Hey you! Do you need a CCU?

The proper way to use a Pro studio camera is with a big thick (expensive) multicore cable connected to a camera control unit (CCU). So for VLOBLIVE events you should do this too right? In your dreams maybe!…

Big chunky pro studio cams – don’t you love them? They just SO look the part with their big lenses and huge viewfinders and ALL those switches BUT when it comes to connecting them back to your vision mixer it get’s harder to keep up appearances.

The PROPER way to connect up a studio camera is using a 14 or 26 way multicore cable, that has every possible connection in it. You think I’m kidding? How does composite video, s-video, component video, return video, genlock, tally, stereo mic lines, intercom lines, serial data control and DC power sound for starters?

And when you get to the other end, what do you plug it into anyway? Well that’s where the CCU comes in. CCU stands for Camera Control Unit. It acts as a power supply, breakout for connections, and a remote control for most of the camera controls that you might want to adjust during filming. The thinking here is that the camera operator should only be concentrating on framing the shot, focusing and zooming (and not killing themselves onstage or getting in other camops shots). The real fiddling with exposure, black level, colour balance etc. is NOT done by the camop (how gauche!) and it’s certainly not done by the vision mixer but is done by the video engineer at the engineer station where he can fiddle to his or her hearts content in front of their rows of monitors, vectorscopes, etc.

(You don’t have a video engineer? Shame on you!)

So that’s what the CCU is for.

All sounds great doesn’t it?

Trouble is that these hosepipes masquerading as cables are VERY VERY VERY expensive. Like more than most VLOBLIVE folk pay for their vision mixers. And the CCUs are even more expensive, and hard to get secondhand. Any if you are shorthanded anyway, don’t even think about trying to adjust a CCU while doing a decent vision mix at the same time.

So… not looking so good for the whole Cam + Cable + CCU thingy then?

The crucial question then is can you do without this?

Of course this assumes you are using a studio camera with a multiway conector. If you are using DV cams or other cams you can stop reading now.

Still here? OK, what do you miss if you don’t use a mulicore and CCU?

If you can live without Tally lights on your cameras (the light that tells the camop and the talent that their camera is live) If you can live without return video (the camop being able to see the currently live video feed) If you can live with separate intercom cabling If you can live with S-Video or composite video instead of component If your cameras are static and don’t need to move If you don’t need to send audio If you don’t need to genlock your cameras (i.e. you are synchronising the video at the mixer) If you are happy to tape together a power cable, a co-ax video cable and a XLR intercom cable to make a makeshift multicore If you are happy to use on-camera auto-exposure control and auto-colour-balance

THEN you don’t need multicores and CCUs

In most cases there are ways to work around these requirements if you do need them, but there gets a point where it is just a whole lot easier to use a multicore and CCU if you really need it.

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