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Moo TV takes Zac Brown, Toby Keith into HD era with Hitachi cameras

Moo TV — a video production and creative services company in Madison, TN, — has acquired eight Hitachi Z-HD5000 studio and field HDTV cameras to provide video support and big-screen multimedia presentations during concert tours and other live events.

As Pollstar's "Video Company of the Year" for the past two years, Moo TV provides live multicamera production, specialized personnel and digital content creation services to top country artists, including the Zac Brown Band, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert and Alan Jackson.

Moo TV purchased four Hitachi Z-HD5000 HD cameras late last year for use on Zac Brown's annual holiday tour between Christmas and New Year's Day, including a sold-out New Year's Eve concert at Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta. The other four were purchased for Toby Keith's "Live in Overdrive" concert, which has a busy, national concert schedule this year through next.

Both Brown and Keith wanted to upgrade their concerts' live video and multimedia presentations from SD to HD, so Moo TV selected the Hitachi cameras.

After years of shooting in the field with legacy Sony BVP-550 cameras, Chuck Young, general manager for Moo TV, said the move to HD was a quantum leap that affected every aspect of their infrastructure, including routing and production switchers and required an intensive learning curve.

"One big change was from triax to fiber-backed cameras and fiber cable runs. I was concerned whether fiber would hold up to forklifts moving equipment, long-distance transport via semi-trailers, and other rough handling typical of live events," said Young. Hitachi recommended Gepco heavy-duty stadium jackets to protect the fiber cable runs, which have solved the problem, he added.

Due to the tight turnaround, some equipment — such as sled supports used to stabilize imaging with longer lenses — was not readily available from the factory and Hitachi sent loaners to Moo TV. While the lenses on the Z-HD5000s are SD, Young says the cameras still give them a dramatic improvement in picture quality. During a live show, some cameras are positioned on tripods at the front-of-house, while others serve as handhelds carried around the venue.

Theatrical lighting, projection and display technology are such that HD video hasn't been used much for concerts, but Young sees this trend starting to change.