IDX Powers 'Flying Camera'

by Robert Swope

NASHVILE, TENN. When the Nashville Symphony throws a gala, the nation gets to watch in high definition and listen in Dolby 5.1 Surround.

The symphony's first gala in 2006 was also the inaugural of Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Not only did Music City get an earful of Shostakovitch, Barber and Mahler that evening, so did Tennesseans throughout the state via a live regional broadcast.

This was more than civic pride to me. My company produced that program and we received an Emmy for the live show broadcast.

(L-R) Robert Swope and David Bowman examine the remotely controlled "S-Cam" rig used in Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center. We've been intimately involved with the Schermerhorn Symphony Center since it was first conceived, serving as broadcast design consultant in connection with the hall's HD video and audio setup. It's fair to say that I feel some parental pride and do everything I can to ensure that every bit of technical gear going into it is world class.

The hall can accommodate every form of concert entertainment from a Copeland symphony to Kid Rock. It features natural acoustics, and is outfitted with 1080i video recording and Dolby 5.1 audio. The concert-goers' view of the stage has been protected by eliminating the usual tangle of cables and other distractions.


To give our television audience the full visual and audio experience, we used our "S-Cam" (S stands for silent) extensively. This is a flying rail-mounted remote camera rig attached to the ceiling.

It consists of a Sony HVR-V1U HD camera enclosed in sound-proofing material and mounted on a 44-foot long rail. It's capable of full 360-degree movement and is controlled by servos designed by David Bowman, whose hobby is flying radio-controlled airplanes. He operates the camera during production. It's quite invisible to audiences below, as its paint job blends with the ceiling color.

It should come as no surprise that we chose IDX's Endura E-10 series batteries to power this unit.

Let me explain why the performance of those batteries was absolutely crucial to a recent broadcast. We were presenting a two-hour concert, using a total of 20 live cameras, including the "S-Cam."

From setup to the end of the show, the camera was on continuously for seven straight hours. Because of the unique setup—the total rig weighs a mere 76 pounds including the rail—we designed special power adapters for the camera, pan/tilt head, and focus and zoom controls and drew all the power directly from the IDX batteries.


And here's the kicker—when we finished the production and took down the unit, the batteries still had 40 percent of their charge. But this was not really surprising given that they have a 93 Wh capacity. I'm convinced there is no other battery that could have done the job that these did for us.

IDX also filled another key role with its new Cam~Wave CW-5 HD wireless transmission system. This allowed us to send uncompressed HD signals to a base station about 100 feet away. The transmitter was compact enough to fit into the S-camera rig and performed without a hitch.

Music City is enormously proud of its new concert hall, and we believe the concerts we produced there gave our city an additional reason to resound with that pride. I can't wait to do the next one.

Robert Swope is a director/producer/editor/performer/writer, and is founder of Sunrise Entertainment, which specializes in multicamera live television production and HDTV. He may be contacted at

For additional information contact IDX at 213-891-2800 or visit