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Special video cameras

cámaras de video, The camera segment had in the last year a strong demand for low-cost models to cover the content production needs generated during the pandemic, both camcorders and PTZ.

Richard Santa

During the last years, the increase in video consumption has grown exponentially, thanks to the greater penetration of the internet and the massification of video on demand platforms. And particularly in the last year, when the pandemic that crosses the world has generated confinements and mobility restrictions, with which television and video have been the most used resources to seek entertainment.

Not only consumption, but also video production, has grown in these times. The statistics of Youtube, one of the best-known video platforms, confirm this: it has more than 2,000 million registered users monthly, every day more than one billion hours of video are consumed and 500 hours of video are uploaded every minute to the platform, although not all of good quality.

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In the case of video-on-demand platforms with professional content, which offer series, films and documentaries, they have also had a great year, both globally and in Latin America, where some have begun to arrive in recent months such as Disney+, Paramount, which add to the already existing offer of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and those that will arrive soon, such as HBO Max, giving a strong boost to production in some countries in the region.

Netflix reached 200 million users at the end of 2020, about 35 million in Latin America, thus exceeding market expectations. In the same period, Amazon Prime Video adjusted 150 million users, while Disney+, which has a little more than a year in the market, closed January 2021 with more than 100 million users. And these are just a few examples of the great supply that video on demand platforms find.

Higher quality
As video consumption becomes more widespread, technological development generates more demanding users in terms of video quality for productions. This is how today we move from HD to Full HD and 4K and begins to talk about 8K, still in development. Although in this process, there is still a long way to go, especially in Latin American countries.

This technological evolution has always been led by video capture systems, which, traditionally, have been the ones that have marked the development and implementation of new technologies. Cameras have always been one of the most dynamic segments in the broadcast and video industry, due to their wide variety of applications and uses.

In this regard, René Araúz, marketing manager of Panasonic Latin America, stressed that as the resolution has improved over the years, the demand for this level in the image that is achieved with the recording equipment has also increased.

"This has meant that several attributes of our products have been adjusted, particularly the camera sensor, this being a differential point between different. Today, in Latin America, the adoption of 4K for example has increased, but it is still a slow adoption due to the investment grade it requires throughout the workflow and its respective reproduction. Even so, it is estimated that this adoption will continue to grow, particularly for industries such as rent, events and large corporate productions, which seek to present the best results," he said.

For his part, Ricardo Santos, sales director for Latin America at Datavideo, said that the Latin market is learning and rapidly absorbing technological changes. "Today, most projects are already run with the right technology for the project. The integrator already creates the project based on the needs of the end customer. Datavideo follows the changes in the market and we currently have cameras to meet the market demand with 4K, HD, HDBaseT, NDI, thus achieving compliance with the project with the entire Datavideo line".

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And Edson Marion, president merlin Distributor, which represents several camera brands for different markets in Latin America, noted that "when we compared the local market with the United States and Europe, for example, we noticed a lag in the adoption of new technologies in relation to these markets. Normally, with the exception of large broadcasters, it can take one to three years for customers to start working with new technologies and formats, in large part, due to the high cost of changing equipment, as well as high taxes and exchange rates."

A market that adapts
The pandemic generated by Covid19 also affected the segment of video cameras, as well as the entire economy in general. But, after the initial paralysis of the market, there were several segments that grew to meet the new needs and requirements of the sector.

"The professional camcorder market, like many other product categories, has been directly affected by the effects of the Covid19 pandemic. As end users are forced to be locked up and work remotely, as well as the impact on income and therefore on possible investment, much of the demand for professional cameras has been directed to remote cameras, popularly known as PTZ, or to production cameras of a more affordable economic value. Producers, television studios and other buyers have then turned their gaze to ip solutions, and even adapted new recording formats to be able to continue with the productions, "explained René Araúz.

The experts consulted for this TVyVideo+Radio special agreed that the PTZ were one of the camera lines with the highest growth, which allowed to comply with the requirements of remote production, complying with the biosecurity measures and restrictions to meet the pandemic. And not only the channels, but also other sectors other than broadcast that sought in professional video a solution to move forward during the pandemic.

In that sense, Ricardo Santos explained that "the consumption of online content was not a daily habit in the Latin market, but now it is a necessity. Schools were quickly forced to reinvent themselves to bring classes to students at a distance, churches were forced to change to give the voice to the faithful, industries were forced to change to convey information to their directors, managers, etc. The shows had to reinvent themselves to bring entertainment closer to the public. As a result, the demand for PTZ and Block cameras has grown rapidly and will continue to grow, as not all of them made the switch correctly due to costs."

He added that "The Latino market was forced to reinvent itself quickly, since there was no custom of using these cameras for the education sector, churches, corporations, among others. A habit that had been growing for years and more frequently in the American and European market."

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In the case of Panasonic, in the local markets managed by the Latin America division, they have also seen a significant increase in PTZ cameras and cameras of the AVCCAM line. These cameras are aimed at a wide variety of industries and end users, including television studios, houses of prayer, government, education, small productions and the corporate segment.

Connected cameras
The increase in the production and consumption of video through digital platforms by markets other than broadcast, has also allowed a growth in the market of cameras. And although it is not always of good quality, these new generators of audiovisual content, quickly seek to improve the quality of their productions and go from producing with their cell phone and consumer cameras to professional video cameras.

That is why another trend in the camera market is those that can be connected directly to an internet access without the need for additional equipment, which is one of the strongest features of the JVC line.

