Roanoke’s WDBJ Brings Action Back ‘Live’ With JVC Camcorders

ROANOKE, VA.—When the University of Virginia Cavaliers advanced to the College World Series this past June, we decided to cover the team’s games played at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. For events such as this, we used to send a satellite truck and operator along with our reporter. This time, however, we only sent a reporter equipped with one of our new JVC GY-HM890 ProHD shouldermount camcorders, along with a Verizon 4G LTE modem that connects directly to the camera via a USB port. This new approach resulted in flawless live shots that looked absolutely fantastic, as well as providing some serious savings in operational costs.

WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and photographer Sam Doyle demonstrate one of the station’s new JVC GY-HM890 camcorders.TIME FOR A CHANGE
Earlier this year, our station purchased 16 GY-HM890 camcorders to replace our aging SD camcorder fleet. We were no stranger to JVC cameras, as we’ve been using them in the studio since our transition to HD news production in 2008. This recent camcorder upgrade now provides us with native HD acquisition in the field and also offers native file recording for ingest into our new Grass Valley Stratus/Edius post system without transcoding.

The new cameras are equipped with built-in FTP file transfer and live HD streaming, and pairing them with Verizon 4G LTE modems makes them ideal for our live television newscasts as well as our online presence (we’re not just one screen anymore). JVC’s technology helps us get footage back to the station faster, and with the new camcorders, we’ve now moved to non-proprietary SD cards, making our recording media more accessible and less expensive.

We also purchased JVC’s BR-800 Pro-HD Broadcaster server to manage the HD streams from our cameras and route them to our decoders. The JVC ProHD Broadcaster uses each camera’s embedded Zixi advanced error correction technology to create a streaming system that provides a high degree of reliability with a single modem.

We debuted our new camcorders on air in May to provide live helicopter coverage of steeple repairs at St. Andrew’s Church in downtown Roanoke. We’ve been keeping them busy ever since with such things as exclusive live coverage of a tanker truck crash and live shots from a Ferris Wheel at an area fair event in early July.

Has our live streaming been perfect?

To be truthful—no—as we don’t own the cellular pipeline and have to share it with other Internet users. However, the vast majority of our live shots have been fine. We’re now planning to connect our camera modems to a Verizon virtual private network (VPN) at our facility and this should eliminate competing Internet traffic and improve reliability.

On average, the station features three live shots from our JVC camcorders during each of our nightly newscasts. We’ve been very satisfied with our new fleet of JVC ENG cameras, as well as our ProHD Broadcaster server. We’ve now getting great video quality, good reliability and much more cost-effective live ENG reports from the field. All of this has made our news director very happy.

Alan Novitsky is the director of engineering and IT at WDBJ, Roanoke’s CBS affiliate. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact JVC at 800-582-5825 or