WORCESTOR, U.K.—I started my career at the BBC, moving later to ITV, and have been a cameraman for more than 30 years now. During this time, the idea of satellite news gathering has become more common, and I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with the rather severe restrictions that the sat trucks place on the cameraman.
In 1998, I made the logical decision and formed my own company—Stryder TV. I built my own SNG truck and provide uplink services to broadcasters and corporate customers. My business rapidly gained a good reputation, and recently we've upgraded the truck for full HD operations.
Steve Ryder A TRUCK 'FOR ALL SEASONS'
While we operate the truck primarily as an SNG uplink, I also carry a high-definition camcorder with a wireless camera link, together with lighting and sound, so I can provide complete front-end broadcast services. The truck contains a small production switcher and audio mixer, so I can provide basic three or four camera OB event coverage, something I do regularly for news and current affairs. I like to call it "OB Lite."
I'm providing services for many different clients now, and each has a different requirement: SD, HD, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, stereo, 5.1 surround sound, and more. So practically every day requires a total reconfiguration of the truck. I have to be able to turn up at a location and get everything configured, lined up and on air quickly.
The practical solution to the line-up issues was found in the Hamlet MicroFlex. By choosing this configuration with a test signal generator, as well as HD and SD measurement, I now have all the functionality I need in one very handy device. The test pattern generator contains everything I need, providing the line-up signal with alphanumeric identification along with a moving bar to show that the signal is live and not just a frozen image. The generator also includes embedded audio.
Other trucks have to include a 1RU test signal generator to do the same thing that the MicroFlex does, occupying more space, and adding more weight and expense.
It's often necessary to connect my truck with another vehicle, and I need to be sure that all is well with the interconnecting cables before rolling out hundreds of meters of coax or fiber. I can put the MicroFlex on each end of a drum of cable while it is still in the van and do a quick integrity check. If needed, I can also unclip the MicroFlex and—because it's battery powered and easily portable—put it at the far end of my cable to give me an end-to-end check.
My customers want a one-stop shop, whether it's just for satellite uplinking, or a complete location production service. Whatever the job, I have to turn up and make sure that it all works perfectly. The Hamlet MicroFlex has proved itself a very clever, very useful, and very cost-effective piece of lineup and test gear.
Steve Ryder is managing director at Stryder TV He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, contact Hamlet at 212-779-2580 or visit hamlet.tm.