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Using A Gaming Controller To Control NDI® PTZ Cameras

June 07, 2019 by Richard Evans, video; Chuck Baker, text


NewTek NDI® IP video production is intended to allow for the greatest possible flexibility in operation. For this tutorial, NewTek video producer Richard Evans steps us through one example, controlling an NDI robotic camera from a Windows PC equipped with a DirectLink compatible USB joystick and NewTek NDI Studio Monitor software, an application included in in the free NewTek NDI Tools Pack. Richard uses NewTek’s own NDI PTZ1 Camera, the first NDI-native robotic camera. Most all other NDI-capable PTZ cameras can now be controlled the same way.

This a very clear example of the difference that moving to IP video production makes for simplifying infrastructure and cutting costs while maintaining and even increasing production options. Old style production often required a separate control station and staff for remotely operated cameras. A remotely operated camera required baseband cabling to carry the audio and video, power cables to the nearest outlet, and some form of dedicated control cabling such as RS422 to a dedicated purpose-built controller. NewTek NDI PTZ1 Camera can use just one cable - audio, video, control, tally and power can all be via the network cable.

Some traditional systems would require a controller box per each camera, or offer multi-camera control boxes pretty expensively. A cable was required from each robotic camera to the controller box. Video and audio would need to go from the cameras to routers first, then have sets of baseband cabling to both the main switcher and to a monitor for the controller operator, and any other monitoring positions needed. Getting the cameras to be recognized by the router, the switcher, and the controller often required significant configuration and troubleshooting work by video engineers, as well, so the process was as complicated as the infrastructure. “Complicated” equals more cost.

NewTek’s royalty free NDI technology has become the leading IP standard by far because it has dealt from inception with the many other issues of video production beyond just audio and video transport, including configuration, communications and control.

  • NDI transports video and audio over standard networks at very high quality and very low latency.
  • NDI includes robust autodiscovery, so all that is needed to to attach your NDI-enabled production tool to the network, and it will see and be seen by all other NDI-enabled products.
  • Everything talks to everything else as well, so NDI-enabled switchers, controllers and even standard computers and mobile devices can be engaged for production use including controlling robotic cameras. And the cameras can get information back, such as tally status from the switcher, automatically when selected for preview or program output.
  • One network cable is all it takes for each device to see everything else NDI on the network. A single purpose controller with multiple RS422 ports and cables to the squadron of cameras can be replaced with one laptop and one network cable, and be able to monitor and control all cameras with just the free NDI Studio Monitor application.

Other standards, including SMPTE 2110 for IP production over high-bandwidth managed networks, have yet to address autodiscovery, and most require significant engineering effort to bring up on a network and to establish communications and control.

We hope this video has been helpful for you. If you have suggestions for other topics you would like covered in a Facebook Live or Tip Jar Tutorial, please send us a message. We will see you next time.

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