An Outside Broadcast (OB) truck was first used for King George VI’s coronation in May 1937, watched by around 10,000 people at home on the BBC’s television service.
Since then, broadcast has changed massively – analogue has been killed off by digital, HD has surpassed SD, and new technologies are set to change things in the next few years even more. Broadcast giant Sony helped pioneer the first 3D OB truck a couple of years ago and, at NAB this year, they announced they’re building a 4K multi-camera OB truck. NHK even trialed a modified 8K OB truck during the London Olympics 2012.
So, how has the advance of technology changed the OB market? Well, for one thing, equipment is smaller. Instead of a cumbersome rack of VTR decks, space-saving file-based servers are now the norm. The advent of multi-viewers has changed OB trucks, too – no longer do you need a wall of chunky CRT monitors – large flat screen monitors will do the job instead. Fibre cabling has also increased capabilities. Fibre means longer distances and fewer cables required. At Trickbox TV, we use the most-compact kit possible. Not only is this great for our clients, it means our kit rooms and trucks have also gotten smaller!
The cost of kitting out an OB truck or studio facility has plummeted. A few years ago, for a simple multi-camera set-up, you’d need a vision mixer, a separate multi-viewer, a video server to play the show’s opening title in on, some up-converters for that last-minute SD feed, a video scaler for that PC feed you need to get into the mixer etc. But now, one unit – a vision mixer for under £10K – can do all that! The cost of equipment has reduced considerably, part due to a fiercer market, but largely due to the cost of producing components has reduced. CMOS sensors over CCD sensors is an obvious case. The introduction of KA band and 3G and 4G video uplink means it’s easier and cheaper to transmit. Will this mean more outside broadcast? We certainly hope so.
There are some staples of television which OB will continue to dominate, such as sport and large-scale national events. But other traditional OB territory, such as music, events and festivals, can now be achieved on a smaller scale. You can get the same functionality as an OB truck with a portable production unit (PPU) but with a smaller footprint and lower budget. Trickbox TV often get asked to quote for music jobs and big events because, sometimes, an OB truck just isn’t cost effective or there’s space limitations. Plus, we work with some smaller broadcast production companies to help provide bespoke solutions for pilots or low-budget productions.
So what other emerging technologies are likely to change the face of OB? IP broadcast technology is sure to grow. BBC R&D has developed Stagebox – a camera adaptor designed to transmit everything you’d expect in a conventional triax or fibre cable (video, talkback, tally lights etc), but it’s all done over a single cat5E cable. The video is encoded at industry standard AVC-Intra 100 compression in real time. With the right software at the other end, you could ISO record all your cameras onto one storage device.
IP control is another technology changing how things are done in the field. Sony has brought out a software application which allows you to rack multiple cameras over IP. Every vision engineer must be thinking: ‘Do I actually need to get out of bed for this job? I could rack that show from home!’
GVG recently announced the launch of GV Director™, a nonlinear live production system. With built-in graphics capability, a video server, assignable buttons and a futuristic touch screen interface, mixers like these are changing the way productions are managed. GVG say the emphasis is on creativity and not on technical knowledge. As IP technologies get stronger, will it get to a point where there’s just a skeleton crew out in the field, but everything’s controlled from another location? Well, since technology is getting better, passion from people in the industry is strong and the demand is high from viewers, it’s clear the future of OB is going to get better and better.
If you’d like to find out how Trickbox TV can help with your next outside broadcast, call Liam on 0207 193 9722.
Well, it’s been some time since our last blog. No, we haven’t shut up shop, we’ve just been busy! No excuse, we know – we’ll try harder next time…
Well, we’re proud to have been working with – and providing services to – some great companies and brands such as Rolex, TEDx, Jacobs Creek and BMW. Sadly there weren’t any freebies on the Rolex job and surprisingly little wine on offer at the Jacobs Creek event! But, we thoroughly enjoyed the productions anyway!
We’re also quietly happy we’ve had the opportunity to work at some great landmark London venues such as the Science Museum, the British Museum, Southbank Centre – Royal Festival Hall, the V&A Museum, Banqueting House in Whitehall and the Guildhall.
