AN EMERGING POINT OF VIEW By Tom Butts, Content Director, TV Technology
The increasing popularity of PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras in the broadcast and professional live production markets is a testament to the flexibility and image enhancing technologies of the past decade. While the majority of PTZ cameras are used for surveillance and other industrial uses, the compact cameras are becoming a mainstay in studios, production facilities, and perhaps most prominently, live venues from concert halls to educational facilities, conference rooms and sporting arenas. Installed or hidden away in confined spaces, they provide a convenient, costeffective way for media producers to get more specialized points of view, giving viewers a more up close and personal look at the action. It’s easy to take PTZ cameras for granted, partly because part of their purpose is to be placed in out-of-the way, hard-to-access areas. That’s also why they need to be reliable, rugged and compact. Improvements in lenses, imagers and IP control have spurred the PTZ market in recent years, expanding its market applications. For broadcasters, in particular, the need for manned studio cameras is diminishing as control, latency
INSIDE PTZ Cams Go Small, But Hav Growing Industry Reach....................................................... 3 Panasonic PTZ Cameras Enhance Live Concert Coverage........................................ 7 ‘Smarter Sight’.......................................................................... 9
GUIDE TO PTZ CAMERAS | FEBRUARY 2020
and image quality improve. “PTZ cameras lend themselves to be a little more flexible than the traditional set,” said Hamid James, product manager with Panasonic.
Panasonic’s AW-UE4 IP streaming camera is ideal for meeting rooms large and small.
Media producers are also using AI in conjunction with PTZ cameras to identify individuals and inanimate objects, improving production and presentations in the classroom, boardroom, news set or at a sporting event. In these pages, we take a look at the potential uses of PTZ cameras on the set and in the concert venue as well as take a look at how AI will enhance PTZ production.
How are you using PTZ cameras in your production? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Remote operation of PTZ cameras, including the ability to operate multiple cameras at once, is helping to streamline production resources.
PTZ CAMS GO SMALL, BUT HAVE GROWING INDUSTRY REACH As productions downsize, PTZ cameras are there to meet demands By Michael Balderston WASHINGTON—It’s not the size that counts, but how you use it. PTZ cameras—named such for their “pan, tilt and zoom” capabilities—are growing in popularity among broadcasters not in spite of their diminutive size compared to traditional broadcast cameras, but rather because of it. PTZ cameras first cut their teeth mainly for surveillance, but they have become more popular in a number of other industries, including broadcasters who use them for specialized roles in certain productions. Now, as new technological capabilities are being added to boost the functionality and quality of these cameras, there is a growing acknowledgement that the cameras can come close to matching those of traditional broadcast cameras—some even think that they could eventually surpass them.
FITTING IN We carry computers in our pockets every day in
the form of our smartphones. Technology has gotten smaller, and as a result more adaptable as to where and how they can be used. Even still, a traditional broadcast camera setup in a production studio will often require things like a pedestal, dolly, jib and a camera operator for dynamic movements. PTZ cameras, on the other hand, have built-in capabilities that can mimic some of those movements without the size restrictions. “Most [PTZ cameras] are compact, they’re small,” said Hamid James, a product manager at Panasonic. “You still need equipment to support a PTZ camera, but not the same level that you would the traditional camera. So it helps them save on space.” That can be true in a traditional studio space, but PTZs are also proving beneficial in places that don’t have the space to begin with. Podcasts and radio stations looking to create videos or live simulcasts have often utilized that type of strategy.
