Technological Online Portal radiotvlink.com has the honor to discuss with David Bourgeois, CEO & Founder of CyanView about critical issues for the production and the universal camera control.
Text: Andreas Tzanakos
Images: CyanView Archive & radiotvlink.com Archive
His opinion and thoughts might be useful for the professionals -our online readers- of the Broadcast, Video Production and Film Industry.
radiotvlink.gr: It is good for our readers to begin this discussion by letting you say a few words about you and your carrier till now.
David Bourgeois: I’m an electronic engineer and a solution designer at heart. I’ve always spent more time thinking about the needs and the ways to address them rather than developing the solution itself. My first professional experiences were still within the university with a mixed of technologies like microelectronic design including sensors, biotech, and high-tech gadgets and toys, which led me to spend more than a year in China factories. My broadcast experience started 11 years ago with the integration of high speed industrial cameras for live slow-motion at I-Movix. This was a real challenge as there was a huge gap between the features and image quality of standard broadcast cameras and these industrial cameras but we managed to bridge the gap pretty well. I realized broadcast still needs many technological solutions today, and I got a lot of ideas that could help improve productions so I decided to make the jump and create CyanView.
radiotvlink.gr: I believe that CyanView is a brand with very optimistic ideas and quite helpful solutions for the Production. So please tell us when and why you established CyanView? What is the mission of the company? Will you be so kind to refer some things about the team of the company?
David Bourgeois: What I really appreciate in live broadcast production is the broad mix of technologies and people with the common goal to deliver an artistic product in the end. The recent spread of action cams and specialty cameras gave a lot of promises in terms of creativity, new point of views, new insights into the action. But there’s been a lot of frustration from operators and especially vision engineers by the technical limitations of these systems. How do you connect these, how to get control, how to match with the main cameras. Instead of building yet another camera with yet another RCP panel, I took the decision 4 years ago to design a solution that could get the most out of every single specialty camera and supply the missing bits and pieces for vision engineers to be satisfied with the results. They can be very picky but I like the attention they pay to image quality, I think we have to keep that level high and we design our system accordingly.
So our mission is to bring back creativity as the only consideration when using any camera live and make these higher-end technologies affordable to lower-budget productions.
We’re still a small team, but we have to be passionate with a strong focus on making value and having an impact on productions. We just can’t afford to work on something that does exist already. From the beginning we have grown a network of freelance and subcontractors that we trust and the efficiency we have now with them makes us achieve much more than any could consider possible with such a small team. We’re 3 on the R&D, a sales and an office manager. We will grow from there but we want to do so in a way we’ll keep this agility and efficiency as much as possible. That’s really what our clients appreciate when they collaborate with CyanView.
radiotvlink.gr: What's the philosophy behind each of CyanView’s product? What’s the feeling to work, create and finally produce solutions for the production professionals? What is the impact of the feedback CyanView gets from professionals in the field and its distributors network in terms of designing-creating or updating products? What was the most difficult request or suggestion that CyanView got from the Media and Entertainment Industry?
David Bourgeois: The need for a proper solution to integrate any camera in live productions has been there for quite some time. When we took on that challenge, we wanted to do it right, simple but still very flexible, modular and affordable. Buying our technology is now considered as an investment in a universal modular solution that can grow with the needs, that can be rented to extend for larger events, that can scale and evolve along the years. All our modules can be updated on the fly with nothing else than an internet connection and a single click. They’ll never really get obsolete as they are all IP based and fill functions that will still be there tomorrow, such as our Cy-CI0 unit which does translation from IP to serial cameras.
Instead of focusing on sales and volumes, we really focused on a couple of key customers that we consider as partners, and we have been able to make changes on the fly, integrating new equipment or cameras they need on a very tight schedule, even sometimes completely remote. Working with some partners like AMP-Visual in France gave the opportunity to do some of the tunings directly on site, either at Fort Boyard or the 24h of Le Mans.
