of temperature extremes. I’ve taken it to the top of a volcano at 10,000 feet for beauty shots, sunrises and sunsets in the snow in 40-degree temperatures. The same day, I’ve driven to the bottom of the mountain and gone on the beach to shoot windsurfing.

The Z-ONE camera works just as well in either climate. It’s our workhorse. I’ve never had to send it in for repairs. We’ve used it for my television production class, and the students are sometimes less than careful about how they handle it, and it always comes back working just fine. I’ve seen them go out and shoot daylight in full sun with the indoor filter wheel and everything is blue. And I’ll say, "First off… you forgot to use the right filter wheel." But I’m thinking, "Gosh, they probably had that F-stop down to 16 and it’s still working great. This camera is like a tank."

I’m planning to take the Z-ONE and two of the Z-3000Ws and put them in our classroom studio. And we’ll use the third Z-3000W as a remote field camera. The Z-3000W’s 16:9/4:3 switchability will come in very handy as we look toward up-converting to high definition.

We’ve been recording the Z-ONE onto Beta-SP, but we’re eliminating that and going to DVCPRO as our native format for broadcast quality programming, and DV-Cam for playback of our day programming. If we do any production out of our studio with the SK-2700s, we’ll master that to the DVCPRO 50 as well.

The SK-2700s will be used in our 1,600-square-foot studio, where we do the college’s nightly newscast. We also plan to rent that out to private industry or do high-level productions there. We felt the SK-2700, as a higher-end camera, would be right for that environment.

In a few weeks, Maui Community College expects to change into a four-year university. Our facilities are sure to grow, and we expect Hitachi to grow with us.