If you need to get a broadcast quality HD signal from point-A to point-B and running cable is not an option
or a very difficult proposition, then this product may be the solution to your problem. It’s the Teradek Bolt Pro wireless transmission system that can send up to 4:2:2, 1080p60 video up to distance of 300’.
I was sent a demo unit to try for a few weeks by Teradek. They sent me the Bolt Pro HD-SDI receiver and transmitter set. Included in the box were the Teradek Bolt Pro HD-SDI Receiver, Teradek Bolt Pro HD-SDI Transmitter, receiver power supply (wall-wart) and Lemo-to-Anton Bauer P-Tap power cable. There is also an HDMI model of the receiver and transmitter but for this test I only used the HD-SDI models.
For the first test my students helped me set up one our Sony NX5U portable cameras with the Teradek Bolt Pro Transmitter that was being powered by its internal lithium battery. The Teradek website claims 60 minutes use time. We did at least 60 minutes with no problem. We wired the receiver into our studio’s router and punched up the signal on our 65” Samsung and the results were quite impressive! We couldn’t tell the difference between the wireless signal and the studio cameras that were wired into the system. I even had the students do the “wave your hands in front the camera test” to check for delay. There was none! According to the Teradek website it states that delay is less than 2 mili-seconds. Close enough for me.
I then had my students walk around with the camera and transmitter. First down a short hallway that leads to our studio in the next room. No problem, the signal never dropped out. The only time the signal dropped out is when the students took the camera down the hall into the lobby area of our school. The receiver/transmitter combo I’m sure is meant to only be used line of sight. We had a few cinder-block walls in our way!
Since I got the unit at the end of the school year the only “real-world” test I could perform was at one of our District’s graduation ceremonies. I chose Destrehan High School’s ceremony at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, LA. It’s a large multipurpose facility that I am estimating holds about four to five thousand people for a graduation, plenty of potential interference opportunities.
We live stream our graduation ceremonies with three wired cameras switching from our new production trailer which I have to say is a pretty sweet setup for a High School video production team. With the Teradek unit we now had a fourth, roving camera. Even sweeter!
To see shots with the Teradek Bolt Pro, check the Vimeo link here and the initial shot of the ROTC Students entering and the closing shot of the students leaving was definitely captured live with the Bolt Pro Pro Pro. We also took various shots during the graduation, but those are two shots I know that were captured with the Teradek Bolt Pro. As you might guess, it looked even better in the trailer. We couldn’t believe the quality.
We set up the receiver near the Pontchartrain Center’s main audio board by running an SDI cable from the receiver to the production trailer. We powered the receiver with the supplied wall-wart supply. We powered the transmitter from the Anton Bauer battery on a Panasonic hand-held camera using the supplied P-Tap to Lemo connector. Normally, I think power cable would be an option that would be particular to your setup. We could have powered the transmitter from the internal battery, but with only 60 minutes run time guaranteed we decided to use the camera power.
I have to say the unit worked flawlessly. The only dropout came when we were just playing around with the unit before the graduation and walked down a long hallway in the back of the building and the signal started dropping out. It never dropped out during the ceremony with the camera roaming around the main hall.
We are seriously considering purchasing one of these units for football games and using it on our sideline camera. No wires would be nice! I could see mounting the receiver on a c-stand or mic stand near the stadium track or in the press box window and being free to roam around with the camera during the game.
The unit is around $2,000 and there are various models including ones with multiple receivers and also a model that will transmit/receive 2,000’ at a higher price. The unit felt VERY rugged being made out of a piece of machined aluminum and would definitely survive student use. It’s also very small and lightweight.
We have used another system, by another company, that was purchased about five years ago at double the cost. That unit had lots of interference and dropout problems and we had pretty much given up on wireless video for events. The Teradek Bolt Pro has changed my mind. I guess I’m a “wireless convert!”
For more information, please visit Teradek at www.teradek.com
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.