How Canon CR-N700 PTZ cameras enhanced virtual broadcast productions in Luxembourg with Auto Tracking

Leading Luxembourg production company, FreeLens, uses the CR-N700’s Auto Tracking to streamline its virtual multi-cam solutions for TV, corporate productions and beyond.

Tuning in to green screen

Born from the world of TV in 1998, FreeLens works daily for TV stations, major institutions and international corporate companies around Europe. Virtual studio production is a core part of that delivery, as well as breaking news and event video production.

From funerals of figureheads and outbreak of war to the Olympics and the Tour de France, the FreeLens team is built to broadcast the most significant international news. Each production requires its own bespoke solution. Whether in their one-of-a-kind 120m2 green screen studio or on location, they create everything in-house with their own extensive kit – including studio, handheld and PTZ cameras – and years of expertise.

Client: FreeLens
Location: Howald, Luxembourg

  • The Challenge

    To elevate their production offering for clients, FreeLens sought a new set of top-of-the-range PTZ cameras with broadcast-level image quality, more precise movements and auto-tracking capabilities.

    The new cameras had to be versatile enough to integrate with Pixotope to bring their VR and AR productions to life. They also wanted a camera to visually match the Canon broadcast lenses they used on all their other cameras.

  • The Solution

    The Canon CR-N700 delivered outstanding performance and ticked all the boxes for FreeLens. With its Auto Tracking feature, it revolutionised the company’s virtual production capabilities, making it effortless for one operator to control all six PTZ cameras. The FreeD protocol offered the compatibility they needed with the Pixotope platform, while the support they received from Canon in early setup was much appreciated. The improved 4K image quality was easy to match with their other Canon lenses, plus the Dual Pixel CMOS AF was so good it converted the technicians. FreeLens now uses the CR-N700s in a multitude of broadcast solutions, both indoors and outdoors, in their own studio and at external venues.


“The operator can easily set the parameters to have accurate Auto Tracking results”

One operator. Six PTZs.

“In our virtual studio, the Canon PTZs are the key elements,” says Yann Figuet, Founder of FreeLens. “We have 6 CR-N700 PTZs and one XD Motion tracked arm equipped with another camera brand.”

A single operator-controlled, remote solution became a cornerstone of FreeLens’s efficiency. What impressed the team was Canon’s ability to quickly integrate with Pixotope, a virtual production software used to create live VR and AR content. Using a demo unit, Yann’s team was able to validate the compatibility of the FreeD protocol from Canon with the Pixotope machines – and get a workflow up and running in three weeks.

The Canon PTZs are controlled by several devices, including the Canon RC-IP100, a Skaarhoj PTZ Extreme controller and the IOBot solution from XD Motion.

“One operator is able to start, store and program all camera movements, positions, focus and zoom on a central touch screen,” explains Yann. “Integration and set-up of the CR-N700 with third-party equipment was very easy due to the IP capabilities of the Canon cameras.”

“The Dual Pixel CMOS AF result is better than the human operator, so I really approve the use of auto focus on the Canon”


More engaging virtual productions

Producing TV shows of all shapes and sizes brings its own unique demands.

“Airing on RTL TV and on the web next year, the ‘Take Off’ show is a real technical challenge where real world and virtual content are integrated to bring more fun and action into the show,” Yann explains. “A total of 19 cameras are on set, among them the 6 Canon CR-N700s. All our other studio cameras are all equipped with Canon broadcast lenses, and it helps a lot in the matching of all cameras together.”

“The Canon CR-N700 has a very large numbers of parameters to be able to go deeply into the settings and refine the matching of all the camera sources,” adds Yann.

Maximising automation

The Auto Tracking feature was a no-brainer option for the FreeLens team.

“Today with the intelligent Auto Tracking system, we can create smooth movements to follow the speaker. The operator can easily set the parameters to have accurate Auto Tracking results. The selection of exclusion area avoids the camera to follow the speaker while moving out of stage for example. Plus, you can finely adjust the 10 levels of sensitivity for slow or quick movements,” says Yann.

Moreover, as a self-confessed ‘old-school’ cameraman, he was initially against auto focus while using a broadcast camera. However, seeing the excellent results of the CR-N700 left him very impressed: “The Dual Pixel CMOS AF result is better than the human operator, so I really approve the use of auto focus on the Canon.”

Outstanding performance

The powerful HDR imagery has also proved a hit, Yann says. “The 4K image quality is a real plus, especially in low-light environments. We really appreciate the sensitivity of the sensors. We also use the cameras on location for conferences, concerts, on stage show, where we can’t control the lighting level. It’s never what you expect. Yet the CR-N700s keep brightness and vivid colours until a very low level of light.”

From mixed reality TV shows to web and corporate productions, FreeLens is now able to provide high-quality, competitive solutions thanks to the addition of the Canon CR-N700s.


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