Ikegami Helps CBS Cut HD Cord

Wireless OFDM hi-def camera debuts at Super Bowl XXXVIII


A wandering CBS high-definition cameraman enjoyed unfettered and untethered freedom to roam Reliant Stadium at Super Bowl XXXVIII, courtesy of Ikegami MPEG and microwave technology used for newsgathering in Japan.

In its first use in the United States, Ikegami's HDL-0101 wireless portable HD camera is a 2/3-inch 1080i CCD unit with self-contained digital RF transmitting and receiving capability as well as user-variable MPEG compression. The compression is necessary to compact the video information to fit within a microwave channel.

"This is a one-man camera, there is no second antenna man or anything like that," said Ikegami Vice President and Director of Engineering Alan Keil. "It's based on a camcorder body-style, and includes an HD camera with built-in, selectable MPEG encoding." The wireless camera, complete with lens and battery, weighs 21 pounds.

"It has built-in spread-spectrum, back channel, 2.4-gig RF for intercom, control, error correction and status feedback. It has a clip-on-the-back RF-digital OFDM 7-gig RF main channel, which has the HD digital video and embedded audio." The HDL-0101 has three omni-directional antennas mounted on the unit.

In Japan, newsgathering SNG trucks use the HDL-0101 camera's microwave capability to allow the cameraman to wirelessly link back to the vehicle for live news coverage.

CBS's Super Bowl coverage also borrowed wireless receiver technology from equipment in use in Japan, Ikegami's PF-503. "Most Japanese broadcasters are using this as part of their STL system to get the HD signal from the station to the transmitter site," said Keil.

"The OFDM FDU is kind of a flat antenna that has a reasonable reception angle," he said. CBS mounted the receive site high in one end zone to allow it to be seen by the camera from almost any place within the stadium.

The received signal is then decompressed and fiberlinked to CBS's broadcast center, where it is controlled by an Ikegami RM-11 Digital Remote Controller. Camera painting instructions, camera return video and tally are sent the other direction back to the camera.

Those with sharp eyes might have seen the HDL-0101 coming at a previous NAB. "You might recall a couple of years ago at NAB we had an MPEG CA camera adapter that we had on a docking-style HD camera," said Keil. "And we said that that would be for RF application. This is an extension of that technology."