Product Review: MulticamZilla

I arrive at 4:25pm for a 4:30pm call time. I see one of my students in the stands waiting on me and no others.

This is not uncommon. We all work with students and we know that 4:30 means “i’ll get to the school at 4:30 and walk at a glacial pace to the production area.” I began unloading the van, set up the tent, tables, chairs, and then I stop as I realize it is now 4:35 and there is still only one student on site. At this point, the plan starts to go out of the window. The original plan is out the window as I am not 6 people short for our broadcast. In the past, this would have meant a one camera shoot from behind the fence and a very upset teacher. Now, it meant, I got to play video games all night… sort of. 

Recently, while scouring the ATEM user boards, I found a post about Multicamzilla. Before I go too deep here is the crux of how it works:

* You use an ATEM from Black Magic Design.
* You have a Mac that you use to control the ATEM
* You download a software package (free with purchase)
* You set up wired or wireless PTZ mounts around your area (line of sight - indoor or out)
* You control not only the PTZ mounts and camera with LANC/Panasonic controls, but you also control the ATEM…. With a playstation-style controller.

Now back to my scenario, I planned to use Multicamzilla during this broadcast but not as my main cameras. I planned to use it to get some glory shots or maybe some pans acrossMulticam01 375 the field but now I was being thrust into the fire make it happen.

My initial thought was that I would never be able to understand the buttons and get a feel for them while working as one of the main cameras in a live production. I actually found it to be quite easy. I also was concerned with controlling the camera while manning the switcher. This was the best part. I actually ran a broadcast with a mix of manned and unmanned cameras with ease. I am certainly not a gamer but I do know my way around Madden 2006 and Tony Hawk Pro Skater (The original with all of the cheat codes) so the idea of doing a multicamera shoot with a video game controller sounded awesome and it was.

Multicamzilla V1 units are wireless and use IR technology to control the PTZ features of the mount as well as the LANC controls for the cameras. The V2 units work wired over a CAT5 cable. You can create completely wired, wireless, or a hybrid set up with these units.

You can control zoom, focus, even menu options with some cameras. I used Multicamzilla on a variety of cameras and they all worked amazingly. I used a Canon XA10, Sony HVR-Z5u (yes, the old tape camera - if you are going test it, test it!), the JVC GY-HM200sp, and the Sony PXW-X70. I wanted to see what this thing could really do on a variety of cameras. Each of the cameras worked exactly the same despite the major differences in capabilities and manufacturers.

Multicam02 375One of the great things about the Multicamzilla is the fact that you can replace camera ops for cameras that would be in the line of sight for the attendees or just impossible to shoot from. For example, in this scenario, I used a tall light stand (10 foot) and mounted the Multicamzilla and camera on the top of it and I raised it over the fence just beyond the backstop (I actually placed the camera behind the backstop knowing that I was going to focus on 1st and 2nd bases.) This gave me great coverage of right side of the baseball diamond with no chainlink fence in the way. I was also able to pan, tilt, and zoom a camera that is 10 feet off the ground with a video game controller from 60 feet away.

I also plan to deploy cameras with Multicamzilla in other areas next year including dugouts, backboards, and more. The lack of a major footprint and wireless connectivity makes Multicamzilla priceless for sports production programs. You are only limited to your connectivity plan and your imagination with the Multicamzilla.

There were so many great things I found while I shot with Multicamzilla. The zoom lock was great! I could have a steady zoom inMulticam03 375 or out with just a click of a button. I also found that creating sweeping pans across the field were great for coming back from commercial breaks. To say our broadcast was saved that day thanks to Multicamzilla is an understatement. Our broadcast despite the lack of students was actually improved by Multicamzilla!

The marketing plug for Multicamzilla is “a camera crew at your fingertips” and that is one of the most true and correct marketing statements I have ever come across. There are a variety of configurations you can use to accomplish what you need. Check out Multicamzilla.com for details and the different configurations. The customer support and information has been second to none as I have dealt with them to figure out the setup, etc (because I am too cool to actually sit down and read ALL of the instructions but when you actually get your hands on a setup, you will understand).

MultiCamZilla from Live Concert Production on Vimeo.