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Wireless Video Transmission System Buyers guide

By Moshe Lehrer

Wires. Sometimes, they just get in the way, especially when working on a professional video production. Snaking hundreds of feet of cable around a shooting location can make it difficult for camera operators to move around, can be incredibly messy, and sometimes wires and cables can make capturing the shot you need incredibly difficult or even impossible.

Why would I need a Wireless Video Transmission System?

For simple video setups, you can record your footage in-camera. Not only won't you need a wireless video transmission system, you won't need any wires either. But as shooting situations get more complex, suddenly the amount of cable you'll need to run expands quickly. If there are directors, producers or other clients who need to watch or direct the footage being recorded in real time, you'll need to run cables to monitors, and if they'll be monitoring the shots from a video village far away, that's a whole lot more cable that'll need to be run. If you'll be recording the footage remotely (or recording multiple/backup copies of the footage remotely) that's a few more cables you'll need. As you'd expect, all these cables can make it much more difficult to maneuver the camera, and they can limit the types of shots you can shoot. In those situations, many people choose to go with wireless video transmission for the added flexibility that going wireless offers.

In many other shooting situations, cables just aren't a realistically viable option. Sometimes, to get the footage you need, you'll need to go wireless. If you need to use mobile concealed cameras for a candid camera type situation, if you'll be performing risky shots that may damage the camera and don't want to risk missing out on great footage, or if you need camera operators to be incredibly mobile and free to move wherever the action may take them while still allowing multiple people to monitor/direct the footage live from remote location, you'll definitely want to consider some type of wireless video transmission system.

Standard Definition video Transmission

While more and more productions are opting to record in High Definition, there are still many that choose to shoot in standard definition for cost and convenience. If you do not yet have the need to record or monitor in HD, you might want to take a look at some Standard Def wireless systems.

The Titan from Transvideo is a multi-directional microwave wireless transmitter and receiver system. For many wireless video systems, obstacles such as walls, floors, ceiling and crowds can cause interference that can disrupt the signal, but the Titan system uses microwaves that can be transmitted through all those obstacles without desynchronization of the video image. It transmits and receives NTSC, PAL and SECAM signals, and at 0.4 pounds is very lightweight and easy to Velcro to cameras and monitors. This system is ideal for body rig operators or for any camera setup that will move, since the Titan maintains a stable signal even when both the transmitter and the receiver are in motion.

It works on 4 different frequencies (2412.5 Mhz, 2427.5 MHz, 2442.5 MHz, 2457.5 MHz, which is great for using multiple wireless cameras in the same location and has a range of 1000 feet when in a line of sight of the receiver. The Titan can be used with any monitor.

If you want to monitor an HD camera's footage on an SD monitor (To get a basic idea of what is being recorded), you can use a downconverter to make the Titan compatible with an HD camera. It may be obvious, but I'd like to stress the image you'd see on the monitor in this situation would be in Standard Definition.

High Definition Video Transmission

More and more people are opting to record in High Definition every day. The images are much sharper, and at a much higher resolution than SD, but all this added resolution translates into much more data that needs to be transmitted wirelessly, requiring a whole new set of more advanced wireless video transmitters and receivers.

The CW-5HD (or Cam-Wave HD) from IDX is an inexpensive entry into uncompressed HD wireless video transmission. It supports both SD and HD Serial Digital Interface (SDI) video and two channels of SDI embedded audio. The system, which weighs 1.76 pounds, uses MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology and OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing) data modulation and supports 1080i/59.94, 1080i/50, 1080i/23.98PsF, 1080p/29.97, 720p/59.94, 720p/50, SD-525i/59.94 and 625i/50 video formats. Its signal latency is impressive (especially in this price range) and almost unnoticeable at 1ms. The company claims that the system should work within 150 feet when in line of sight with the receiver, or within 100 feet through walls and other obstacles.

With this system, you can select one of four channel frequencies (between 5.18GHz and 5.86GHz), which comes in handy if you want to use multiple wireless video setups in the same location.

The system uses an integrated V-Mount to connect to your camera and battery, or you could get the CW-5HDAB kit which comes with the CW-5HD as well as an Anton Bauer Adapter bracket for mounting on AB-type battery mounts.

For a wireless HD video transmission setup that can act as a practical alternative to cable and fiber, you'll want to take a look at the LiveBeam P2 Dual Uncompressed HD-SDI Wireless System, which transmits your uncompressed HD video to your recording equipment and monitors at the same quality and resolution that it was captured in your camera, with negligible latency of less than 2ns. The LiveBeam P2 can transmit dual 1.485 Gbps SMPTE 292M (HDSDI) waveforms simultaneously for a combined throughput of 2.97 Gbps, and can provide a SMPTE 372 connection for a 4:4:4 HD camera or for a dual 4:2:2 3D HD Camera system. Basically, this system can transmit every digital video and digital audio format supported by SMPTE 292m and 372m.

The 11 pound system can be tripod or shoulder mounted, has a wide beamwidth with a non-critical 5-degree pointing tolerance for portable operation, and it includes a holographic sight to make pointing a snap. The P2 is powered either with a V-mount Li-Ion battery or externally with a DC input and has an operating range of 1300 feet.

Opting to go wireless will give you many more shooting and monitoring options and can give you the flexibility and freedom you need to get the shots you really want.

Happy shooting!

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