SVG Europe Sit-Down: Canon’s Blazej Klacansky on 4K innovations and plans for 2018

Blazej Klacansky, Canon Europe Channel Development Manager

Canon Europe is a subsidiary of Canon Inc. of Japan and contributes around one third of the group’s global sales revenue and employs in the region of 18,000 people across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Its brand platform ‘You Can’ captures the essence of Canon and is designed to inspire customers to explore their creativity and be empowered by our technologies. With Canon – You Can. On a worldwide scale, Canon is an active sponsor of sporting events – and earlier this year become the first company to serve as an official sponsor for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan. With a vast array of products on offer, our Sit Down with Canon Europe Channel Development Manager, Blazej Klacansky, begins with a look at recent innovations.

Before IBC, Canon said the event “presents a great opportunity for us [to give] our customers, partners and visitors insight into the innovative new solutions that are currently being developed.”  What innovation really caught the imagination of visitors to your stand?

We know that the trend of moving from HD to 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) is in full flow, so we expected to have a lot of conversations about how our technology could support this. We weren’t wrong about that! Specifically, there was interest in our strong line-up of high optical quality 4K lenses for outside production. These lenses are designed to offer exceptional 4K optical performance, great magnification and highly versatile focal lengths. This makes them perfect for capturing sporting events in outstanding quality and with adequate depth of field. They are straightforward to operate, which makes it easier to capture the action, but also versatile – as they are compatible with all major third-party systems. This means they suit a number of broadcast solutions – from sporting events to news gathering.

As well as our 4K lenses our range of compact cine servo lenses also received a lot of interest. We displayed the CN-E70-200 and CN-E18-80, two high-quality, yet very affordable, zoom lenses in super 35mm format. This format helps them to integrate with various applications, such as remotely controlled systems or drone operation. The CN-E70-200 and CN-E18-80 offer cine-servo functionality in a more compact body, which makes them great for hand held shooting to studio type remotely controlled PTZ operation production.

We also received a lot interest in Canon Broadcast Services (CBS), which offers broadcasters at most major sporting events support for outside broadcast vans. CBS’ on-site service includes lens check, cleaning and servicing and back-up equipment loans during repair periods.

We launched some cameras at the event and while we didn’t unveil any new lenses, this was the first European appearance of the CN-E70-200mm. These types of products always garner interest, but I feel that visitors appreciated the entire range of products and support services we were showcasing.

Technology is ever progressing – so what is your biggest challenge for 2018?

The 4K production space is an area that just keeps on growing. In this lively market, the biggest challenge for us will be to continue to innovate at the level we have been doing. We have set the bar very high for innovation in 4K lenses – and we must continue to strive towards the goal of continuing on that path.

Where do you think we will be with HDR by the middle of 2018?  Or should we be looking further ahead for significant take-up?

Canon has increased its range of portable broadcast zooms with the CJ45ex9.7

A huge number of broadcasters are now testing HDR content delivery for live, or standard, productions or for IP on demand. With IP becoming an increasingly popular choice for users, we can expect 4K HDR to become extremely significant by the middle of next year. We have already ensured that our 4K lenses are ready for HDR. That’s because HDR production requires the ability to capture the image in perfect quality – which our lenses are set up to do.

And looking ahead to the next six months, will we have seen any major developments in the area of 4K?  If so, what will they be? If not, why not? 

From the Canon perspective, we recently launched two new, cutting edge lenses – the CJ45ex9.7 and CJ45ex13.6. If you compare these two lenses to their equivalents in HD, we have been able to manufacture them with a much greater zoom ratio. However, we have done this without compromising on image quality and weight, thanks to unconventional multi-group zoom lens element technology. As we move forward, we are going to be focusing on introducing many more 2/3” 4K lenses with unique, or world first specifications, to satisfy customer production needs in various segments.

When considering the market generally we know that 4K is taking on much greater importance. The dilemma for broadcasters, is working out the best way to embrace 4K. While we don’t specialise in the transmission phase of the broadcast production process, we do understand acquisition. It’s very clear that 4K television formats represent an opportunity for broadcasters to overhaul their operations. We expect that harnessing 4K will certainly be a gateway for broadcasters to strip out legacy technologies over the next couple of years and create platforms which are more capable of embracing the future.

What changes have you noticed in sports production regarding the utilisation of your solutions?

Sports broadcasters are moving away from HD to capture the action in 4K output for HDR. This is a trend that is really gathering pace, but it can be challenging to maintain the stunning quality that viewers have become accustomed to, when moving to 4K HDR. We’ve been supporting broadcasters with technology that delivers both high-quality and efficiency for 4K sports footage. One example of the products we are offering for these requirements is the CJ20ex7.8B. This 2/3” portable 4K zoom lens offers a 20x zoom ratio and a broad focal length from 7.8mm to 156mm. It specifically enables the creation of high-resolution 4K video content, especially sporting events, as the shooter has all the tools to capture the action in detail. Through optimal lens positioning and precise component assembly, the CJ20ex7.8B achieves high-quality 4K resolution images from the centre to the peripheral areas of the image field. It has a built-in 2x extender, which delivers superior optical performance to support use with 4K broadcast cameras. As it has a compact and lightweight body design, the CJ20ex7.8B delivers great mobility, including shoulder mounted shooting – so very useful for capturing sport.

Subscribe and Get SVG Europe Newsletters