Our customers are so pleased with all the solutions we already brought so far that we constantly have new requests popping up, drones or wireless solutions are coming back regularly for example.
The most difficult part is the overall challenge to bring consistency to a whole range of very different cameras. Protocols are all different, sometimes awkward and limited. Keeping everything simple but still powerful is probably the biggest difficulty at this point, also knowing that it’s impossible for us to get every single camera in house all the time for developments and testing. So we had to design the whole system with that in mind and we must say that we are very pleased with the choices we made so far.
radiotvlink.gr: Now it is the right time to learn more about CyanView’s forte, the universal camera control systems. So please mention all the basic characteristics and useful details about the Cy-stem family of products.
David Bourgeois: Universal was something we had in mind but probably more in the long term. You can’t be universal until you really support all cameras, which isn’t realistically possible when you just get started. Nevertheless we moved quite fast to support already a whole range of mini cameras and color correctors, and clients were asking for more with typically ENG and digital cinema cameras for multicam live productions. To make all that work in a very modular way, we designed our solution similarly to IoT architectures. It stays very simple if you need only 2 cameras in a goal but can scale to hundreds of cameras on remote productions.
The Cy-GWY is really the orchestrator, a software running all the camera protocols and other equipment like routers and color correctors. Everything is connected to the GWY by IP. For small setups, we are releasing a mini version that will also integrate 16 GPI for tally and preview.
The Cy-RCP is the central remote for vision engineers. As the first focus was to control a possibly large number of mini and specialty cameras, one RCP can control an unlimited number of cameras and the camera selection is synced with the monitor and can be done either from the RCP itself or from the router panel, including control systems like VSM or Cerebrum. Multiple RCPs can be assigned on the system.
Similar to RCP, we also started to integrate PTZ joystick panels so one panel can control multiple PTZ cameras from different brands, pan/tilt heads or gimbals. Again the selection of the camera is handled by the router panel.
Cy-CI0 is an IP to serial cameras or accessories supporting protocols like RS232, RS422, RS485, VISCA/PELCO for PTZ or pan/tilt heads, LANC for camcorders, S-BUS for gimbals, ENG lens control, IO for tally, etc.
We released at NAB another type of interface that leverages the limitations when used with wireless or remote productions. The Cy-RIO is really a universal camera control interface for live broadcast. It is equipped with the same 2 ports as the Cy-CI0 to control serial cameras, but can also control IP cameras locally, Action cams over WiFi and Bluetooth and DSLR or Mirrorless over USB. We extended the communication possibilities from IP wired/Wifi to also include serial for UHF modems and we’re now adding a cloud service to handle camera control over 4G requiring nothing more than an internet connection. This is the ideal companion to cellular video transceivers as there’s no solution for camera control with such setups. It will now be possible to remotely control cameras on motorbikes on smaller cycling and marathon productions that can’t afford an helicopter to cover the event.
Some of the cameras provide full paint controls and it can be an easy job to match them with the main production cameras. But with mini and specialty cameras that’s not often the case so we designed Cy-VP4 to be a 4 channel universal CCU providing the advanced video processing you need to have full paint control and the tools you need for camera matching. This is completely integrated within the RCP camera controls on the same interface. The settings the camera doesn’t provide will be transparently handled by the CCU instead.
We’ll continue to develop more products within that modular approach. We have lens motorization in the works for C-Mount lenses, GPIO interfaces, etc.
I’m an electronic engineer and a solution designer at heart. I’ve always spent more time thinking about the needs and the ways to address them rather than developing the solution itself.
radiotvlink.gr: What in your opinion are the benefits of CyanView's products that make the difference in the Industry? Why should the professionals choose them? And what about the company’s warranty policy and the support it provides after sales directly or via its distribution network to Production, OB Services companies and other professionals globally?
