Tiny Minnesota Station Opts for Vinten Radamec Camera Robotic System

KSMQ has proven that camera robotics is not just for larger television stations, as the Austin, MN-based station, which is one of the smallest PBS outlets in the U.S., has installed a Vinten Radamec camera robotic system.

Several years ago the station planned an upgrade to its cameras, and began to look deeper into its operation.

“At the point when we were buying all this new equipment, we were having a tough time finding volunteers,” says station producer/director John Wiedenheft. “We didn’t see that changing in the near future, and the subject of robotics came up. We wanted the option to possibly still run the cameras in manual mode at certain times, and the only company who could provide that was Vinten Radamec.”

Vinten Radamec delivered a three-component system to the station. An Autocam Multicontroller II Desktop Control unit provides control of both the robotic pan and tilt heads and native lens drives. Three Radamec HS-105P robotic pan and tilt heads, designed to mount on manual pedestals, provide pan and tilt function in both robotic and manual mode. And three NLD-FED Autocam native lens drives give full control of the Fujinon ENG digital lenses mounted on cameras in the studio.

Robotic pedestals were not an option because the studio is far too small. Instead, the station bought a pair of Vinten Pro-Ped Studio Pedestals for two teleprompter-equipped cameras, and a Vinten Osprey Elite pedestal for the camera without a prompter.

Engineer Stefan Olson said that the station was 99-percent decided about the Vinten Radamec robotic system, but in late 2008 a studio demo of the controller and a single robotic head put them over the top.

“We liked it so much that we purchased the rest of the system, and installed those components on our own,” he says. “It wasn’t a tough installation, just a few screws and a few guys lifting up the head to make sure everything was secure. Installation is pretty self-explanatory.To keep the cables all together, we did a Techflex wrap with the robotic control cable and our fiber cable for our camera, and looped a rope in with it to make it more round, so it doesn’t just slip on the ground,” said Olson. “It actually gives it some girth so you don’t slip on it.”

While KSMQ bought robotic heads that can be operated manually, Wiedenheft estimated that 95 percent of the time they opt for robotic operation.

“For most of our productions, we use robotic cameras. Give us enough time– five, ten minutes before the production, and whoever is running the robotic remote control will be able to set up their pre-sets. We have about two or three people who are really well trained on the remote control now, and so they’re able to create a new shot list or find different camera angles just like a regular camera operator would in a live program.”

The operational efficiency of KSMQ’s robotics allows the station to do five local productions a week. Those programs benefit from the consistent quality the robotics provide.

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