Z-HD5500 Cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Enable ‘Stunning’ IMAG and Streaming Quality for Calgary’s First Alliance Church

80-year-old First Alliance Church (FAC) in Calgary, Alberta produces two distinct live video feeds of their services, each optimized for a particular purpose – image magnification (IMAG) to enrich the worship experience for on-site visitors, and online streaming to reach congregants unable to attend in person. Overhauling their production infrastructure to HD, FAC purchased four Z-HD5500 cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to capture high-quality video for both applications while accurately reproducing the church’s rich LED lighting effects.

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Approximately 3000 people gather each weekend at FAC Calgary to attend one of the church’s three Saturday evening and Sunday morning services. Replacing their aging, standard-definition analog equipment as part of a major upgrade initiative, the church found the Z-HD5500s to be a perfect fit for their goals and environment.

“When I first saw the Z-HD5500 camera package at the NAB Show, I knew right away that it was exactly what we needed,” said FAC technical director Paul Nadeau-Bonilla. “The cameras are so versatile, we can use them for our current studio-style application in our main sanctuary, as well as for ENG-style video acquisition in the future. The price point was also compelling, but the biggest thing for me was that they work well with LED lighting in the church world. We have some less-expensive LED lights, so we wanted a camera that would provide flicker-free video despite the varying refresh rates of these different fixtures.”

Supplied by systems integrator Applied Electronics, the Hitachi cameras have exceeded Nadeau-Bonilla’s high expectations for their LED lighting reproduction.

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“I expected the Z-HD5500s would overcome the challenges of the LED lights, but I was even more impressed once we installed them and started using them,” he said. “With our previous system and LED lighting, it drove me nuts that the colors of what you saw in the house and what you saw on the screen didn’t match, particularly in the blue spectrum. Nice mauves or purples would show up as blue on the screen. The Z-HD5500s are so much better, and are really great at picking up different tones of LED blue. Now, what you see on stage is what you see on screen as well.”

Under the guidance of video director Russell Moore, the church’s volunteer video team creates separate productions for online streaming and for IMAG on the church’s two 24-by-13 foot Stewart Filmscreen front projection screens on the sides of the stage.

“IMAG is about helping those in the room see what’s happening on stage more clearly; streaming is about conveying the full experience for those not in the room,” Nadeau-Bonilla explained. “During music and worship, what’s on IMAG is the same as the stream, but during preaching they are different: a close-up shot from the center camera on the side screens, and a combination of close-ups plus wider contextual shots in the stream,” he continued. “The Z-HD5500s and the Fujinon lenses that came with them allow us to get in nice and tight on the subject with a really sharp image. The video looks stunning on the side screens – absolutely gorgeous.”

FAC Calgary chose equipment from Ross Video including a Carbonite Black 2S switcher as part of their HD upgrade, and were pleased to discover the tight integration between the Hitachi cameras and the Ross Dashboard open control and monitoring platform.

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“It’s difficult to find volunteers who like shading, as it’s one of the less glamorous positions on the video crew,” said Nadeau-Bonilla. “The integration allows the director to shade the cameras using Ross Dashboard while also doing his other duties, which is a big asset.”

Most importantly, the new cameras have helped the church meet their goals of improving the visual experience for worshippers both on-site and online.

“Our congregants and online viewers have been thrilled to bits with the quality,” summarized Nadeau-Bonilla. “The Z-HD5500s look good and perform really well, so we’re very happy with them.”

WestGate Church Enhances Multi-Campus Live Video Delivery with Z HD5500 HDTV Cameras from Hitachi Kokusai

As San Jose, California-area WestGate Church expanded beyond its original Saratoga campus to multiple satellite locations, live video became a vital enabler of its ongoing growth. Looking to improve picture quality and production flexibility for its multi-site broadcasts, the church purchased two Z-HD5500 HDTV studio and field production cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) and has been delighted with the results.

“When I joined the church, we had maxed out our capacity in Saratoga, and had dreams of going multi-site,” said Kevan Long, production director at WestGate Church. “Adding satellite campuses was crucial in extending our reach into other pockets of the Silicon Valley region, and linking them with video is an essential part of our worship experience.”

