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Ross Video Team Apr 26, 2021

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Living Live Podcast: Enhancing Your Visuals with Full-Chrominance Broadcast Video Cameras


The latest advances in broadcasting technology allow teams to create fully-virtual sets for their anchors. However, the biggest issue with virtual sets lay in their artificiality. But with the development of the ACID Camera, broadcasting teams can meld reality and virtual reality in novel and exciting ways.

On this episode of Ross’ Living Live podcast, Tyler Kern is joined by Gina Thompson, Business Development Manager at Ross Video.

Before coming to Ross Video, Thompson surrounded herself with studios and broadcast cameras quite a bit and even worked as a professor for AV and technical education in Florida. Today, she helps Ross “make their cameras look good.” Her background in cameras and shading make her an expert in this episode’s topic: the ACID Cam.

Originally designed for use on virtual sets (as evidenced by the camera’s bright green body), the ACID Cam gives broadcasting teams a full resolution picture without compressing it like a standard broadcasting camera would. The secret? The ACID Cam uses two separate outputs.

“You end up with all of the luminance coming out of one output and all of the chrominance coming out of the other, and it gives you a full resolution picture that you’re able to key with,” said Thompson.

She noted that people have a hard time suspending disbelief on virtual sets because you can tell it’s all virtual. But with the ACID Cam, broadcast teams now have the ability to “take a real image from a camera and place it into that virtual scene and still make it look like it’s meant to be there.”

Watch the full episode to discover a few other ways the ACID Cam can be used outside of the virtual set.

AUTHOR: Tyler Kern
CONTRIBUTORS: Gina Thompson

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Podcast Transcript

 

Tyler Kern:
Hey everyone and welcome. I am your host today, Tyler Kern. Thank you so much for joining me. Today, we're discussing Ross Video's ACID Cam and the technology behind it. I'm thrilled to be joined by Gina Thompson. She's the business development manager for robotics at Ross Video. Gina, thank you so much for joining me.

Gina Thompson:
No problem. Happy to be here.

Tyler Kern:
Excellent, excellent. Well, before we dive too far into ACID Cam, what it is, all of its functionality and features, first let's get a little bit of background on you, Gina. Tell us a little bit about your work history before you were at Ross Video and some of the experience that you had that helps inform what you do in your role at Ross Video now.

Gina Thompson:
Sure. So my experience kind of varied, but it starts in network television. I kind of came up through the ranks working in studios, in and around studios, doing video shading, running cameras, running jibs, running jibs for outdoor sports. So I worked in and around cameras quite a bit.

Gina Thompson:
And then I actually moved into the education sector where I worked as a professor for AV and technical education in Florida. So that was quite fun as well. And then after that, I got pulled into Ross based on some experience with a salesperson who met me and thought, "Hey, I know of a really good job that you might really like," and I ended up here.

Gina Thompson:
My background is... Really, it's surrounding cameras in a lot of ways, and most of that being video shading. I really enjoy shading and a lot of my students, too. When I was a teacher, that was the one thing that I was the most passionate about, was teaching students how to shade. I felt like it was a lost art. When I actually came on at Ross, that was one of the main reasons why they had hired me, is because they wanted someone to help them make their cameras look good. So that's what brought me here.

Tyler Kern:
Well, that is fantastic. So you are the perfect person, really, to help us break down and discuss in a little bit more detail the ACID Cam. Let's start off talking about Ross Video's ACID Cam. Tell us about this product. Just give us a broad overview of the product and the primary features that we should know about.

Gina Thompson:
Sure. The ACID Cam itself, if you look at it, it's a green camera. It has neon green on the side, so it kind of looks like your chroma key green on the side. Everyone's always like, "That's a really strange color for a camera."

