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The Augmented Reality of TV News

While early production automation systems caused some worries over whether they could handle the complexity of high-end productions, vendors have largely overcome any fears by showing systems’ increasing capabilities. In fact, a number of production automation systems now allow producers to create newscasts and shows that would be difficult to replicate with manual control.

Those systems could get even more sophisticated if Ross Video has its way. Using technologies from its recent acquisition of robotic camera maker FX-Motion, Ross is planning to provide stations with technologies that would allow them to significantly improve the visual quality of their automated newscasts with virtual sets and augmented reality systems.

FX-Motion’s cameras and technologies have already been used for high-end productions, but Ross believes that the robotic camera system, combined with its Overdrive production automation system, production switchers and graphics systems, could produce stunning visuals on affordable budgets for newscasts.

“Everyone in the news business is looking for the next big thing,” says David Ross, Ross Video CEO. “We think it has the potential to change our industry in significant ways.”

The FX-Motion robotics system, which KCET in Los Angeles is in the process of implementing, uses a rail-based system to move cameras around a studio. Unlike widely used pedestal-based robotic camera systems, this allows the camera to pan, zoom and tilt while moving, creating much more sophisticated shots.

“One of the great things with a virtual set is to have the camera move through the set with the anchor,” Ross notes. “But if you are trying to use the pedestal system, the pedestals can’t move very well. And if you try to make them move, they bump and move around and lose track of where they are. So you end up with an awful-looking shot. This overcomes that problem and opens up brandnew ground.”

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