Automate PTZ Framing Using Beamforming Microphones

PTZ cameras offer superior quality and control for conference room and classroom applications over typical webcams. Optical zoom and precise control of pan and tilt angles allow users to perfectly frame a presenter or subject matter to provide the highest quality video image. However, in spaces that have multiple presentation locations, changing the camera preset or adjusting the angle typically requires some manual intervention which may slow down the flow or result in less that optimal framing. The latest generation of conferencing microphones as well as smart control systems offer a solution to these issues.

Dynamic Array Microphones

Sometimes called beamforming, these devices contain numerous microphone elements and sophisticated digital signal processing, DSP, to optimize audio capture of talkers as they move through the coverage area. In addition, many vendors offer software tools that report the location of the talker within the array. Examples of this type of microphone include the Sennheiser TeamConnect Ceiling 2 (TCC2) and Shure MXA910.

PTZ Camera Presets

As mentioned previously, PTZ cameras such as the Atlona AT-HDVS-CAM family offer precise controls for framing video capture. These can be adjusted manually by a handheld remote or a control system, or preferred locations can be saved as pre-sets and recalled at the push of a button.

Control Systems – Bringing It All Together

AV control systems such as Atlona Velocity™ are able to automate the recall of PTZ camera presets, quickly changing between presenter locations and ensuring the framing is correct for each. In addition, Atlona has created Velocity drivers for the TCC2 and MXA910 microphones that provide feedback as to the location of a talker within the room. During configuration, talker locations are associated with the appropriate camera preset. When deployed, logic within Velocity automatically changes the camera preset based on the real-time location of the talker.

Conference Room Application

Automation of this nature would be helpful for videoconferencing. The conference table might have five typical PTZ preset locations, two on the left, two on the right, and one at the head of the table. As different talkers take their turn presenting, the control system instructs the camera to use the preset for their location. An extra preset may be created to show the whole table in the case of multiple people talking at the same time.

Classroom Application

This capability would also be helpful for either online instruction or lecture capture. Instructors may have various presentation locations within the room. At a podium for lectures, in front of a display or projected image to capture both lecture and content, or at a whiteboard to capture both lecture and written content. As the instructor moves around the room, the control system instructs the camera to use the preset optimized for that location.

A major benefit of this solution is that it takes advantage of common components found in typical conference rooms and classrooms. Many of these spaces are specified with, or already have, Atlona HDVS-CAM PTZ cameras and Velocity control systems as well as ceiling microphones, switching, audio, and display components. Adding automated PTZ framing based on talker positioning is accomplished by simply creating the appropriate macros within Velocity.

About the Author

Robert Bird is a Product Marketing Manager for Atlona. Over the past few decades, he has worked for several AV manufacturers in a variety of marketing, business development, sales, and support capacities. In his free time, he enjoys attempting YouTube DIY projects, trying not to be so bad at guitar, perfecting his pickleball third shot drop, and carving canyons on his sport bike.

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