The Miami Heat uses four Canon BU-45H remote control cameras to catch footage of their games in the AmericanAirlines Arena and covers all aspects of the game, from players to fans.
Whether for television broadcasts, giant-screen displays, or facility monitoring, video serves multiple purposes at modern sports stadiums. Faced with the need for a robotic HD camera to meet all three of those applications, the Miami HEAT equipped the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, with four BU-45H remote-control robotic pan-tilt-zoom HD camera systems from Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging.
“We realized that the Canon BU-45H met both a broadcast-niche need as well as a service-niche need, and could seamlessly connect the two applications very easily,” explained David Vickery, director of broadcast services for the Miami Heat. Inside the Arena, one Canon BU-45H remote-control robotic pan-tilt-zoom HD camera is mounted just beneath a giant scoreboard high above center court. It is used to capture dramatic overhead HD shots of game action for broadcast as well as close-ups of fans, which serve the display needs of the scoreboard’s four 16-by-9-feet screens. A second Canon BU-45H remote-control camera is mounted in a corner, providing beautiful HD wide shots for broadcast and additional fan close-ups for display inside the Arena.
“Our directors and producers love the BU-45H,” Vickery noted. “From a TV standpoint, it provides dramatic HD shots and angles that we want to use, making it very important as a production tool. Once we started using Canon BU-45H cameras, however, we realized how well they also worked for POV [point of view] shots.”
“The great HD lens on the BU-45H enables it to zoom into a point of interest or back out for a really nice wide shot.” —David Vickery, Director of Broadcast Services
Designed for outdoor use, two additional BU-45H remote-control cameras serve the team’s broadcast and service applications outside the Arena as well. One, located in the West Plaza, is used to capture POV shots of fans arriving through the AmericanAirlines Arena’s main gates. That video is displayed on the enormous 3,400-square-feet MiamiMediaMesh screen mounted to the exterior of the building. “One of the most important tasks facing any sports video facility and its production group is to connect the fans with the event,” Vickery continued. “The Canon BU-45H cameras are great tools in our arsenal to achieve that goal. They allow our fans to see themselves on giant displays as they enter, or to get picked up with a great on-air move while they’re sitting in their seats.”
When not shooting fans entering the Arena, the Canon BU-45H remote- control camera in the West Plaza can also be aimed at the MiamiMediaMesh screen to provide video confirmation that the giant display is working properly. “The BU-45H is a precise tool for the verification of our outdoor MiamiMediaMesh screen’s performance,” Vickery noted. This same BU-45H remote-control camera is also used to capture POV beauty shots of downtown Miami for insertion into broadcasts.
The Miami HEAT’s fourth Canon BU-45H remote-control camera is mounted on the East Side of the waterfront Arena and is used to provide beauty shots of Biscayne Bay as well as coverage of the Arena’s East Plaza, where the Heat marketing department stages events for fans.
The product of Canon’s years of experience in the robotic camera business, the BU-45H combines an advanced Canon three-CCD HD camera with a Canon 20X optical zoom lens (4.5–90mm), a sophisticated remote-control pan-tilt system, and a weatherproof outdoor housing. The camera portion of the BU-45H employs three 1/3-inch (1,670,000-pixel) CCDs and delivers 1920(H) x 1080(V) 16:9 HD video via an HD SDI serial digital interface. The camera also includes a remote-control, three-position ND (neutral density) filter, Canon’s advanced Auto Focus function, and sophisticated Canon Image Stabilizer technology.
“The optical quality of the Canon BU-45H is outstanding,” Vickery said. “In addition to that is its built-in Image Stabilization feature. One of our outdoor BU-45H cameras sits on a pole and vibrates in the wind, so the Image Stabilization feature is key for us. A lot of other camera systems don’t even provide that type of feature.”
Offering exceptional controllability and smooth pan-tilt motion, the BU-45H’s remote-control robotic pan-tilt mechanism is capable of extremely smooth pans of 340 degrees and tilts of 80 degrees (30 degrees up, 50 down). The BU-45H’s outdoor pan-tilt head and weatherproof housing are designed for operation from -15 to +40 degrees Celsius (5 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit). The BU-45H’s housing also meets the IP-45 specifications for dust- and waterproof-efficiency and it has a “windshield wiper” blade to keep its lens port clear. The total weight of the pan-tilt system, camera, and housing is 17 kg. (approx. 37 lbs.).
“From the camera to the lens to the pan-tilt control, we’ve been helped very extensively by Canon,” Vickery added. “The cameras you want to use don’t always necessarily work with the controllers that you’ve already got. Canon, however, paired up with a lot of companies to make sure their remote-control systems interface with the BU-45H. We’re using Troll Systems’ desktop camTROLL TCC500 HD Camera Controller, and it’s very sophisticated. Canon provided the contacts and direction to ensure that the camTROLL product works seamlessly with the BU-45H.”
“We compared POV cameras and became extremely interested when we saw the Canon BU-45H’s unibody construction, where the camera is encased in a special housing that also offers remote-control pan and tilt,” noted Vickery. “It’s a unique and rugged device. The housing of the Canon BU-45H lends itself well to a number of useful applications. The housing protects it from dust and dirt, and even indoors it shields the camera and lens system and prevents its cables from getting tangled. We sit one hundred yards from the salty waters of Biscayne Bay, which is a corrosive environment for electronics. The BU-45H, however, has no external cables hanging out to get caught, twisted, or dry-rotted in the humid South Florida air.”
The Canon BU-45H remote-control robotic pan-tilt HD camera provides genlock input for broadcast video-system synchronization. The video outputs include HD-SDI with embedded audio for HD recording and an analog composite NTSC output for monitoring. Powered by 12V DC current, the BU-45H’s control protocol is nonproprietary and open; users or system integrators can interface the camera with their own control system or that of third-party providers to create a versatile robotic-control system. The BU-45H can be operated in automatic or manual mode. Short- and long-distance control systems interface via RS-422 connections, and an optional, third-party, E/O (electrical-to-optical) converter is available for worldwide connectivity via fiber optics (or connection to Canon’s Canobeam DT-150 HD wireless video transceiver for transmission at distances up to one kilometer).
“Since this building opened in January 2000, all of our camera systems have had Canon lenses,” commented Vickery. “Canon provides us with absolutely great service, and it stands behind its products. From a customer service standpoint, Canon has always been very helpful in meeting the needs of the Miami Heat. It’s a one-to-one, customer-to-manufacturer relationship. The BU-45H is the best for both our broadcast and our POV needs. This extends from the HD picture quality of the camera itself, to its HD zoom lens, to its pan-tilt operation, and to its controller interface. The Miami Heat’s goal is always to produce video that keeps the crowd constantly entertained. The Canon BU-45H camera system is a big part of how we make the fan experience that much better.”