Case Study: Australia’s Nine Network opts for Sony cameras in new facility

By Contributed

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Australia’s Nine Network relocated its Sydney broadcast facility in 2020, moving from the suburb of Willoughby to a skyscraper in North Sydney.

With the move, Nine Network opted to upgrade a wide variety of equipment ranging from cameras to control rooms with Sony providing a variety of solutions. 

“We required a mixture of fiber-attached system cameras setup as a mix of robotic pedestals, traditional pedestals, jib and handhelds. We also required high-quality all-in-one pan/tilt/zoom-capable cameras for smaller studios,” said Stephen Willmott, studio/live technology and automation specialist at Nine Network.

“Overall, we required SMPTE 2110 compatibility where possible, ease of use, a networked camera control system to enable multiple control rooms access and control of cameras, a potential path to 4K and excellent quality pictures. The cameras would also be used across five floors of a high-rise office block. When we considered our options, it was clear Sony cameras were the best way forward for us.”

“The Sony cameras fulfilled our requirements as they have native 2110 available when using the system cameras and the HDCU3100 CCU. The Sony multicamera system (MCS) allowed for a variety of control options including traditional MCU and RCPs as well as a software MCU. Then the BRCX1000 and BRCX400 cameras also integrated seamlessly into our Vinten robotics control servers.”

With the facility utilizing primarily Sony cameras, it’s now easy to control and match any camera. 

Sony cameras at Nine Network along with Autoscript prompters.

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“The familiarity with the systems has enabled our team to hit the ground running. The ability to remotely manage the HDCU base stations through a web interface has also allowed our team to quickly and easily make configuration changes. Picture-wise the images coming out of the range of Sony cameras has been consistent and high quality. They have not skipped a beat,” said Willmott.

A typical environment in Nine’s new location consists of a studio with a mix of predominately Sony HDCU3100 or HDCU3500 cameras with a number of BRC cameras for additional angles. Their smaller studios use BRC cameras exclusively and there are a few ‘stand-up’ style positions where on-air talent can just walk up to a camera, put on a mic and start broadcasting which also uses BRCX1000 cameras.

 “These studios can be used in any of our control rooms. When in a manual production the cameras are controlled from a central technical position in our operations centre. When in an automated production, control of these cameras is passed to the co-pilot automation operator in that control room and they can also be assisted by a TD if required. Before each production we can assign cameras to different control rooms to ensure correct tally and returns using Sony’s integration with Lawo VSM,” said Willmott.

“The cameras’ ease of use and great picture quality are standouts for us. The consistency of the picture across the range of products make for flexible and efficient production. The Sony equipment also stands out because for us it is a complete range from fiber studio camera systems in multiple flavors, to box cameras, to PTZ style all in one – and all of these exist in a coherent control ecosystem.”

Willmott views Sony’s equipment as a key to success in the new facility.

“The Sony equipment has allowed us to be flexible in moving cameras around the facility as required show to show, seamlessly expanding our camera inventory all while maintaining familiar functionality and a high picture quality. Since launching the facility we have commissioned another studio with five additional cameras to service our expanding sports commitments, a commentary booth with a BRCX1000 and a temporary guest Covid isolation studio. The Sony cameras are central and critical to all of this and give us the ability to create and broadcast any production quickly and efficiently.”

In addition to the cameras, Nine also deployed over 90 Sony professional LMD series monitors throughout the facility. These are used for reference, editing and general review applications. The professional monitors were combined with numerous large display panels used for multiview applications.

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