All equipment categories in the television industry have changed dramatically in the past two decades, and ENG gear has been right in the thick of that change. First, it went from analog microwave and satellite to digital microwave and satellite, then there was a seachange to systems that use mobile cellular technology.
Microwave and satellite remain part of the ENG signal transmission mix, although there is some turmoil at the satellite end with the FCC’s planned auction of C-Band (3.7-4.2 GHz) frequencies later this year. Satellite companies agreed to vacate more than half of the spectrum, which is expected to be purchased by cellular companies for 5G applications.
The C-Band auction is expected to take place in December, and may generate as much as $15 billion in bids. Satellite companies plan to continue delivering content using their remaining C-Band spectrum, serving more than 100 million private and commercial customers in the U.S., including network feeds to many broadcasters and cable operators.
Like many other product categories, the recent development and acceptance of ENG cellular systems drives down costs, improves setup times and ultimately results in a better way to make video.
Dejero has its EnGo 260 mobile transmitter, a 5G-ready system that contains the company’s hybrid encoding technology that can dynamically adjust encoding to make optimal use of available network connections.
“Blending up to eight network connections using Dejero’s smart blending technology, and with latency as low as 0.8 seconds, EnGo delivers exceptional picture quality so remote field teams can capture and transmit live shots even in scenarios where bandwidth may be limited,” said Richard McClurg, vice president for marketing at Dejero. “Smart blending technology aggregates multiple network technologies (cellular, 5G, 4G LTE, 3G, satellite or any other wired or wireless IP connection) from multiple carriers, to create a virtual ‘network of networks’ to enhance reliability and speed.”
Dejero’s CuePoint 100 will also be of interest to ENG personnel. The new low-latency rackmounted return feed server simplifies talent cueing, production and confidence monitoring, and permits real-time teleprompting in the field.
Live sports would have been the backdrop for LiveU’s booth demos at the 2020 NAB Show in Las Vegas, as the company plans to showcase live video production featuring a complete Wireless At-Home Production solution in the LiveU Courtside Studio. Booth visitors could immerse themselves in the dynamic live multicam basketball court and studio, shoot some hoops, and see how the entire production can be accomplished easily, affordably and in high quality using LiveU’s IP video technology.
Dalet will feature its Unified New Operations system that integrates news ingest, production and delivery for broadcast, streaming and social media. All this works more smoothly with Dalet’s recent acquisition of Ooyala’s Flex Media Platform business. In addition to news ingest, production and distribution, the company will also showcase its media asset management strengths with its Dalet Galaxy five MAM system that includes AI.
Ross Video Systems will be at the show spotlighting its news automation systems that run the gamut from the Inception news computer system to Ross’ Overdrive studio automation control system to the Tria News playout server. The company’s product line also includes tightly integrated media asset management and 3D motion graphics components.
Comrex will discuss its LiveShot bonded cellular system that uses an H.264 encoder and a mix of cellular, WiFi, satellite and LAN networks to provide two-way HD video and audio. LiveShot has a latency as low as 200 ms, to provide an IFB connection that works smoothly and naturally over the air.
VidOvation's PRO380 video encoder and transmitter solution is designed for live video producers and newsgathering. The PRO380 has a low-latency H.265/HEVC hardware encoder and also supports H.264/AVC encoding with legacy products. The systems feature eight embedded cellular 3G/4G-LTE modems with a high-efficiency antenna array.
TVU Networks made updates to MediaMind, the company’s story-centric platform. A live demonstration will show how using AI and automation technology, metadata and integration with third-party applications using API within the platform can drive efficiency in live video acquisition, production, distribution and management. “TVU is also going to have its full line of cellular, IP and cloud-based products and services on display and demonstration this year,” said Eric Chang, vice president of marketing. “This includes our cellular transmitters with 5G support. In the past year, 5G has been successfully tested and used with our equipment globally, including in the U.S., China and South Korea.”
At Super Bowl LIV, TVU successfully transmitted from within the stadium in Miami using Verizon’s 5G mmWave network. That product line will also be highlighted in the company’s booth.
4K AND 5G
ABonAir has its AB612 on-camera 4K microwave link to transmit video directly from cameras to media centers or OB trucks wirelessly. The bidirectional AB612 uses H.265 hardware-based encoding for efficient, low-latency transmission.
5G is a player in the technology mix, but don’t expect it to dominate the ENG experience just yet.
“Due to the cost and effort required to make a full transition to 5G—not to mention the many technical and regulatory decisions yet to be made—it will take many years to implement and to become widely available,” Dejero’s McClurg said. “The 5G experience we can expect a decade from now will likely be much different from early implementations that we are starting to see. From a practical point of view, reliable connectivity will still depend upon a mix of 5G, 4G LTE, and even 3G networks for quite some time.”
Like many fast-changing product categories, newsgathering and production has new and often more efficient ways to get the job done. It can be hard to figure out exactly which products and systems will work for your organization’s unique workflow.
As recently as 10 years ago, microwave and satellite were the predominant technologies used to relay ENG feeds from outside the studio. Today, although microwave and satellite still play a role in ENG feeds for broadcasters, some sort of cellular/IP product is more likely to be the choice when sending reporters into the field.
Over 10 years, cellular/IP products have matured, stabilized and improved, to the point where it has become the technology of choice for fast-hitting remote news feeds.
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Bob Kovacs is the former Technology Editor for TV Tech and editor of Government Video. He is a long-time video engineer and writer, who now works as a video producer for a government agency. In 2020, Kovacs won several awards as the editor and co-producer of the short film "Rendezvous."
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