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How Camera Technology Is Transforming Programme Coverage

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During the last decade camera technology has dramatically changed the way footage is captured. Every time audiences turn on their TV screens, open their laptops or browse through their smart devices, a range of revolutionary dynamic and creative shots are on display in many of today's most popular programmes, writes Paul McNeil, Senior Project Manager, Camera Corps.

In the same way that technology has transformed viewing habits, camera technology has had to evolve to meet the increased demands of audiences, who expect more innovative and exciting coverage. However, rather than simply responding to the expectations of viewers, the advanced capabilities of the latest camera systems are now capturing shots that are setting the bar even higher.

The common theme across these wide ranges of unusual and unique shots is the creation of a more immersive experience for the viewer. Whether it is looking down a ski slope through the eyes of a competitor or following the antics of celebrities in the midst of an Australian jungle, new camera technology, such as the latest remote camera systems, is placing the audience right at the heart of the action.

Reality show producers have proved particularly keen on using remote camera systems as a way of fielding cameras in positions that would be impractical with any other system. One of the earliest high profile examples was the introduction of Camera Corps' Q-Balls in Channel 4's Big Brother, where a range of the discreet systems were placed around the contestant's house to capture live 'fly-on-the-wall' coverage. The first Big Brother programme was aired back in 2000, and since then this type of footage has been increasingly used on our screens.

Fast forward to this year and the latest camera technology is being used on some of the nation's biggest entertainment shows. The recent series of ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here used almost 80 Camera Corps cameras in its production, including a number of the Q-Ball remote-controlled pan and tilt camera systems with high quality built-in optical lenses. Camera Corps technicians also assisted throughout the production, maintain the cameras and carrying out additional rigging for all challenges and trials.

Other speciality cameras supplied to the programme included Minishot remote heads, HD Mini Zoom cameras with infrared mode, Hitachi DK-H32, and Toshiba IK-HR1s and IK-HD1 mini cameras. The cameras were used to film the celebrities in camp 24 hours a day during their stint in the jungle, as well as during the Bushtucker Trials, and were controlled from the production gallery located over 800 metres away.

Another genre that stands out for using the most advanced camera technology is sports. The role of cameras in live sports has changed dramatically in recent years, moving away from providing a range of generic views and close ups from the side of the pitch, cameras are now being placed right in the midst of the action.

Key broadcasters are deploying increasingly innovative techniques to make their coverage stand out from their competitors, and the new camera products are actually shaping the way audiences view and consume sport.

Camera Corps and its fellow Vitec Group brand, The Camera Store, have provided specialist equipment and technical support teams for hundreds of sporting productions – including arena, field, stadium and major motor sports tournaments. One proven camera trend that has already delivered hours of special camera footage is wearable cameras. These are deployed with the latest high-performance RF video links and are part of Camera Corps' portfolio of remote camera solutions that acquire more exciting and unusual television from these types of extremely challenging environments.

Winter Sports, in particular, seems to epitomise advancements in camera technology. Helmet cams have been used in events such as board cross, and unique pop-up cameras are also frequently used to capture action shots during the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge. We have even seen drones being used, with one UK based company trialling its camera mountable drones to film unique close up images at recent ski and snowboarding events.

Live or recorded on-board mobile applications have also been in operation covering sports for several years, with a range of special-purpose cameras developed to shoot specific activities. Whether it is specialist aquatic camera systems to bring the viewer an underwater perspective or solutions such as the Cricket Stump Cam, these are being adopted by some of the world's biggest broadcasters.

Regardless of the genre or application, the latest camera technology has undoubtedly changed the way footage is captured both now and in the future. The winners in this battle of the most creative and innovative shots are the audiences, as when they switch on their chosen devices the dynamic and diverse range of coverage is consistently raising and exceeding their expectations.

The article is also available to read in BFV online.


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