Public Broadcaster Makes HD Studio Upgrade with Hitachi Cameras

Budget Cox Communications recently installed three Hitachi Z-HD5000 studio and field HDTV cameras in the Manchester, CT studio of its public access channel PATV-15.

Residents in Cox Communications’ three franchise areas —Manchester, Cheshire, and Enfield, CT— can produce a show or a series for air on PATV-15 after taking a television production-training course. Because of this, user-friendliness was a key concern in camera selection. After they receive basic video training from PATV-15 production technicians—including Greg Thresher and Laurie Batignani—the new producers are able to truck the pedestal-based HD cameras around the studio and pan, tilt, and zoom.

Two other factors in the selection process were cost and SD/HD interoperability.

“For us, buying three broadcast-quality HDTV cameras at once was a major capital expense—one that consumed much of our annual equipment budget,” said Chris Giard, video engineer, PATV-15. “We consider such large purchases carefully because we hope to keep the equipment in service for at least 10 years or more. We chose Hitachi for several reasons, including the outstanding service we’ve received over the years from our Hitachi Representatives Sean Moran and Kenneth Cyr, and the incomparable price-performance Hitachi delivers.”

Budget constraints prompted PATV-15 to tackle the HD studio upgrade in three phases, including Phase 1 for cameras. When Cox is ready, it will proceed with Phase 2 plans to buy a Broadcast Pix Mica or Granite HD production switcher among other production gear, and eventually Phase 3 for full HDTV distribution.

Because Hitachi Z-HD5000’s are native multi-standard cameras—with integrated format conversion—PATV-15 operators can shoot in HD today and output down-converted 4:3 480i SD-SDI video until the broadcaster has completed its entire HD workflow. In the future, Cox intends to buy additional Hitachi Z-HD5000’s to convert its Cheshire and Enfield studios to HDTV.

The three new Hitachi Z-HD5000’s cameras in Manchester are each outfitted with optical fiber camera adapters, 7-inch HDTV LCD color viewfinders, Hitachi CU-HD500 camera control units, and Hitachi’s RU-1000-VR remote control panels—critical for remote camera set-ups, such as color balancing and iris control.