THROUGH THE LENS

THE ROSS VIDEO BLOG

Ross Video Team Sep 28, 2020 10:11:38 AM

SUBSCRIBE

Living Live Podcast: Getting the Shot with Creativity and Distance Through Robotics


During trying times, relying on the media to deliver the latest news is more important than ever. Studio based news programs had no choice but to continue operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, but staff health and safety must remain a top priority. This is where robotics can be of service.

Karen Walker, Vice President of Camera Motion Systems, and Bruce Takasaki, Product Manager of Camera Motion System, at Ross Video sat down to discuss how robotics are being used to support social distancing efforts in studios. Walker and Takasaki bring 20 years of combined industry experience to the table and know firsthand the ins and outs of how robotic and manual supports are used in studio applications.

“What we're seeing is a lot of people using robotics now because you can't have people in the studios. And the big advantage of using the robotics is it can be done remotely. So you don't need anyone in the studio. They can be remote driving the visual cortex from home,” Walker noted.
Takasaki explained that because many broadcasters can’t bring their staff into the studio anymore, robotics can allow them to plan an automated production. If adjustments need to be made, Ross Video’s Dashboard technology allows for making adjustments easily. “So with Dashboard, anywhere you are, you could log into a dashboard panel, connect up to the robots and make adjustments to the heads while you're doing the production and this has really been key to allowing people that do things from home,” Takasaki said.

When both safety and a quality production have to be balanced, robotics can provide solutions. Walker elaborated that being able to have full control of the camera equipment from home or a remote location minimizes risk when talent must appear in the studio, “Yet you can still have the most creative shots you possibly can. Whether, you know, the people are traditionally familiar with manual equipment. So you can still do that with robotics, and you can do that remotely.”

AUTHOR: Tyler Kern
CONTRIBUTORS: Karen Walker & Bruce Takasaki

    spotify-icon Subscribe on Spotify
    apple-podcast-icon Subscribe on Apple Podcast

 


Podcast Transcript

Tyler Kern:

Coronavirus has placed in emphasis on social distancing and studios are no exception. So, here to discuss how you can still get the shot you want while still adhering to social distancing guidelines is Karen Walker, Vice President of Camera Motion Systems at Ross Video. Karen, good to talk to you today.

Karen Walker:

Hi, good morning. Good afternoon.

Tyler Kern:

Hello, hello. And Bruce Takasaki. He is the Product Manager for Camera Motion Systems at Ross Video. Bruce, thank you for joining us as well.

Bruce Takasaki:

Thanks for much, Tyler, it's great to be here.

Tyler Kern:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, thank you both so much for joining me for this episode. So, Karen, let's start off here, how are robotics being used to support social distancing in studios?

Karen Walker:

Well, the robotics are naturally... It makes sense that you don't need an operator right there in the studio. So, they're naturally socially distanced products, if you want to call them that. And robotics have been around for a long time. What we're seeing is a lot of people using robotics though, because you can't have people in the studios. And the big advantage using the robotics is that it can be done remotely, so you don't need anyone in the studio. They can be remote driving these robotics from home.

Tyler Kern:

Absolutely. So, we've talked previously on various episodes of this broadcast about the capabilities of Ross's DashBoard platform. So, Bruce, can you utilize DashBoard to provide some additional functionality with robotics?

Bruce Takasaki:

Yeah, absolutely. So, one of the nice things now that we have in DashBoard is control over a pan/tilt head. So, a typical workflow for somebody who's doing an automated production is that you're recalling shots through automation. Once in a while, you need to make an adjustment, we call bumping or trimming a shot. So with DashBoard, anywhere you are, you could log into a DashBoard panel, connect up to the robots, and make adjustments to the heads while you're doing a production. And this has really been key to allowing people to do things from home, as many of our customers are not able to bring their staff into the buildings anymore.

Tyler Kern:

Yeah, that's an incredible feature of all of this, isn't it, Karen? And this is something that you mentioned in your first answer, the fact that you can utilize these platforms to control robots from anywhere, right? And so, this really provides that additional flexibility to these broadcasts.

Karen Walker:

Exactly. As Bruce mentioned, and as we all know, you just can't have people, or you have the minimum amount of people you can possibly have in the studio. So, the ability to have full control from our home and from anybody's home or remotely is perfect, especially for this situation in minimizing any risk, because obviously you have to have maybe the talent in the studio. And so, you're minimizing any risk of contact with people that you don't need to be in contact with. Yet, you can still have the most creative shots you possibly can, that people are traditionally familiar with, with manual equipment. So, you can still do that with robotics and you can do that remotely.

