Cameras That Make the Right ConnectionsNew gear leads to precedent-setting advances in workflow and news production 4/22/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern
The recent National Association of
Broadcasters Show saw a number of
notable technical advances in cameras,
with manufacturers highlighting new
4K gear, better codecs and sensors and new
models—often at much lower prices—that
will significantly improve video quality.
As these new cameras make their way into
the market, however, the biggest impact will
be behind the scenes on workflows and the
cost of news production.
“Workflows are critical and clearly what everyone
is focusing on these days,” says Alec Shapiro,
president of Sony Electronics’ Professional Solutions
of America division. Shapiro cites new
cameras that can be easily connected to the
Internet as a key development in helping stations
more efficiently produce news.
Technologies for sending video from the camera
over an Internet or IP connection back to
the TV station are nothing new. What’s unprecedented
is the number of cameras that have been
launched with IP connectivity in recent months
and the wide-ranging alliances that camera manufacturers
have forged with vendors of bonded
cellular newsgathering technologies.
Currently Canon, Hitachi, JVC, Panasonic and
Sony are among the major vendors offering new
cameras that are designed to be easily connected
to IP networks, either with built-in features or in
combination with cellular bonding equipment.
To take advantage of this IP connectivity, David
Folsom, VP and CTO at Raycom Media, says
Raycom has purchased 130 of JVC’s GY-HM650
ProHD camcorders for its stations.
“To say it’s a game-changer doesn’t really cover
the impact on workflows and news production,
because we can’t really imagine all the possible
uses,” Folsom says. “We’re at a stage where the
technology has eclipsed the workflows, and the
workflows will have to catch up.”
The Prices Are Right
Prices for these smaller electronic newsgathering
(ENG) cameras routinely hit $10,000 a couple
of years ago. But they are dropping rapidly
as capabilities improve and manufacturers such
as JVC, Panasonic and Canon have launched
low-cost alternatives. JVC’s GY-HM650 ProHD
is priced at only $5,999 but comes with a 23X
zoom lens and “an incredible
sensor” for low
In March, Canon
Canon XA25 and
and will be
priced at $3,199
and $2,699 respectively
are hit the market
in June. The cameras
offer “tremendous improvements” over previous
models, argues Chuck Westfall, technical
advisor for the professional engineering and solutions
division of Canon U.S.A.
These advances include wireless connectivity,
an improved sensor, a 20x HD zoom lens,
higher frame rates, OLED screen and simultaneous
MP4 and AVCHD recording.
The lower costs and improved features have
boosted demand for smaller cameras with IP
connections. In addition to the Raycom deal,
JVC has announced significant sales in the last
two months to Sinclair and the BBC, which is
buying 500 of them.
While all of these cameras make it easier to
live-stream events, some also offer dual recording.
That means one lower-quality feed could
be streamed to the Web while a higher-quality
version is being created for the on-air newscast.
Some camera-makers, including Panasonic,
also announced much-improved codecs that will
reduce bandwidth requirements, which make it
easier and faster to send back video over IP networks.
“Broadcasters clearly are interested in lower
bit rates for news,” explains Steve Cooperman,
Panasonic product manager. “But for a lot of
these inexpensive cameras, the quality was not
that good at 25 and 50 megabits per second.”
To rectify that, Panasonic introduced an AVCLongG50
codec with 10-bit, 4:2:2 color sampling
and an AVC-LongG25 with 10 bit, 4:2:2
at 25Mbps. “There is nothing with that quality
at 25 Mbps in the industry,” Cooperman says.
At NAB, Panasonic added even lower bit
rate codecs—an AVC-LongG12 with 8 bit
4:2:0 color sampling and AVC-LongG6 with
8 bit, 4:2:0 color sampling at 6Mbps.
“It gives you the quality that has been accepted
at 25 and 35Mbps profiles but at a substantially
lower bit rate, which saves transmission
space and storage time,” Cooperman says.
Additional time savings can be achieved by
incorporating these IP-connected cameras to one
of the cloud-based or distributed production
systems offered by Avid, Adobe, Sony or Panasonic
and Aframe that allow users in multiple
locations to share and edit content.
Improving workflows was a key reason for
Panasonic to partner with Aframe on a cloudbased
production service that lets users quickly
share content, says Cooperman, who adds
that they have seen interest in the platform
from station groups as well as TV producers.
“This allows clients to not only upload and
share content; it gives them a way to manage
their content and production,” he says.