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Thinking ‘Outside the Box’ With Hitachi Cameras

The Hitachi DK-Z50 HD box camera SAN DIEGO—Bay City Television operates XETV, producing 5.5 hours of live daily morning newscasts, as well as an hour-long 10 p.m. news program, with everything produced in native 1080i HD. To stay competitive in local markets, stations must produce high-quality live HD newscasts while holding the line on capital and operating costs. We transitioned to HD in 2011, while implementing a fully automated, file-based news workflow.

We took a somewhat unconventional approach in our choice of cameras, robotics, and newsroom automation, but our strategy has proven to be extremely cost-effective and successful. We were able to keep our capital investment low, and reduced the cost and complexity of our news operation.

Instead of going with full-sized HD studio cameras with their triax cabling and controls, we opted for Hitachi’s DK-Z50 multiformat HDTV box cameras. The savings we realized between these units and conventional studio cameras allowed us to purchase six DK-Z50s instead of four larger models, and the additonal cameras gives our newscasts a more dynamic look and pace.

These compact Hitachi box cameras weigh only 3.3 pounds and are an ideal fit for our Ross Video CamBot robotic camera system. CamBot controls the cameras’ Canon lenses, and interfaces seamlessly with our Ross OverDrive automated production control system, which serves as the centerpiece of our news automation.

The DK-Z50’s are shaded remotely from the control room via Hitachi’s SU-1000 setup control unit via a TCP/IP connection, with all six camera heads are individually handled via a single user interface.

Four of the DK-Z50’s reside on CamBot Series 600PT robotic heads, one is mounted on a jib and the remaining camera is attached to a pedestal.

Our studio has a split-level design, with five DK-Z50 cameras operating on the main news set on the lower level and one DKZ50/ CamBot pair operating on a smaller news set constructed on the upper level.

One TD single-handedly manages the entire news production. (The TD alternates each hour with an off-line TD person and uses the time to help prepare for the next show segment.) Such a compact operational workflow is made possible, as the Ross Over- Drive automates control of our production switcher, audio mixer, electronic graphics system, and, of course, the CamBot robotic cameras.

The new Hitachi DK-Z50 cameras replaced Hitachi SK-2700W widescreen SD cameras that delivered exceptional performance over many years. Our experience with the older cameras as well as Hitachi’s responsive sales and service were compelling factors in staying with Hitachi camera products. And the 2/3-inch 1.0 million pixel 3-CCD imager systems and 14-bit A/D converters on the DK-Z50 cameras guarantee really sharp and clean picture quality.

Automating news from content creation to delivery is absolutely essential nowadays, and the Hitachi DK-Z50 cameras and Ross CamBot systems have played a key role in moving us into this cost-effective news production strategy.

Paul Redfield is director of technology at XETV. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Hitachi at 516-921-7200 or