Tyler Kern:

So, Bruce, I wanted to follow up on something Karen just mentioned. I would suppose that the goal is for viewers to not notice a difference between robotic and manual movement. So, is it possible to produce camera moves that emulate a manual movement using robotics?

Bruce Takasaki:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that's one of the key things about robotics that maybe people don't realize is that, not only can you recreate what people were able to do with manual pedestals in the past, but you can do things that even would have been impossible, because you have just more control over what the robot's doing then. It's a lot to handle when you've got lifting the camera up and down, panning, tilting, controlling the lens, zoom, and focus, moving it across the floor. It's just there's so many things to deal with if you're trying to combine all those into a single movement, that for one person to do that at a time and do that repeatedly is just too difficult. So, what you can do with robotics though, because you can control each axis individually, if you want, or program things ahead of time, all those things become a lot easier.

Bruce Takasaki:

So, you can start to create things that just aren't even possible with a manual pedestal. So, not only can you redo what people have done in the past, but you can go beyond that and create shots that just weren't possible before. And that's really what we're seeing with some of our robotics in places where robots have traditionally been used, because you want to increase your operational efficiency. So, it's about using robotics for automation, but they're also used in some cases now with the cameras where it's to create shots that aren't possible otherwise. So, particularly, with things like our Furio Dolly, where you're doing high-speed dolly shots, you wouldn't do that with a pedestal. And so, it creates a different look that you couldn't possibly produce without the advantage of having robotics in there.

Tyler Kern:

And, Karen, to go along with what Bruce just said, I would assume that some people would say that using robotics takes away the human artistry of having somebody there doing it in a manual sense, but really when you consider what Bruce just said, it really combines human artistry with that robotic precision to create shots and create things that aren't typically possible when you're just using manual movements. So, it's that combination of human artistry and robotic precision that seems so appealing in this case.

Karen Walker:

Yeah, exactly. I think in the past, when robotics first came out 40 odd years ago, they were a very... It was a typical robot that kind of went from A to B. But now, they've developed so much. And you can now do continuous moves, as Bruce said. You can move either from one point to another point and then create a nice smooth movement between there, but you can do multiple points. So, therefore, you can also amend each bit. So, if you do one particular movie, you think, "I don't quite like that, I'd like it to be a bit higher," or, "I would like it to be slightly more zoomed in," you can do that minor adjustment by axis only. So, given that if you had to do this at a manual operation, you'd probably have to do the whole shot again.

Karen Walker:

And it is difficult. You can't do fast and continuous moves with a manual pedestal. A lot of these pedestals and quite heavy. So, it's a case of, yes, you can move the pedestal relatively fast, but you have to stop it. And to do that, a lot of people use their feet. But with a manual, over the robotic pedestal, you can set up your basic shorts and then tweak them just by axis by axis. So, it's a lot more... You can get a lot more creative shots within there.

Karen Walker:

Whereas with, as I say, with a manual system, you would probably have to repeat the whole move again, and again, and again, multiple times or retakes. Whereas with a robotic shot, you can just set it up once and then a few minor tweaks, which again leads to that shot you're looking for. And I think with the advancements that robotics have over the recent years, you've got that fine element that you can move around to get it. It gives people that element that they're looking for of the creative shots. So, it looks like it's a manual person controlling that equipment. So, nowadays, it's very difficult to tell difference.

Tyler Kern:

Absolutely. Now, Bruce, we mentioned the remote capabilities of all of this, that you can have a more remote workforce and that's been necessitated due to Coronavirus, but do you see this as a trend maybe that will continue even post-Coronavirus, having a more remote workforce and utilizing the fact that you can be remote when performing these functions?

Bruce Takasaki:

Absolutely. We were already seeing that before the COVID happened. We've already got customers who are trying to centralize our operations. And so, when you've got stations across the country and you want to reduce costs, one of the ways of doing that is centralizing your engineering staff, your operations staff into a central location and producing broadcasts remotely. So, having a centralized control room that can produce broadcasts and in remote markets is already starting to happen. So, this was something that was beginning, even a few years ago that we're seeing, we're just going to see more and more of that.

Tyler Kern:

So, Karen, if someone were to ask how you would summarize the benefits of utilizing robotics in productions, what would be your response? How would you answer that question?