Adding new locations over the past three years, WestGate Church now spans four campuses – Saratoga, South Hills, Sunnyvale, and the Spanish-language Casa de Fe – with more than 3000 total congregants attending services each week. Live broadcasts of services with lead pastor Steve Clifford originate from the Saratoga site’s 800-seat worship center and are streamed with a five-minute time delay to South Hills and Casa de Fe, while evening attendees at the Sunnyvale location watch a recording captured earlier the same day.

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As their dependency on video increased, the church recognized the need to upgrade their cameras. “We needed better image capture quality as we expanded to multiple sites,” explained Long. “Our existing robotic PTZ cameras created a fairly decent 720p image, but we knew our video could be much better with true broadcast-grade cameras. Following our communicators across the stage with robotic cameras also didn’t look very good, so we had to ask them to limit their actions so they didn’t step out of the frame.”

Low-light handling was also among the key criteria as the church evaluated new cameras.

“We don’t like to flood our stage with lights, preferring to run it a bit on the darker side to give it a warmer feel,” said Long. “Our previous cameras weren’t great in low-light situations, so we needed ones with better sensors and sensitivity.”

Worship-oriented systems integrator E2i Design recommended the Z-HD5500 to the WestGate Church team. As the Z-HD5500 was brand new at the time, Long spoke to other churches that were using earlier Hitachi camera models, and was impressed by what he heard. These endorsements combined with the cameras’ technical benefits to make the Z-HD5500s ideal for WestGate’s needs.

“Hitachi Kokusai as a company has a great reputation, and the video from their cameras looks great,” said Long. “The Z-HD5500’s full frame rate 1080p capability was a factor in our decision, and its 62dB signal-to-noise ratio is pretty amazing. Its new sensor’s ability to handle the challenges of LED lighting at different refresh rates was also very appealing, as our stage and house lighting are almost entirely LED, and we plan to add LED video walls in the future.”

The Z-HD5500s have delivered all of the benefits the church was looking for, improving the visual quality of their productions while enabling their on-stage communicators to move about freely.

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“The image quality of the Hitachi cameras is just stellar, and we could clearly see as soon as we put them in that their depth of field and low-light performance were so much better than what we had previously,” praised Long. “The ability to follow our communicators on stage has also enabled us to create a more dynamic video experience, making us much more engaging to watch than our oldlocked-down shots.”

While the church’s video crew was new to broadcast-class cameras, they found the Hitachi cameras easy to learn.

“We held a 30-minute group training session on the basic controls, then came early to practice during rehearsals for the first month,” recalled Long. “The transition was pretty seamless.”

Long is completely satisfied with the Z-HD5500s, and would love to add two more to WestGate Church’s productions if budget and space in the sanctuary permit.

“We couldn’t be happier with the decision we made to go with the Hitachi cameras,” he summarized. “They are vital in our inter-campus content delivery and have made us better as a production team, which in turn hasmade us better as a ministry in reaching our community.”

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Hitachi Kokusai to Showcase Award-Winning Professional Camera Innovations at InfoComm 2019

Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) is bringing its newest professional camera solutions to next week’s InfoComm 2019 conference and exhibition in Orlando, Florida. Demonstrations in booth 4875 will include the A/V industry trade show debut of the award-winning new SK-HD1800 HDTV studio and field production camera, and the latest enhancements to the DK-H200 multi-format, compact box camera for remote and point-of-view (POV) applications.

The SK-HD1800 combines Hitachi Kokusai’s advanced CMOS imaging technology with a motorized, remote filter wheel to deliver spectacular image quality for mobile and event-based productions even in environments with challenging LED lighting and displays. The camera’s global shutter, progressive-scan sensors enable flawless, flicker-free, high-performance video capture in churches, sporting arenas, concert venues, TV studios and other facilities where LED lights or large LED displays are used. The advanced 1080p sensors combine with Hitachi Kokusai’s renowned digital signal processing to deliver pristine visual quality with superior sensitivity, outstanding color reproduction and a remarkable 62dB signal-to-noise ratio.

