NEP Creates Innovative Wireless Systems with Visionary Solutions

It’s a safe bet that you’ve seen NEP’s work. The international firm supplies the latest technology, high-end broadcast engineering and production talent, as well as a wide assortment of solutions for remote production, studio production, video display, host broadcasting, post production, uplink communication, and more. NEP supplies HD Mobile Units, studio control rooms and tech support to the broadcasts/video recordings of the Oscars, the Grammys, the Olympics, The Daily Show, just about every major music festival in North America and other large scale events, deploying more than 140 state-of-the-art mobile units worldwide.

At several recent events, including the popular Coachella music festival, NEP Senior Tech Manager Eddie Sheridan’s remote team has been pioneering a new and innovative system of wireless networked cameras based on Visionary Solutions E4000 encoders and D4000 decoders. The 4K UHD-over-IP, cinema-quality, ultra-low latency encoder and decoder bypass the constraints of traditional switch matrix distribution systems by harnessing the flexibility and scalability of converged IP networks. “We’re utilizing Visionary Solutions encoders and decoders with Panasonic AW-HE130 robotic cameras to create wireless robotic cameras,” relates Sheridan. “They enable us to do some very useful things.”

To make the wireless magic happen, the NEP team routes video and camera control data from the AW-HE130 camera’s HDMI output to the Visionary Solutions E4000 encoder. Sheridan takes the robotic data, which is all IP-based, and combines the output of the encoder with router data and a switch. That goes to a Ubiquity Wireless point-to-point transmission system. “The wireless systems have a 15 mile range so I can send data for the robotic camera and the video to our mobile units,” he details. “Then we break the data back out with a Visionary Solutions D4000 decoder and route it to Panasonic Remote Camera Controllers for the AW-HE130s. It’s pretty cool.”

Wireless transmission obviously has much less bandwidth than wired, so you might expect that the video quality would suffer in the new system. “Actually, the video looks good,” Sheridan offers. “You can’t do crazy pans or you’ll start to see a bit of encoding going on because the wireless transmission is trying to catch up. But we’re doing stuff like cutaway shots, beauty shots, and commercials bumpers, and it works great for those. In the past, we couldn’t put a wired camera in a lot of locations because of the crowd. Now we strap a robotic camera on a pole and transmit the data and the video back wirelessly.”

NEP CochellaFor Coachella this year, NEP had 24 hardwired cameras, 6 robotic cameras, and several POVs-about 32 cameras in all. The team ran miles of fiber optic cable and had six mobile units on site. “We used to have to park trucks in multiple areas but now we can put the remote units in one area and run fiber everywhere,” Sheridan observes. “Adding wireless robotic cameras with Visionary Solutions encoders and decoders gives us even more flexibility.”

Sheridan first heard about Visionary Solutions eight years ago, when he was seeking ways to use IPTV to distribute video around venues. “Visionary Solutions popped up on our Internet search because they offer IPTV solutions,” he recalls, “so we gave them a call. We found out right away their technical support is fabulous. They’re very professional, yet it feels like you’re calling a ma and pa company that will sit down and help you until your problem is fixed.”

More recently, Sheridan received an email about how the E4000/D4000 encoding/decoding system could help more of his gear work wirelessly. It sounded like just what he was looking for-providing the quality met NEP’s high standards. “We called Visionary,” he recounts, “and we found out that the price point for the E4000 and D4000 is fabulous. So we got a pair to try out.”

For shows like Coachella, NEP uses 1920×1080 cameras, although the company employs 4K video for some events, and the Visionary Solutions E4000 and D4000 can handle 4K. Even at 1920×1080, the cameras generate a lot of video and control data. But, Sheridan insists, their E4000/D4000-based wireless systems have passed every test and deliver the quality they need. “The video images are beautiful,” he confirms. “We’ve done tests where we compared the same camera feed wired and wirelessly, using the Visionary Solutions encoder. When I checked for latency, it was barely there.”

Clearly, Visionary Solutions has a new convert. “I’ve been showing people our Visionary Solutions-based wireless systems everywhere I go,” Sheridan declares. “Everyone is coming up with ideas for the E4000 and D4000 because they’re unique products that work well, and they’re very affordable. We’ll do a lot more with them in the future.”