MULTIPLE CITIES -- Advancements in field production equipment can be summed up easily: Devices are smaller and produce noticeably better quality, according to Scott Grizzle, product manager for DVEO, a division of Computer Modules Inc. In the late 1990s, Grizzle started in the streaming and webcasting industry and is considered a pioneer in that field.
“You don’t need to have massive machines. Now you can go to high-end broadcast or high-end production-level quality at a reasonable price,” said Grizzle, who developed DVEO’s MultiStreamer Flypack after putting a similar unit together for personal use.
The Flypack is designed to be a portable, multifunction streaming video production system that includes an integrated audio/video streaming encoder, compact seamless video switcher with effects generator and preview and program monitors. It comes in a rolling-rack mount case certified for air travel by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. The basic version retails for $14,995.
“This is all broadcast-level equipment, but at the same time a beginner can use it and not get overwhelmed,” Grizzle said. “The whole idea is that when it leaves the studio, it’s the way you want it to sound, look and feel.”
Inputs and outputs are multiple HD-SDI, HDMI or DVI, according to Grizzle. The 1RU or 2RU seamless switchers are broadcast quality, and because they are seamless, they are also up-converters, downconverters and scan converters.
They feature variable image zoom to 10x and shrink to 10 percent. DVEO offers an optional T-Bar control panel switcher. The encoder outputs allow multiple simultaneous Internet protocol streams through GigE port (RJ45), SDI or HD-SDI video loop through and (program out of switcher). The unit supports up to 1080i, CIF, QCIF, qHD, H.264up and many others as well as offering custom resolutions. Its functions are self-contained in separate modules.
“If one piece fails, you can bypass it and your show is still going. I’ve never lost a show or event,” Grizzle said.
In addition, having smaller equipment that is easy to transport is an advantage over renting equipment at the production locale, Grizzle said. “People are realizing that when they rent, they are getting gear they don’t know much about, or if their equipment is too big or bulky they can end up paying a lot for shipping,” he said. “They don’t need all that.”
Mobile Studios Inc. PortaCast 50 Ultra-Portable HD/SD Mini Flypack
Smaller, portable equipment is a staple of Mobile Studios Inc., which offers its PortaCast Mini- Flypacks starting at $7,995. They provide mobility and portability while maintaining high standards of quality.
The latest of those flypacks is the PortaCast 50 Ultra-Portable HD/SD Mini Flypack, which is outfitted with a Panasonic Series 50 Switcher. In addition to the Panasonic switcher, the PortaCast 50 is equipped with a computer DVI input, Multiviewer, Graphics Keyer, PIP and a 22-inch LED monitor 1920x1200.
Having those components integrated into the system significantly reduces the complexity and time required for remote setups and production, said Richard Rubin president of Mobile Studios. “Plug in the cameras and mics and you’re ready to shoot multicam videos,” he said.
The PortaCast 50’s monitor is built in to the Pelican lid and features separate LED electronics and custom metal framework surrounded by die-cut foam to absorb shocks, Rubin said. Off-the-shelf monitors are not used because they are not made to withstand the rigors of transportable deployment. “We tried using off-the-shelf monitors at first and they came apart during transport,” he said.
Panasonic AG HPX250
In addition, the PortaCast 50 components are integrated in a waterproof, airline-checkable case that weighs about 35 pounds, and it provides switching, audio, camera shading/control and recording capabilities. “We designed the PortaCast around a Pelican case platform, which is waterproof. This is especially critical when it is shipped and may be placed outdoors during rain, like baggage often does during air shipments,” he said. “Water can ruin equipment, ours is protected.”
Another conspicuous advancement is digitizing the field production output from start to finish. During 2012, the AV Company, an audiovisual integration and rental company in Charlottesville, Va., transitioned to a full digital recording process, said Jason Rethemeyer, the AV Company’s director of rentals.
Blackmagic Design H.264 Pro Recorder
The AV Company chose the $5,595 (at B&H) Panasonic AG HPX250 camera for use with Blackmagic Design’s $470 H.264 Pro Recorder linked directly to a laptop. The capture function is facilitated by Blackmagic’s Media Express software. “We can do any edits from the laptop and get the videos turned around and given to the client in half the time,” Rethemeyer said.