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Pairing the SK-HD1800 with a camera control unit (CCU) from Hitachi Kokusai’s CU-HD1300 series forms an exceptionally flexible camera system supporting a wide range of video infrastructures and industry trends, from 4K output over 12G-SDI to IP-based workflows using the SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards. Addressing the growing demand for High Dynamic Range (HDR) video, the SK-HD1800 supports HDR specifications including HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) and HPQ, the latter of which is compatible with the HDR10 open standard for consumer TVs. The SK-HD1800 camera system also offers simultaneous HDR and standard dynamic range (SDR) output in conjunction with the CU-HD1300.

HDR support is also the newest feature in Hitachi Kokusai’s recently-upgraded DK-H200 1080p compact box camera for remote observation and POV acquisition. The DK-H200’s 2.6 million pixel, 2/3-inch MOS sensors deliver sharp, clear images and combine with advanced digital signal processing to provide superior picture quality with low noise, faithful color fidelity and exceptional sensitivity. Like the SK-HD1800, with the latest firmware release, the DK-H200 now supports both HLG and HPQ specifications for HDR. Ideal for robotic camera applications, the DK-H200 will be demonstrated in conjunction with a pan/tilt head from KXWELL International.

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“Our new SK-HD1800 camera and updated DK-H200 were both very well-received by broadcasters and content producers when we unveiled them at the NAB Show in April, and we look forward to showcasing their benefits for professional A/V applications to InfoComm attendees,” said Sean Moran, Chief Operating Officer, Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd. “InfoComm continues to be the premier event for systems integrators and A/V end-users to discover the latest innovations and practical solutions in this rapidly-evolving industry. The SK-HD1800 and DK-H200 are designed to address the hottest topics on their minds, from AV over IP to HDR.”

Hitachi Wins Prestigious Technology and Engineering EMMY® Award for Pioneering Camera Developme

Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. announced today that Hitachi has been honored with a Technology and Engineering EMMY®award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) for pioneering development of the single-chip color video camera.

The EMMY® award was accepted by Koji Takaichi, President and CEO of Hitachi America, Ltd., at the 70th Annual Technology & Engineering EMMY® Awards gala. The event was held in partnership with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) on April 7 in Las Vegas during the 2019 NAB Show. Hitachi was recognized for this award alongside four fellow video equipment manufacturers and two individual developers.

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Left-to-Right: Mr. Yoshihiro Shiwa, President and Representative Director, Hitachi Consumer Electronics Co., Ltd.; Mr. Akio Ito, Executive Vice President and Executive Officer, Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc.; Mr. Koji Takaichi, President & CEO, Hitachi America, Ltd. Photo Credit: Marc Bryan-Brown Photography

The Technology and Engineering EMMY® Awards honor development and innovation in broadcast technology. They recognize companies, organizations and individuals for breakthroughs that have a significant effect on television engineering and a material impact on the television viewing experience.

Hitachi co-developed the patented Saticon camera tube used widely in the television industry until the advent of solid-state imagers, and in 1982 released the MOS sensor based VK-C1000 camera, the first commercial single-chip product.

“The awarded technology was first commercialized in 1982, and is still operating in our professional video cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric, Inc.,” Mr. Takaichi said in his acceptance speech.

Hitachi Kokusai has a rich history of delivering high-performance, professional camera innovations for more than 60 years, and continues to be at the forefront of HDTV, 4K and 8K camera developments while actively championing emerging technologies such as High Dynamic Range (HDR). Its ongoing research and development of advanced camera sensors continues today, with its latest CMOS imaging technology at the heart of the new SK-HD1800 studio and field production camera that made its debut at the 2019 NAB Show.

“We are proud of our history of innovation, and we are honored to be recognized by NATAS for our role in the development of single-chip color camera technology,” said Toshihiro Matsuzaka, President and CEO, Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. “We continue to work hard on developing new technologies and offering them in practical and affordable solutions to address the evolving needs of broadcasters and videoprofessionals in today’s dynamic media landscape.”

