Achieving the critical link in live HD deployment

Patrick Coenen TV-Bay Magazine
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By: Patrick Coenen, chief technical officer for Actua Films, Geneva
As employees of a facility service provider for TV stations, networks and corporate businesses, we at Actua Films understand better than most that in today’s broadcast world, it’s imperative to get everything done at lightning speed. We have our own camera crews going into the field for TV stations, satellite trucks covering events throughout Europe, fly-away satellite uplinks situated across the world and editing facilities in Geneva. We also have a hub in Paris, with an office, a few camera crews and a satellite truck. We’re in the business of producing all types of programming, including 4K and HD feature films and documentaries, through our sister company, Point Prod, so we are constantly on the lookout for equipment that can take our service to the next level of quality and efficiency. We found that with the Studio Technologies Live-Link Remote Camera Interface System.
The Way We Were
Over the past several years, our clients have been migrating from standard to high definition production. To meet that demand, we built a new HD OB van to handle breaking news and time-sensitive interview applications, where high reliability and a speedy setup are necessary for a successful production. In the past, an Actua Films truck would pull up to a site and the setup crew would need to pull fiber-optic cable from the truck to the camera, as well as cable to manage audio communications for the camera operator. Not only did this double the deployment process, but the use of multiple systems to handle comms and IFB created the potential for more problems. Additionally, each operator had to deal with a cloud of extra equipment and wire. Another issue was distance from the venue. Our truck was not always the main vehicle at an event, and therefore might be located at a significant distance from the field, stadium or other event location. Having to pull multiple cables over such a long distance was extremely time-consuming. Clearly, we needed a better way to do this.
Making the Link
As HD production continued to gain traction, we needed to provide a remote camera system that would take us a step ahead in terms of features and ease of use. While we looked at offerings from many manufacturers, the Live-Link system best addressed our specific needs. It was compact and easy for the engineers to use, quickly generating positive feedback from our clients. We are very happy to have the equipment.
What You See is What You Get
A lot of locations in Europe are already pre-cabled with fiber, so we can hook Live-Link up at the venue patch to the truck, go inside, plug a fiber cable into the cable patch to the camera and go right into broadcast. As Live-Link production audio, comms and IFB are all carried by the SDI data stream, this system really cuts down on our setup time, making us ready to go in an instant, which is very valuable to our operations. We have used Live-Link for Premiere League coverage in France, with sideline interviews for BN Sports, and the Olympic Games in London for TV Record in Brazil, for example. For the TV Record job, we only had one hour to do the live standup reporting, including setup. Live-Link has made us faster and more efficient, enabling us to handle tight time constraints like this much more easily than in the past.
The Live-Link system gives us two mic/line inputs with selectable gain and +48-volt phantom power, two line-level audio paths for IFB or general-purpose use, a party-line intercom interface with 28-volt beltpack power, 2- to 4-wire auto-nulling hybrids for intercom audio, 10/100 Ethernet with auto MDI/MDI-X, RS-232/RS-422 for camera control and GPI/GPO for tally support. All this is transported over a standard 3G/HD/SD-SDI digital video data stream. This means that we can use Live-Link for any camera operation, including a remote POV installation, by running one fiber cable.
Actua has developed and deployed many tools to maintain our position at the forefront of new technologies for HD production and transmission of programming for terrestrial, cable, fiber optic, satellite and IPTV applications. We continue developing critical alliances and mobility, allowing us to be in all places necessary to meet the current demand. For example, we recently opened a department dedicated to private companies, public bodies and international organizations seeking to communicate through television news channels. Each new step requires the specialized people and equipment necessary to get the job done. For our remote camera system needs, the Studio Technologies Live-Link Remote Camera system is certainly the way to speed up slow deployment and make complex setup situations easier. Quick, straightforward, compact, powerful and reliable—all of these are traits of Live-Link.

Tags: iss075 | actua films | geneva | hd production | live-link | Patrick Coenen
Contributing Author Patrick Coenen

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