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U Delaware Sports Hitachi Cameras for Big Screen Display

The University of Delaware in Newark has purchased three Hitachi SK-HD1000 HD studio/field cameras to produce live HD video shows for big screen displays at its football games and graduations.

Since delivery in August 2008 by Hitachi dealer Lerro Corp., the cameras have been used at every UD Blue Hens football game at Tubby Raymond Field, Delaware's 22,000-seat open-air stadium, which added a giant Daktronics video board at the start of the fall 2008 season. The video board offers live video, highlights packages, sponsor ads and logos, real-time game and player stats, graphics, and slow-motion replays. Video packages are also produced for streaming on demand from the university's website.

On January 10, 2009, the cameras were moved next door to the Bob Carpenter Center, the school's 5,000-seat basketball arena, where they provided HD image magnification on a 13.5-foot x 24-foot rear projection screen for the winter graduation of 1,000 students. Parents and students could purchase a copy of the graduation ceremony on DVD; as well as stream it live or download the podcast from the university's website. In May 2009, the cameras will be used for the spring graduation of 4,000 students at Tubby Raymond Field, which will be displayed on two large LCD widescreens.

"Regardless of camera locations, light levels, or severe weather, these cameras have performed flawlessly," said Carl Asti, director of IT for university media services. "For twilight football games, we're able to paint the cameras on the fly to adjust for changes in light levels from daylight to stadium lighting. And at the graduation, even with the cameras in the stands and students under stage lighting, we were able to capture their faces with tremendous clarity." These "I-Mag" images were projected in 1080i HD through two 10,000 lumens widescreen projectors in the arena.

While the cameras move between the two locations, they're switched from a central control room on the mezzanine of the Bob Carpenter Center. The HD control room houses a Ross Vision 1 multi-definition switcher, Chyron MicroX HD character generator, Harris Platinum HD router, dual-channel Click Effects Flashback for video replays, and Click Effects CrossFire multimedia clips server.

A 2,000-foot fiber optic cable run connects the control room to the camera positions in the football stadium. There are two camera platforms high above each 30-yard line on the home side of the field, and one high above the end zone, on the roof of the Bob Carpenter Center, which in addition to game action provides a "beauty shot" of the entire field. The cameras sit on Vinten Vision 250 tripods and have Hitachi CU-3300 camera control units that transmit HD pictures, camera power, Clear-Com intercom, camera control data, multiple audio channels, and other signals over a single fiber.

"Our decade-long history with Hitachi dates back to our purchase of four Hitachi Z3000W cameras that are still in service in our 48x32 foot TV studio," said Asti. "At a recent Lerro open house, I mentioned in passing to our Hitachi Sales Rep Ken Cyr that we were thinking of upgrading our 5-inch black/white viewfinders to 9-inch color LCD widescreen viewfinders, and he immediately shipped us a unit that we could try out before our next season. He treated us as if we were his only customer."

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