David Bourgeois: First it’s a professional and affordable solution with a low entry point in terms of risk and budget, even for a setup of 2 in-goal cameras. Chilefilms just recently reported that “It's easier than I thought, a really intuitive and quality interface”.
Now we consider our clients make an investment towards a future proof technology and we’ll do our best to stay in that direction. Our products will always evolve, supporting more cameras and equipment, get regular software updates. We don’t have plans to replace them but to extend the functionalities in the future. The current bricks will stay.
Today, hardware and software are intimately mixed and we designed our architecture to provide remote support to our customers. A whole lot can be done by adjusting the software, which we can do on the fly remotely and that’s one of the great added value of our technology. We can’t promise there won’t be any surprise, nobody can today, but we can promise that we will be able to do something about it in a timely manner. That’s definitely not something a lot of older architectures can do.
radiotvlink.gr: What kind of additional solutions and services can the professionals expect from CyanView’s team and its distribution network?
David Bourgeois: When a customer invests in our technology, the most important value we can bring today in terms of support is listening and adjusting our products to meet everybody’s expectations. Our distribution network can bring us closer to our customers in that way.
radiotvlink.gr: You just said a lot of important things about CyanView’s products and solutions. Now I think it is the right moment to ask you to “insert” in our discussion examples for the successful use of Cy-stem products in TV and/or Cinema productions.
David Bourgeois: We have quite a lot of small setups used for in-goal cameras that we never hear much from. Except that we sell more and more from recommendations which is our indicators that we’re doing well in terms of product. We are closer to some of our customers that have larger setups with more integrations. AMP Visual TV is regularly using our system in their productions. Currently they’re covering Ninja Warrior and we also have a proof of concept to control GoPros from the RCP. They’re using it on Fort Boyard and the whole WEC championship that ends with the 24h of Le Mans. Timeline is using it on Formula-E, ESPN on MNF and some other sports finals and college. Gearhouse successfully used our system on a couple of events like the Asian games and we’ll have close support with them to extend and scale these kinds of productions.
On the other end, we’ll start to collaborate with very small and local productions in order to adjust our solutions for them as well.
For the digital cinema market and live recordings, we had a very successful collaboration with Panasonic to bring all the features available in the EVA1 to our RCP, which makes an impressive and very affordable multicam solution for the sub-10k compact cinema camera market. The EVA1 has a great sensor and uses photo lenses, which makes for amazing image quality at that price point. EVA-LIVE now brings system camera functionalities to that market.
radiotvlink.gr: What do you know about the Greek and Cyprus Industry? Can you also name some clients from the Greek Media and Entertainment industry and globally? Speaking about Hellas, what are CyanView's thoughts about the co-operation with AV SYS (the distributor in Hellas)? What are CyanView's prospects for the global and for the Hellenic market?
David Bourgeois: Creativity should not be linked to budgets or places. I’m myself am more from the engineering side than sales and we want to bring solutions to all levels of the industry. I know Greece can be more constrained in terms of budgets and we want to strengthen our collaboration with AV SYS to better understand how our products can fit their customers and could evolve to address more of the need that you have.
radiotvlink.gr: What else should we expect from CyanView’s R&D team and/or from the other departments of the company in the near future?
David Bourgeois: In the mid term, there will be a lot to come. Our R&D is strong and we have plenty of ideas. In the short term, we’ll focus on releasing the Cy-RI0 and expanding the possibilities that we can have with it over wireless, the use of Action cams and mirrorless, PTZ control, gimbals, etc. Video over IP is around the corner and the ideas we have might be very suitable for a market like Greece, so that’s probably one of the first mid-term targets we’ll have.
radiotvlink.gr: Thank you very much for this fruitful discussion!
Our thanks to AV SYS and Antonis Vlastaras, M.S. Eng, for their contribution to the realization of this Interview.
David Bourgeois: Thank you very much for your interest. I‘m sure there will be more to discuss in the future and we’ll be happy to update you at that time.