Grass Valley Confronts Challenges of Outside Broadcasts

The biggest logistical challenge that outside broadcast companies face on a daily basis is camera connectivity in the field: triax or fiber? For a truck to move between covering large-scale events like a golf tournament, which needs fiber, to a football match at a stadium pre-wired with triax, would mean having to swap out all the cameras, cables, and base stations, until now.

Grass Valley unveils a unique system that eliminates the triax/fiber problem, without compromising quality or operational flexibility.

The first element of the new 3G Transmission system was unveiled at NAB earlier this year. 3G Fiber and 3G Triax put all the functionality that users have come to expect from fiber – including 1080p50/60 transmission and two digital HD video return paths – on both cable-types without compromises or limitations. Adding to Grass Valley’s camera control system and diagnostics, it is already transforming operations for some of the world’s leading outside broadcast companies, and not just because 3G Triax extends the range of conventional triax by 25%, up to 1,500 meters (4,921 feet).

Grass Valley is adding three complementary products, including the 3G Twin Base Station, which supports both 3G Triax and single-mode (dark) fiber connections. If the operator needs to use triax connectivity, the camera cables plug directly into the base station and the full functionality of 3G Triax is unleashed.

If a 3G Triax job requires the use of fiber because of extremely long cable-runs or pre-wired venues, the operators run dark fiber out to a field converter (LDK 4426), which takes the fibers and local power, and outputs true unlimited 3G Triax. This means that the camera can still be about a mile away from this box, without losing any functionality.

The field converter can be close to the truck, or up to 5 km (3.1 miles) away. If a 3G Fiber camera-back is used, the LDK 4425 3G Fiber Power Converter, does the same trick by adding power to the dark fibers of the 3G Twin base station, providing true unlimited 3G Fiber for the remainder of the path towards the camera. For shorter lengths of hybrid 3G Fiber, a simple patch panel on the tailboard can bring together the dark fibers and the power from the 3G Triax output of the 3G Twin base station, without the need for a field converter.

“The message from our customers in outside broadcast was clear: they could not afford to have equipment sitting on shelves, trucks in the workshop for refitting, or overnight shipments to overcome a cabling issue in the field,” said Marcel Koutstaal, senior vice president for the cameras division of Grass Valley. “They told us that having to base their operations on the type of cable they could support was a major problem.

By combining the characteristics of fiber and triax with 3G Transmission, for the first time a triax truck can cover long-distance events such as golf or skiing, using simple dark fibers to the converter and triax from that point to the cameras, which can still be up to 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) away from the LDK 4426. Full camera control and diagnostics, including diagnostics of the field converters, is carried over whatever cables are used, as are top quality images at any video resolution up to 1080p50/60. The Grass Valley RefleX SuperXpander long lens adaptor is compatible with the system as it draws its power from the camera through a hot shoe connection, and works identically whether the camera is on 3G Fiber, 3G Triax, or a mixture of the two.

“With our new 3G Transmission system we have simply eliminated the practical problems that every player in our industry is familiar with,” added Koutstaal. “Triax or fiber: now there are no more limitations and no more differences. We know that this is set to be a revolution in outside broadcast operations, because the leading companies in the world have told us so.”

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