As SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium reopened its doors to the public with reduced capacity due to social distancing, it ensured that fans didn’t miss out on the action by offering ‘TANK TV’. A convenient 24-hour live stream, ‘TANK TV’ allows viewers to take a deep dive into the world of one of SEA LIFE’s most popular exhibits, the penguins.
SEA LIFE’s much-loved penguins include a spectacular King and Gentoo colony as part of the ‘Penguin Expedition’ experience, which reflects the environment of sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, where both these species can be found.
Panasonic’s AW-UE4 Ultra-Wide Angle Integrated Camera with Digital Pan/Tilt/Zoom is mounted in the penguin enclosure to capture all the fun of these engaging creatures. The camera was initially installed on a handrail in front of the ‘Day and Night on the Reef’ exhibit – where it attracted over 72,000 views shortly after being installed - and is being periodically moved around the aquarium to give viewers at home a charming and ever-changing vision of the diverse marine life.
Richard Dilly, General Manager, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, said: “Our penguins are among the Aquarium’s most popular animals. The species we have here are all native to Australia and its islands, and we put an important focus on understanding these birds and their habitats. Now the SEA LIFE fans at home can also enjoy studying the behaviour of these amazing creatures.”
Penguins are inquisitive, intelligent animals, and viewers are able to see SEA LIFE keepers interact with them regularly - with activities from playing soccer with the penguins to blowing bubbles and building ice sculptures for them to enjoy. The 24-hour Macquarie Island environment is temperature controlled to around 5-6 degrees Celsius, includes a sunrise and a sunset every day, and the penguins also experience a summer and a winter which allows them to follow their natural breeding cycle.
Richard Dilly added, “The camera lets fans experience the colony close up, and it has the benefit of being unobtrusive for our on-site visitors. We’re getting a great response and are looking forward to deciding where it goes next.”
"Disruptive times such as these often yield new ways of working, connecting and delivering your products – live streaming, in my opinion, has and will become the norm. The exciting thing for us now is working out how we can continue to evolve what we do to keep fresh and engaging for our viewers."
The camera is designed to compensate for the variations in lighting and colour in the Aquarium environment. A pin-sharp 4K sensor and lens means it’s possible to achieve very high picture quality when streaming, while it’s also simple to scale back depending on the bandwidth you want to use. In SEA LIFE’s case, the ‘TANK TV’ bandwidth was reduced as necessary to allow for the higher than normal network traffic during the COVID-19 lockdown.
As well as streaming live to You Tube, the AW-UE4 can display the same feed on any screen with an HDMI connection, so SEA LIFE also has the future option of showing this output to visitors at the penguin enclosure, or elsewhere in the building – a good way to entertain people who are waiting to get close to a display. The HDMI output can also be recorded if, for example, SEA LIFE wanted to keep it for research purposes.
Panasonic’s AW-UE4 camera is small and compact with an easy to position head. This offers the benefit of flexibility of location – it can be placed on a rail, ceiling or wall mounted anywhere within the aquarium – while an ultra-wide 110-degree angle means everything is in the shot. The aquarium simply decides the angle of view they need and positions the camera to suit.
Importantly, at a time when no visitors were permitted during lockdown, the camera was delivered, and then installed by SEA LIFE’s in-house AV/IT team of two, with the aid of a brief Skype demonstration. Richard Dilly explained, “having temporarily closed our doors to the public on 23rd March, we wanted to ensure that our guests could still interact with us, learn new things and be amazed by the extraordinary underwater world – right from the comfort and safety of their own living rooms.”
During the closure, SEA LIFE was impressed by the number of teachers who contacted them to say they were using the ‘TANK TV’ stream as part of remote learning for students while schools were shut.
The AW-UE4 camera was set up within a day, linked to the network and was very quickly streaming to SEA LIFE’s YouTube account. Once installed, the AW-UE4 streams 24/7 with no further control needed.
Mathew Alexander, Product Marketing Manager - Broadcast & Professional Camera from Panasonic Australia explained: “The camera only needs one CAT5e or CAT6 cable for power, video and control, and then you’re ready for RTMP (Real Time Messaging Protocol) streaming to YouTube, Facebook, Twitch or any other RTMP/RTMPS service. This single-cable control also makes it really easy to move the camera when you need to.”
About Panasonic ProPTZ cameras
Panasonic Professional Pan/Tilt/Zoom (ProPTZ) remote controllable cameras offer the highest quality optics; smooth, precise and quiet operation; and high grade sensors and digital signal processing. These functions combine with IP control, IP video streaming and PoE power, to make remote production possible without compromising on the final result.
These functions have made Panasonic ProPTZ cameras the most popular choice for many applications. Remote broadcast studios, web studios, visual radio, music festivals, music halls, live events and corporate seminars can all benefit – with remote operability allowing resources to be deployed efficiently, while also permitting cameras to be mounted where an operator may not be able to work.
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