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Roll them in: Broadcast grade cameras capturing the attention of producers and cinematographers

By Loewe Tan

As live events and production return onsite, broadcast cameras are stealing back the limelight as content producers look for more innovative ways to capture live moments with reduced redundancy.

Here, APB+ does a short take on some of the broadcast grade cameras that are allowing producers and cinematographers to create content that capture the attention and hearts of the new age audiences.

Blackmagic USRA Mini Pro 12K

Blackmagic has fitted a resolution of 12,288 x 6,480 pixels and Super 35 sensors and 14 stops of dynamic range into a USRA Mini body, bringing 12K into fruition. The camera can also shoot 60fps (frame per second) in 12K, 120fps in 8K and up to 240fps in 4K Super 16.

Able to capture details and depth, the camera is designed for feature films, episodic television and immersive, large format IMAX.

The advanced design of the sensor and Blackmagic RAW allows producers to work in any resolution in post-production instantly, while retaining the full sensor’s colour accuracy without rendering. For instance, Blackmagic RAW lets producers shoot in 12K and edit on a laptop.

Apart for preserving control of details by shooting in 12K, the solution allows post-production to be highly optimised, multi-threaded, works across multiple CPU cores and is also GPU accelerated to work with Apple Metal, CUDA and OpenCL.

With higher resolution, the USRA Mini Pro has dual built-in CFast and UHS-II SD card recorders, and a SuperSpeed USB-C expansion port for recording to fast SATA and NVMe drives. This allows simultaneous recording across two cards with up to 900Mbps.

Fortress Entertainment, a leading music live streaming and podcast production company, recently implemented 12 URSA Mini Pro 12K at two music festivals, mounted with a combination of EF, PL and B4 lenses. The cameras were propped on three different stages, with each stage also outfitted with a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro digital film camera on a slider for shots from the audience’s point of view or wide shots of the stage.

Devin DeHaven, Producer & Director at Fortress Entertainment, said, “Fortress’ use of Blackmagic Design gear has allowed us to reimagine how live music broadcasts and festivals are approached. Using Blackmagic Design products has matched perfectly with the Fortress approach to festival production, as both companies pitch disruptive methodology.

“We have shifted focus to tools that allow more of the spend to show up on screen and that create a signature cinematic look, including cameras, switchers and cinema glass, while marrying a technical approach to leverage cloud control room solutions.

“This combination has allowed our festival partners to use less infrastructure, increase profits and have a lower resource impact on all the departments that a live stream touches.”

Sony VENICE 2 Digital Cinematic Camera with 8K or 6K sensor

Sony’s VENICE 2 Digital Cinematic Camera is equipped with two full-frame image sensors, allowing users to capture footages in richer colour and with greater depth. VENICE 2 offers a choice between 8K and 6K sensors, both of which boast wide latitude and gamut, allowing filmmakers greater freedom in grading from 15 to 16 stops of latitude and colour rendition.

With a 6K sensor, VENICE 2 can shoot at speeds of up to 120fps at 4K and 90fps at 6K. In anamorphic format, it also allows shooting at speeds of up to 75fps at 4K 4:3 and 72fps at 4K 6:5. With the 8K sensor, VENICE 2 can achieve up to 60fps at 8.2K and 90fps at 5.8K.

As the compact design requires no external recorder the set-up for VENICE 2 is faster, simpler, and easier, particularly for gimbals, Steadicams, and drones.

VENICE 2’s durable ventilation system is completely isolated from all electronic components to prevent ingress of dust, sand, and splash. The silent-running fan can be cleaned or even swapped out on set quickly and easily.

As a Netflix certified Production Technology Alliance, VENICE 2 was used for the production of Netflix series, Outer Banks.

“VENICE 2 has the new full-frame 8.6K image sensor and the Dual Base ISO feature, which is really important and can now move between 800 ASA and 3200. The quality of the sensor is first rate,” said Gonzalo Amat, a director and cinematographer ASC.

“The latitude, colours, and highlights — everything was even sharper than before, while still using a menu similar to what I was used to. You can shoot on a very bright, sunny day without losing detail, plus the rendition of the colour and skin tone of faces is really quite cinematic. It doesn’t feel electronic — it feels more like a film camera.”

Rob McLachlan, another cinematographer, added, “We’ve been shooting the new LA ‘Colour Noir’ mystery thriller series, ‘American Gigolo,’ with two Sony VENICE 2 cameras for eight weeks now. Every day, under every condition and setting, it continues to impress. Whether at night, at dawn, in the studio, on city nights, or at high noon and sunset in the desert, the highlights naturally roll-off, and our actors look gorgeous.

