Panasonic Upgrades Prudential Center Video With AK-HC5000 HD/HDR Cameras; Brings Transparency to UK Supreme Court With PTZs

Prudential Center, home to the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and NCAA’s Seton Hall Pirates men’s basketball team, has upgraded to Panasonic AK-HC5000 HD HDR studio/field camera systems for all in-game presentation on the arena’s massive, center-hung LED scoreboards (almost four stories tall). Also, the UK Supreme Court has installed Panasonic PTZ cameras for accurate legal recordings and transparency at the highest court in land.

Prudential Center
In addition to capturing game action, the four AK-HC5000s and an AW-UE150 4K/HD 60p pan/tilt/zoom camera enhance the fan experience, including fan shots, player warm-ups, and timeout features.

Concurrently, Prudential Center’s Content Production Department is using Panasonic’s VariCam LT 4K and AU-EVA1 5.75K cinema cameras for large-and smaller-scale production assignments.
“Prudential Center has been a Panasonic house since it opened in 2007,” Joe Kuchie, Senior Manager, Scoreboard and Live Production, Prudential Center and New Jersey Devils, said “Our video board is used for various live events, including New Jersey Devils hockey, Seton Hall University basketball, multiple graduations and select concerts and family shows. As a top ten venue in the world, we need top-of-the-line and reliable equipment and that is what we have found with our partner Panasonic. Previously, we had used three DVCPRO HD tape-based cameras for board feeds. To replace our aging gear, we felt it was necessary to get a model that was similar – the HC5000 – to make the transition easy for our operators. We could not be happier with the product.”
In terms of camera placement, two stationary AK-HC5000s are situated on tripods across from each other on either side of the rink, behind the lower section of seats. These cameras are placed on raised platforms that afford a good view of the ice action. Two roaming AK-HC5000s are used during timeouts in the action as fan cams or for in-game contests or presentations.
Prudential Center is also using the AW-UE150 PTZ camera mounted in the catwalk to afford a permanent live shot of the DJ and Organist for in-game features. “We go to our DJ each game and our organist at least 20 times a season, and the UE150 gives us the flexibility to free up our other camera operators to roam the building and not be locked down on a specific location for an extended period of time,” Kuchie said. “We went with this 4K model because we want to provide the best possible picture quality for our scoreboard and our fans,” he said.
Kuchie continued, “The new cameras have been up and running since September and have significantly improved the picture quality to our scoreboard. The purchase of a fourth HC5000 on the reverse side opened up a new world of potential fan shots and game situational angles that we could not produce previously.”
Regarding lensing, Kuchie said, “We have two Canon HJ24EX7.5B IASE 2/3″ 4K/HD lenses for our two RF HC5000s that roam the building, and two Fuji XA55x9.5BESM HD lenses w/ Semi Servo Control for the two stationary cameras. The video board production format is 1080i/59.94.
Sergio Camacho, Director, Content Production, explained that the New Jersey Devils Studios produce content that is seen nationally and regionally on the NHL and MSG networks. “Our department handles production needs ranging from in-game capture of Devils games to in-bowl audience reactions, to special projects in-studio, small- and large-scale post productions ranging from social media vignettes to national broadcast TV episodes, and global brand TV commercials from GEICO to Pepsi.”
“Generally, we’re using the EVA1 for in-bowl captures, Devils’ game action and smaller-scale productions, and the VariCam LT for large national broadcast documentaries, TV commercials, and web episodic in 4K HDR,” he added.
“The dual ISO for low light captures on a more reasonable budget compared to the Red Gemini, which fits our needs as we shoot lots of hockey moments in very low light and spaces with non-ideal lighting conditions,” Camacho said

UK Supreme Court
The system passed its first high profile test with flying colors when it broadcast the judicial review of the prorogation of Parliament last summer; images that were seen by 4.5m people at its peak and an audience of 10m people across the day.

Three court rooms at the Westminster building have each been equipped with four Panasonic HN130s, a RP150 camera controller and a NewTek Tricaster to efficiently record the high-profile cases. The policy of the court is to record and broadcast hearings, in keeping with its commitment to transparency. Since its creation, all cases have been archived on their website ensuring fair and open access to all.

“We need PTZs because it’s not practical in a court room to have an operator manually controlling the cameras,” explains Dan Money, a technical architect and IT Manager at the Supreme Court. “You need a constant shot of the Justices’ bench, a back and front shot, and both a wide and close up shot to gain an understanding of what is going on in the court.”

“PTZs are the least intrusive option that guarantees transparency in the courtroom but they also give the camera operator the right level of control and ensure shots of high production value,” explained Money.

The Supreme Court installed PTZ cameras as part of an initial set-up in 2009 but they were in need of an upgrade to achieve better quality recordings.

“Our first requirement was updating the camera output from SD to HD,” explains Money. “The IT team wanted to implement a system that could do everything the original system could, but make the overall image quality look better with an intuitive system that we could understand.”

For the upgrade, the IT team at the court required NDI-based PTZ camera technology. They wanted to use their own technical networking expertise to maintain the system themselves. The team was able to take the NDI IP connection from the Panasonic PTZ camera and convert it to fibre using existing runs in the building. From there, the stream was converted back to IP and into a NewTek Tricaster.

The first big test of the system was the high-profile Brexit prorogation-related judicial review. The high profile case was scheduled to be heard two weeks before the planned installation, so the project was brought forward to ensure coverage could be streamed. To deliver the streaming services, the team used Microsoft’s Azure Media Services platform.

With the widespread media interest in the case, two access points were installed for redundancy, at both the front and rear of the Supreme Court, to take the camera streams from the control room back to the broadcasters via an OB truck. This proved beneficial as a stream was momentarily overloaded during proceedings.

Panasonic PTZ cameras provided the correct combination of cost-efficiency, quality and service for the court’s needs. “We needed a system that was cost-effective in terms of initial outlay but also cost-effective to maintain and to receive support when needed. We wanted a long-term relationship, and with Panasonic we knew that we’d get that.”

“Being IP-based has made the camera technology far more straightforward for individuals like ourselves to get to grips with providing a professional video output. We were very pleased with the feedback we have received on the picture quality, not only from those around the courts but also from feedback on the stream and the broadcasters too!” concluded Money.