In ancient days when phones were mainly used to transfer audible sources from one place to another, many a wise network technician in the broadcast arena dreamed of a remote camera operator, moving quickly and lightly to report in the field. The idea was to create as close to a live broadcast as possible without the need of a satellite up-link truck.
In the late 1990s and even into this millennium a popular solution was to place multiple cell phones together and attach them to the back top of an ENG camera to send the data from camera over what was then the cellular network. Why more than one phone? If you could parcel the data package you could achieve more secure throughput as well as increase the total transfer capacity, even supply redundancy.
That brings us to the marvelous sunrise of today, where just about anyone can accomplish the same task with a simple handset embedded with a little bit more intelligence than the average child. Apps like Periscope handle the broadcast setup and connection, however the phone mainly does the same job. The process just seems even more logical since the transmission device already has a camera.
What if we want broadcast quality, with cameras that have large sensors and even larger lenses? Can we still communicate back to the base studio without the need to access a satellite?
I think you knew, the answer is yes. In a discussion with entrepreneur and event shooter Rob Macabuhay we researched and discovered that the same hardware makers in the early days of data transfer camera systems lead the way in HD, Ultra HD or let’s just call it 4k with massive color depth. Here’s a list of the still existent major players;
The Teradek is the one with the longest history and also a company that I have trusted more than once in the past.
An interesting example of the bundled handset solution is still available
If news stations are willing to accept a reporter’s “live” feed that they have to shoot using their iPhone when the satellite up-link is down – to avoid missing the story. Just imagine how you can take advantage of identical color spaces on multiple cameras as well as remote controlled cameras groups for your own creative, documentary or live productions.
Shoot through eyepiece direct to the on-set editor’s monitor from multiple cameras feeding glorious high bit-depth footage with creative focus, depth of field and professional stops.
Sounds like the best of ancient days and today.