of RUSHWORKS, a Dallas-based “You certainly see them more provider of production automaand more in really small studios, tion technology. “That’s just the where they don’t want manned nature of the market.” cameras,” said Drew Buttress, Beesley believes that for senior product manager, Sony broadcasters facing those conElectronics. “So they’ll put a straints, it is only practical that number of PTZs on tripods to they look toward robotic, PTZ give them different angles and cameras, which in addition to different shots.” being generally less expensive Buttress also can see PTZ camthan traditional broadcast cameras, which already are used on eras, do not require individual occasion in sports productions, camera operators. A particular expand their role on the baseexample of this, he sees, is with ball diamond, basketball court, news production. hockey rink or football field. “It’s a repetitive model that “You would potentially see happens every day, multiple PTZs where there’s not a lot of JVC’s KY-PZ100B PTZ camera times a day, and it just makes space in the actual broadcast perfect sense to have robots boost with that talent calling the there because if you think about what’s going on, the play-by-play,” he added. “So they might put a PTZ in studio may have one or up to four sets in a 360-degree there just to be able to take a live shot of the talent circle,” Beesley said. “If the cameras are mounted while the game or event is going on.” He does, howevproperly and used properly you can block the shots.” er, think that high-end cameras will always be needed “PTZ cameras lend themselves to be a little more for top-end sports productions and larger shows. flexible than the traditional set,” James added. The move to more unmanned studios is a change A CHANGING WORKFORCE that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon, Broadcasters’ operating costs are in many cases not according to Buttress. what they used to be—many have had to downsize their budgets, their staff and their workspace. All of which have a potential solution in the form of PTZ THE FUTURE cameras. These are the basic elements of PTZ cameras that “The evolution of broadcast as we know it is sort of have helped them grow in popularity among broadin a ‘half-life’ right now, where traditional approaches casters, but new technology that could boost resoluto this are being replaced by much less expensive, more tion and functionality will help determine just how far efficient ways to do things,” said Rush Beesley, president PTZs can grow within the industry. The biggest argument for traditional cameras is that their resolution quality cannot really be matched. However, while PTZ cameras are not at the same level, the differences to viewers is miniscule, to the point where people at home can’t really tell the difference, says Beesley. “The gap is definitely narrowing, but there is still a gap,” said Edgar Shane, general Manager, Panasonic’s Engineering, JVCKENWOOD USA Corp. He points to AW-UE4 PTZ camera recent upgrades to better sensors and higher signalto-noise ratio. “PTZ cameras are pretty good today and perhaps they will be better tomorrow.” The main question with resolution in PTZ cameras is two-fold: getting the necessary equipment for 4K-quality images in their compact frames, and the ability to create appropriately-sized lenses. The transmission of information is also a key part of these cameras’ development. There has been a Continued on page 8 ❱
GUIDE TO PTZ CAMERAS | FEBRUARY 2020
PANASONIC PTZ CAMERAS ENHANCE LIVE CONCERT COVERAGE Flypacks provide HDR capture across all cameras By TV Technology Staff 201 Productions, specialists in multicamera live coverage of major music tours, festivals and corporate events, utilized new 4K mobile fly-pack systems equipped with Panasonic HDR-capable cameras (AKUC4000 studio/field and AW-UE150 pan/tilt/zoom cameras) on last year’s cross-country tour of legendary rock band Phish. The company also made extensive use of a smaller fly-pack comprised of six AW-UE150s on a nine-show spring tour with a new band, Ghosts of the Forests, fronted by Phish’s Trey Anastasio. The new Panasonic cameras were also used on Phish’s fall/winter tour.
CLARITY AND EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE 201 Productions’ principal Trey Kerr explained that, with the purchase of five AK-UC4000s and six AW-UE150 PTZs with AW-RP150 controllers, the company’s primary fly-pack systems now boast HDR capture across all the cameras. (Cameras with HDR are capable of capturing brighter whites and/or deeper blacks.) “Concert productions are the mainstay of our business, and the combination of larger camera sen-
sors, 4K and HDR affords us so much clarity and exceptional performance in low light,” Kerr said. “We’re committed to providing the best available solutions for our clients, and given music performances’ varying contrast levels, with HDR we are able to capture the wide gamut of what we’re trying to shoot.” 201 Productions’ chief assignment for Phish was live production, but the company was also tasked with providing a feed for live webcasts on LivePhish. com, as well producing performance videos for the band’s YouTube page and archiving each concert. “The UC4000 delivers exceptional performance in low light, and really enables us to deal with whatever red, green or blue washes the lighting designer calls for,” Kerr noted. “The UC4000 can handle a solid blue wash better than any other camera I’ve ever experienced.”
