Vermont Public Television completes HD transition with addition of Hitachi studio cameras

Vermont Public Television (VPT), Vermont’s statewide public broadcasting network, has added four new Hitachi SK-HD1000 digital HDTV studio cameras as part of an extensive HD production upgrade at its Colchester, VT, broadcast facility.

The cameras replaced four older analog studio cameras that have been in service for about 20 years, said Joseph Tymecki, CTO of VPT. According to Tymecki, VPT wanted replacements that also would serve it well into the future. The Hitachi SK-HD1000s were chosen after a year of comparative research and testing, he added. Based on the image quality, Tymecki is pleased with the decision.

“After we first put them on the air to cover the inauguration of Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin in January 2011, some viewers actually called us to comment on how amazing our channel looked. They wondered what we were doing differently because they noticed a big difference.”

The Hitachi SK-HD1000 camera package is part of an extensive HD studio production upgrade that included a Ross Vision multiformat production switcher, Chyron LEX3 live HD graphics system, Omneon server and Miranda router. This upgrade was the final phase of a four-phase upgrade that included four new DTV transmitters, master control room, and field production and NLE editing workflow.

The new Hitachi SK-HD1000 cameras are outfitted with a complement of Hitachi accessories, including Hitachi TU-HD1000 camera control units, VF-HP840 8in color LCD viewfinders and RU-1200JY remote-control units, as well as the Fujinon ZA-22x7.6BERM HD telephoto zoom lenses with 2x extenders.

Tymecki said the fact that the Hitachi SK-HD1000 cameras capture in native 1080i was crucial to VPT’s buying decision because PBS and its member stations have standardized on a 1080i HD workflow. Another critical factor is that the SK-HD1000 camera heads provide enough power to run the Autoscript 19in TFT-LCD teleprompters.

“We also did extensive testing of Hitachi’s digital triax system, compared to a SMPTE fiber-optic solution, and we found the picture quality to be superb despite the signal compression,” Tymecki said. “This is important to us because our production truck and many of the remote venues we shoot in use triax. Our engineers and crew are familiar with the maintenance of triax connectors.”

While the cameras are dedicated to multicamera studio production, VPT plans to pack them into road cases for occasional use in the field. In the broadcast facility, the cameras shuttle between Studio A, a large 80ft x 40ft studio space, and smaller Studio B on Vinten pedestals and pan/tilt heads to produce three- or four-camera shows.

The Hitachi SK-HD1000s are used to shoot all VPT local productions, including “Profile,” a show about the arts, culture and public affairs in Vermont; “Vermont This Week,” a look at the top news stories across the state; and live call-in programs with elected officials.