Hitachi Kokusai Wins Best of Show Award from TV Technology for SK-HD1800 Studio and Mobile Production Camera at NAB 2019

The new SK-HD1800 HDTV studio and fieldproduction camera from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) was honored at the 2019 NAB Show with a Best of Show Award from Future plc publication TV Technology. The feature-packed SK-HD1800 combines the advanced CMOS imaging technology first implemented in Hitachi Kokusai’s popular Z-HD5500 camera – itself a previous Best of Show Award winner – with a motorized, remote filter wheel to deliver impeccable image quality for mobile and event-based productions even in venues with challenging LED lighting and displays.

Future’s TV Technology Best of Show Awards are evaluated by a panel of engineers and industry experts, and are selected based on innovation, feature set, cost efficiency and performance in serving the industry. The winners will be featured in TV Technology, the digital television authority serving the broadcast, cable, production, post production, business and new media markets. TV Technology is read in print and online by thousands ofindustry professionals in the United States and around the world.

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“We are thrilled that TV Technology has selected the SK-HD1800 as a Best of Show Award winner,” said John J. Humphrey, Vice President of Business Development, Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd. “Our goal with the SK-HD1800 was to incorporate all of the features that customers are looking for in a broadcast-class HDTV camera today, and combine them with future-friendly flexibility at an easily-accessible price point. Recognition with this award is sign that we’ve succeeded in meeting these objectives and delivering what today’s broadcasters and production professionals need.”

The SK-HD1800’s global shutter, progressive-scan, CMOS imagers adapt easily to a wide range of LED lighting conditions, enabling flawless, high-performance video capture in TV studios, churches, sporting arenas, concert venues and other facilities where LED lights or large LED displays are used. The advanced 1080p sensors combine with Hitachi Kokusai’s renowned digital signal processing to deliver pristine visual quality with superior sensitivity, excellent color fidelity and a remarkable 62dB signal-to-noise ratio. The SK-HD1800 supports High Dynamic Range specifications includingHLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) and HPQ, which is compatible with the HDR10 open standard for consumer TVs.

Pairing the HDR-capable SK-HD1800 with a CCU from Hitachi Kokusai’s CU-HD1300 series forms an exceptionally flexible camera system supporting a wide range of production infrastructures and industry trends, from 4K output over 12G-SDI to IP-based workflows using the SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards.

“The Future Best of Show Awards at NAB are in their sixth year,” said Paul McLane, Future managing director, content. “The program focuses attention on superb innovations in technology as seen around the million-square-foot exhibit floor of the industry’s top trade show. The list of 2019 winners and nominees shows where media technology businesses are headed.”

ATEME Supplies Hitachi Kokusai Linear with Ultra-Low Latency Encoders

The new partnership will see ATEME supply the firm with ultra-low latency Kyrion encoders.

ATEME’s Kyrion offers high video quality, multi-channel H.264 and HEVC encoding designed to address a broad range of digital television applications. Its state-of-the-art encoding core will allow HKL to save bandwidth and reach its audience with a revolutionized picture quality.

The encoders will be used alongside HKL broadcast transmitters to support the growing demand from the broadcast market in Brazil for high quality video encoding and broadcast transmissions.

Kyrion is a proven high quality, ultra-low latency encoder that fit with any distribution architecture. HKL will also benefit from ATEME’s continued commitment to evolve the Kyrion platform.

Fabio Pina, Systems Engineering General Manager, HKL, said: “We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of products and services we offer our clients and we believe that ATEME plays an important role in allowing us to do this. Our high-quality broadcast transmitters used in conjunction with ATEME’s high quality ISDB-T Kyrion video encoder represent an important differential in our product line.”

 

Luis Silva, Sales Director, ATEME, commented: “At ATEME Brazil, we are delighted to continue this long-standing partnership with HKL. We are confident that our Kyrion family of encoders and decoders will help HKL to continue to offer the best support to its broadcast customers, as well as its growing customer base.”

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Austin-Peay State University Delivers Hands-On, Educational Production Experiences with Hitachi HDTV Cameras

Hitachi_Austin_Peay_State_U_3The 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.”

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“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.

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“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.

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