Integrated Cameras Move ENG Tech Forward

Panelist discussed a range of cutting-edge newsgathering technology, including file-based systems and archiving. An overarching theme was the transformative effect of IP newsgathering, primarily cellular bonded mobile backpack units, have had on TV news.

Less than five years into their adoption of IP newsgathering tools such as cellular bonded backpack units, TV news leaders say the industry is on the brink of the game-changing equipment getting even more portable.

“There is always going to be a camera, but is there always going to be a LiveU backpack or a bonded cellular service? Not necessarily,” said Delix Alex, a Panasonic product engineer.

Integrated cameras —cameras that can transmit content as well as capture it — are among the next-gen IP technology, he said. “An ENG camera is now a thing in this pool of connected devices.” Integrated cameras, Alex added, are now part of the Internet of Things.

Alex’s comments were part of a panel discussion on electronic newgathering — where it’s at, and where it’s going — Monday at TVNewsCheck’s annual NewsTECHForum in New York. Sinclair Broadcasting’s Del Parks, Cox Media’s Ted Hand and ABC News’ John Katrus were also on the panel.

Although discussion touched on a range of topics — file-based systems and archiving among them — the transformative effect of IP newsgathering, primarily cellular bonded mobile backpack units, have had on TV news was an overarching theme.

“It allows us to be really dynamic in how we respond to news,” said Katrus, ABC News senior manager of IT infrastructure.


Katrus said the change in how newsrooms operate is evident by comparing how reporters covered the 2012 presidential race versus the 2016 one currently underway.

Four years ago, reporters did their job with a laptop and small Sony Z5 camera.

“Fast forward to now and it has been a complete 180 for us. All of our DJs now have their own backpacks,” he said.

Parks, Sinclair’s SVP and CTO, said the equipment has also greatly enhanced local news teams ability to cover stories, including ones that are national in scope like the Super Bowl.

Sinclair currently has 165 LiveU backpacks across its 65 news-producing stations – about 2.5 per station, he said. “What we found early on was LiveU is a game-changer. It has helped Sinclair be more productive in the field.”

Meantime, there are other issues facing broadcasters as well when it comes to electronic newsgathering and distribution.

According to Hand, for instance, the Department of Defense plans to start sharing the spectrum that broadcasters use for tradition transmission systems, like microwave. The FCC is essentially taking away some of the spectrum the department currently uses for its audio and video transmission, so needs to move it over, he said. The spectrum will ultimately be used for drone operation as well.

However, Hand said broadcasters have shared this spectrum in the past without problems like interference, which is reason to keep calm — at least for the time being.

“This is something you need to be aware of but not something you need to panic about yet,” he said. “This is still in the early stages and we’re still two-to-three years away from when it would actually be in use.”

Read all of our NewsTECHForum 2015 coverage here.

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