HITACHI Z-HD5500 Cameras Improve Studio Production Quality for WTLW and WOSN

Broadcasting from Lima, Ohio, viewer-supported television station WTLW (Witness the Living Word) delivers high-quality Christian and family-centered programming to its viewers. When the station upgraded the video acquisition capabilities in its production studio to HD this summer, they chose Z-HD5500 HDTV cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to provide the rich features, outstanding quality and long-lasting durability they wanted.

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Owned by American Christian Television Services, WTLW operates two channels: WTLW-TV44, which has been broadcasting since 1982, and 24-hour all-sports network WOSN (West Ohio Sports Network), launched in 2010. The two channels share the same production studio, which had until recently employed standard-definition HITACHI cameras.

“We upgraded the infrastructure in our studio to HD a few years ago, but we were still using SD cameras and up-converting them to 1080i,” explained Jeff Klingler, chief engineer at WTLW. “Our usage of the studio is ramping up, so our goal this year was to bring our studio acquisition up to true HD. The new Z-HD5500 cameras were the last piece of the puzzle.”

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While Klingler’s past success with HITACHI cameras made them the leading contender for the upgrade, it was the powerful yet cost-effective capabilities of the Z-HD5500 that solidified their decision.

“The Z-HD5500 is an excellent product with a really strong feature set, and the price point is awesome,” said Klingler. “It’s a perfect fit for what we do.”

The ability of the Z-HD5500’s global-shutter CMOS image sensors to capture flawless video under varying LED lighting conditions was one of the features Klingler found appealing.

“We knew that we would be replacing our existing incandescent lighting with new LED lights as part of the studio upgrade,” he recounted. “The Z-HD5500 cameras play very nicely with the different temperature ranges.”

WTLW purchased three Z-HD5500s through integrator AVI Systems and began using them in production in June of this year. Two of the cameras are operated on pedestals, with the third mounted on a newly-installed jib. Already using solutions from Ross Video for switching, graphics and news production, the station quickly took advantage of the HITACHI cameras’ integration with the Ross Dashboard open control and monitoring platform for remote camera management.

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WTLW has not owned the Z-HD5500s long enough to truly judge their longevity yet, but Klingler expects to get the same outstanding durability and reliability that he has experienced with earlier models.

“Our SD HITACHI cameras were 10 years old and we never had any problems with them,” he said. “In fact, they’re still going strong, and we sold them to a local production company. As a small independent Christian TV station in a small market, we don’t have the budgets of network TV, so we really like to get a lot of bang for our buck when we buy something. HITACHI cameras consistently give us that.”

Klingler also highlights the benefits of dealing with Hitachi Kokusai from a customer service perspective.

“I can’t say enough about my relationship with my HITACHI representative,” he praised. “Customer service is always his top priority.”

Beyond the operational and business benefits that the Z-HD5500s bring WTLW, the viewer-facing impact has been equally positive.

“It was a great upgrade from what we had before to where we are now,” said Klingler. “As an engineer, I love the robust features from a technical perspective, but it’s the resulting productions that our audience cares about. The cameras really make a difference, and what we are producing now is a lot better looking. Our viewers absolutely notice the improvement, which is what’s most important to us.”

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Custom-Engineered Bolero S Ensures Reliable Referee Communications for German Bundesliga

To meet and surpass these requirements, Riedel Communications has initiated their Managed Sports Services division, comprised of custom-engineered technologies paired with extensive supervision and support by Riedel-qualified engineers. Among the first to profit from these services is DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga, who has partnered with Riedel to design a reliable infrastructure for German Bundesliga referee communications.

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With the Bolero wireless intercom system, introduced in 2017, Riedel has a reliable intercom platform with outstanding audio quality that is perfectly suited for sports broadcasts. The challenge was to deliver a solution that would provide crystal-clear communications between Bundesliga referees and their assistants on the sidelines, and with the Video-Assist-Center (VAC) located in Cologne. In addition, the beltpack itself had to be acceptable to the referees and suitable for live-game environments.

