Vinten Radamec, a Vitec Group brand and producer of robotic camera support to the television industry, says its manual encoded pedestals and pan/tilt heads are in use at Ball State University’s virtual studios at the institution’s Teleplex facility.
Ball State’s virtual studios, located in Muncie, Ind., use a combination of Vinten Radamec, headquartered in Valley College, N.Y., manual encoded pedestals and pan/tilt heads, Fujinon digital lenses, ORAD rendering platform and Ultimatte 11 blue/green screen compositing hardware. Those systems are being used to produce a pilot program for a cable network, the university’s PBS affiliate WIPB’s fund raising auction, student projects, and its evening news program.
The Ball State studios have already begun benefiting from advantages of the virtual studio system, said Jason Higgs, 3D Creative Director at the Teleplex facility. “If we’d done the cable network pilot with a physical set, set construction, production, and teardown would have tied the studio up for almost a week. But with the virtual studio system we spent one day tweaking the set and lighting, and we were ready to shoot the next.” Teardown consists of clicking a mouse to replace the virtual set in the background, and moving the few practical pieces on the set.
The Teleplex houses a pair of studios: a smaller 30’x40’ studio which is used for the news program and smaller projects, and the main 40’x60’ studio with a coved cyclorama backdrop painted entirely in chroma key green.
The Vinten Radamec manual encoded pedestals are quickly moved between the studios and take only a short time to re-center the pedestals and cameras to the new studio, the company says. By using the encoded pedestals and pan/tilt heads to supply positional data to the ORAD rendering platform instead of relying on a background grid for positional information, producers at Ball State can take full advantage of the shadow-casting features of the Ultimatte 11 keying system. Shadows cast from on-camera talent and practical set pieces are important to a realistic blending of talent and set pieces with the virtual background.
Use of the encoded pedestals and pan/tilt heads also give greater creative freedom to the director, allowing composition of shots that do not include enough of the background grid to provide positional data, and the ability to work with a shallow depth of field, where the background grid is not clear enough to track the background.