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Shooting with Ultimate Stability for Television

As High Definition television sets move into more homes worldwide every day, and broadcasters move more of their output into “HD”, there is increased pressure on suppliers to provide crisp and stable images.
No longer is it acceptable, even when news gathering, for material to look wobbly, rushed and ragged. The challenge is to take two simultaneous jumps; into the world of full 1920 x 1080 pixels, and into the world of ultimate gyro stabilisation.

The Cineflex V14 was designed to achieve rock steady images from a moving helicopter. When first released in 2005 it immediately became the industry standard as users became aware of just what an enormous step had been taken when compared to the old technologies of competing systems.

The first major television news to be broadcast live and worldwide in HD was the disaster of New Orleans during the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. We saw the suffering in such detail that an entire nation was forced to question how its government were handling the situation. They were no longer allowed the luxury of feeling remote from the events they were seeing.
“You need a specialised gimbal to keep the camera still and stabilise the HD lens while zooming from a long way away. And as we quickly found out, during Hurricane Katrina, we were not just documenting what happened. We were using our camera system to zoom in very close, finding people hanging out of houses and windows, or in small spaces between houses. We zoomed into places that were hard for rescue ‘copters to find, and several times we called in GPS coordinates to rescuers when we saw some of those people. The technology proved extremely valuable in those rescue operations, and I think there are lots more applications like that”.

JT Alpaugh, Cineflex operator

From a helicopter at approximately 2kms.
Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa

Then, while watching the 2006 Commonwealth Games from Melbourne, and subsequently the Asian Games from Doha, the world began to see how much crisper the image had become when captured in High Definition, even if down-linked and viewed in only standard definition (SD). The stability of the Cineflex brought new drama to sports as viewers of an inner city cycle race saw riders’ fingers on the handlebars…shot from a helicopter flying at 1,000’.

In order to achieve stability of this magnitude the Cineflex employs a gyro sensing and feedback system of such supreme accuracy that we haven’t yet found its limits. The more stable the platform, the longer the lens that can be used. In law enforcement roles the V14 has been successfully proven to be an effective surveillance tool from as far away as twelve nautical miles and 12,000 feet.

When applied to the civilian broadcast role this ability to “stand off” from the target produces some unique results. If you watched the extraordinary footage of wild hunting dogs on the BBC “Planet Earth” series you will appreciate that the Cineflex can be used in circumstances where any other method would have caused the subject to change its behaviour.

Similarly, if broadcasting from overhead large gatherings of people, or sensitive gatherings such as royalty, weddings or national occasions, the helicopter is able to produce much tighter images despite being higher and/or further away. There is thus less disturbance and more likelihood of being permitted to use a helicopter to broadcast from events like this.
“High Definition” is a rather over-used expression and is sometimes applied to camera systems that are actually outputting images that have been compressed by a factor of up to 60. Both versions of the Cineflex system use the very latest Sony HDC1500 daylight camera which outputs true 1920 x 1080 High Definition. The implication is enormous and has to be seen to be truly appreciated. (A standard definition video monitor uses only around a quarter of this number of pixels). So, once you combine absolute stability, a very long lens, and true High Definition, you are beginning to get into the realms of science fiction. For example the Angenieux 40 x 22mm lens will zoom in to 880mm. There is then an optical doubler that can be selected, to immediately extend the range to 1760mm. The further capability to execute digital doubling in-camera takes the lens out to an unbelievable 3520mm
From 3,000’ overhead the opening ceremony, Doha Asian Games, Qatar
The wide shot ... and the tight shot
“Captain Cook - Obsession and Discovery” winner of many awards in 2007.
Live broadcasting of course requires downlinks and this is often the aspect of the move into HD that broadcasters find the most daunting. This is no longer the case as Cineflex have demonstrated live from the NAB convention for the last two years. In a highly active relationship with Troll Systems the Cineflex has been shown to broadcast full uncompressed HD images, live, from a distance of up to 60kms. Integration of such systems can be specified at the time of purchase if required.

What are the main reasons professionals choose a Cineflex over competitors?

• World Leaders. First in the world to incorporate a full 1920 x 1080 High Definition camera at the highest standard available.

• Only system using proprietary lens servo hardware and software design resulting in unparalleled stability.

• Swappable Lenses. The only system that offers multiple long and short focal length lenses that can be changed in the field in minutes.

• Smallest diameter and lowest weight in its class.

• Cineflex provide outstanding Service and Support through their dedication to ensuring complete client satisfaction. Extended Warranty plans are also available as are competitive leasing options.