NAB Show ITN deployed Sony’s FR7 full-frame PTZ interchangeable lens cameras to automate operations and bring cinematic 4K HDR content and smooth PTZ control to its central London news studios

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Sony FR7 Web App

ITN News produces the daily news programming for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 in the UK. Over time it has widened the scope of the content it produces to include documentaries, sports, advertising and digital material for international clients, as well.

ITN has recently upgraded its central London studio in Gray’s Inn Road, by integrating cinematic production equipment and capabilities – including Sony ILME-FR7 Cinema Line PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) cameras. Since August 2023, ITN has been recording all of their content on four of the FR7 cameras following a comprehensive refurbishment initiative.

These new cameras have given ITN newsrooms the opportunity to capture a higher quality and greater volume of footage, delivering daily news programming to the main UK broadcasters like ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. Specifically, the studio serves as the backdrop for ITV’s mainstream political programming including 'Talking Politics' and 'Prime Minister’s Questions' (PMQ).

Unusual for a PTZ model, the FR-7 is a full-frame interchangeable lens camera, which ITN are using both to automate their broadcast operations and to output high quality 4K HDR content. Their FR7 cameras are connected and controlled with the Skaarhoj customisable control system and panels. They are built with a high-sensitivity full-frame image sensor, and produce 4K HDR images with a dynamic range of over 15 stops, enhanced by Sony’s S-Cinetone colour science.

Sony fr7 Lens

In contrast to a conventional PTZ camera, the FR7 has Sony's E-mount, which means producers can choose from Sony E-mount lenses to support their intended visual style and tailor the look of their productions very precisely. The range includes prime lenses, ultra-telephoto lenses with focal lengths ranging from 12 mm to 1200 mm, and the G Master series, which have high resolution and a distinctive bokeh.

Jon Roberts, Director of Technology, Production and Innovation at ITN remarked on the FR7’s ability to record full frame images with a cinematic look and feel, and smooth PTZ control. The ability to change focal length and depth of field, for example, allows the DoP and director more options when defining a look, and can be combined with the remote PTZ control. Furthermore, the cameras can be mounted on the ceiling or in other positions that are hard to access by a camera opertor.

With a new Web App, users can access the cameras via QR code or URL input to set up the FR7 from a tablet or a PC through a web browser. It’s alsp possible to use the optional Remote Control Panel, Master Setup Unit devices and RM-IP500. On set, the FR7 can be used for real-time tracking by locking onto subjects and following them using selectable phase-detection AF points. In the FR7’s Web App, Touch Tracking starts autofocus for the chosen subject. Its AF performance is supported by the BIONZ XR processor. Alternatively, operators can set up recall of the framing of pre-composed shots.

Sony fr7 composition

The remote controller, dedicated FR7 Web App and RM-IP500 can remember and recall up to 100 camera presets (camera direction, zoom and focus).

In particular, Jon likes the straightforward, direct integration of FR7 footage with the other Sony Cinema Line cameras ITN was using, which gives them consistent visual quality across all content. “The FR7's cinematic output complements footage captured by our journalists in the field, contributing to a cohesive visual identity across all our productions,” he said.

Rob Turner, ITV News Head of Camera Crews, said, “This studio strikes a balance between operational efficiency and image quality, making it an ideal setting for programs that rely on the commentators’ expertise - such as 'Talking Politics' or PMQ.”

ITN's adoption of Sony FR7 cameras serves as recognition of how of broadcast technology is evolving, and is in line with their commitment to delivering highly engaging visual experiences to audiences worldwide.