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Videosys Broadcast Teams Up With Broadcast Rental

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Videosys Broadcast has partnered with Dutch company Broadcast Rental to create a new camera control system that allows broadcasters to easily integrate Sony's compact FX6 camera and a lightweight MOVI Rig into their HDR production workflows.

Broadcast Rental first introduced full frame cameras with a MOVI rig 12 years ago but advances in camera technology, combined with more and more broadcasters wanting an HDR workflow, the company felt it was time to change the camera to a Sony FX6 in order to accommodate these developments. By teaming the Sony FX6 with a MOVI Rig, broadcasters can now capture filmic shots with real depth of field, stunning AF performance and superb cinematic expression without compromising on the control offered by larger, heavier and less flexible broadcast camera systems.

Founded in 2009 by GP Slee, who has a 30-year track record in the broadcast industry, Broadcast Rental has long been at the forefront of technological development. Based in Hilversum, the company supplies turnkey solutions, MCR, Fly Packs, RF HD/UHD transmissions and state of the art box hire equipment. Its innovative solutions have been used on numerous high-profile projects, from Formula 1, the Winter and Summer Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, the EUFA EURO Tournament and Champions League Football, to the Tour de France, the Dakar rally, the MTV European Music Awards and many rock, pop and classical concerts.

Frank Steenbeek, Chief Operating Officer at Broadcast Rental, says the desire to incorporate the Sony FX6 into HDR broadcast workflows was the genesis of this project.

"Cameras such as the FX6 are becoming much more sophisticated and now offer a range of features that are of great interest to broadcasters," he explained. "However, operating them on the wireless systems used in HDR broadcast workflows is tricky because this is not what they are designed for. We were determined to create a solution that would give broadcasters the creative benefits of filmic cameras housed in a lightweight rig, but without sacrificing the wireless control they were used to."

Broadcast Rental first began developing camera systems that involved MOVI rigs in 2012, thanks to a project it undertook with specialist MOVI operator Ben de Graaf (AKA MOVI BEN). At the time a Broadcast Rental customer who directed live sports events wanted to work with filmic cameras in a live environment, specifically soccer matches. To achieve this they needed a system that offered a wireless connection for the signal and for racking/colouring the camera. In collaboration with Ben, Broadcast Rental was able to create a MOVI rig system that implemented all the necessary details.

"12 years on and it was time to refresh the set-up," Frank Steenbeek said. "Once again, Ben was involved in the project, along with Videosys, which was an obvious partner having worked with us on numerous occasions previously."

GP Slee added: "I've known Colin Tomlin, Videosys Broadcast’s CEO and founder, for many years and regard him as something of a technical guru. We are heavy users and testers of the camera control, RF links and camera backs that the company develops, all of which help us make improvements to our own systems."

Having identified they wanted to use a Sony FX6 camera, Broadcast Rental reached out to Videosys to see what could be done about camera control.

"It was a difficult puzzle as there were a number of parameters needing to be addressed," Steenbeek says. "The FX6 was the right choice of camera because it is lightweight and has the look and feel of a mainstream broadcast camera, which makes it very straightforward for operators to use. But what we didn’t have was a control system that could control the lens or operate the camera itself. We reached out to Videosys and gave them a specific request – build us a solution that works."

The project, which took three months to complete, involved modifying the Sony FX6 so that it could be used effectively in a broadcast workflow.

Colin Tomlin explained: "As the Sony FX6 is not a broadcast camera like, say, an HCD3500, there is a no real way to control it, even Sony don't make a remote control panel for it. However, they do offer control over ethernet of some features and that was our starting point."

Videosys Broadcast's designer George Bairaktaris looked at the range of supported features and re-mapped Videosys’ uni-directional control using Sony RCP1500 or Sony RCP3500 remote control panels to directly pick up the available features on the FX6.

"Features such as master black and gamma, for example, were remapped to a Colour Box colour corrector, and through a combination of both the camera itself and the post processing of the Color Box, we were able to devise acceptable control of the FX6 for broadcast use," Tomlin said.

Frank Steenbeek adds that using colour correction to compensate for the lack of full protocol control was an incredibly clever workaround.

"Normally a software would have to be written to translate data from the RCP to the camera," he explained. "By using what was already there, Videosys have succeeded in creating a very well thought out and innovative solution that not only works perfectly but also brings the FX6 into the Videosys wireless ecosystem that we are already using. This saves rigging time and makes the entire system much more secure because there are fewer points of failure – both important considerations when you are dealing with live events. What Videosys has given us is a very nice addition to our portfolio, which delivers real value to our customers."

The new camera control system was inaugurated at the end of May during the final of the Holland Veterans football tournament. The results were so successful that Broadcast Rental will now be deploying the new MOVI Ben system across numerous football matches throughout Europe, including UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europe League and UEFA Conference League games where Dutch teams are playing.

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