For one-on-one interviews, The AV Company records directly from the camera to a laptop, with or without a separate microphone. For large events with multiple cameras and audio sources they use the Roland Systems Group M-300 V-Mixer--manufacturer's suggested retail price, $5995--and the Roland V-1600HD digital video mixer, which retails for $16,995 and has its own Facebook page. They combine the audio and video signals with a Blackmagic audio to SDI converter before it is sent to the H.264 converter.
“That is one trick that I would recommend to anyone experiencing issues with audio sync,” Rethemeyer said. “Get your audio and video combined into one cable prior to any compression captures.”
Roland Systems Group M-300 V-Mixer
The Roland M-300 has 32 mixing channels, four-band parametric equalization and dynamics on all channels and 11 built-in multieffects with PEQ and delay on all channels. Universal serial bus memory can be used for record/playback and a PC can control the unit.
The AG HPX250 camera features a 2.2 megapixel 3 MOS imager, integrated 22x (28-616mm Equiv) lens, 10-bit AVC-Intra recording at 100 megabytes per second and DVCPro HD and SD Recording. It has a 3.45- inch, 1920x480 liquid crystal display monitor, dual P2 card slots and HD-SDI- HDMI outputs. The camera operates in both National Television System Committee standards and phase alternating line.
The $5,995 JVC GY-HM650 is a full-featured camera based on the 600 series platform, it features a stateof- the-art imaging system with a 23:1 Fujinon wide-angle zoom lens. The camera has a sensitivity of F11 so it can be used in very low light. The GY-HM650 records simultaneously onto two memory cards, one is HD and the other Web-friendly, and its editing tool is Final Cut Pro MOV, which is native to Final Cut so file conversion for editing is not necessary.
In addition, the files recorded at lower resolutions can be sent out from remote locations using the camera’s built-in file transfer protocol and Wi-Fi connectivity. “With the Wi-Fi capability, the camera can be controlled remotely using an iPad or iPhone,” said Dave Walton, JVC assistant vice president of marketing. “Metadata can be entered into the camera which, in turn, is added to the recording.”
The Anton/Bauer high dynamic range system features a camera that transmits a strong HD image lineof- sight over a great distance on a choice of 12 channels. The system is a collaboration with Vitec Group sister company Integrated Microwave Technologies and works in conjunction with the Anton/Bauer HDRX receiver.
“It’s for anyone who is producing in the field, has the trucks and needs to transmit a live video signal a great distance,” says John Walsh, Anton/Bauer product specialist. Anton/ Bauer’s Logic Series batteries power the system.
‘BOX CAMERA’ OPTION
Also shipping in early 2013 is the Canon BU-47H, a less expensive and useful camera option. It is designed for use when an onsite camera operator is impractical or not needed, especially in sports coverage and news gathering where budgets are tight. It is a full HD pan-tilt-zoom camera with a pan-tilt head and 18x zoom. The image is 1080i. It can be attached to structures or deployed on a tripod. Canon announced the BU-47H last September and expected to list it at $26,000.
“It is an all-in-one system so it has a weatherproof housing, a remote-controlled wiper and ND filters, and it is completely enclosed,” says Joseph Poch, Canon USA systems and network engineer.
Canon U.S.A. BU-47H
Grizzle agrees that field producers should consider so-called box cameras because many use the same lenses and chips as the more expensive models, but will not be as costly to replace should a mishap occur. “They are not studio quality but they are ENG quality,” he said. “You don’t want a studio camera in the field.”
MUSIC ON THE GO
For those inclined to combine field production with procedures normally associated with post-production, Audio Network US offers a website full of music that can be downloaded directly to a laptop, iPhone or iPad or smartphone.
“The user can choose and download music and sort projects on their chosen device while at a shoot or event,” says Kristen Harold, Audio Network marketing manager.
Once the user has obtained a license from Audio Network, the company’s library of 57,872 tracks of production and stock music is pre-cleared for worldwide and multi-platform use in perpetuity.