Today’s content consumers have endless viewing and streaming possibilities thanks to the advent of smart phones and tablets that allow them to watch pretty much anything they want, on the go, and away from the confines of a television screen.
By Rene Mørch, DPA Product Manager
Those very same smartphones and tablets have also brought another revolution to the broadcast industry – one where content consumers can be content producers, using outlets such as Facebook Live, YouTube and Twitter to capture events as they unfold, often before the mainstream media even gets on the scene.
For traditional broadcasters who rely on news and sports coverage to retaining audience share, the decentralization of news reporting is putting even these drivers under threat. While you may not wish to fill your prime time broadcast channel with amateur internet reporting, you still need to be quick on your feet – and that means finding new and more economical ways of gathering content.
For professional broadcasters, one of the major changes is the availability of equipment like AviWest, Live-U and Mobile Viewpoint compact live broadcasting transmission units that to some extent have sent traditional ENG vans into retirement. This equipment makes it possible to broadcast live with just two people – a journalist and a multimedia engineer carrying all the necessary gear on the camera or in a backpack, and with transmission taken care of by a few 4G channels, WiFi or a similar wired or wireless IP stream. These tiny crews are not only cost-effective but also very nimble because they can operate in areas that would have been inaccessible to an ENG or Outside Broadcast van. Without the need for satellite or microwave links to access broadcast station backbones, these two-person crews can simply get on the metro, jump in a car or even on bicycles and within minutes they can be right where the story is taking place.
This rapid access has inevitably increased the burden placed on multimedia technicians as they now need to control audio, video and transmission, as well as setting the scene for the visual content. In this respect audio often receives less attention because most of us are visually oriented. However, about 80% of complaints received by broadcasters concern poor sound, or more specifically poor speech intelligibility. An audio signal is only ever as good as it is at source – it certainly won’t get better further down the signal chain. Therefore, delivering good audio starts with good transducers (microphones). If you want to avoid complaints, you need microphones that pick up audio and deliver high speech intelligibility with little or no adjustment.
Going from an ENG van to a two-man crew is a major evolution, but it doesn’t stop there. Smartphones also now play a major part in professional broadcast recording, thanks to their ability to be both video camera and audio recorder, as well as the transmission device. Using smartphones for live and pre-recorded content is already part of daily life for large, established broadcasters whose journalists regularly use their smartphones to capture news.