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NAB Perspectives: The Studio @ B&H’s Suissa on 4K Tech for Sports and the Growth of Drones

April 15th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Brandon Costa

With sales and expertise in the entire gamut of production products in virtually every environment, The Studio @ B&H gets the chance to interact with and educate a vast and diverse client base. When it comes to sports, the team has supported the professional side of the market with gear that’s always looking to raise the bar of content creation.

The Studio @ B&H's Michel Suissa at the company's booth in the Central Hall

The Studio @ B&H’s Michel Suissa at the company’s booth in the Central Hall

SVG caught up with Michel Suissa, manager, professional solutions, to discuss the latest in 4K acquisition technology and what he thinks could be exciting sports applications for the future.

B&H offers a wide array of solutions, so is there any particular product or announcement that you are particularly excited about as a sports application?
In the advancement of 4K and Ultra HD, I think all of the camera manufacturers have realized that sports people are going to need certain intangibles, such as the size of the sensor and the type of broadcast lenses that they have, because [they work] well, especially for field use for large stadiums. You only had the multiplication factor that exists now; you just want to have the ability to mount these types of lenses on the cameras that can actually deliver a 4K signal or an Ultra HD signal.

Until now, there were a number of cameras that could do a great job, but it was a little more delicate because the lens mount was not exactly what it needed to be and depth of field was more cinematic than was conducive to sports. Now I think there are at least five or six ⅔-in.-sensor 4K cameras on the market.

So the next step, I think, is making sure that lenses are actually going to take testing. What resolution is it actually going to resolve? Is it going to resolve 4K in the middle? Is it going to resolve 4K uniformity across the image? That’s going to be the determining factor, but I think the manufacturers have realized that they are different markets. They were trying to push one into the other, and that’s changing. I think that’s really going to push the acceptance of at least capturing UHD, even if it’s not transmitted at UHD. I think that’s really going to make a difference.

You are meeting very diverse content creators at this show. Any big trends emerging in your mind?
What’s absolutely exploding is unmanned aerial vehicles. That is exploding across the board. I think it’s only going to be a matter of time [before] these systems make an appearance in the sports-broadcasting world. It’s the ease-of-use, form factor, and the fact that the cameras you put on these devices may not be traditional broadcast cameras but they give you an image that can be integrated into any HD sports production. I think it will also reduce a lot of the costs that go into producing all of these high-end cameras, like SpyderCam or a chopper. Any extreme sports or any sport where it’s difficult to place a camera with a large form factor. This is something really exciting that can offer a different perspective than the traditional Steadicam.

There is also a merging of different kinds of content relating to sport that is really unheard of. There are new technologies that I have seen that can be extremely applicable for certain sports production. One that I am most interested in exploring further is magnetic, visual-field mapping: with that, you can have automatic focus, automatic iris, and automatic zoom sensors that actually understand the distance of a sports field. This is going to enter the sports world probably in the next five years. I think that’s the next generation of automated environments for lens control, and I think it’s going to be really awesome.