Running cables at sporting events is always a challenge; especially for an all student broadcast team.
Unlike most college or professional sports venues, high school stadiums and gyms are usually not remote broadcast friendly. Also, because the high school students running the cables are usually very inexperienced, this can result in creating tripping hazards and placing cables where they can easily get damaged. I recently had a chance to try a product that could eliminate these problems.
Our first event of the year is the annual Ed Reed River Parish Football Jamboree in St. Charles Parish on the banks of the Mississippi River in Southeast Louisiana. We usually put two cameras near the press box of the stadium and one camera near the field to get ground-level game action, the marching bands and fan shots.
The problem is, what do you do with the field camera cable? Normally we would have to run this cable from our production trailer, across the track to our camera on the sidelines. This can cause a tripping hazard and the potential for a big giant tangle of cable by the end of the game. Although running a cable is the most cost effective solution, it may not be the best solution.
The other option to running cable is a wireless link between the camera and the production trailer. Some of these systems can get quite pricey, especially on a school budget, but I had a chance to try out a system that may fit in the budget of many school productions. It’s the Radian Pro by Camera Motion Research. The system that I tried out had a list price of approximately $1300.00, which included the transmitter, receiver, case, mounts (backbone), batteries, charger and HDMI cables.
The Radian Pro System includes a transmitter and receiver that transmit full 1920x1080 HD video with HDMI connectors on both units. According to the company-provided specifications, the signal has a latency of less than 2ms and the range of the unit is over 300 feet line of sight. In actual practice, we didn’t notice latency during testing and we were able to roam the sidelines of a football field freely.
Unfortunately, for the first test we did at our Jamboree, it was raining on and off all night. So, we had to have the receiver under a tent and only ventured out with the camera rig when the rain let up. However, even with the receiver under a tent, we were easily getting at least 100 feet of range out of the unit. On the last test we did, at another game, the receiver was placed at the top of the stadium near the press box and we were able to roam from end zone to end zone of the field without any dropout.
During our last game, I only remember the signal dropping out twice and I believe that was only when the camera operator put the camera on the ground to rest. The receiver and transmitter must have a direct line of sight so I think the signal dropout came when there were people standing between them blocking the signal. To relink the signal all we had to do is have the camera operator shoulder-up the camera and walk down near the bottom of the stands and the units easily linked back up and we were back in business.
The picture quality is excellent! You could not tell a difference between the two cameras we have that are fiber-connected and the roaming camera using the Radian Pro System. The specifications state the system outputs uncompressed HDMI up to 1080/60P, 10 bit, 4:2:2. Very Impressive! I have a link to a game broadcast below and all of the ground-level shots were with the Radian Pro System.
External rechargeable USB batteries power the system and we had no problem running the units for an entire football game on one battery each for the transmitter and receiver. The system comes with two batteries each so I could see this getting you through an entire day of shooting video.
The transmitter and receiver seem VERY rugged in construction. I think there would be no problems with students using the units on a regular basis. The only problem might be is that there are a few small cables, like the USB cable to power the units and small HDMI cables that could easily be misplaced by students. The unit I was testing did come with its own custom case that had a place for all the components. As long as the operator puts all the components back in their place, everything should be accounted for at the end of a shoot.
We used a C-Stand to mount the receiver but we could have just as easily used a lightweight mic-stand. The Radian Pro receiving unit is very lightweight.
The Radian Pro transmitter is also lightweight and was easily mounted to our camera’s hot shoe mount. We had no problems with its working loose or coming off. The camera operator just has to remember that there is something sticking off the top of the camera when they are walking around.
At my school, we would primarily use this system for live sporting events, but I could see how this could be used to monitor camera output on film sets from any camera with an HDMI output, including DSLR’s.
If you are looking for a solution to using a roaming camera during your live productions, this is a VERY viable solution. We were very happy with the quality of the CMR Radian Pro System in both construction and picture quality. I would highly recommend this system, even for student use.
Radian Pro Website:
To See the Camera in Use:
(Field/Ground Level Camera was Radian Pro System)
Albert Dupont has been the Advanced TV Broadcasting Facilitator (Teacher) at the Satellite Center in Luling, Louisiana since its opening in 2005. The Satellite Center is a “satellite” facility of Hahnville and Destrehan High Schools. The schools are a part of the St. Charles Parish Public School System located near New Orleans.
Before becoming a teacher, Mr. Dupont was a news and sports videographer for WVUE-TV in New Orleans for twelve years and news producer at WAFB in Baton Rouge and KATC in Lafayette for five years. As a sports photographer, Mr. Dupont was a field videographer at the New Orleans Saints games from 1994 to 2009. He also was a videographer at two Superbowls and numerous college national championship games in a variety of sports. He is an Avid Certified Instructor in Media Composer 5.