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How to Use Non-PTZ Cameras for Remote-Controlled Live Production

In this article we'll take a look at some non-traditional robotic camera systems and explain how you can use them to get greater freedom of movement and imaging choice in your live-streamed productions.

Photoship One FlyLine

Although based in Arizona, Photoship One has a bigger reputation outside of the U.S. But that’s changing. Founded in 2009 as a manufacturer of gimbals for the burgeoning UAV (drone) industry, Photoship One transitioned to new territory and started work on a similar but different camera support system. Design began in 2011 and culminated with the release of the FlyLine (Figure 3, below).

Figure 3. Photoship One FlyLine

The FlyLine is a self-powered, gyro-stabilized, three-axis head that travels along a tensioned cable or rope. The entire unit is self-supporting, with on-board battery, motors, and pulleys. The under-slung gimbal can carry payloads up to around 30 pounds, making it capable of handling nearly any broadcast video rig thrown at it.

Since the FlyLine is a point-to-point cable system, the path of travel is inherently limited to a single straight line. But since the camera is mounted below the support, the camera’s freedom of movement isn’t inhibited. Shots can be achieved all around and below the unit without any hardware or cabling interfering.

Photoship One recommends 1/4" cable for runs up to about 300' and 5/16" cable for longer distances. While the unit doesn’t have total 360° movement in space, its capabilities and top speed of up to 40 mph put it dangerously close to the NFL-favorite Spidercam, which is seen weekly hovering over the playing fields of major NFL and college football games.

The fact that the FlyLine can be purchased outright starting at around $5,000 also makes it affordable for productions that don’t have six-figure budgets. Photoship One also offers rental kits with the assurance that a few hours of practice will make a novice capable of operating the system with confidence.

One of the standout features of the FlyLine system is the lack of restrictions placed on its use, especially within city limits, at major events, and over crowds (Figure 4, below). Unlike the drone industry, the FlyLine is not regulated by the FAA and can be safely installed and used over crowds without the fear of either incurring fines or injuring bystanders when a drone suddenly fails.

Figure 4. The FlyLine doesn’t have the same restrictions as drones when it comes to shooting in cities, over crowded areas, or at events.

Photoship One wisely recommends the cabling system be set up by a qualified rigger, and the peace of mind this provides should not be taken lightly, considering the expense of the equipment being carried and the need to ensure the safety of the spectators below.

Live streams are commonplace in the psyche of today’s video consumer. These dynamic, remotely operable camera systems can make your productions stand out without the need for a second mortgage.

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