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2013 MTV VMAs Premiered a Filmic Look

When MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs) went live to a global audience—at 9pm ET/PT on August 25th, 2013 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY—the focus was on this year’s “Moonman” awards, the Red Carpet, and world-class performances by stars like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Lady Gaga.

But behind the scenes, MTV’s flagship music event also made big broadcast industry news with its groundbreaking use of new Ikegami HDK-97ARRI camera systems, with integrated ARRI 35mm CMOS sensors, paired with digital cinema style Fujinon PL 19-90 Cabrio Premier PL Mount zoom lenses.

The camera system, which is well suited to multi-camera HDTV broadcasts, produces a soft, organic 35mm film look. It won the International Association of Broadcasting Manufacturers (IABM) 2013 award for design and innovation at the 2013 NAB Show. Since the camera has a PL mount for lenses, MTV chose the Cabrio 19-90mm lens because it merges cine-style features, like a PL mount, with a broadcast-friendly workflow.

“By enabling a multi-camera broadcast workflow with a visually stunning film look, this perfect synergy between [all three camera components] offers HDTV broadcasts the look we’ve long sought,” said Danny Walters, project engineer for Viacom Media Networks, Music Group and Logo, Technical Operations and Remote division, in Nashville, TN.

Calling MTV “big believers in the large-format imager philosophy for TV entertainment,” Walters said they began evaluating digital cinema cameras from Sony, Red, and others at the 2013 NAB show. But when he learned of the Super 35mm CMOS sensor broadcast camera, he ordered eight of them. 

The imaging sensor enables cinematic qualities like natural skin tones, excellent dynamic range and color separation, with progressive frame-rates like 23.98p HD. On the back-end, the camera system transports video, audio, and data channels between the camera head and CCU over a 3G-fiber transmission system using up to 2km SMPTE hybrid fiber/copper camera cable. And it offers a user interface familiar to camera operators and video technicians.

“The filmesque look that the ARRI front-end provides, working in conjunction with an Ikegami camera on the back-end, is the best of both worlds,” said Bill McFall, video president of technical operations, Remote TV, Viacom Music Group. “This is a unique pairing that fits in very well with where MTV is headed.”

Broadcast Beat