Tuesday, December 11, 2012

KTRK 13 tests the future of live shots

You know the drill. TV stations have been going live for decades using panel trucks with big poles that extend from the roof. Not as much anymore however. Technology now makes it less expensive and way more compact. Plus, you can do a live shot wherever you can get a signal, anywhere in the world.

KTRK 13 in Houston has been testing out new ways to transmit video for years. I remember in the 1990's, the station ran a promo that touted its use of cell phones signals to transmit [crude] video from the field to the studio.

The future is here.

Today, the station uses a box by the company Dejero Labs Inc., that hooks up to a camera and can transmit taped footage, a live shot or a file upload back to the station using cell, WiFi or ethernet (SD/HD). Without getting too technical here, you can adjust the box to send under different signal conditions and strengths.

The company let me know it has lots of ways to transmit video too.

"Together with our iPhone apps, laptop solution in partnership with Panasonic, our 20/20 lightweight and ruggedized transmitter, we now have a complete platform with various tools from satellite to mobile phones," Dejero Labs Inc., Chief Technology Officer Bogdan Frusina told mikemcguff.com. "We can now give you the right tools for the right shot."

In addition to cellular, microwave and satellite, the ABC owned station is also looking to the Internet for live truck transmission. hViaSat Inc., announced KTRK and sister station WLS in Chicago have finished testing "the first high-capacity Ka-band Satellite News Gathering (SNG) vehicle built in the U.S."

The company says the service gives two-way IP connectivity between field crews and the TV station. That means reporters/photographers can use the signal to get graphics and footage from the station to edit into their stories in the field. Then the crew can use the truck to upload it to the station. It's all HD apparently too.

"High-speed Ka-band satellite transmission is very powerful in terms of the performance and cost effectiveness of this new brand of satellite news gathering,” said Jim Casabella, director Advanced Technology, ABC Owned Television Stations Group in a statement.

Back to Dejero, those ABC trials used the companies multi-rate video codec (if you have a blank stare, just remember, there are some technical types that read this blog too.)

"Let's say you are pulling up to a crash scene," Frusina explained hypothetically to me. "Before you pull up, you can have your dash cam or roof cam live over cellular with enchanted external antennas. As soon as you stop, you bring up the [hViaSat Inc.] Ka band dish. The system automatically switches to satellite high capacity up-link, as much as 10 mbps. Then, [when] you are done and want to go to the next event, you can still stream that drive live if its important."

KPRC 2 morning reporter Mark Boyle tweeted me that his station uses the LiveU system to send video back to the station. Here is a photo.


  1. Great post. That was super interesting. I love stuff like that! I have wondered why people like me and other tech nerds can figure out how to quickly get data (video, audio, whatevs) but big media takes forever. I understand the concerns, primarily with quality, but I think the audience is conditioned for slightly degraded video quality so taking this long seems dumb. I'm rambling.

    1. Chance we've been doing it for years. But the cool thing about the technology is the BONDED wireless. The transmitter takes 4 air cards and bonds the upload speeds together to get high enough quality HD signals back to the station. Only issue is delay, so watch when they toss to the reporter, always an awkward delay!

  2. KPRC Local 2 uses LIVE U backpacks. http://www.liveu.tv/

  3. Hey Mike, KTRK 13 would end up to move Bob Slovak to weekends, If Tim Melton is gone.

  4. Teradek makes a much less expensive device that I have had a good deal of success with. Teradek Cube 155 encoder and Bond bonded router along with thier aggregation server and Cube 350 decoder. The unit can bond up to 5 cellular cards but a single good 4G connection will get you nice video. Sam is right about the delay. 5 seconds is typical.


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