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The New Era: Studio Robotics and You!

Robotic camera technology for the studio has certainly started to make it’s mark in the world of production and broadcasting. The continued drop of cost and advancements in the reliability of the technology has really caught on! Organizations that have central-casting in mind and having control of their studio cameras from afar seemed something out of a broadcast engineer’s imagination about 10 years ago.  Now, with robotic camera technology hitting in small market news stations around the country because of the absolute affordability of the robotic product- newcomers to the world of the television industry will need to look else where if they are so inclined to manually run a studio camera! Recommendation, get a hold of your remote control and start getting used to joystick operations and record your presets!

Some of the major players in studio pedestal robotics include (but not limited to the following):

*The Ross Video family of robotic camera systems came as the result of the acquisition of FX-Motion in December, 2011.  The first, Furio RC (Remote Control) is designed for applications in which an operator controls the camera system remotely using a joystick or local (encoded) fluid head and foot pedals to move the camera along the rail and up and down. Furio RC translates the camera operator’s every move to the remote camera. Highly responsive, Furio RC is perfect for live stage productions. This system allows one camera operator to rapidly move a camera from one end of the stage to the other and get shots simply not possible with a roaming camera person. The Furio system has been used to control cameras and provide compelling visuals on productions such as the Eurovision Song Contest, So You Think You Can Dance and in augmented reality productions like the Spike TV VGA awards as well as in news and variety production studio production environments.The Furio RC system is designed and engineered with a host of details putting them in a class of their own – easy to set up, use and maintain with a great return on investment from day one. Secondly, the Furio Robo is designed for live television production studio use in which typically a single operator controls multiple cameras with pre-set shot and motion path recalls. The system consists of a Pan-Tilt-Zoom Head (PTZ), Rail Based Dolly System with Elevator and a sophisticated IP based control system. The system scales from a simple PTZ head on a fixed tripod to a full multi-camera rail system. *For more information and fact finding go to: www.rossvideo.com/robotic-camera-systems/furio/applications.html

*Vinten Radamec is a leading provider of robotic camera support systems with an extensive range including robotic heads, pedestals and control systems suitable for a variety of applications including studio, outside broadcast and legislative broadcasts. By combining continuous innovation and investment in R&D with high precision manufacturing, Vinten Radamec has become globally recognised as an industry leader and has completed over 700 installations worldwide. The Fusion FP-188+ Robotic and Manual Pedestal is capable of recognizing compact ‘L’ shaped floor targets that offers more precise reference positioning across a wider range of floor finishes.This floor target can also be incorporated into the floor design. The unit’s generous payload of 85kg /188 lbs is capable of supporting an expanded camera/prompter package including the talent-facing vanity monitor often attached to the head during HD production. New differential wheel trucks maximise floor traction to enhance Vinten Radamec’s already unmatched shot stability performance. The new FPR-210+ provides the heaviest robotic pedestal payload capacity, 95 Kg / 210 lbs. The FPR-210+ supports the combined weight of the FH-145 head plus the studio camera, studio lens and prompter / vanity monitor combination up to 66 Kg / 145 lbs. As standard the FPR-210+ recognises compact ‘L’ shaped floor targets that work across a wide range of floor finishes. Alternatively it can be supplied with the new Fusion Absolute Positioning System (APS) for unrivalled accuracy of pedestal positioning wherever you want to go, without fixed floor targets and re-targeting routines. *For more information and fact finding go to: www.vintenradamec.com/

 TRP-100*Shotoku Broadcast Systems introduced the new TRP-100- A fully robotic pedestal with manual operation capability. In combination with the TG-18 or TG-19 pan and tilt head the TRP-100 supports any payload from lightweight ENG packages up to larger camera, lens and prompter combinations to a 100kg total payload. Shotoku“s advanced navigation system, proven in studios all over the world, is at the heart of the pedestal providing accurate, and reliable navigation with quick and simple calibration. Three levels of safety protection are provided, including collision avoidance through the use of proximity detectors, bumper strip detector and emergency stop buttons. The TRP-100 is based on the leading TP-80 studio pedestal and offers the same level of manual operation, with a low pressure pneumatically balanced height column and smooth crab / steer change-over. The TI-11 i-Height Pedestal offers high capacity robotic height control to bring a new dimension to TV studios and Conference rooms. Utilizing a smooth and vibration free elevation column, the TI-11 i-Height offers a record breaking height range of 600mm. Compatible with the TG-18 and TG-19 Robotic Pan & Tilt Heads, theTI-11 i-Height utilizes the same drive electronics (CMC) and interface as the head to remove the need for additional control channels and cables. *For more information and fact finding go to: www.shotoku.co.jp/en/index.php

Studio robotics will certainly dominate our studio operations in the years to come. The advancements will be unbelievable and like most of these companies boast, the technology will pay off in just a couple of years. Production specialists will see more job openings for experienced robotic camera operators and studio automation will dominate the arena, where just a core group of experienced production personnel can produce a program without warm bodies on the studio floor manning camera. Let’s NOT see this as a way of eliminating human jobs and salaries, but as an opportunity to expand our technical skills and embrace the ever-changing production studio environment!

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Matt Harchick
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