Within the past few years, heavy-duty tactical fiber optical cable has become popular, but that is another post!
Whenever a satellite truck is set up for a live shot, these cables have to be strung to the camera. Sometimes it is simply just a few feet from the truck, other times the cable has to be run through a building, requiring an hour or more of hard work.
People often ask why it can’t be wireless… after all they can stream video reliably over mobile phones, use WiFi, and a host of other wireless data services. The main answer is unlike IP based streaming, which may have at least 30 seconds of delay built-in for error correction, wireless for live reporting has to be very low delay, otherwise the lag between reporter and anchor during talk-backs is very noticeable. Also since it will be encoded again, very high bitrates are required.
DCI is proud to be the only SNG company in the Washington area to own our camera-back microwave system, and one of the few SNG companies in the entire country to have a licensed microwave system of any kind. Other systems use the crowded public WiFi bands of 5.4 or 2.4 GHz, but our system operates in a licensed band at 6.4 GHz, allowing better range resulting from less interference.
This is the same system we deployed as a fixed-position link every July 4th, but its most versatile when connected to the back of a roaming camera.
This camera-back system is extremely useful when needing to cover an event where cabling is not possible, such as in Lafayette Park in front of the White House. The only place to park a SNG truck is across a busy road, so covering protests inside the park require a wireless link like DCI’s Campack system, or for crews without a wireless kit, going live from across the street, a far less appealing location. Another use is when covering another popular Washington news event, a march to the Capitol. By placing the truck at a central location and using directional antennas, we can have a mobile reporter go live while covering one of these marches. Paired with a simple UHF wireless IFB system for reporter and camera, the camera-back transmitter gives DCI a unique edge when challenging live shots solutions are required.