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05/10/2004

Cove Z-Link fits the bill

Studio and OB cameras no longer need to be restrained by the weight, bulk and limited distance of analogue triax cables.
Fibre optic technology has great potential but ‘fibre backs’ from camera manufacturers have been narrowly focused. The requirement is for a general-purpose plug-and-play device that fits all cameras, carries multiple video and audio signals at full digital quality, as well as data, in both directions, and supplies ample power (not just enough) to the camera head-end. Enter Z-Link from Cove Broadcast, a purpose-built wide bandwidth bi-directional fibre optic link with a head-end that fits most professional cameras, including camcorders giving them the ability to be used as low cost system cameras.
Z-Link delivers perfect digital video and audio over 10km of FO cable. The head-end unit can clip to the camera back and the 1RU base unit resides in the OB or studio rack. The camera assembly is powered from either a battery or a clip-on hybrid power unit. The addition of a 1RU box at the base unit provides power for the system via hybrid FO cable that includes copper conductors. 200W is made available at the camera over a 2km range and is plenty to run Z-Link, the camera and its accessories.
Flexibility is key in Z-Link’s design. For optimum camera weight and balance both the hybrid power and Z-link units can be operated on or off the camera. There are numerous reverse facilities to the camera including talkback, coded video signals, reference sync, and data that all aid operation and allow full remote system camera operation – even with camcorders.
There are three versions of electromechanical head-end interfaces to fit most professional cameras. In all cases uncompressed video and audio are transmitted to the base unit with both composite PAL and SDI video. Z-Link’s ability to provide SDI video from component video inputs means that analogue camera outputs can be interfaced with digital production systems and that any compression required for contribution circuits is free of PAL artefacts, providing cleaner pictures for production.
Users are quick to configure Z-link to suit particular needs. For example, using ENG cameras as system cameras with on-air tally helps avoid airing adjustments like refocusing, zooms and whip pans. For remote interviews, the return video path can provide teleprompter output at the camera position along with presenter’s production talkback. Remote camera set-up and control uses Z-link’s data channels, with set-up menus appearing in the viewfinder or at base. Z-link can also act as a general-purpose link, for example, to connect an out-of-range radio camera back to base.
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