MANAGING 10 CAMERAS WITH STAFF OF TWO For the majority of The Ghosts of the Forest’s performances, a staff of only two—working with the two Continued on page 8 ❱
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AW-RP150 controllers—was able to manage 10 cameras the (six AW-UE50s, three POV cameras and a lockedoff Panasonic AK-UC3000) for live IMAG and the recording of archival video. “There’s so much functionality with the AW-UE150 and the AW-RP150 controller,” Kerr said. “It was so impressive how we were able to start a move, then transition to another camera, and it was simply remarkable what we could 201 Productions used a range of Panasonic HDR cameras to cover live concerts last year. accomplish with only two people. “Because of AW-UE150’s advanced features, we are now able to bring our same professional, awardwinning production values to smaller, lower-budget events.” “It was so impressive how we were Kerr typically shoots and archives music tours in able to start a move, then transition 4K, 3840 X 2160 29.97. The UC4000s are outfitted to another camera, and it was simwith UHD UA107X8.4 Box-Type 107x Zooms for the main front of house lenses, as well as the Fujinon ply remarkable with what we could UA70x8.7 box-type zoom and the Canon HJ22ex7.6b accomplish with only two people.” multipurpose production lens. At most venues, he —Trey Kerr, 201 Productions uses one AK-UC4000 each in the pit, handheld on stage and at the front of the house mix position, with two deployed in various ways contingent on the layout of each space. Four AW-UE150 PTZs are always 201 Productions now offers clients three discrete 4K used on stage (left, right, on the drum kit and upstage mobile fly-pack systems: one with the AK-UC4000s center), with the fifth reserved as a “bonus-cam” for + AW-UE150s; a second with the AK-UC3000s + interesting aspects or angles. AW-UE70s; and the third, smaller system built entirely Having previously invested in AK-UC3000 4K stuaround the AW-UE150s. dio/field cameras and AW-UE70 4K/HD PTZ cameras,
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big push for PoE technology being added to PTZs, with NewTek NDI IP technology a popular option. Broadcasters also have a keen eye on the development of the SMPTE ST 2110 video over IP transport standard. Buttress says that Sony has its bases covered with either, embracing 2110 in system cameras, while also having NDI-ready cameras. It is pretty much unanimous that PTZs are a growing part of the broadcast industry, but their potential is still up for debate. “The incline will be relatively shallow,” said Beesley. “It’s made a lot of increases recently because
GUIDE TO PTZ CAMERAS | FEBRUARY 2020
of things like the NDI/PoE, but past that I don’t see vertical ascension as there is in so many other areas of technology.” Shane, meanwhile, thinks it’s just about someone connecting the dots: “I’m pretty sure a talented designist will try to bridge this gap between the high-end PTZ and broadcast cameras. And when they do that becomes an interesting product.” “Honestly, I don’t see limitations in the PTZ camera market, I see an industry that is growing and will continue to grow,” James adds. “Those box cameras, if they don’t adjust or adapt, the PTZ cameras are going to overtake it.”
Artificial intelligence is transforming the way we manage video By James Careless Artificial intelligence (AI) is the next big thing for video. Companies such as Pexip and Sony are harnessing AI-enabled video platforms to make presentations and videoconferences easier to execute and better to watch. Here is what both companies have come up with in this area, plus insights into how AI-enriched video can make life simpler for everyone, how this technology can protect participant privacy, and where artificial intelligence for presentations and videoconferences is headed next.
PEXIP’S AI APPROACH Pexip’s entry into AI-enabled video analytics is called “Adaptive Composition,” which the company bills as “the first AI-powered technology designed to put people, not systems, at the heart of the meeting
experience,” according to Jordan Owens, Pexip’s vice president of architecture. In plain language, Adaptive Composition’s ability to autonomously manage key elements of meetings allows participants to focus on themselves and their content, rather than staying within the limits of their technology. Adaptative Composition’s auto-framing function “automatically frames the camera shots around the participants’ faces, ensuring that no one appears offcenter or distant in the presenting room,” Owens said. This provides a more naturalistic look to multisite meetings, and avoids the awkwardness that can occur when presenters are half in frame or too far away to be clearly seen onscreen. (Pexip’s AI-enabled autoframing is device-agnostic, by the way.) Meanwhile, Continued on page 10 ❱
Sony’s Edge Analytics Appliance is designed to improve many aspects of distance learning, multisite presentations, and videoconferences.
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Adaptive Composition’s intelligent layout function ensures that the most active rooms in a multisite videoconference are given priority, along with the most active speakers. This is in contrast to basic voice/ sound detection technology, which can maximize the view of a room with two people in it above all others, just because one of them happened to cough. Again, the result of using AI-enabled video analytics is a more natural flow to multi-site meetings, with improved AV management allowing the technology to recede into the background. Pexip will introduce Adaptive Composition this year as a tech preview in version 23 of Pexip’s the company’s self-hosted software, Pexip Infinity.
