BURBANK, CALIF.: Nik Wallenda’s successful walk over Niagara Falls from the United States to the Canadian side via a tightrope was a record-breaking feat. To capture the visual and audio excitement of the three-hour primetime event, ABC turned to Aerial Video Systems to provide HD RF links, wireless mics. and comms.
AVS provided a total of eight HD RF paths, 17 channels of wireless mics. and 12 channels of comms. The infrastructure included AVS’ RF-over-fiber system on both sides of the border. A temporary fiber-optic cable flown across the falls parallel to Wallenda’s high wire provided connectivity with backup RF links providing redundancy. This gave AVS the advantage of receiving all signals in AVS RF-1 at the TV compound. Additionally AVS provided the RF links for the Flycam and the Wallenda POV camera.
For the Wallenda POV camera, AVS used a waterproofed Toshiba HD RH1 cube camera, which was mounted on his balance pole. The camera was cabled to a customized fanny-pack containing a mini-HD microwave transmitter and battery.
Overhead in a Twin star helicopter, one of AVS’ three Cineflex gyro-stabilized camera systems delivered pictures via a Link L1500 microwave system. The aerials not only captured the drama of Wallenda’s 1,850-foot trek across the wire but all the shots of Niagara Falls. James Goldston, the ABC News executive overseeing the production, stated that it was “a truly beautiful spectacle.”
There was a large contingent of “ABC-Good Morning America” reporters on both the American and Canadian sides covering all aspects of the event. AVS’ mics. and comms. kept everyone in contact with the show and each other. This included Wallenda’s comms, which made it possible for him to communicate with the show anchors and his father as he made his way 200 feet above the falls in route to the Canadian side. Wallenda was even overhead offering up some prayers….which were apparently answered.
As for the frequency coordination, AVS worked closely with the local coordinator in Buffalo, AFTRCC, and the FCC on the U.S. side; and Industry Canada on the Canadian side. AVS used frequencies in the 1.4 GHz, 2 GHz, 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz and 6.5 GHz bands along with numerous coordinated UHF channels.
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