VidOvation Puts the ‘Live’ in ‘Live PD’
NEW YORK—Premiering last October on A&E, “Live PD” offers viewers a live, unfettered and unfiltered look inside America’s busiest police departments and the communities they patrol. “Live PD” is the first show of its kind to capture and stream live video of police officers on patrol, using bonded cellular technology with dash cams as well as fixed-rig and handheld cameras. As the creators and the production company behind “Live PD,” we at Big Fish Entertainment faced challenges in developing the show. One of the biggest hurdles—the whole premise of “Live PD”—was the ability to capture high-quality live HD video from multiple cameras and stream it in real time to air.
CAPTURING MULTIPLE LOCATIONS
On a typical episode, “Live PD” covers officers in six cities, with as many as 40 live video feeds coming into a New York-based control room at A&E headquarters. With this large quantity of feeds, traditional satellite or microwave links were not only cost-prohibitive, but did not give us the mobility and flexibility needed to execute the show’s vision. The solution was bonded cellular technology, which bonds any available combination of network interfaces including local cellular and Wi-Fi networks, Ethernet and satellite for high-quality and reliable video transmission links. Several bonded cellular systems were tested, but none of them could handle the multicamera and multi-location format of the show. One of the biggest problems was getting the multicams in each location to sync up without delays and lip-sync problems.
VidOvation’s AVIWEST DMNG PRO180 emerged as the best option. After a battery of testing, the AVIWEST DMNG system proved its ability to transmit video and audio from up to five cameras in close proximity with perfect lip-sync and video synchronization between all cameras. While TV news crews are rapidly adopting bonded cellular transmitters, to our knowledge, “Live PD” is the first prime-time entertainment television program to push the capabilities of this technology well beyond that of a typical stationary news report. The series deploys 38 AVIWEST DMNG PRO180-RA bonded cellular transmitters, including one for each of the three HD cameras in every patrol car, two additional camera operators and an overhead drone that covers action outside the vehicle. Additionally, the team has installed an AVIWEST QUAD external antenna unit to each patrol car for even faster network acquisition and greater signal resilience.
THE FUTURE OF TV
Throughout the three-hour show, the DMNG PROs feed up to four video channels and eight audio channels of live, high-quality video back to the control room in New York from every patrol car in all six cities. In the control room, an AVIWEST DMNG StreamHub receiver, decoder and distribution platform receives the live video feeds and delivers them to air for the live broadcast.
“Live PD” is the future of live television. And of every bonded cellular solution we tested, AVIWEST was the only one that could really help us accomplish our creative goals for the show. The VidOvation-AVIWEST team really went the extra mile to help meet our technical requirements and make “Live PD” a ringing success.
Dan Cesareo is founder and owner of Big Fish Entertainment, a full-service content production company that creates visually-driven reality, branded and formatted programming for broadcast, new media and beyond. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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