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I can't quite tell if shopping/product questions are allowed here, but...I'm not sure where else to turn on the SE network. I have no a/v experience.

I'm trying to gather info for a project here at work where we need the ability to remotely control various cameras during a webinar presentation from a host computer.

Ideal would be the cameras have the ability to pan/tilt/zoom on their own, but as I've found out PTZ cameras are expensive.

I know we can use something cheap like the Logitech Orbit camera, but we'd really like the ability to have decent video cameras hooked up to a multi-input control video box and then also have them on tripods that can control their p/t/z if that even exists.

tl;dr - So basically:

What options do I have if I want to remotely control multiple cameras via a single computer (pan/tilt/zoom) during a webinar, so that the host/actor can just speak/present and we don't have to manually operate the cameras or have dedicated cameramen?

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You want a Pan/Tilt head. Zoom will depend on having a camera that can have the zoom remote controlled and a remote control that can hook in to the zoom. A pan tilt head can generally either be left sitting on a table or threaded on to a tripod. They are, however, not cheap. Expect to spend at least $300 for a cheap one and more if the camera ways more than a couple pounds.

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Thanks. I found a few p/t heads like these that weren't that expensive, around $159 for a cheap one. The goal here is to spend under $3k for everything (video cams, mounts, software, audio, mics) so I think we'll be OK going this route. A turn-key solution would be ideal so I may check with some VARs as well. –  TheCleaner Jan 6 at 13:59
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Guess Polycom has something like that, PTZ camera that can automatically follow a presenter. It follows a special "tag" device that presenter should be wearing, but not his/her face. If more than one camera will be used there should be the video operator anyway to switch views, choose the best angle etc. Standalone PTZ heads for handycams or more heavy-weight professional cameras are usually quite expensive, PTZ cameras may be even cheaper (look at Panasonic, Sony and others). For webinars - it's my point of view - it's enough to have 1-2 PTZ cameras + 1-2 fixed ones (e.g. audience view, screen view etc), so operator won't have to control all of them all the time.

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it is worth noting that a "static" camera with a PTU head doesn't still have to be controlled all the time. You can set it and forget. The only reason not to put a PTU on is cost savings, but it can be very nice to have the ability to move when you have a smaller audience. (And screen should be direct capture rather than a camera, unless you mean like a whiteboard or some non-audio/video screen.) –  AJ Henderson Jan 4 at 4:34
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