CTV of Santa Cruz Taps Hitachi, Broadcast Pix for High School Sports Coverage

Community Television (CTV) of Santa Cruz County in California is going to improve the look of its high school sports coverage courtesy of four Hitachi Z-HD5000 HDTV studio/field cameras for HD video production to its new HD truck.

“Like many non-profit, public access channels, it’s a challenge stretching our limited dollars to buy the high-caliber HDTV equipment we aspire to using in our programs,” says Craig Jutson, director of technology for Community Television (CTV) of Santa Cruz County. “We chose the Hitachi Z-HD5000 because it’s an excellent camera system that met our production standards at a price point we could afford. The outstanding picture quality supports our goal to produce visually exciting local programs cost-effectively.”

All four cameras—ordered through VMI Broadcast and Professional Video in Sunnyvale, CA—are equipped with a full complement of Hitachi accessories including: CA-HF1000 fiber camera adaptors, CU-HD500 base stations, RU1000VR remote control panels, and VFHD500 5-inch CRT viewfinders, along with Canon Z-Series HD lenses and Libec RT40B tripods.  While Hitachi offers the CU-HD1000 base station for multi-format (1080i or 720p) production, CTV saved money by buying Hitachi’s CU-HD500 model because when other formats are required, the base station’s 1080i can be converted to 720p or SD by the truck’s Broadcast Pix Granite HD 1000 or Ensemble Designs 90-A disembedder/converter.

The Hitachi order also included Mohawk ruggedized fiber optic cable, which is lightweight yet rugged enough to weather outdoor conditions.  “Our Hitachi Z-HD5000 cameras are easy to set-up at venues, and the Mohawk cable gives us the distance runs we need at a very reasonable cost,” Jutson says. “Hitachi’s optical fiber system gives us sufficient bi-directional bandwidth to carry the camera power, full HD picture, and camera control data without our having to pull heavy, bulky cables.”

“With the powerful combination of the Z-HD5000 camera head and CA-HF1000 fiber back, Hitachi packaged everything I wanted in this camera system,” adds Jutson.  “The fiber cable terminates right at the camera adapter which attaches directly to the camera head making this a very clean, intelligent, cost-efficient and rugged design.  If you have to buy third-party camera adapters to handle all this, it adds to the overall cost of the cameras.”

The new Z-HD5000’s reside on CTV’s new 1080i HDTV truck, that Jutson designed within a customized 33-foot Ford Barth mobile office.  With the help of colleagues, he gutted the interior and installed a full-array of thoughtfully chosen HD/SD video, audio, and graphics systems capable of handling a streamlined file-based workflow.

Since space and budget were critical concerns, Jutson chose a Broadcast Pix Granite HD 1000 dual-channel 1/ME live HD production switcher because of its built in broadcast graphics, six layers of keys, two animation channels, Inscriber CG, multiviewer monitoring, still store, and other integrated functionality.  The Granite is the centerpiece of a 16:9 1080i HD workflow that includes both a DataVideo HDR-50 HD/SD-SDI and a Convergent Design nanoFlash HD/SD-SDI for recording platforms, NewTek 3Play for instant replay, Samsung LN40C650 multi-viewer monitor, Mackie Onyx 32.4 analog audio mixer and Zoom 16 multi-track audio recorder.

Since they arrived in mid-November 2010, the Hitachi cameras have been used extensively to cover a wide range of Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League (SCCAL) high school basketball games and wrestling championships, Monterey Bay League Boys Soccer, and other high school sporting events.

On live productions, Jutson serves as both creative and technical director, and the lean video crew includes a graphics operator, audio mixer, and replay operator as well as a mix of staff and volunteer camera operators. The crew spends 12 hours a week on location to produce three finished hours of programming—carried by Comcast, Charter and AT&T local cable systems as well as on demand video. While the truck and Hitachi cameras are used to produce CTV’s local origination programming, CTV also has a TV studio and staffs four government production facilities around Santa Cruz County that produce programming for its public access and government access channels.

“The cost-efficiency of the Z-HD5000 goes beyond its price.  It enables us to maximize man-hours on location, which is critical for a small but mighty crew like ours,” Jutson said. “The Z-HD5000 is a feature-rich, rugged, reliable camera system that we expect will serve our needs well into the future.”