On the June 23, Discovery Channel broadcast a live shot of Nik Wallenda completing a 1,400-foot-long tightrope walk across the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon in Arizona. WWSB – a Sarasota, Fla.-based ABC affiliate owned by Calkins Media Broadcast Division – was there to provide live coverage of press conferences and other events from Arizona for Wallenda’s hometown fans in Sarasota. The crew relied on the built-in streaming capabilities of the JVC GY-HM650 ProHD mobile news camera to stream the footage back home.
With a team comprised only of anchor Lauren Dorsett and creative service producer Charlie Yeagley, the station provided live coverage of Wallenda’s arrival and press conferences, as well as stand-ups from the event. WWSB had previously covered Wallenda’s tightrope walk across Niagara Falls in June 2012. The station had coordinated with another ABC affiliate for satellite uplink time.
Jack Dillon, director of engineering of Calkins Media Broadcast Division said the use of the GY-HM650’s built-in live streaming capabilities for live shots saved WWSB approximately $10,000 for satellite truck rental, as well as additional uplink fees. “We covered a local story 1,500 miles away at a cost of travel for two people,” Dillon said.
Rather than a Verizon 4G LTE modem, which attaches directly to the GY-HM650 via USB, WWSB used a Verizon 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot. Yeagley was able to keep this in his pocket during live shots. Most of the time, the GY-HM650’s live delay was around two seconds, which Yeagley attributed to a “great 4G network” in the region. “The camera setup worked during every live shot,” he said. “The quality of the output was unbelievable, considering we were using the camera with only a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot.”
It was easy for Yeagley to move from one live shot to the next. With the 4G hotspot in his pocket, he grabbed his camera and tripod, walked to the next location, turned on the camera and hotspot, and he was live. The GY-HM650 also streamlined the workflow. Between locations, Dorsett drove and Yeagley used the camera’s built-in clip trimmer to edit specific clips, which he would then upload via FTP to a shared site for the company. As a result, the individual files could be edited at WWSB or other Calkins Media stations and newspapers.
“I was really impressed,” Yeagley said. “The amount of work I didn’t have to do for a live shot made my job easier. It allowed us to focus on our product, as opposed to worrying about technical stuff.”
The Wallenda coverage was WWSB’s first use of the camera’s built-in streaming. While Dillon said the GY-HM650 should be considered an addition to microwave and satellite uplinks, not a replacement, WWSB is now using the technology regularly to produce live shots from Venice, Fla., which is a 30-minute drive from the station. “Now we can reach out and do more and more live content,” he said. “This is a better way to serve our audience and give them the live content that they want.”
Since purchasing its first cameras earlier this year, Calkins Media has standardized on the GY-HM650, according to Dillon. WWSB has three units, WTXL, the ABC affiliate in Tallahassee-Thomasville, Fla., has six and the corporate office in Levittown has one. The company is ordering an additional three cameras for WWSB and six for WAAY, the ABC affiliate for Huntsville-Decatur, Ala.