Looking to upgrade those studio cameras to newer technology?
Who knew that a religious television outfit found on three MVPDs across the New York Tri-State area would provide a wholly different kind of inspiration than that it provides its viewers every day.
The Catholic Faith Network (CFN), a Long Island, N.Y.-based not-for-profit television organization that uses all forms of media to keep the Catholic community connected to their faith, is now future-proofed in the studio thanks to the addition of a trio of SK-HD1800 HDTV production cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America Ltd. (Hitachi Kokusai).
CFN is available on Optimum, Verizon FiOS and Charter Spectrum systems throughout the Five Boroughs of New York, and communities across Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Ulster, Dutchess, Sullivan, Orange, Putnam and Rockland Counties; Northern New Jersey, and in Fairfield County, Conn. Select cable and satellite systems nationwide also provide CFN to viewers. CFN’s programming includes live masses, talk shows, and topics ranging from faith and societal issues to health and cooking.
With Catholic Faith Network expanding, CFN senior executive producer Sean Kennedy explains, “With our productions expanding and our existing Z-HD5000 models still going strong but over eight years old, we decided to double our roster of cameras by adding the latest and greatest HD technology. We didn’t go up to 4K because we wouldn’t really be able to take advantage of the extra resolution. We broadcast in HD, but some of our carriers even still down-convert our signal to standard definition.”
Before working at CFN, Kennedy and studio and production coordinator Bryan Butler worked for a high school sports network. There, they used twelve Hitachi cameras on the HD trucks. “We compared Hitachi picture quality side-by-side to more expensive alternatives, and nobody could tell the difference,” Butler says. “Despite constantly beating up those cameras while producing sports six days a week with many different operators, they withstood everything we threw at them without any issues.”
CFN purchased their new SK-HD1800 cameras in March. Setting them up went seamlessly. “We built the three cameras ourselves within 45 minutes from opening the boxes – more than 20 of them, from camera heads to lenses and teleprompters – to fully built,” Butler says. “Local Hitachi staff helped us wire in our new CU-HD1200 CCUs in the control room and commission the cameras. We were all done within two hours and shooting just three hours later.”
The CFN team points to the SK-HD1800’s global shutter sensor as one of their favorite features of the new cameras, and particularly valuable in their LED-intensive environment. Some of CFN’s sets are heavily monitor based — with a nine-by-nine monitor wall, monitor strip, and large standalone monitor – and also use a mix of generations of LED lighting.
“I do a lot of the set design in terms of lighting, and I’m dealing with a lot of different types of LED fixtures from various manufacturers,” adds TJ Katsoulas, studio manager at CFN. “With earlier camera technologies we could get rolling shutter artifacts from LEDs, so I would manually dial in the shutter to avoid issues such as banding. However, making those adjustments would affect my lighting. Now with the SK-HD1800’s global shutter I don’t need to worry about that, and it’s tremendous how much it has helped me in making my compositions what I want them to be.”
Katsoulas also highlights the SK-HD1800’s enhanced skin tone adjustments and notes that the ability to dial in and preset multiple skin tones has been very helpful when dealing with multiple people on set. “Other standouts from our upgrade include the RU-1500JY remote control units with their amazing LCD touchscreens, and the VF-PBM-307 color viewfinders, which our camera operators love,” he adds.
— Reporting by Brian Galante. Editing by Adam R Jacobson