The Department of Communication at Austin-Peay State University (APSU) is proud to offer students real-world, hands-on experience in a full array of television and sports broadcasting disciplines. Building on positive experience with cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) in the university’s athletic arenas, the department has expanded its use of Hitachi cameras into its instructional television studio by purchasing three new Z-HD5000s.
Hitachi Kokusai will exhibit in booth C4409 at the 2019 NAB Show from April 8 to 11.
Located just 45 minutes from Nashville in downtown Clarksville, Tennessee, APSU is a four-year public university with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. APSU Television (APSU-TV) operates 24 hours per day and features student-produced news, public affairs, sports and special event programming. The APSU Department of Communication also offers the only Sports Broadcasting major in the state of Tennessee, providing students with live production experience on APSU football and basketball broadcasts, as well as video scoreboard productions.
While APSU-produced programming can be seen on outlets ranging from the campus cable channel to the EPSN+ streaming service, the department’s primary focus is on the educational experience.
“Even though our department does productions, they are all embedded within our curriculum,” said Kathy Lee Heuston, professor and interim chair, Department of Communication at APSU. “Even our sports broadcasts are part of the curriculum. We properly train the students, and then they apply those skills on actual productions.”
That emphasis on experiential learning was core to the university’s earlier purchase of six Z-HD5000s from Hitachi Kokusai for its basketball and football venues, the Dunn Center and Fortera Stadium.
“Our objective was to have a professional camera to teach the students on, so they would be prepared when they went out into the real world,” said Lee Heuston. “The Z-HD5000 met all of the requirements while best fitting the budget, making it the first time the department was able to purchase professional-level cameras.”
“While streaming Ohio Valley Conference games on EPSN+ was not a consideration when we bought the Hitachi cameras, it was a huge benefit when we started with ESPN+ that we already had cameras that met ESPN standards,” added Steve Sawyer, video production coordinator at APSU.
When it came time to upgrade the department’s educational television studio, the Hitachi cameras were again a natural fit.
“Our previous studio cameras were not professional-grade and were due for replacement, so we needed to upgrade to make everything function the way we wanted,” explained Lee Heuston. “Adding more Z-HD5000s gave us consistency, so once the students learn how to use them in the studio, they’re immediately able to use them in our other venues.”
While the three new Z-HD5000s are deployed in fixed positions in the studio, the arena cameras are deployed in various combinations of tripod-based, ladder-mount and handheld operation depending on the sport. Sawyer highlights the cameras’ durability as particularly valuable for the rigors of their athletic productions.
“The Z-HD5000s are very rugged,” he said. “We’re constantly setting up and tearing down the cameras, and moving them across campus. We’ve had absolutely no problems – they’re like tanks.”
The visual quality of the Hitachi cameras has also benefited APSU’s productions.
“We use other cameras in certain situations, such as robotic basketball backboard cameras, and there’s just no comparison in quality,” said Sawyer. “When we do need to take those other shots, we use them very sparingly, because you can definitely see the difference.”
The quality improvement compared to APSU’s earlier studio cameras was similarly evident.
“When we had the older cameras in the studio alongside content coming from the Hitachi cameras in the arena, you could see the quality difference,” said Lee Heuston. “Now, with the Z-HD5000s feeding our NewTek TriCasters, we get very clear pictures and the results really look professional.”
Last but certainly not least, Sawyer compliments the intuitive nature of the Z-HD5000s as well-suited to their educational goals.
“The Hitachi cameras are very easy to teach,” he said. “Everything is very well-placed in the layout of the controls.”
Those instructional benefits align nicely with the department’s primary objective.
“We are very fortunate to be able to use the Hitachi cameras in our classroom environment as well as in our productions, to give our students hands-on experience with professional equipment that will benefit them after graduation,” concluded Lee Heuston.