NBC affiliate WSLS-TV upgrades camera equipment with Hitachi SK-HD1800

WSLS-TV is a TV station based in Southwest Virginia, USA. It’s now part of Graham Media Group and the station has been on air since 1952. Following the move into a new facility two years earlier, the Roanoke-based NBC affiliate purchased six SK-HD1800 studio cameras from Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd.

The broadcaster initially launched its new studio space in 2019 using its existing, decade-old cameras alongside additional units borrowed from a sister station. In 2021, WSLS undertook a long-planned camera technology refresh to enhance both its visual quality and creative options. Systems integrator Digital Video Group (DVG), who built the technology core of WSLS’ new studio, recommended the SK-HD1800 cameras as well. “Beyond the quality advantages, the success DVG has had with Hitachi cameras at other broadcasters was a big factor,” said Ricky Williams, Director of Technology at WSLS-TV. “We do so much live production every day that taking a camera out of our rotation to resolve any issues would impact our product. DVG’s excellent experience with Hitachi’s reliability was important to us.”

WSLS went live with the SK-HD1800 cameras in November 2021, with DVG performing the integration and Ross Video handling the setup of camera robotics. With live production happening throughout the day, WSLS deployed the new cameras and robotics two at a time to minimize disruptions.

“The improvement in picture quality was very noticeable as soon as we went on-air with the first two units,” recalled Williams. “We could immediately see an A/B difference next to the older cameras we were still using. It motivated us to speed up the deployment of the rest of the new cameras, since it would be so obvious to viewers that we were using both generations at the same time.”

Two of the SK-HD1800s are deployed on new Ross BlackBird pan/tilt/lift elevation systems to accommodate varying heights in the studio and sets. The remaining four SK-HD1800s are set up on Miller 3230 Combo Live 55 pedestals with Ross pan/tilt heads. Production is automated through the Grass Valley Ignite platform, with Ross Video routing systems, Xpression graphics, and Dashboard control software rounding out the infrastructure.

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