Thomson Grass Valley's new wireless digital triax camera system had a debut not only worthy of black tie but requiring it. It was used to help smooth out production of the recent White House News Photographers' Association gala in Washington.
The production team deployed two systems, working with Thomson LDK series portable cameras to give the photographers greater flexibility in roaming the two ballrooms at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The bidirectional system uses a digital radio video link and an omnidirectional antenna to send the video signals via DVB-T COFDM transmission, which Thomson Grass Valley says has more gentle rolloff than MPEG-based systems. The wireless system can be docked to the LDK-100 and LDK-200 series camera. For the gala, the antennas were mounted on the lighting trusses over the stage.
According to dinner co-chair Ed Eaves, White House News Photographers' Association executive board member and Dateline NBC's senior segment editor, the goal was to have more-intimate camera coverage throughout the hall. Without the cabling that is usually required, the camera operators were able to move freely between the crowds and on stage.
The two handheld cameras supplemented four studio cameras used to capture the event for the in-house audio/video system.
"Using the system on the performance stage was wonderful because the cameras had complete mobility without dragging cables around or having a cable puller," adds Eaves. "It worked beautifully."
The system also gave the event an Oscar-esque quality as the handhelds easily captured the expression of the winners at their tables. "We were able to get tableside shots, something that is complicated if there aren't wide aisle ways and guys dragging the cable," says Eaves.
He described the performance of the wireless systems as "great" from a picture-quality standpoint as well. Looking at the video a couple of days later, he didn't see any artifacts that would have resulted from poor RF conditions.
"We were thrilled to death," he says of reaction to the system's performance. He expects to use the system next year.