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College Of Music Installs Vinten Vantage Robotic Camera Heads

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The College of Music at the University of North Texas (UNT) has installed seven Vinten Vantage robotic camera heads, together with the μVRC (microVRC) controller, in the school's Murchison Performing Arts Center building.

Provided by Vinten, the Vinten Vantage systems give the College of Music recording department a compact, versatile, and cost-effective pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) solution for capturing and live-streaming performances.

Based in Denton, Texas, the UNT College of Music is not only world-renowned but also has one of the largest enrollments of any institution accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Among its many other notable achievements, the college developed one of the first jazz studies programs in the U.S. and today remains one of the top jazz schools in the world.

"We're proud that we've built a recording operation that mirrors the standard of excellence for which the College of Music is so well-known, right down to the video camera support and control systems," said Blair Liikala, director of recording services, University of North Texas. "We needed to bring our robotic footage up to broadcast quality, with the best possible images and outstanding motion and control, but at a university budget. The compact and lightweight Vinten Vantage units, paired with the microVRC controller, are the ideal solution. Plus, the ability to support camcorders from all major manufacturers, as well as both full-servo and manual lens types, is a huge benefit — it means we'll never be locked into a single type of PTZ camera."

The College maintains a busy schedule of producing about 1,100 events each year, recording roughly 600 of them. One-third — about 200 performances — feature multicamera video and are live-streamed over the school's Facebook and YouTube channels. In addition, the department maintains the college's master performance archive, including university concerts, faculty and student recitals, guest and contracted performances, and recording sessions.

The recording department installed five Vinten Vantage robotic heads permanently in the building's Winspear concert hall for use with Canon EOS C200 cinematic cameras. Two more Vinten Vantage systems are mounted on tripods, giving the team the flexibility to take the C200s to location shoots. Since the Vinten units integrate easily into the facility's Dante audio-over-IP network, the team can move the camera heads without having to reconfigure the network — a large benefit since recording equipment is located in two separate buildings.

"The Canon/Vinten Vantage combo has turned out to be an ideal and cost-effective solution, letting us get the most out of our Canon C200 camera investment without customization. The money we saved meant we could spend more on better lenses, which we need for effective video capture in our premiere Winspear concert hall," Liikala added. "Plus, the microVRC system gives us a comprehensive and powerful control solution with great preset controls, which is particularly valuable since we seldom have time to rehearse our camera work before concerts. Another unexpected benefit of the Vinten Vantage-microVRC-Canon C200 setup is that it gives our student workers invaluable experience with gear they're likely to encounter when they begin their postcollege broadcast careers."

Neil Gardner, global product manager, Vinten Automation, commented: "The recording department plays a critical role at the UNT College of Music by bringing its performances to the world and ensuring their preservation for posterity. It's an honor that our Vinten Vantage and microVRC were chosen by such a prestigious institution — and this deployment is a great example of how these solutions fill an important niche for higher-learning institutions and other venues, such as houses of worship."
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