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HITACHI cameras boost broadcast and sports production quality at US university

'Dependable and cost-effective' cameras improve quality of programming while giving students hands-on experience with same equipment used by local television station

At Southeast Missouri State University, the department of Mass Media’s ‘TV and Film’ program offers an intensive, hands-on curriculum in which students work on a wide variety of programming that is broadcast on local television affiliates, streamed live on ESPN+ and entered into the university’s annual film festival. 

When the department needed to upgrade its cameras for Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) sports streaming and other television productions, it purchased four Z-HD5000 HDTV cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America,Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai) to meet its studio and remote video acquisition needs.

Within the university’s Holland College of Arts and Media, the department of Mass Media’s TV & Film students gain in-depth experience in all aspects of television production while working on news, cultural arts, public affairs and promotional programming. This student-produced content is broadcast as ‘SETV’ on the local CBS/CW and FOX affiliates in the 83rd DMA. Students also work as crew members to produce and stream over 100 OVC sporting events featuring the Southeast Missouri Redhawks each year on EPSN+, giving them valuable experience in the unforgiving, ‘make-no-mistakes’ world of live, multi-camera production. Quickly outgrowing the initial equipment it used to stream OVC sports, the department looked for new cameras that could be used across all facets of its program.

“When the OVC made it a requirement to stream sporting events, each school received a production pack with starter-level equipment including cameras,” explained Dr. Jim Dufek, professor, operations manager and SETV director in the department of Mass Media at Southeast Missouri State University. “After running into a variety of problems and limitations with it, we elected to purchase our own equipment that we could use for the Mass Media program as well as OVC sports coverage.”

The department now uses a combination of cameras from Hitachi and another vendor, with students getting their first training on other cameras before migrating up to the Z-HD5000s. “We looked at several cameras at the NAB Show,” said Dufek. “We chose the Z-HD5000s to match the local CBS affiliate’s in-studio cameras, enabling us to produce programs of the same quality while giving our students experience on the cameras that would help them make an easy transition into employment at the station.”

The Z-HD5000 cameras are deployed on Vinten pedestals for in-studio productions and Libec tripods in the field, and are used in conjunction with Marshall monitors and NewTek TriCaster switching and graphics systems. While each camera is equipped with a remote control unit for shading, Dufek notes that the remotes are rarely used in their studio setting “because once the cameras are set, they’re perfect.”

Comparing the results from the Z-HD5000s to those from the department’s previous cameras, Dufek highlights the new image quality as superior. “The HITACHI cameras have elevated the quality of our productions,” he said. “In a way, it’s both a blessing and a curse – the cameras capture everything, but that includes bad make-up, dandruff, and dings or nicks in the props. The students need to pay closer attention to detail, and their overall product looks better.”

The university had used older analog HITACHI cameras in the past, and the department’s experience with its latest purchase has continued its satisfaction with the brand. “The Z-HD5000 is a dependable, reliable and affordable product that provides excellent quality for all of our programming needs,” Dufek summarised.