Control of Pan Tilt Zoom Webcams by millions of competing viewers.

surfcams1's picture
surfcams1 started the topic in Monday, 5 Dec 2011 at 11:28pm

In 2000 I went online, discovered surfcams, and built my first webpage of surfcam links from around the world. Bondi FM88.0 had a Pan/Tilt/Zoom camera pointed out the window at Hotel Bondi that scanned from the Pavilion to the Icebergs and it was viewer controlled with two minute viewer segments. They had another PTZ camera to cover their radio studio. In 2004 the station changed hands and the new owners mounted a more powerful PTZ cam on the front roof edge that covered the whole beach and a good bit of the sky approach route to the local airport. Those PTZ surfcams were in constant use from dawn to dusk by a long list of competitive users from around the world.
This is the question: Your cameras are all Pan / Tilt / Zoom cameras. Sponsors advertise on your pages. Viewer controlled cams attract millions of viewers from around the world that are apt to click on your ads. Is there a reason that you do not allow your
viewers to control the cams ?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 5 Dec 2011 at 11:50pm

The short answer is that allowing the general public to control surfcams pushes the privacy boundary pretty far. All Swellnet surfcams are programmed to specific 'beach tours' that loop endlessly, which alleviates this issue.

Also, whilst it's fun to move a camera around, the only person getting any benefit is the person in control.

All of the viewers on one cam might be wanting to look at one end of the beach, whilst the guy in control is busy looking at the clouds or the sand - I've seen these cam setups around the place and I reckon it's a waste of time.

We know how much concurrent traffic our surfcams receive and it's certainly not in our interest to please everyone individually in 30 second blocks.

surfcams1's picture
surfcams1's picture
surfcams1 commented Tuesday, 6 Dec 2011 at 6:43am

Thank you for answearing so quickly. Your concern for the privacy issue reminded me of the controversy 2004-2005 etc. of the Waverly Council and the conclusion of an Attorney/Photographer that although it may be legal to photograph on Bondi Beach it just isn't worth the hassle by the powers that be. http://4020.net/words/photorights.php I am not aware of any right to privacy on a publicly owned beach recognised by any australian court.
For the record, 30 second blocks weren't mentioned, 2 minute viewer segments minimum were suggested. 2.5 minute segments are preferred to allow time for positioning of the camera for wind and kite surfing.
It's quite likely that a surfer familiar with a venue may choose to check the action of the surf in different areas of the venue if he has memorized surf cues relative to surfing conditions.
It's possible that the cam doesn't rest long enough in an area that the surfer may wish to study for a few seconds - periods and sets.
As I am not privy to your cam visitor statistics I cannot compare them to stats that I am privy to.
Competition for cam control does add to the fun, and ability to control the cam does attract repeat visitors and generate traffic to sponsor links.
The arguement could be made that robotically programmed cams please no one but they are better than nothing. The last time I updated my cam page was last may, a reliable sign of my waning interest. I wonder if Bondi Rescue has to secure permission from the people they rescue.
I guess the best way to learn which set-up is more productive would be to give the viewer a choice of cameras at the same venue. Cheers http://www.lambadafan.com/surfcams.html

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 6 Dec 2011 at 6:48am

Thanks for the advice, but we're pretty happy with our current surfcam setup.