“Night time cityscapes almost light themselves, and I’m using less light control than ever elsewhere. I knew this would be the case from my experience shooting the camera’s test film, but what is really wowing us is how incredibly clean and pleasing the images are at 3200 ISO — and we tested it at 6400 and even at 12,800 ISO, it still looks really good.”

Canon EOS R7 camera meets APS-C design

Canon EOS R7 is equipped with APS-C image sensors and features body image stabilisation (In-Body IS), weather-sealing, and dual SD card slots. A new update supports fast camera subject capture by enabling high-speed continuous shooting in mechanical and electronic first-curtain shutter modes (with AF/AE tracking). In electronic shutter mode, the EOS R7 is capable of shooting 32.5-megapixel images at up to approximately 30fps continuous shooting.

The EOS R7 is also one of the first APS-C EOS cameras to feature the sensor-shift type 5-axis In-Body IS (Image Stabiliser) mechanism, which can achieve up to 8 stops’ equivalent image stabilisation during video and still image shooting. The EOS R7 can use 7K oversampling to record high-quality 4K Ultra HD (UHD) video at up to 30p in the new 4K UHD Fine mode. Uncropped 4K 60p recording is rendered in 4K UHD Standard mode.

Apart from well-defined video quality, the APS-C EOS photography camera supports Canon Log 3 gamma, colour grading and high dynamic range (HDR) video production.

APS-C image sensors are roughly 40% the size of 35mm full-frame image sensors, allowing the camera and lens systems built around them to be smaller, lighter, more portable, and easier to handle, translating to better affordability.

Equipped with powerful sensors, the camera’s DIGIC X processor delivers swift and lively handling, and virtually eliminates viewfinder lag for a truly responsive shooting experience — up to 42 RAW files and 126 JPEGs can be capture in a single 30fps burst.

Grass Valley 150 — a control hub in a live broadcast camera

Presented as the future of live broadcasting cameras, the Grass Valley 150 broadcast camera was unveiled at this year’s NAB show.

Grass Valley 150 offers UHD HDR images at 3x high-speed and with JPEG XS high-quality low-latency video compression option, the broadcast camera is designed for live broadcast. The new and improved Xenios imager allows the capture of low light images (F11@2000 lux) with improved signal-to-noise ratio.

The camera features scalable multi-format image capture and distribution and can be connected to RJ-45 Ethernet connector (1 Gbps), video BNC baseband connectors, input and output (1.5G, 3G or 12G) and AES digital audio. It also offers high IP distribution of 100G, without the delays inherent in sending signals to a separate control hub.

Through REMI (remote production over the internet) integrations, LDX 150 eliminates SDI interconnection and transmit only the required signals. The camera adheres to various standards, including SMPTE ST 2110-10.

LDX 150 optimises inventory management and workflow through wireless near field communication (NFC) that packs the camera’s usage information in the LDX Scanner mobile application.

NewTek NDI|HX-PTZ3 camera

True to its commitment to further develop high quality PTZ cameras that can easily interoperate with thousands of applications that support NDI, NewTek has made available its NDI|HX-PTZ3 Camera. Using a single cable, video professionals and systems integrators are now able to find new ways to expand and streamline network connectivity.

The PTZ3 can acquire and deliver video to the network in full UHD or HD, with NDI output and native support for resolutions up 1080p at 60fps. The video settings also include exposure, focus, iris, shutter speed, white balance, and wide dynamic range, while the camera also supports mic and line level audio input, and adjustable volume control.

With the integration of the NewTek NDI Studio Monitor, producers can remotely operate camera controls, monitor video, manage login credentials, and configure audio, video, and network settings from any compatible networked device.

With the ability to apply custom device and channel names, the camera can be easily identified on the network. Specifically, when all connected NDI devices are able to find each other automatically without the need to enter IP addresses and port information.

The camera can acquire and deliver video into conventional workflows with support for 3G-SDI and HDMI hardware output. This also allow multiple destinations to receive video from the NDI|HX PTZ3 camera without individual point-to-point connections to conserve network bandwidth.

William Waters, Head of Product Management, NewTek, said, “As part of the Vizrt Group family, NewTek works closely with NDI to harness its power of connection and fuse it into the DNA of our products and solutions.

“We are proud to pioneer a future-proofed PTZ camera that offers unparalleled flexibility that meets the fast evolving needs of the market.”

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