Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Sky Racing Qld Hits the Track with Panasonic 4K, PTZ and IP Solutions

Sky Racing Queensland broadcasts thousands of thoroughbred, greyhound and harness races each year taking Queensland racing to TAB venues, gaming apps, homes and international audiences. Recently, the company had a requirement to upgrade all of its OB facilities, including outside broadcast, production and speciality cameras. Having carried out a comprehensive assessment, evaluation and due diligence of available options, Sky Racing decided a range of Panasonic professional broadcast cameras, equipment and solutions would best meet its requirements.

As Mark Bonnici, Sky Racing Queensland’s Racing Outside Broadcast Manager, explained, “Our core business is to provide outside broadcast facilities for race meetings around Queensland. We also add hosts to most of our TAB Provincial and Metropolitan race days, both at the meetings and remotely and cover special events such as barrier draws and awards evenings. We have a diverse range of shooting requirements and our old fleet of cameras and copper-based infrastructure was ageing so we engaged with Mojo Media Solutions to start the evaluation process for replacement options. When all was said and done, we felt the level of technology, options and features with Panasonic professional broadcast cameras and their related solutions was far and away better than any other brand we tested.”

Sky Racing also took the new camera refresh as a catalyst to transition from copper/triax-based production to IP/fibre-based production. This, in turn, was part of the company’s wider plan to create a remote centralised production hub in Brisbane which would better enable it to take advantage of the costs, benefits and flexibility of an IP/fibre-based infrastructure.

Bonnici continued, “Moving to an IP/fibre-based workflow gives us improved human resources and equipment efficiencies by utilising ST-2110 and other IP-based workflows like SRT and NDI to centrally locate our core operations. This means we now only need to transport essential equipment and personnel to the race meetings.”

In total Sky Racing purchased multiple Panasonic AK-UC4000GSJ 4K studio cameras, AJ-CX4000GJ 4K field production camcorders with Videosys wireless backs, AW-UE100KEJ 4K premium PTZ cameras. They also plan to add ST-2110 enabled PTZ cameras in the Hub, enabling a true end-to-end digital workflow.

After evaluating various camera brands and options we decided on Panasonic cameras because they provide wonderful picture quality, outstanding reliability, great value for money and Panasonic is able to offer a complete IP workflow across the studio cameras, field production cameras and PTZ cameras with standard Remote Operation Panels (ROPs).”

Sky Racing also evaluated Panasonic’s PanaPod camera elevation units to potentially be paired with their AW-UE160W/K premium PTZ cameras in the future as Jamie Ford, Sky Racing’s Technical Operations Manager explained, “The shots from the AW-UE100KEJ and PanaPod were so smooth that we were getting calls from our Sydney office asking us just how we managed to get a camera jib and operator in such a small area! The PanaPod is compact and all the kit could all be controlled from the AW-RP150GJ controller and included foot pedals, which was particularly easy for our operators to manage. The ease of installation across the entire Panasonic workflow is very attractive to us. An OB environment can be unforgiving at the best of times; however, we could easily add these products into our workflow without any issues whatsoever.”

Sky Racing’s new AK-UC4000GSJ studio cameras feature a large 4K sensor with high-speed output in HD mode which the company uses to simultaneously output 4K via 12G-SDI and HD knowing that when required the IP/12G/3G Interface Kit AK-NP600G – an optional accessory – can be equipped for ST-2110 support.

The new AK-HRP1010 ROPs are paired with the AK-UC4000GSJ 4K studio cameras and 4K premium PTZ cameras for control and paint. When paired with the AJ-CX4000 4K field production camcorders the AK-HRP1010GJ run remotely via a Videosys/DTC wireless back, so they control and paint the AJ-CX4000 cameras just like they are studio cameras, but with the seamless freedom of being completely wireless.

Sky Racing have also combined the AK-UC4000GSJ 4K studio cameras and AJ-CX4000GJ 4K field production cameras with their AW-UE100 premium PTZ cameras to open up a range of shots that were not possible before.

Bonnici said, “The Panasonic studio and field production cameras combined with the premium PTZ cameras have enabled the team to get more creative with the shot selection without having to sacrifice on the picture quality or video performance.
The combination of these cameras with IP control also gives us the flexibility to address all of our shooting requirements, both local and remote, so we can decide which configuration best suits the activity of the day. Our ROP set-up gives us the freedom to move operators with the AJ-CX4000GJ camera virtually anywhere at any time during an event. The wireless connection via the Videosys backs means there is constant connection so the cameras can be colour adjusted while the operator is moving or setting up for the next shot.”

Ford added, “One feature of the AK-UCU600ESJ CCUs for the AK-UC4000GSJ studio cameras that stood out for us is that we could simultaneously get 4K, HD and high-speed outputs and thus easily provide feeds for our various requirements. This allowed us to have super slow motion and standard HD workflows from the same CCU at the same time with spectacular results and all without the need for external conversion, which was a real gamechanger for us.”

As Bonnici mentioned, Sky Racing uses all of their new Panasonic Studio, ENG and PTZ cameras for live racing, live studio production and ENG production shoots including the famous Magic Millions and QLD Winter Carnival Race Days. They also typically race 6-7 days a week across multiple venues throughout all of Queensland.

Mark Bonnici and the Sky Racing team are very pleased and impressed with their new Panasonic cameras as he concluded, “As I mentioned, in our testing phase we felt Panasonic cameras excelled far beyond any other brand of cameras in regard to value for money. They give us class-leading picture quality, excellent skin tones and are built to be reliable when used in harsh OB operating conditions. The real wow factor with these Panasonic cameras though is the picture quality. The pictures are just amazing. As a result and since using the Panasonic cameras, we now feel our production values and quality are as good if not better than any others in the market. The fact that Panasonic is also able to offer a complete IP workflow across all of our new cameras with common operation panels enables us to be more innovative, take our production values to the next level and is simply the icing on the cake.”

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