One of my biggest challenges in the field is getting a program monitor to the various locations around the field or venue.
Often my talent doesn’t get to see what is actually on the air. They often have to go with hand signals or ifb communication to know when a replay is live or when we have cut to a shot not in the “normal” plan. I really dislike running more cables in our broadcast area because it is already a chore. I also have think about conversions, etc if I am going to have my production area separated by more than 20 or so feet away from the talent.
We have looked at wireless options with mixed results but may have found a better “semi-wireless” solution. The IOGEAR HDMI Over Powerline PRO kit (https://www.iogear.com/product/GPLHDPROK/) is something worth considering to get HDMI signal over a long distance. I call it “semi-wireless” because the kit works by sending HDMI signal through the electrical circuit that the source (paired with the transmitter) and the monitor (paired with the receiver) are on. For example, if your classroom is wired in a way that all of the power outlets are on the same circuit, you could plug the transmitter into the HDMI video source and on the opposite side of the room with the receiver and monitor, you have a “semi-wireless” solution to get your video across the room without having to deal with cables, tape, etc running across your classroom.
The IOGEAR website says the HDMI Over Powerline Pro kit is “incredibly simple and straightforward.” I admit that while I read that, I didn’t read the instructions so I spent some time trying to figure out why it wasn’t working. Once again my arrogance and assumption that something so complex as to send a video signal over a powerline would be difficult to set up. It wasn’t. Connection the power, infrared (IR) transmitter and hdmi from your source on one end and the power, IR receiver, and HDMI out on the other and you are good to go. Why does it have IR? Simple… you can control your media source via a remote and the IR pass through on the IOGear equipment. Need to change an input source - point at the receiving unit and change the source on the transmitter.
As you can imagine, I am always looking for a tool like this to make our broadcasts better. Anytime I can run fewer cables, shorter distances, I am interested. My initial idea was to use HDMI Over Powerline Pro kit as a way to transmit video from the field, court, concession stand, etc back to our broadcast area. While this application may work, it would not be recommended as a main camera for action as there is about a half second delay in the video. Again, I was trying to use the gear for something it was not intended for but I did realize that I could use it during live shows. For example, I could set it up and use it for crowd or band shots during football games. This could really help me to add another dimension to our broadcasts by getting more atmosphere shots and not take away from game play footage.
During live broadcasts, the HDMI Over Powerline Pro kit does allow me to give my air talent a program monitor that helps them to see the live feed. The little bit of a delay actually helps my talent “see the play better” as they are watching it a second time just after it happens. During football season, we use a fair amount of replay and this will help us a ton for several reasons. The first of which is that the talent will actually be able to talk about the replay as it is happening instead of relying on memory or ifb details about the play. ( We have done some interesting things when it comes to trying to be “big broadcast.”) Also our talent can see up to date stats or know when we are in spots or in the final promo of a stop set.
Another idea for how to use HDMI Over Powerline Pro kit in a sports setting would be to assist with monitors throughout the building. For example, one of our gyms has tv monitors in the lobby area at the concession stand. We are a couple of connections away from putting our broadcast feed on all of those TVs. (“Make More Money” TIP: Set this up in your gym or football stadium and upsell sponsors next season with “additional screen time for those waiting in line at the concession stands” - that tip is free, the rest will cost you!) HDMI Over Powerline Pro kit comes with up to 4 receivers that will work with the same transmitter so you can send the signal to more places.
The only drawback I find with the HDMI Over Powerline Pro kit is the need to be on the same power circuit. As I started setting up the kit, I found out that all of the outlets in my classroom are on different circuits. That said, I talked with the electrician from the school system to ask how hard it would be to pinpoint specific outlets in different areas of the building and get them on the same circuit and found that within reason it’s not “too hard.” That said, if you are blessed enough to be not only getting a new work space but to be able to influence the design of said workspace, you can get as creative as you want. I am preparing to move into a new space next year and one of the things I am considering is adding a TV in the hallway outside of our studio that will show the multiview from our switcher when we are in the studio and a set of videos when we are not. This would easily be done with HDMI Over Powerline Pro kit and a work order to run power and hang the monitor. The electrician is going to have to run power for the tv anyway - I’ll let him know the plan and we can make it happen!
Overall, I must admit that I was a little let down that I wasn’t able to do what I initially hoped with the IOGEAR HDMI Over Powerline Pro kit with regards to using it to get more cameras into our broadcast but I can also let you know that once I realized the power and ease of use, I lost a little sleep for a night or two coming up with ideas. Using the HDMI Over Powerline Pro kit to “semi-wirelessly” transmit a program or multiview feed to another room or another part of the building has so much potential both as a teacher and as a marketer. I am excited to figure out new ways and places to show off my student’s work. At $399, the IOGEAR HDMI Over Powerline Pro kit is a great option for a program monitor up to over 900 feet away or digital signage or just a way to watch what your students are producing from a distance. I recommend you think about ways and places you would like to place a video signal that will improve your program.
Tom White is a video production teacher at the Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers. GA. Tom is also the director of the Sports Broadcast Institute, which is One of Five Georgia Governor’s Innovation in Education award winning programs and the NFHS Network Best Overall Program. The Sports Broadcast Institute works to produce live broadcasts, newscasts, sports documentaries and more for the Three schools, Rockdale Co, Salem, and Heritage High schools, that the career academy serves. Prior to teaching, Tom was a marketing, promotions, and online content director for a major radio corporation in Atlanta. Tom studied exercise science at High Point University prior to his radio career. Despite his winding career path, his mother still thinks he is special.