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PTZ Cameras Promise Pro Production Values

As most all video content creators know, viewers' attention spans are limited and holding viewers means offering seamless production.

In our sixth issue of Pro Video Dealer we take a look at the adoption of PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) cameras and how they deliver a polished and professional production look to webcasts, lectures, meetings, corporate events, religious services, sports, and just about any type of video content.

As most all video content creators know, viewers’ attention spans are limited and holding viewers means offering seamless production, whether the viewer is watching a city council meeting, a college lecture, high school sports, or a sermon–and one of the key indicators that viewers are watching something professional is whether the show cuts around to multiple angles.

Adding multiple traditional video cameras, each with its own operator, is certainly beyond many companies’ and institutions’ budgets. Until fairly recently, the small, remotely-operated PTZ cameras only offered the quality necessary for use in security systems.

That’s all changed in less than two years with a number of compact PTZ cameras with high resolution built-in zoom lenses. These SDI and HDMI cameras that could be easily controlled on a panel or joystick. And, as we reported in our last issue, the arrival of NDI® (Network Device Interface) has allowed PTZ cameras to be part of webcast operation.

PTZOptics, based in Philadelphia, PA specializes in PTZ cameras and peripherals, such as joysticks and cables. “Most of our customers are looking for affordable PTZ cameras with simple controllers and a very intuitive interface” says Paul Richards the company’s chief streaming officer. PTZOptics offers firmware upgrades that make their newest SDI cameras upgradable to NDI and also have NDI-native models too. “About 50 percent of our users have people controlling the cameras who have no training in video production at all. They want the look of a high-end production, but they have a very modest budget.”

NewTek introduced its PTZ-style camera this past July, as soon as a native NDI capable PTZ 1 unit could be manufactured. “There are more and more people looking for low-cost ways to offer multiple angles in their video and live streaming,” says Brian Olson, VP of product management for NewTek. “They don’t have a budget for multiple camera operators. They want something very simple to set up.

“NDI simplifies their productions,” Olson continues, “since a single Ethernet cable can be used to send instructions to the camera and to send video the other way. With NDI a reality, it made sense for us to offer a great quality PTZ camera too.” 

For those working with SDI and HDMI PTZ cameras, the MatroxMonarch HDX lecture capture appliance has also become a popular tool to encode the video output in real-time to H.264 for live streaming to CDNs (content delivery networks) such as YouTube, Facebook Live and Ustream, as well as media servers such as Adobe Flash and Wowza, or directly to a computer or device found on a LAN.

With all of the options available for low-cost, easy-to-use PTZ cameras and peripherals, there’s no reason that every event shouldn’t be broadcast with dynamic, engaging production values. 

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Using PTZOptics NDI-Enabled Producer Kits with NewTek’s TriCaster

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