Gina Thompson:
But it was done on purpose because when we first released ACID Camera, it was meant to be used with virtual sets. The entire extra fun, special sauce of that camera was working with a virtual. It's called UltrachromeHR. That is the secondary output on the backside of the ACID Cam. So it has an STD one and then an SDI two. That SDI two, rather than being used for your viewfinder like you would normally use it for, we actually adjusted that and changed the technology inside the camera so that it actually outputs 0:4:4 outside of that second SDI out, meaning that... Usually, if you want to get a full bandwidth picture or, in other words, a full-resolution picture, I mean, you have 4:4:4 data that you're looking for which means full sampling of luminance and full sampling of chrominance.

Gina Thompson:
As I said, there are two different outputs. These come into our keyer, So the Ross UltrachromeHR keyer actually takes both of those outputs from the camera as inputs. You get a 4:2:2 out of SDI one and a 0:4:4 out of SDI two, and it actually composites them together. In the end, you end up with all of the luminance coming out of one output and all of the chrominance coming out of another. It gives you a full-resolution picture that you're able to key with, which is great because it's not compressed.

Gina Thompson:
Usually when you go to a full-resolution picture, in order to fit down the bandwidth of SDI, it does have to be compressed. But in this case, it doesn't because we're using two separate outputs. That is our special sauce.

Gina Thompson:
What that really does is it helps in keying to get you those fine details, fine details meaning stray hairs on your anchor or even edges so they're not as jagged. Because it is sampling on a per pixel basis, you're not going to have to fill in... It's not going to have to guess what the pixels are in between.

Gina Thompson:
In addition to that, at Ross we do a really great job with our solutions. When we were thinking ACID Cam, we were thinking, "Wow, we're doing this virtual solution as well." It's a really, really great addition to being able to have a customer come to us and sell them everything they need. Not only would they be getting the virtual software, they'd also be getting the camera. They'd be getting the robotics. They could get the lenses from us if they needed to, and they can get the keyers from us. It was just a really easy addition into a product that we already sold, and it made it a lot easier for our customers when they came to us asking about that type of thing.

Tyler Kern:
You mentioned a couple of different times virtual sets. That seems to be a pretty ideal setting for the ACID Cam. What are some other primary use cases where ACID Cam really shines?

Gina Thompson:
Absolutely. The virtual sets is our first place where we look to sell those. But in addition to that, there's also a couple of other really great features, the first one being HDR. The HDR settings in the ACID Cam, you get three different choices. You have two different types of HLG, and then you have Dolby HDR. You can go between either one of these.

Gina Thompson:
If you like to do HDR in your chain, where that is really helpful is if... I'll give you an example from actually a customer that is using the ACID Cam. They are located on the corner of a really busy street in the United States. Their entire studio's surrounded by windows. What they were looking for is something that would stop the anchors from being basically so blown out. They were basically so dark because the background was so much brighter than them, that the cameras they were currently using couldn't compensate for that.

Gina Thompson:
We went in there and we showed them how they could use the ACID Cam with the HLG on. The HLG allows them to still use the current bandwidth of their SDI that is just standard. They could turn on HLG and it'll work through their system, just like if they were using just an SDR image. We were able to show them that that additional range, that additional dynamic range helped to kind of, I would say, level out the lighting so it wasn't so dark or so bright behind them that it made their anchors super dark. We see this in a lot of different areas. This is just one example in a studio, but there's also other places where HDR would be really important or at least useful.

Gina Thompson:
I've also given some demos to different people in different churches where they're working with very limited lighting. HDR helps them. The additional range helps them work with the lighting that they have on-site and not having to really add anything new. Also in corporate environments where they're working with exactly the same thing, large windows behind their presenters, the HDR elements come into play and they're very, very helpful.

Gina Thompson:
Something else I really like about the ACID Cam, and you actually have this in most broadcast cameras but working with the ACID Cam through my demos and with my customers, we use the skin tone a lot. We work with skin tone. We do, what I always used to tell my students, digital makeup. But we work with that particular circuit quite a bit and on the ACID Cam, it works very, very well.

Tyler Kern:
That's really fascinating. What kind of feedback have you gotten from clients, from customers that have used ACID Cam? What has that been like? Just kind of give me some stories, some examples of how they've utilized it and what their feedback has been.