Yeiber Guerrero, Chief Sales Officer of IRadio, representative of JVC for Colombia, explained that normally this market begins with consumer cameras, and with the increase in consumption intensifies the interest of people to improve the quality of video and consequently to look for more professional options. Currently the best sellers are small cameras with the ability to connect to the internet and access to streaming directly without the need for complementary equipment.

"This technology opens up a very large field of applications such as newscasts, events in general, generation of programs from homes. The JVC streaming line has implemented multi-camera synchronism, remote CCU control, audio and video return, all over IP and already installed on the camera, which is allowing remote production. The cameras are quickly adapting to the new needs of the market, mainly to 4K at the moment and becoming more flexible, because they can work with multiple resolutions based on the user's need," he added.

René Araúz mentioned about this line of cameras that have noticed a growing interest in the control, management and recording via IP. Many of the inquiries they have received this year deal with the configuration of an IP system for live streaming, including NDI and RTMP technology.

"This growing trend provides a solution to users with which they are able to reach and transmit content in an easier way. These technologies can be used in a variety of ways, but this year they have seen a greater impact on the broadcast of corporate events as well as on the popular webinars, better known as webinars. This is clearly a direct result of the need for different companies to continue their communication and promotional activities that they carried out in alternative ways before. Additionally, the houses of prayer have also found the benefit of this type of transmission, allowing them a constant approach to their community," he said.

Although this trend has not been positive for everyone. According to Edson Marion, "from the massification of platforms, videographers began to use DSLR products, which generated a very significant loss of users, who in the past used professional video cameras."

And in this trend of connected cameras, PTZ also play an important role. Ricardo Santos indicated that "more and more PTZ cameras come with the technology to make direct streaming, currently Datavideo has 5 models prepared and capable of performing direct streming for any platform. We see that the market for this type of service is still that of educational institutions or a corporate event, where a single camera satisfies the need."

ENG, a dynamic sector
In the wide range of video cameras, one of the most dynamic sectors has always been the one aimed at news. It is a segment that uses the latest resolutions in terms of image quality and requires constant advances to respond to the needs of immediacy demanded by the news.

The experts consulted for this special highlighted some considerations that must be taken into account when choosing an ENG camera:

René Araúz from Panasonic: There are two attributes of the camera that take on a lot of importance: the sensor and the dynamic range. The sensor of a video camera determines how much of the light that reaches it is captured, and therefore how much information it records in the recording process. That is why larger sensors are usually preferred; the additional light captured on larger sensors translates into better performance.

For its part, the dynamic range is the range of brightness that the sensor is capable of recording. The greater the dynamic range, the more detail will be preserved in the shadows and lights. So, a good dynamic range gives you much more control and space to correct errors without compromising image quality, avoiding noise in recording.

Yeiber Guerrero, representative of JVC: In ENG you need a flexible optics with very open lenses that allow you to get very close and with the highest possible zoom, so that you can also capture the image as far as possible, all this with very good sensitivity given that in many cases you can not count on lighting. You also have to have functions that allow you to deliver the captured image as quickly as possible, better live more if possible by FTP using IP solutions.

Edson Marión, representative of Sony, Canon, among others: It must be taken into account, in addition to the ability of the camera to generate files in various file formats, to have already incorporated a compression codec more suitable for working with 4K files (H.265 or HEVC) and its mechanical robustness.

Latest ENG releases
Preferences for this type of camera in Latin America are varied. There is a growing trend towards low-cost cameras, with connection facilities for streaming and of increasing size to facilitate mobility, regardless of whether they are shoulder or handheld. These are some of the novelties in ENG cameras presented by the main players in the market:

Panasonic: In shoulder cameras, it has the AJ-CX4000, the most recently incorporated into the CX Series line-up. Like most streaming cameras, this model contains a standard B4 lens mount for 2/3" interchangeable lenses, 4K HDR recording, 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 output via 12G-SDI and direct live streaming supporting RTSP/RTMP/RTMPS.

Another model that has had an update is AG-CX350. Since its launch in 2019, it has released a number of valuable firmware updates to make it one of the most powerful and versatile camcorders on the market. Its most recent updates incorporated Intra50/100, USB tethering, control from the AW-RP150 and other capabilities.

JVC: GY-HC900, a 3-sensor 2/3" shoulder camera and GY-HC500U, a handheld camera with 1" sensor. Its main features are flexibility of optics with high sensitivity and multiple IP functions.

Sony: In shoulder cameras is the PXW-Z750, 4K HDR 2/3 type shoulder camcorder and 3 CMOS chips with global shutter, high sensitivity, simultaneous 4K/HD recording, 120p HFR in HD, 12G-SDI and advanced wireless workflow capabilities.

In handheld cameras is the ILME-FX6, Full-frame cinema camera with fast hybrid autofocus and real-time Eye AF, 4K (QFHD), high frame rate of 120 fps, dynamic range of more than 15 stops and S-Cinetone color technology.

Canon: Canon's latest release is from the EOS-C70 digital cinema line and the huge growth in the Mirrorless line that launched the R5 and R6.

Finally, René Araúz, concluded that "In Latin America the adoption of new technologies is directly related to the existing investment power and budget. Therefore, new practices and technologies, although they are well known, in practice are adopted little by little. However, due to the lockdown, research and adoption of new forms of recording has taken a step forward as users seek to better adapt to new circumstances."

Richard Santa, RAVT
Author: Richard Santa, RAVT
Periodista de la Universidad de Antioquia (2010), con experiencia en temas sobre tecnología y economía. Editor de las revistas TVyVideo+Radio y AVI Latinoamérica. Coordinador académico de TecnoTelevisión&Radio.

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