Some recent highlights have included filming a 160 piece Venezuelan orchestra, and filming an American fitness video with 500 lycra clad people stretching and sweating. We also provided the multi-camera facilities for the live stream of the ICANN press conference where ICANN revealed who had applied for which generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) names in what was the largest expansion in the history of the Internet’s Domain Name System.
There’s been some new kit added to our inventory including some ViewCast Niagara streaming encoders and the new Panasonic AV-HS410 vision mixer, plus we’ve re-designed our portable production unit (PPU) to allow compatibility and racking with Sony cameras.
It’s been a busy but enjoyable few months.
Then of course there was our work surrounding the London Olympics 2012 – but that’s a whole other blog…
Well, IBC 2011 is almost over. Here’s some of the new notable products launched at IBC 2011 that we liked:
The AV-HS400 vision mixer has been a widely accepted small form compact vision mixer. The AV-HS410 is the successor with some nice new additions including a clip video store and 3D capability. It comes as standard with 9 inputs and has option boards to increase this to 13 inputs. Look out for some interesting new options boards that may be released next year.
At NAB 2011, Blackmagic Design released their SmartView Duo monitors – two 8" 3U rackmount monitors. At IBC 2011, Blackmagic launched the Smartview HD monitor – a 17" full HD resolution 3G HD SDI rackmount monitor for an unbelievably low price. Almost too low to mention – £565. As much as we asked the nice Blackmagic man to let us unscrew it from the display wall at IBC to test the weight, he wouldn’t let us – but this thing looks light – and it’s very thin. And as you’d expect from Blackmagic – it’s very aesthetically pleasing. If you rackmount it above or below the SmartDuo monitor, you’ll notice the frames around the screens marry up perfectly.
Blackmagic have also introduced some new rugged field mini converters – basically the same as they’re previous (and well loved) mini converters but built for a bit more rough and tumble in the field – which makes sense given that’s often where you’ll find those Blackmagic Design mini converters.
Other interesting new equipment from Blackmagic Design included the ATEM Studio Converter. Remember the ATEM Camera Converter that Blackmagic announced at NAB 2011, rather than having two of these for each of your cameras – one at the camera and one at ‘control’ area, the ATEM Studio Converter allows you to connect 4 ATEM Camera Converters – all in a 1U frame. They also have a loop function if you have more than 4 cameras.
Other new kit launched at IBC 2011 that caught our eye included some new hot head cameras from Datavideo (that look suspiciously like Sony’s BRC dome range of hot heads – but without the price tag) and a low cost waveform/vectorscope.
Atomos were proudly showing their great Ninja and Samurai tapeless recorders plus the new Connect converter units – HDMI to HD SDI and HD SDI to HMDI. Not groundbreaking technology but they’re nice little units – that also include a test pattern signal and tone generator.
We saw a good demo of Haivision’s Viper portable video streaming unit – think Digital Rapid’s TouchStream on steroids. It can stream two HD signals simultaneously – great for a camera plus a PowerPoint presentation or synchronous slides. Using Haivision’s patented InStream player, your client/the viewer can rearrange and resize the two incoming streams. Nice feature.
For-A gave a good demonstration of their new VRCAM2 sensor less virtual studio system. NewTek’s 450 and 850 series looked equally good and potentially more cost effective as NewTek provide an almost full studio end to end solution.
The TVUpack from TVU Networks is a powerful bit of kit for live, location based video streaming – using 3G bonded sim cards. Turn it on and you’re streaming. Need to tweak a setting, just use your iPhone or iPod.
Aja launched the io XT at IBC 2011. Basically an upgrade of the Io Express with Thunderbolt connectivity.
Remember most of the new equipment launched at IBC 2011 won’t start shipping till Q4 – the end of the year. Just enough time to tweak those budgets and work out how to pay for it all!
We arranged with the guys from Panasonic to do a test of the Panasonic "50 Series" – an IP (Internet Protocol) network control based remote camera hot head system (AW-HE50H/S), including a remote camera controller (AW-RP50) and vision mixer (AW-HS50).
The AW-HE50 camera comes in two flavours – HDMI or HD SDI, starting at £2,400 for the HDMI version and £3,200 for the HD SDI output version (both prices exclude VAT). The vison mixer and remote control panel for the cameras both come in separate half 19" rack panels – so combined, they fit nicely into a standard broadcast 19" rackmount shelf or desk. Panasonic have kindly added a lip to the top of each to allow you to recess the body of the units into a desk or shelf.
