The Catholic Faith Network (CFN) in New York uses all forms of media, and especially television, to keep Catholics connected to their religion. CFN’s programming is available on Optimum and Verizon FiOS Internet, TV and phone services and Charter Spectrum telecommunications across the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. It can also be viewed via nationwide cable and satellite systems and by streaming at www.CFNtv.org.
When the network started expanding, the channel upgraded its studio with three Hitachi SK-HD1800 HDTV production cameras, used to capture content including live Masses, talk shows and others on topics ranging from faith and societal issues to health and cooking.
Image Quality and Reliability
“We have been using Hitachi cameras for many years,” said CFN senior executive producer Sean Kennedy. “Since the number and scope of our productions are expanding, we decided to double our camera roster by adding up to date HD models instead of replacing our existing Hitachi Z-HD5000s. Even though they are over eight years old, they are still going strong. We also didn’t go up to 4K because we wouldn’t really be able to take advantage of the extra resolution. We broadcast in HD, but even now some carriers are still down-converting our signal to standard definition.”
The main technical factors that made CFN decide to stay with Hitachi include reliability, durability and quality of the cameras. “Before working at CFN, Sean and I both worked for a high school sports network where we used 12 Hitachi cameras on HD trucks,” Bryan Butler said, CFN studio and production coordinator. “We compared Hitachi picture quality side-by-side with more expensive alternatives, and no one could tell them apart. Also, despite constantly knocking those cameras around while producing sports six days a week, with many different operators, they withstood every situation we subjected them to, without issues.”
CFN purchased the new SK-HD1800 cameras in March 2021. “We built the three cameras ourselves within 45 minutes from opening the boxes of gear – more than 20 of them, from camera heads to lenses and teleprompters – to fully built,” said Bryan. “Local Hitachi staff helped us wire in our new CU-HD1200 CCUs in the control room and commission the cameras. We were finished within two hours and using them to shoot only three hours later.”
Global Shutter Sensor
The CFN team remarked on the SK-HD1800’s global shutter sensor as one of their favourite features of the new cameras, particularly valuable because of their frequent use of LEDs. Some of CFN’s sets are based on monitors – a 9ft x 9ft monitor wall, monitor strip and a large standalone monitor – and also use various generations of LED lighting.
RU-1500JY remote control unit with LCD touchscreen
“When I configure the lighting for the set designs, I’m dealing with a lot of different types of LED fixtures from various manufacturers,” said TJ Katsoulas, studio manager at CFN. “With earlier camera systems we could get rolling shutter artifacts from LEDs, so I would manually dial in the shutter to avoid issues such as banding. However, making those adjustments would affect my lighting. Now with the SK-HD1800’s global shutter I don’t need to worry about that, and it’s tremendous how much it has helped me to customise the compositions to suit the content.”
Skin Tone Presets
He remarked on the SK-HD1800’s precise skin tone adjustments and notes that the ability to dial in and preset multiple skin tones has been very helpful when dealing with groups of people on set. “Other advantages from our upgrade include the RU-1500JY remote control units with their LCD touchscreens, and the VF-PBM-307 colour viewfinders, which our camera operators especially like,” he said.
“New studio cameras are a big investment for a not-for-profit organisation, but our President and CEO, Monsignor Jim Vlaun, and general manager Joe Perrone were at ease with our choice of Hitachi as a supplier due the way they have treated the organisation,” Sean said. “The local Hitachi support crew assisted CFN with lenses and fibre, and to find complementary vendors and products that work well in our studio environment.” www.hitachikokusai.com