SONY’S TAKE ON AI Sony’s Edge Analytics Appliance (REA-C1000) takes a different approach to AI. It is a physical device that can be licensed to do one of five AI-enabled tasks: handwriting extraction, PTZ camera auto tracking, close-up by gesture, chromakey-less CG overlays on backgrounds, and focus area cropping. To add a second function, a second appliance and license are required. The Edge Analytics Appliance is designed to improve many aspects of distance learning, multisite presentations, and videoconferences. For instance, “In handwrit-
“With AI-enabled video analytics, participants across multiple sites have a more seamless and natural experience.” —Jordan Owens, Pexip
ing extraction mode, the Edge Analytics Appliance can capture what a professor is writing on a whiteboard, and then add it to a continuously updated digital overlay,” said Sony product manager Drew Buttress. If need be, the professor can be made semi-transparent on screen to ensure that the writing isn’t blocked to the viewers. They can see everything that is being written as the professor writes it, no matter what happens. In close-up by gesture mode, the Edge Analytics Appliance displays a 4K camera view of the entire audience. “When someone in the audience stands up, we produce a 1080p close-up of that person until they sit down,” Buttress said. “Once seated, the Edge goes back to the wide 4K view of the audience. Sony’s
GUIDE TO PTZ CAMERAS | FEBRUARY 2020
In close-up by gesture mode, Sony’s Edge Analytics Appliance can ingest a 4K camera feed and then automatically digitally zoom into a speaker who is gesturing in the shot, creating a 1080p HD video close-up in the process.
chromakey-less CG overlays extracts the presenter’s live image from the shot and overlays it over any CG background that the operator selects, no green/blue screen required. This makes it possible to make presentations more visually compelling with a minimum of production equipment. Finally, the Edge Analytics Appliance’s focus area cropping mode allows a single camera feed to be used for two shots: A 4K wide shot of the speaker and his or her surroundings, plus a 1080p close up of the speaker.
MAKING LIFE BETTER FOR EVERYONE Both Pexip’s and Sony’s AI solutions enhance the visual quality of distance communication while simplifying the production process. For example, using artificial intelligence to keep the participants in frame eliminates the need for human camera operators and the “amateur hour” appearance when non-AI-enabled systems fail to track participants accurately and smoothly. Somewhat paradoxically, the use of artificial intelligence in multisite presentations and videoconferences can make the experience feel less artificial. “With our handwriting extraction feature, for instance, the students can see what’s being written on the whiteboard clearly in addition to the teacher’s face and body language,” Buttress said. This makes the presentation experience more trueto-life and less mechanical; AI helps the technology get out of the way of the human interaction. “With AI-enabled video analytics, participants across multiple sites have a more seamless and natural experience,” Owens said. “They don’t have their experience
disrupted by worrying about being in the frame, or having someone interrupt their presentation to ask, ‘Could you please zoom in because I can’t see you?’” AV technology managers who use AI-enabled video platforms will find their working lives less stressful, because their meetings will run smoother as this technology assumes many duties previously assigned to humans or other less-capable mechanical systems. The result is happier users, fewer presentation issues, and a reduced workload for AV staff.
PROTECTING PRIVACY By its very nature, AI-controlled technology is highly programmable. This means that AV managers can set whatever parameters are necessary to protect participant privacy, subject to the organization’s rules that govern these matters. Granted, some of these limits are a function of equipment deployment rather than AI. “In schools, we can’t show students’ faces due to privacy issues,” Buttress said. “This is why the cameras are set up to shoot the teachers at the front of the room and the back of students’ heads.” Still, there are times when everybody’s faces are shown and yet privacy is still an issue, such as a corporate multisite town hall meeting that isn’t open to the general public. In these cases, an artificial intelligence-enabled video system can automatically impose
whatever level of encryption and routing is required to keep everything private. “This includes graphical information that is being shared inside the meeting itself, such as facial recognition in aid of auto-tracking,” Owens said. “This data is protected within the system itself.”
WHAT’S TO COME Today’s AI-powered video platforms are just the start of what is possible with AI-enabled AV equipment. Sony’s Buttress can foresee a time when “video analytics are incorporated into the processing that goes into augmented realIty and virtual reality to provide more realistic experiences.” Meanwhile, Pexip’s Owens is more taken with the idea of AI making all aspects of AV multi-site presentations more naturalistic and seamless to participants. “We’re looking at that now: trying not just to create better face-to-face communications, but driving better overall meeting experiences across the board,” he said. One thing is certain: Today’s AI-enabled video platforms are just scratching the surface of what is possible with this technology. Some day in the future, AI may be managing all aspects of multi-site meetings so efficiently and smoothly, that no one will even notice the AV equipment that makes these meetings possible.
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