The AW-HS50 vision mixer is £2,500 and the AW-RP50 remote camera control panel is just £1,500 (excluding VAT). The AW-RP50 and AW-HE50 cameras work over IP and the controller can control up to 100 cameras (if you had that many?!) The RP50 can also store 100 presets per camera and also supports conventional RS422 camera control too.
The AW-HE50 camera has a 1/3" Full HD MOS sensor and operates in either 1080/50i, 720/50p or 576/50i. Sony’s closest equivalent dome camera, the BRC-H700P uses three 1/3" CCD chips and also supports 1080/59.94i. However the price difference doesn’t go unnoticed. The Sony BRC-H700 comes in around £9,000 including the optional HD SDI board if you need it. But the two cameras are targeted for different markets. The Sony BRC-H700 makes for a good supplementary camera for broadcast productions – look out for those overhead shots of food being prepared in cooking shows at the weekend – plus reality shows and wide shots in studio shows. The Panasonic AW-HE50H/S caters more for the corporate, government, education and live event market.
The AW-HS50 compact live switcher is the really interesting unit in the 50 series. Initially, it may not look that impressive but once you’ve re-read the specs and physically had a play with it, you quickly change your mind. The HS50 has 4 SDI inputs and 1 DVI-D input as standard. Also as standard, it has 2 SDI outputs and 1 DVI-D output. Had it just been a simple 4 input, 2 output SDI switcher, it wouldn’t be much to shout about, but the inclusion of the DVI input and output instantly widens it’s uses. There’s also a frame synchroniser on every input and two switchable up-converters on two of the inputs and a colour corrector on each input. These features are all fairly standard these days but still mightily impressive for a unit that’s about half the size of a loaf of bread. And remember, just a few years ago, to do everything just listed, you’d need about 20 different bits of kit all whirring away – you’d need a handful of separate frame synchronisers for all your unlocked sources, a colour corrector for each input (if the synchroniser didn’t have that feature), a couple of separate upconverters for your SD sources and a DVI to SDI converter for that all-important PC you need to cut up.
One of the most notable features though of the AW-HS50 mixer is the multi-view output (with embedded audio level meters). This makes the HS50 switcher truly portable and user-friendly for those flyaway location productions – just plug and go.
Oh and did I mention it has an AUX output bus, two frame stores for graphics, PIP (picture in picture) and a chroma keyer too?!
Here’s some snaps of our test with the Panasonic 50 series (thanks to the guys from Panasonic for paying us a visit):
So all in all, the Panasonic ’50 series’ with IP network control is a great range of kit, and perfect for some applications. For low-end broadcast and flyaway productions, it makes for a very cost effective and portable multi-camera solution. For something like a corporate AGM, live webcast or conference, the 50 series could be perfect – and more importantly, very budget friendly for the client. If you’d like to discuss hiring the Panasonic 50 series from Trickbox TV, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
See below for the individual links to the Panasonic 50 series website:
Here’s the Panasonic 50 Series Brochure
Sony have just released their new super 35mm NXCAM NEX-FS100 – yes a bit of a mouthful! Is it a camcorder? Is it a DSLR? Does it matter?
The specs look pretty good and there’s a fair bit of hype surrounding it. Interesting Sony chose to launch it prior to NAB – presumably to help build up a bit of momentum leading up to NAB rather than competing with the rush of other camera releases at NAB.
It looks a little bit brick like – similar to the RED cameras, but it’s packed full of nice features. A low recording bit rate is saved somewhat by outputting uncompressed 4:2:2 footage (with embedded timecode no less) on the HDMI output.
Anyway, here’s some further reviews, notably from Den Lennie, at F-Stop Academy who contributed to the design of the camera through a focus group, took part in the video promo campaign and was the first people to use it (or a prototype of it) to shoot a music video:
Here’s some Vimeo videos about the Sony NEX-FS100 – the music video, Vertigo, shot by Den Lennie and James Tonkin, Den’s review of the camera and the official Sony promo for the Sony NEX-FS100:
For more information about any of our services, please call:0207 193 9722