Broadcast Beat Magazine 2018 NAB Show Edition - Page 75

Robots? The latest craze that’s been around for decades! By James Eddershaw, Managing Director, Shotoku UK In the current age of AI and Robots revolutionis- ing so many aspects of our lives, you may be sur- prised to learn that TV studios have been using robotic systems for decades. Admittedly, these particular robots won’t drive your car, make your morning coffee, or even identify the artist of that song going round and round in your head, but they’ve been quietly working away behind the scenes for years and years, enabling broadcasters to produce compelling live news programs. Necessity is the mother of invention. And the necessity that drove the initial develop- ment of robotics was quite simply cost effi- ciency. Demand for live news programming exploded in the 80s and has continued to grow ever since. Robotics in studios allow more programs to be produced for a fixed cost. Simple. And very true. But that only partially explains the reason for their widespread adoption and the amazing advances in the technology that has evolved over the years. Robotics bring other benefits too, the most obvious being the preci- sion and consistency of the production style. Give a robot a task, and it will eagerly carry it out at exactly the right time, at exactly the right speed, and with incredible precision, time and time again - never tiring of the repetition, never diverting from the original task. Another benefit is the ability to do things that are simply impossible any other way, such as positioning cameras in places where humans can’t safely or practically go, or facilitating cam- era angles that would otherwise be unachievable. So how have broadcast robotics developed, and where might we expect them to go in future? Well, for a start there is now a dizzying array of types of robotic cameras adapted and tuned for a wide range of applications. Simple PTZ heads are available in miniature format, with built-in mini-cameras and lens- es in a single compact package - ideal for off-air movement PoV shots in a small studio or meeting room. At the other end of the scale are the fully mobile XY pedestals with large payload capacities, internal navigation systems and multi-level collision avoidance. In between there are many shapes and sizes of PT heads, elevators and floor or ceiling mounted track sys- tems that lend themselves to any type of studio pro- duction. In addition to a broad range of core systems available, the wide array of options and add- Broadcast Beat Magazine • • 75