Picture clarity, low visual noise and multi-format versatility enable superior in-venue experiences for concert and corporate event audiences
Event production companies are increasingly embracing the visual clarity of 4K Ultra HD video for creating stunning in-venue displays. When Vista Productions equipped their first mobile truck to support their evolving needs at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion (AMP) and other locations, they purchased six SK-UHD4000 4K UHD cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to enable the outstanding image quality and versatility they needed.
Founded in 1982 and headquartered just south of Kansas City, Missouri, Vista Productions provides live event and video production services nationwide for clients including Fortune 500 companies, private firms, non-pro?t institutions and entertainment venues. Now in their fifth year of providing image magnification (IMAG) for the AMP in Rogers, Arkansas, Vista found themselves outgrowing their allocated production space within the 9000-seat outdoor theater. The company purchased and began outfitting a 53-foot production truck – ARIA – that would operate from the back lot of the venue for concerts and travel to corporate events between concert series.
At the same time, Vista began researching 4K cameras to support their expanding resolution goals. “4K is very practical for us, as our primary focus is not broadcasting,” said Mick Warnock, founder of Vista Productions. “Our goal is to present the most beautiful live images from a meeting or event onto a large local display. We wanted to design a purpose-built system that would stay in the 4K domain all the way through to those displays, while retaining the ability to downscale for alternate needs.”
Vista’s transition to 4K was further motivated by the AMP’s new 14.5 foot wide by 26 foot high LED screens. The resolution advantages of 4K acquisition are ideal for supporting the displays’ vertical orientation, allowing video to be center-cut for the screens while preserving visual fidelity. Warnock found the SK-UHD4000s to fit the bill perfectly.
“The HITACHI 4K cameras had all of the features we wanted, and were also affordable,” explained Warnock. “The AMP’s new displays support high dynamic range (HDR), so with the SK-UHD4000s we can have a 12G-SDI, 10-bit, 4K, HDR signal path all the way through the production and output chain. Besides their inherent 4K capabilities and 12G-SDI output, we were also attracted to the cameras’ ability to simultaneously output HD signals, allowing us to switch IMAG in 4K while recording HD for other applications.”
While the SK-UHD4000s are available as needed for corporate events, Vista typically deploys a trio of cameras for concerts at the AMP. Two fixed-position cameras with long lenses are stationed in the audience roughly 200 feet from the stage, providing coverage of the entire performance while enabling a variety of wide and close-up shots. The third camera is deployed hand-held on or in front of the stage, depending on the preferences of the entertainers. For events such as symphony performances, a fourth camera shoots from behind the orchestra towards the audience, capturing the conductor. Tight integration with the Dashboard open control and monitoring platform from Ross Video lets Vista adjust the cameras remotely through an intuitive graphical interface from the truck or front-of-house while viewing the results on the AMP’s incredible 3.9 mil LED portrait screens.
Since first deploying the SK-UHD4000s in June, Vista Productions has used them for both 4K and HD events. “The image quality of the cameras is amazing, even in HD mode,” said Warnock.
Bolstering this stellar quality is the cameras’ exceptionally low visual noise, which is particularly significant for the dramatic and varying lighting often used during concerts. “At a corporate event, I can control the lighting and what the camera is going to see,” Warnock elaborated. “In a concert environment, the tour staff sets up the lighting, and it’s often designed more for audience effect than to be camera-friendly. I need to create a great picture even when it’s dark on stage, which may mean increasing the gain. Unlike our old cameras, I can now turn the gain up significantly without visible noise.”
Warnock also lauds the focus-assist capabilities of the cameras’ nine-inch studio viewfinders as being very beneficial – noting that focus is even more critical in 4K productions – along with features such as the SK-UHD4000’s intercom integration support and remote motorized filter wheel control. “It’s obvious that Hitachi Kokusai has thought everything through, and understands the issues production crews face,” he said.
Of course, the most important measure of the cameras is the resulting video, and again, the SK-UHD4000s deliver on their promises. “With the combination of the HITACHI cameras and the new LED screens at the AMP, people 300 feet away at the back of the audience can see tight shots as vividly as if they were looking at a TV set in their living room,” Warnock praised. “It’s that clean and clear. The SK-UHD4000s help us meet our goal of providing absolutely stunning video quality.”
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About Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc.
Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a company that manufactures broadcasting systems, security and surveillance systems, wireless communications and information systems. Fiscal 2017 (ended March 31, 2018) sales totaled 171,791 million Yen. For more information on Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc., please visit the company’s website at www.hitachi-kokusai.co.jp/global/en/index.html.