03.04.2004 12:00 PM
Press Association turns to IP solution to bring stories back from the field

Journalists for the Press Association (PA), a national news agency in the United Kingdom, last month began gathering video footage in the field and transmitting it via Wi-Fi wireless Internet connection to its operations center in Howden, East Yorkshire where it is stored on video servers for distribution to clients.

Journalists are sent into the field with a portable camera like the Sony PD 150 or PD 170 and a Dell laptop computer that runs the Avid Express DV or Express Pro and a QuickLink newsgathering system.

The project is allowing the news agency to lower costs by reducing and in many instances eliminating the use of satellite communications for video footage, said PA news projects coordinator Andy Georgiou.

Making IP distribution of video news stories possible is the On2 Technologies VP6 video codec and the QuickLink news gathering system that lets journalists encode and transmit stories via the Internet, satellite, ISDN line or Wi-Fi connection.

The Press Association began testing the system last fall and rolled it out for daily use at the beginning of February. Journalists are sent into the field with a portable camera like the Sony PD 150 or PD 170 and a Dell laptop computer that runs Avid Express DV or Express Pro and the QuickLink newsgathering system.

“Our McDonalds chain (of restaurants) has Wi-Fi (network hotspots),” said Georgiou. “Our reporters just go to McDonalds and upload any video they’ve shot back to our central servers and don’t need to go to the office.”

The Press Association recruited reporters, photographers, videographers and others in house to use the new approach to electronic newsgathering rather than mandating their involvement, said Georgiou.

Those choosing the new approach were given an intensive one-week class to learn the system. “They learned everything from how to use the cameras to editing in the field to using the QuickLink software,” he said.

Besides making more efficient use of personnel, this approach has proven to be financially beneficial to the Press Association. “The whole concept was to shoot video and get it back for a fraction of the price of the satellite link,” he explained.

“QuickLink has more than justified its expense,” said Georgiou. “It’s made our video clips very competitive in the market.”

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