Karen Walker:

So, yeah, the traditional answer was definitely operational savings, and repeatability, and you can have equipment now. There's not a time limit, it doesn't have to stop for lunch, for example. But now with all of the COVID and everything that's been going on, it's about the ability to control something from anywhere. Reducing the risks for people in offices, in studios, wherever that robot it. Yet, still producing the quality and being able to create creative shots within a studio. One thing to add to what Bruce has just said as well, we've seen a lot of what's being used in places where traditionally robots were not used, at sports as a prime example. There is a limited number of products or robots used in sports, but now what we're seeing is you can't have 16 people managing a football match. So, now they're looking at alternative ways on how to control multiple cameras. And I think that will be going forward. People will want the ability to control more and more cameras from a remote location. So, I definitely see that as a change moving forward.

Tyler Kern:

Yeah, I think an example of what you're talking about, Karen, is the NBA playing in Orlando. They have a camera that's moving on a track along the side of the basketball court, because there are no fans, there's more space to have this camera in a unique place that's controlled by a robot. And so, there are opportunities to place cameras in different places and to utilize robotics in different ways in sports. And that's something that, as a sports fan, I'm excited to see moving forward, just especially as it provides new camera angles and new ways for fans to engage with the game.

Karen Walker:

Yeah, exactly. And we had an example recently in tennis where traditionally there was manual operators, but of course you can't have manual people at... I'm sorry. You can have manual people, we can't actually have people there. So, what we've done is we've put two robotic cameras to do the exact same thing, because people are used to viewing sports in a particular way now. And I think you need to replace the manual or people. So, they've done that using robotics. What I can see in the future is definitely having more like artificial intelligence making smarter, intelligent robotics coming out as well.

Karen Walker:

And then I think you'll see a lot more robots in sports applications, whether it's for second screens, anything like that, where you see some kind of robot maybe tracking one of the more popular players. And I can see that in the future as well. So, I can only see... I think COVID has definitely highlighted the requirement. I think and sports have always needed robots, but I think with COVID here, it's just kind of pushed that forward to the forefront, because we need to do things differently now. And I think that's going to continue in the future now that we can do it. And as I say, with AI, et cetera, and stuff like that coming into the market, more acceptance of AI and more acceptance of robots, people will start to use them now again, more in sports applications.

Tyler Kern:

So Bruce, Karen mentioned the future and what excites her about to about further development of robots being used in sports broadcasts? What excites you about the future of robots in broadcasts?

Bruce Takasaki:

Well, and I think Karen touched on the main one, which is intelligence. I think if you look at what our camera robotics have been doing in the past, it's been fairly simple. And we've been improving that with more fluid movement and more dramatic movement. But for the most part, the robots are told what to do. So, they're not responding to very much on their own. And I think if you look around in cars and your phone, there's so many technologies now that incorporate things like AI to build more intelligence into the products. And that's really the next step for camera robotics. I think there's so many things that you can see that they could be doing on their own. And the more autonomous you can make the robot, the more intelligent you can make them, the more functionality they can take on, and the more applications they can do.

Bruce Takasaki:

So, sports is sort of the, to me, the last great opportunity, one of the last, one great opportunity in front of us for robotics. And that, as Karen mentioned, traditionally, they've only been used in sort of select places where you couldn't put a camera operator. So, maybe hanging off the backboard in a basketball game or in the net in a hockey arena, things like that, where you couldn't put a camera operator, but all the other cameras were manned. If you can build that intelligence, the intelligence of a camera operator into the robotic system itself, then that'll allow you to put more cameras in more places, in more venues, and produce more shows at a much lower cost than they can today. And so, it'll expand that market for sports broadcasts really, which is a huge, huge market, as we all know.

Tyler Kern:

Absolutely. Well, it's an exciting time to be involved in this marketplace. And so, Karen Walker and Bruce Takasaki thank you so much for joining me today and describing a little bit more about how robots can be used in broadcasts.

Bruce Takasaki:

Well thank you, Tyler. It was great talking to you.

Karen Walker:

Thanks, Tyler. Yes.

RELATED POSTS

Discover the Latest Trends in Sports Venue Production

With the recent openings of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California and Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev...
Ross Video Team Oct 13, 2020 11:21:44 AM

Living Live Podcast: Getting the Shot with Creativity and Distance Through Robotics

During trying times, relying on the media to deliver the latest news is more important than ever. Studio ...
Ross Video Team Sep 28, 2020 10:11:38 AM

Ross Featured in New INNOVATE™ Ottawa Book

Ross was recently profiled in the newly published INNOVATE™ Ottawa book, a publication that showcases the...
Ross Video Team Sep 18, 2020 3:11:02 PM