Bolero-DFL-AuswahlFor this joint effort, DFL experts and Riedel’s team of engineers and product managers took on the task of designing a smaller version of the Bolero system that offered unlimited freedom of movement on the pitch while still preserving key characteristics such as multiple channels, high voice clarity, and unsurpassed RF reliability. Early on, it was decided that voice activated transmission (VOX) would offer the hands-free convenience to make the project successful. The result is a VOX-operated hands-free Bolero beltpack and lightweight headset combination that allows Bundesliga referees, assistants, and Video Assistant Referees (VAR) to communicate effortlessly via a real-time connection to Riedel’s brand-new Remote Operations Center (ROC) in Wuppertal.

A year of intense collaboration bore fruit just in time for the start of the 2018/2019 season when the Bolero S passed its trial run during the 2018 DFL-Supercup, exceeding all expectations with its compact size, light weight, and simple operation. As Riedel’s Corporate Business Development Manager, Jacqueline Voss, points out, “This was the result of great synergies between Riedel, DFL and the refereeing department of Deutscher Fußball-Bund. A stadium with 80,000 cheering fans, like Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, is a very demanding environment for clear communications. Experimenting with different headset configurations, microphone cartridges, and sound transducers in our lab alone would not have sufficed. Thanks to our fantastic partnership with DFL, we could conduct extensive field tests at official Bundesliga stadiums and we are more than happy with the result of this team effort.”

Beltpack_Rasen_5Riedel Managed Sports Services and Bolero S will provide reliable referee communications for all 306 Bundesliga matches this season. In each of the 18 Bundesliga stadiums, three Bolero antennas provide full coverage on and beside the pitch, inside the referee locker rooms, and in the players’ tunnels. Their signals converge into a Riedel Artist 32 intercom matrix which then connects to the VAC in Cologne and to the ROC in Wuppertal via WAN VoIP. In the ROC, engineers monitor every single system component and respond to changing circumstances on the pitch in real time. By controlling parameters like gate, release time, and limiter thresholds, every VOX-microphone can be individually calibrated for each referee and then fine-tuned to the conditions in the stadium in real time. With Riedel’s specialists overseeing the beltpack battery charge and system integrity, the referees can now fully concentrate on guiding and directing fair matches.

“With Riedel we have found the ideal partner for referee communications. Having provided customized solutions for high-profile sports events such as premier motorsports or major soccer tournaments, Riedel Communications is unmatched in their experience,” said Ansgar Schwenken, DFL Director of Football Affairs & Supporters and Member of the DFL e.V. Executive Committee. “Our collaboration with Riedel has resulted in the fantastic Bolero S and, with support from their Remote Operations Center, we now enjoy a carefree, full-service solution.”

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4KUNIVERSE launches on HOTBIRD over Europe, Middle East and North Africa

Once positioned on HOTBIRD, the channel will be capable of reaching key cable and IPTV networks, reaching tens of millions of subscribers. 4KUNIVERSE is encrypted and encoded with Wide Colour Gamut, at 50 frames per second (50p), HLG HDR and colour space enabling 1.07 billion colours.

“We are very pleased to welcome 4KUNIVERSE on board our UHD platform in the HOTBIRD neighbourhood. Their exciting range of UHD series, movies and documentaries as well as a burgeoning live sports offering promises to delight and enthrall new audiences across Europe, Middle East and North Africa,” stated Gerry O’Sullivan, Eutelsat’s Executive Vice President Global TV and Video.

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“4KUNIVERSE will enjoy rapid growth across Europe, Middle East and North Africa thanks to our long-term agreement with Eutelsat’s HOTBIRD satellite. It’s exciting to be at the forefront of TV technology and together with HOTBIRD, we’ll be able to fulfill customer demand of wanting the highest quality picture on television: 4K HDR,” says 4KUNIVERSE’s Founder & CEO, Matthew Mancinelli.