Image shows the PTZ Panasonic top camera the PTZ AW-UE150

PTZ Robotic Cameras Trending Upward through 2021

by Orinthia Babb

On March 5th, Winnipeg based Inland AV was hired to do audio-visual work for the University of Manitoba’s “Visionary Conversations” event: How Can Our Community Come Together to Combat the Impacts of Drug Addiction? Over 300 people visited the Bannatyne Campus for this final instalment of the series before U of M President Dr. David Barnard retires in June.

Image shows the stage and panel of Dr. David Barnard and 9 guest professional speakers on Addictions.

Photo: Orinthia Babb. Community professionals discuss combating drug addiction in Manitoba. (L-R) Dr. Kathleen Buddle, Danny Smyth, Dr. Ginette Poulin, Dr. Erin Knight, Rick Lees, Mitch Bourbonniere, Dr. Tamara Taillieu, Dr. David Barnard 

Inland AV’s audio equipment set-up included at least 12 microphones, 4 cameras, and the black backdrop for the stage and the Jumbotron screen. 

The U of M’s female camera operator recorded the entire event from the back of the room. During the event’s Q & A period, an audience member was projected onto the screen as they asked their question. But there wasn’t a camera operator at the front of the room. Enter the PTZ camera that Inland AV set up.

PTZ or Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras are great for capturing live events and are operated with a remote controller. This is an advancement in capturing more camera angles at public events without having a physical body, large camera, or tripod take up valuable floor space or block attendee views.

Below are some viewing angles captured by the PTZ remote-operated camera on the stage. Photos: UM Today website (Event recording screenshots from PTZ camera angle views).

PTZ Camera Wide Shot
PTZ Camera Zoomed in on two speakers
PTZ Camera Zoomed in on one speaker

PTZs Offer a Nearly All-Inclusive Solution PTZ AW-UE150

Today’s professional PTZ gear like the Sony BRC-X1000 4K promotes it’s almost silent operation; Clear Image Zoom 18x (4K), 24x (HD) (that can be doubled); crisp image capturing even in low light; and the capacity to take cinematic 24p images. Sony BRC-X1000 4K

While the award-winning Panasonic PTZ AW-UE150 camera boasts features like 20x optical zoom, 4K/UHD 60p high-quality video output, and a 75.1 degree viewing angle.

But it’s that 75.1 degree viewing angle feature that also proved to be a limitation during the live event. Because unlike a real person, the pan feature was not able to adjust to an extreme wide shot in the far right part of the room to capture an attendee’s question on screen.

“The PTZ cameras are great, but they do have limitations. You can only pan, tilt and zoom so far. I mean it’s not a person, so you can’t make adjustments during the event,” said Matt, one of Inland’s AV Specialists.

The PTZ camera was able to get great shots of the guest speakers directly across from Barnard. You would agree this was impressive–if you were paying attention. And that’s one of the key benefits of these IP cameras, they can be set up in areas that are not obvious but still get the job done. 

As Broadcast Budgets Shrink, PTZ Demand Set to Grow

The industry expectation is to do more with less as traditional broadcast media fades. As Video Journalists, you need to be good writers with skills to manage cameras and take photos. 

Adrian Pennington of the Broadcast Bridge discusses this driving force behind the rise in demand for PTZs. He outlines the facts that the high-quality technical improvements, installation flexibility, more creativity options, and lower costs and size compared to traditional ENG cameras make a strong case for robotic cameras.

“The need for people to acquire cost-effective, good quality video with limited skills and experience continues to rise. New addressable end-user markets are opening up; more businesses are exploring ways to communicate with video; existing users are now looking to replace aging products, and prices are decreasing…”, says Adam Cox, Senior Analyst – Imaging & Pro Video at Futuresource Consulting.

After an explosive year of demand in 2017, Cox projects a 37% growth in the professional PTZ market from 2018 – 2021. The cameras are also excellent as video surveillance cameras with more overall range. Robotic PTZs may be a new wave of IP technology, but they still need a human remote camera operator to function.