Panasonic PTZ System Provides Transparency For UK Supreme Court

The UK Supreme Court, located in London, has installed Panasonic PTZ cameras for accurate legal recordings and transparency. Three court rooms at the Westminster building have each been equipped with four Panasonic HN130s, a RP150 camera controller and a NewTek Tricaster to efficiently record the high-profile cases.

The policy of the court is to record and broadcast hearings, in keeping with its commitment to transparency. Since its creation, all cases have been archived on their website ensuring fair and open access to all.

“We need PTZs because it's not practical in a court room to have an operator manually controlling the cameras,” said Dan Money, a technical architect and IT Manager at the Supreme Court. He added that PTZ cameras are the least intrusive option that guarantees transparency in the courtroom but they also give the camera operator the right level of control and ensure shots of high production value. “You need a constant shot of the Justices’ bench, a back and front shot, and both a wide and close up shot to gain an understanding of what is going on in the court.”

Four Panasonic HN130 cameras (upper right), a RP150 camera controller and a NewTek Tricaster are used to efficiently record the high-profile cases.

Four Panasonic HN130 cameras (upper right), a RP150 camera controller and a NewTek Tricaster are used to efficiently record the high-profile cases.

The Supreme Court installed the Panasonic PTZ cameras as part of an initial set-up in 2009 but they were in need of an upgrade to achieve better quality recordings. “Our first requirement was updating the camera output from SD to HD,” Money said. “The IT team wanted to implement a system that could do everything the original system could but make the overall image quality look better with an intuitive system that we could understand.”

For the upgrade, the IT team at the court required NDI-based PTZ camera technology. They wanted to use their own technical networking expertise to maintain the system themselves. The team was able to take the NDI IP connection from the Panasonic PTZ camera and convert it to fiber using existing runs in the building. From there, the stream was converted back to IP and into a NewTek Tricaster.

The system passed its first high profile test when it broadcast the judicial review of the Brexit prorogation-related judicial review of Parliament last summer. Live images generated with the system were seen by 4.5 million people at its peak and an audience of 10 million people across the day.

The high profile case was scheduled to be heard two weeks before the planned installation, so the project was brought forward to ensure coverage could be streamed. To deliver the streaming services, the team used Microsoft's Azure Media Services platform. With the widespread media interest in the case, two access points were installed for redundancy, at both the front and rear of the Supreme Court, to take the camera streams from the control room back to the broadcasters via an OB truck. This proved beneficial as a stream was momentarily overloaded during proceedings.

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