Gina Thompson:
Sure. The customers that I can think of right off the top of my head were customers that went into buying the ACID Cam as part of a mixed set. What I mean by that is part of their set is virtual and part of their set is real and it's a hard set. For certain segments of their show, they have on robotics. They have the camera on one side of their broadcast studio shooting a virtual set, somebody in front of a green screen interacting with the green screen, interacting with elements that are popping up in virtual reality. And then they throw it over to the hard set to do the standard news every day. Those customers have been very, very happy with it. It's not just the ACID Cam that they have been happy with. It's the full ecosystem.

Gina Thompson:
In that case, not only are they using our ACID Cam, but they're using our Furio robotics as well. Not only are they able to pull up on their computers the shading which is all done through DashBoard, they're also able to control their robotics in the exact same place. It makes it really easy on the operator to not only learn how to shade, not only learn how to run robotics, but really make it in the most simplest terms possible so that anybody can just jump on here and start using them on day one. So that's been some feedback from that customer.

Gina Thompson:
Another customer that comes to mind that's been happy with our ACID Cam is somewhere where you're doing a lot of teaching. We have one customer that they work in a large city that they actually do teaching. I would say their clients... So they're a client of us, but their clients are just teachers. They come in and they shoot their whole class in a virtual environment. These teachers actually set up, prior to coming in, all of their virtual elements. What I mean by that is they're working with their backgrounds, whatever elements they need to pop up in front of them in augmented reality, and then they have to build those, put them into the system and then come in and teach using these tools.

Gina Thompson:
The ACID Cam has been really helpful for them because they've been able to not only use it to kind of achieve the end result that they're looking for [inaudible 00:12:27] class, but again, it's the full ecosystem. These teachers are not technical wizards. They're not somebody that totally understands how robotics or cameras or switchers and all that work. But because of the simplicity of the interface to control the cameras and the easiness to just plug right into them and be able to shade them up, they've had a really good experience with them as well.

Gina Thompson:
Most feedback that comes back to me and to us at Ross has been because of the interface, how easy it is to shade the cameras, how easy it is to recall scenes. It's not that other cameras can't do that, but we do it using software. The software ties into the rest of the Ross ecosystem, so it just makes it really easy on the client side of things.

Tyler Kern:
You finished that right where I wanted to go and just... Because I just wanted to mention that it really does seem like the ACID Cam fits seamlessly into the overall Ross ecosystem in a fantastic way that that makes it easier for users, right?

Gina Thompson:
Right. Correct. That's the idea. That was part of the whole thought process of bringing cameras onboard at Ross, was to be able to offer a solution from the lens to the server, so from capture to storage. We want to be able to have everything that our customers need in one place, and then also be able to support all that in one place. It makes it a lot easier for a lot of people that are used to having to call multiple different vendors for different products on hand. Some things still, they might have to go to other people, but we try to try to make it as inclusive as possible.

Tyler Kern:
Gina, as we wrap up the conversation today, is there anything else that we need to cover on ACID Cam that you think is worth mentioning, or do you have any summary statements that just summarizes the benefits, maybe, of what ACID Cam can bring to a facility?

Gina Thompson:
So ACID and any of the special things, and ways to wrap up this conversation, it's really just that it's never... When you buy a product from Ross, whether it be the ACID Camera or the UCHR that you would need to get that special feature out of it, we're here with you until the end. You're not buying a product that just has one really great thing about it. There's multiple things about it, and the ACID Cam just really ties into that thought process.

Tyler Kern:
Absolutely. Gina Thompson, business development manager for robotics at Ross Video. Gina, thank you so much for joining us today.

Gina Thompson:
Thank you, Tyler.

Tyler Kern:
Everyone, thank you for tuning into this episode. We appreciate you joining us very much. Of course, for more content, make sure to visit rossvideo.com and of course we have more content there. We'll be back soon with more videos just like this one. But until then, I've been your host today, Tyler Kern. Thanks for watching.

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