In Broadcast - June 2020 - 36

36

www.inbroadcast.com | Vol: 10 - Issue 6 | June 2020

InStudio

Ceiling Track Systems Plan Ahead to get it Right.
By James Eddershaw,
Managing Director...

R

ail camera systems have occupied
a relatively small yet growing part
of TV robotics for several years with
cameras on floor tracks a common
sight within many high-profile live
studios around Asia and Europe, and to
a lesser extent in North America.
These type of systems typically
provide the benefit of complex curved
motion and very sooth transitions
(regardless of the floor surface). They
come at a cost, however, to studio
flexibility and inconvenience for
guests and presenters. Broadcasters
worldwide weigh the pros and cons to
decide whether to install rails or opt
for a highly-flexible, free-roaming,
system like Shotoku's SmartPed.
But there's a third option - rails in
the ceiling. Again, ceiling cameras are
not new but the ability to elevate and
descend, with a full studio camera
configuration is a new capability
offering a viable option for studios
where simply looking down from above
is not enough.
Ceiling Track Deployments
Shotoku has been installing such
systems, with market-leading payload
and elevation ranges, for many years
at broadcasters globally. Our extensive
experience gives us unique insight into
the considerations that are essential
before embarking on a ceiling track
deployment and the fantastic results
that can be achieved when it's done
right. Installing a full-specification
ceiling track system is a significantly

larger undertaking than a comparable
floor track system. Apart from the
added installation complexity, the
technology and safety considerations
are greater.
Furthermore, the ceiling structure
itself needs to be strong enough to
offer the static load support and
prevent undue movement as the
camera moves along the track,
possibly lowered to a seated eye-line
height. Ceiling height is usually the
first thing to consider on any project.
Some traditional production studios
may have ceiling heights of 7m (21ft)
or more but in the vast majority of
cases today, ceiling heights may be
little more than 3m (9ft), meaning
space for the track, cable management
and the necessary structural supports
is very limited if you want to achieve
useful high and low camera angles.
Once the track height has been
defined, the useable camera heights
can be considered, and it's important
that the descender column has a
range of travel to reach the eye-lines
required. Shotoku has a selection of
columns with extension ranges from
just 0.6m (2ft) for lower ceilings,
up to over 1.5m (5ft). The major
advantage of a ceiling track system
is the camera's ability to provide
dynamic crane-like moves, covering all
angles from overhead to standing and
even seated eye lines. Without that
flexibility it's unlikely that installing a
high-performance ceiling track system
will be worthwhile.

Covering All The Angles
Performance of the
system needs to match the
usual on-air expectations
- all Shotoku systems are
designed for full on-air
use, not only wide 'beauty'
shots, but also for the
main presenter camera with a fullsize prompter in many cases. Clearly,
no customer would consider a system
only capable of operating at the widest
angle. Our customers often have no
floor-based cameras in the studio, so
there's no question that the ceiling
cameras be limited to opening and
closing shots only.
Safety is of paramount consideration
with all robotics; a ceiling system is no
exception. It's not only about being
overhead (all fixings and mechanisms
are double or quadruple redundant
and designed with high safety margins
throughout as you'd expect) - it's
more about the risk of collision with
objects and people who are not
expecting a camera to be transitioning
or descending from above. For this
reason, Shotoku has always had a
range of collision avoidance and

Shotoku ceiling track installation descenders are available for
0.6m (2ft) to 1.5m (5ft)

detection systems. Cameras
sharing a single rail cannot
collide - they are aware of
each other's position through
software, but also have a
physical 'whisker' which
will detect potential contact. Even
our earliest systems had intelligent
zones allowing transitions only when
the height was at a safe level above
set objects. Shotoku also supplies allround pressure detectors mounted
directly on the payload (encompassing
the PT head, camera and prompter) so
should the camera transition toward
an object or person, movement
instantly stops.
Installation Plan
As always, it pays to plan carefully
and fully understand the specific
challenges of installing and operating
a ceiling track system, but the results
can be exceptional. Shotoku's wealth
of real-world experience is available
if you are considering a ceiling track
system, or any high-performance
studio robotics.


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In Broadcast - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - June 2020

Contents
In Broadcast - June 2020 - Intro
In Broadcast - June 2020 - Cover1
In Broadcast - June 2020 - Cover2
In Broadcast - June 2020 - Contents
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 4
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 5
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 6
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 7
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 8
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 9
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 10
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 11
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 12
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 13
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 14
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 15
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 16
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 17
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 18
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 19
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 20
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 21
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 22
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 23
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 24
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 25
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 26
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 27
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 28
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 29
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 30
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 31
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 32
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 33
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 34
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 35
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 36
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 37
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 38
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 39
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 40
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In Broadcast - June 2020 - 43
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In Broadcast - June 2020 - 62
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 63
In Broadcast - June 2020 - 64
In Broadcast - June 2020 - Cover3
In Broadcast - June 2020 - Cover4
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