Charlotte Hornets Upgrade With Ikegami HDK-95C CMOS Cameras
As part of their transition to HD at Time Warner Cable Arena, the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets selected Ikegami HDK-95C Full Digital Portable CMOS camera systems. The four new Ikegami HDK-95C cameras are the successors to Ikegami HL-60W cameras, which had shot at the Hornets’ home arena since it opened in 2005.
“Our upgrades are few and far between, so we’re looking for equipment with proven reliability and performance which stands up over a long period of time,” says Kelly Heddleson, Director of Technical Operations for the Charlotte Hornets. “Ikegami is known for having the prettiest picture, and we wanted to make sure that we could display a great image to our large video boards. In addition, this was a city project – we wanted the highest quality possible while still being budget-friendly.”
In addition to hosting at least 41 games a year for the Hornets, Time Warner Cable Arena is also the venue for approximately 60 additional productions each year. Heddleson and his team are in charge of producing broadcast-quality video for a heavy schedule that includes NCAA basketball, monster truck events, circuses, the 2017 NBA All Star Game, and much more. All video that comes from the Ikegami HDK-95C cameras is distributed to the arena’s giant LED screens and in-house TV’s.
“It’s important for us to provide our viewers with the best quality possible,” says Heddleson. “We chose the Ikegami HDK-95C because we’re looking for deep blacks and vibrant colors. Another advantage of these cameras is that they give us multi-format out of the base station – our studio is 1080i native, but we can also take the HDK-95C’s dual-link 2X high speed signal to our EVS replay machine. That allows us to replay from 120 frames, for a nice smooth replay. Finally, we have a ready upgrade path to 4K when we change our arena TVs over to that format.”
Part of Ikegami’s Unicam HD line, the HDK-95C HD portable digital camera is equipped with Native multi-format 2.5 million pixel, 2/3 inch CMOS sensors. It also features an upgrade path to 24p and 3G formats, including 1080/60p and 4:4:4 24p.
The advanced features and extensive controls for the Ikegami HDK-95C have also made the new cameras a hit with Heddleson’s crew. “The HDK-95C has focus assist, which the younger camera operators especially appreciate — it helps them grab focus faster when the players are running down the court,” he states. “On the video shading side, we have Ikegami’s OCP-300 operation control panels which gives us every bit of control that we need. There’s not one thing on the camera that we can’t adjust. We also use an Ikegami 24″ monitor which is just awesome – all together, it’s a great area for shading.”
Ikegami’s reputation for durability has been proven once again to Heddleson with the HDK-95C. “Our HL-60W’s were workhorses – Ikegami’s great at making a sturdy product that can take a beating,” he says. “We constantly have players trying to save a ball or take a hard foul, and they’ll land right on the camera operator. Our HDK-95C’s can sustain a big impact and keep right on going.”
“Service and support from Ikegami have also been top notch,” Heddleson continues. “I could reach our salesperson anytime during the upgrade process. For commissioning the HDK-95C’s, Ikegami’s field engineer came here for two days – being able to pick his brain that entire time was extremely beneficial.”
Anthony James Partners was the consultant on the project, and Comprehensive Technical Group LLC, of Atlanta, Georgia served as the system integrator. “The Ikegami HDK-95C is providing terrific value for the Charlotte Hornets,” says Ry Alford, Senior Account Manager, Comprehensive Technical Group. “This camera is an optimal combination of reliability on game day, high speed capabilities for replay, picture quality and pricing.”
With their new Ikegami HDK-95C cameras in house, the Charlotte Hornets’ HD upgrade is getting plenty of attention. “Everyone – the fans, the players, the team owners – look up on the board, see this beautiful HD picture, and their jaws drop,” says Kelly Heddleson. “We couldn’t do it without Ikegami.”