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Live broadcasting is FUN!

I have never met a television engineer who did not consider live broadcasts both fun and a headache. That viewpoint is similar to what The Broadcast Bridge writer and engineer, Ned Soseman reports about his summer job as technical director for several off-shore powerboat races. Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks version of these races has been highlighted on The Broadcast Bridge website.

Such live events make for both stomach churning and grey hair producing excitement. Ned describes the events saying, “Throw in a couple of known unknowns and it's an adventure. Discover an unknown unknown during a live production and studio conditions can instantly escalate to DEFCON 2.”

Learn from this engineer’s experience in these two articles on remote broadcasting.

M/E 4 in the Program window is a logo key. The nearly identical orange powerboats (upper right) were competing neck to neck at over 150 MPH.

M/E 4 in the Program window is a logo key. The nearly identical orange powerboats (upper right) were competing neck to neck at over 150 MPH.

In part 1 of this two-part series, Soseman reviews initial plans to broadcast live the 2-day off-shore powerboat race with live television production from Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks.

This first part of this series focuses on the production and studio gear used to assemble the audio and video. With a new HD production switcher, an HDMI router and a wealth of other studio-centric gear, Soseman’s crew took to air. In Part 2 of this series, we will conclude with a look at the RF links used to relay camera feeds back to the studio. Read about the initial studio setup and trials and tribulations here

The offshore powerboats were fast. Our private Wi-Fi video transport network was faster.

The offshore powerboats were fast. Our private Wi-Fi video transport network was faster.

The studio side of producing television for the Ozarks’ power boat races was the easy part. It was getting the live power boat racing images back to the production room that curled the staff’s hair. For this year’s television broadcast, the broadcasters turned to Wi-Fi to build the backhaul RF links.

IP video over Wi-Fi provided a solid new signal transport solution at a fraction of most wireless link costs. But, Wi-Fi was the easy part. The challenge was finding available devices to convert camera HDMI into IP for Wi-Fi transport, and decoders to convert IP back to HDMI for the production switcher.

Then there is the issue of cell tower coverage. The hilly Lake of the Ozarks region is not like the city. The local cell system handles normal traffic for about 10,000 residents, but add 50,000 visiting boat race spectators with cell phone cameras and a spectacular accident on the race course, and our local cell tower turned into digital putty.

Read how the Lake-of-the-Ozarks live power-boat races sped to a successful conclusion here.

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