Grass Valley Launches Remote Camera Control Over the Public Internet in Norway

Mediatec Broadcast, a major European video production company, has linked together about a dozen horse racing tracks across Norway and is controlling all the video cameras through a public Internet connection from a remote control room in Oslo.

The installation is a first of a kind Internet-connected solution from Grass Valley, who developed the camera control system for Mediatec to work in a WAN environment.

Klaus Weber, Grass Valley’s senior product marketing manager for cameras, who is based in Germany, said the company had been experimenting with Internet camera control for several years, but this is the first installation that can use a common public Net connection without special transmission equipment.

“Before, the connection to the Internet had to be in a kind of isolated environment with special transmission equipment needed,” said Weber. “We couldn’t just use the regular Internet. That’s what changed on this project.

Klaus Weber, Grass Valley’s senior product marketing manager for cameras oversaw the installation of the first fully Interconnect camera control system.

Klaus Weber, Grass Valley’s senior product marketing manager for cameras oversaw the installation of the first fully Interconnect camera control system.

“What is new — for the first time by the request of Mediatec — is we have updated our Ethernet control system to Layer 3,” Weber continued. “With Layer 3 (switches), we can use ordinary Internet transmission protocols to connect to any equipment around the world. It’s the same as you connecting your laptop in a hotel room. In the same way, we can send camera controls from a controller panel to a camera base station.” (Layer 3 switches are super fast routers that do fast forwarding via hardware.)

Mediatec, based in Sweden, handles worldwide live broadcasts from international events in sports and entertainment. Its facilities include outside HD broadcast vehicles, production and wireless/camera solutions. Services include crew management, live production, host broadcast services and graphics.

Mediatec does not transmit its video over the Grass Valley Internet camera control system. It uses separate HD-SDI signal transport over fiber technology for video. All camera control signals, including automatic data logging of all camera settings, now use the Internet technology.

This chart illustrates the concept Mediatec uses to interconnect 24 on-site cameras with the control center in Oslo.

This chart illustrates the concept Mediatec uses to interconnect 24 on-site cameras with the control center in Oslo.

Mediatec purchased 24 Grass Valley LDX Première cameras with digital triax and fiber connectivity. The LDX cameras and their Ethernet-based C2IP camera control system were specially configured, in this case, to work with WAN technology. The triax and fiber connectivity has nothing to do with the Internet connection, but the various technologies in use at the different venues.

For workflow efficiency, all of the Grass Valley OCP 400 camera control panels were located at one central location in Oslo, while the rest of the camera systems are located at the different horse race tracks around the country. Most of the production staff stays in Oslo and is not required to travel.

The Grass Valley C2IP provides full camera control functionality over an Ethernet connection.

The Grass Valley C2IP provides full camera control functionality over an Ethernet connection.

The Grass Valley C2IP provides full camera control functionality over Ethernet, which simplifies installation and cabling and overcomes virtually any remote installation hurdles. The single camera operational control panel (OCP) incorporates features normally found in traditional master control panels, including the ability to dramatically speed up camera set-up, tracking and reconfiguration.

Grass Valley’s LDK Connect Gateway provides open interactions from external devices to the camera — from automating set-up changes in the camera to reporting diagnostics. It allows users to connect their Grass Valley products together, forming a tighter, more integrated configuration and adds a portal to external Ethernet networks and the Internet.

To maintain security and the integrity of the camera control system, the LDK Connect Gateway is an independent platform that can simultaneously access the C2IP camera control network and a public network. This is achieved without compromising the operational control of the cameras in any way.

The race tracks are scattered throughout Norway, which is a very large, spread out country. It has a total area of 148,747 square miles and — in 2014 — a population of 5,109, 059 people. The country shares a long 1,000 mile eastern border with Sweden, and is bordered by Finland and Russia to the northeast and the Skagerrak Strait to the south. Denmark is on the other side.

“Norway is a physically huge country and it’s not highly populated,” said Weber. “So the transport of people and equipment is always a challenge there. For Mediatec, it saves a lot of money not having to ship around an entire crew and OB trucks to the various race tracks, which can be days apart in driving time. Now, they just send the camera operators. All the rest of the crew can stay in one key location in the headquarters in the capital of Oslo. So only a fraction of the production team needs to travel now.”

Though entirely remote-controlled cameras could be used at the race tracks — eliminating all on-site personnel — Mediatec has chosen to use cameramen, due to the unique requirements of shooting horse racing, Weber said.

The Mediatec contract allowed Grass Valley to make major advancements with its mobile production technology, Weber said. “They needed a special version of our master control panel — the MCP 450. We developed special software to decide and manage which control panels talk to which base station.

“Since the components are so far away from each other, we built a custom system for Mediatec. But it had been on our product roadmap for quite a while. Wejust didn’t have the right project for it yet, so it had never been finalized. This was a good opportunity for us. We had long wanted to make this an option.”

While remote-controlled cameras could be used at the race tracks — eliminating all on-site personnel — Mediatec has chosen to use camera operators because of the unique requirements of shooting horse racing.

While remote-controlled cameras could be used at the race tracks — eliminating all on-site personnel — Mediatec has chosen to use camera operators because of the unique requirements of shooting horse racing.

Mediatec has been a Grass Valley customer for nearly a decade and already operates hundreds of the company’s cameras along with transmission systems, switchers, routers and other production gear. The 24 new cameras and control equipment adds to their existing systems and will soon begin use during the upcoming racing season which begins in the spring.

“We had a very specific vision of how we wanted this to work,” said Paul Henriksen, CEO of Mediatec Broadcast. “The solution is performing very well and doing everything we had hoped.”

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