Vinten, Canon shake up image stabilization technology

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Pan-and-tilt head technology has never been one of the more sexier product categories but a new development from the Vinten and Canon Broadcast could change that perception.

In an effort to help sportscasters and others more effectively take advantage of image stabilization technology Vinten has developed a digital pan-and-tilt head that has electronic sensors and allows the lens and the head to talk to each other. The goal? To ensure the nes knows the difference between camera movement caused by the camera operator and movement caused by a raucous stadium, arena or high winds.

This is likely going to be an extension of the current Vector 900 pan-and-tilt head line which is our latest line of big pan heads, says Jerry Gepner, Vitec Group CTO. If all goes as planned expect the head to arrive sometime around next IBC in Amsterdam.

The sensors allow the lens to know when there is an intentional movement of the camera, says Gepner. The head says I m moving and the lens knows it doesn t have to engage image stabilization. But if the head is not moving and the lens motion sensor detects motion then image stabilization takes place.

The benefit is that camera operators effectively use much more of the focal length of the lens. Image stabilization in broadcast lenses works by actually moving optical elements, unlike consumer cameras that electronically buffer frames and trades off overall resolution for a more stable image. So by only engaging it when needed the Canon/Vinten system lets producers have every bit of the advantage of a long lens without worrying about image shake for any reason. Right now we re running into the limits of the man/machine interface, says Gepner, pointing to the fact that even a cameraperson s pulse can be enough to cause an image to move.

That s why the new digital pan-and-tilt head/lens technology, jointly developed by Vitec and Canon, could be a hit. The majority of camera people don t use image stabilization because it tries to correct for every movement, says Gepner. But with this technology image stabilization can be on and the camera person can go do their thing in any environment.

The new system could also be a boon to future technology developments. With the pan head gathering camera and lens movement data further enhancements to virtual graphic and ad technology could also be on the horizon.

The camera head could become the nexus for many new applications, says Gepner.