Ikegami HD Cameras and System Accessories Chosen for NCP’s Coverage of the 2011 U.S. Open Tennis Championships

NCP (New Century Productions) deployed advanced HD production technologies from Ikegami to ensure superior-quality, seamless coverage of this year’s U.S. Open Tennis Championships.

Ikegami's HDK -79EC

NCP’s choice of Ikegami equipment included 22 HDK-79EC native multi-format CMOS camera systems for superb HDTV image quality and a wide range of system accessories for integrating all cameras – whether connected via fiber, triax, or wireless RF – into a single camera-control network.

The network enabled NCP and other mobile production-service providers to deliver a complex schedule of live HD video to several broadcast and cable channels while sharing production control of numerous Ikegami HD cameras at multiple tennis courts.

NCP vehicles stationed at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in Flushing Meadows, NY, included: NCP VIII HD, a 53 ft. expanding drop-deck trailer; NCP XIV HD, a 53 ft. trailer; and the NCP II truck, also a 53 ft. trailer. NCP’s 22 Ikegami HDK-79EC HD cameras included 9 hand-held portables and 13 “hard” cameras mounted into Ikegami SE-79D System Expanders that allow for the use of “box”-style long-zoom HD lenses and Ikegami 9-inch 16:9 color LCD viewfinders.

For Mike Mundt, NCP’s Director of Engineering, Ikegami HD cameras were the right choice for this crucial assignment.

“First and foremost, we like the picture quality of Ikegami HD cameras,” Mundt says. “We think that Ikegami cameras make better-looking images than any of their competitors. We also like Ikegami’s reliability and service. Anybody can make a camera that works well when it’s brand new. But when you get three or four years in, that’s when you really start ‘paying for the camera,’ as it were. Some companies don’t even want to talk to you if their equipment isn’t new. What’s wonderful about Ikegami is we get really good service and support on cameras that are well into their service life.”

Ikegami’s HDK-79EC HD camera employs three 2/3-inch 2.5 Mega-pixel CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductors) image sensors, which use less power and provide multi-format HD video capture and high-speed imaging capabilities. The camera’s 1920H x 1080V active-pixel CMOS sensors are switchable between interlace and progressive readout modes. Providing a full 16:9 aspect ratio, the HDK-79EC’s CMOS sensors can deliver 1080/60i, 1080/24p, and 720/60p HD. Also available are optional 50Hz formats, 1080/50i and 720/50p, and high-speed dual-link 1080/60p, and – for Super Slow Motion – 720/120p and 1080/120i.

The HDK-79EC features a docking-style camera head that can be easily configured for use with either triax or SMPTE fiber cable from the same Ikegami HD camera-control unit/base station for excellent flexibility in field-production applications. That CCU is a full-digital unit that includes a built-in broadcast down-converter and a simple switch for selecting camera cable type. Ikegami’s CCU-890 provided each HDK-79EC hard and portable camera connected via triax or fiber at the U.S. Open with a direct link to an ARCnet digital camera control network interfacing the production trailers.

For the wireless RF portable HDK-79EC cameras used at the U.S. Open (and Ikegami HDL-50 compact full digital HD POV “box” cameras employed by another mobile production-services provider at the tournament), Ikegami’s BSH-200 base station hub provided network connectivity with full camera-control features, not just paint and shading, but complete setup and operational control.

“Ikegami’s BSH-200 base station hub allowed the wireless hand-held HDK-79EC cameras to connect to the network so that any operator – including the senior video operator for the entire compound – could have full access and control those cameras as well,” notes Marc Altman, NCP’s senior engineer in charge at the U.S. Open.

The means by which that camera control is achieved is provided by Ikegami OCP-200 operation control panels, which resided in two of NCP trailers and those of another mobile production-services provider at the tournament.

The OCP-200 offered control of any of the Ikegami cameras via a touch-screen LCD panel interface. Users were able to select how much control they require, ranging from basic to complete, including full control of the colorimetry, detail, and shading of all of the HDK-79EC’s and the other Ikegami HD cameras at the U.S. Open.Assignment of the OCP to any camera is easily set at the OCP itself. The OCP-200’s enabled the senior video operator – regardless of which truck he is in – to shade cameras as needed and achieve the consistent picture quality essential for the demands of network television production.

With Ikegami OCP-200 operation control panels in multiple trucks being fed by the network, NCP and other mobile production service providers were able to share video from the many Ikegami HD cameras at the U.S. Open’s many courts, and/or seamlessly switch control from one truck to another as complex broadcast and cable network schedules required.

Trucks outfitted with OCP-200’s also had complete set-up control and file-management capabilities for every Ikegami HD camera at the tournament. Connection between the several mobile productions trucks – including the wireless camera trailer – was achieved with ARCnet over a standard 75 ohm coax cable.

“It’s a huge advantage to have this kind of seamless control and networking,” Mundt concludes. “From HD cameras to system accessories, outfitting with Ikegami gives us the combination of brilliant imagery and solid dependability that mobile HD broadcasting requires.”