New mobile micro-studio takes to the road
The new OB van is designed to eliminate wait times for guests and talent
Outside broadcast company Stryder TV has launched an OB van which it claims is the UK's first mobile TV studio for live streaming to broadcasters, Facebook and YouTube.
The van is outfitted with ENG camera kit including sound and lighting equipment and enables transmission via a LiveU or Aviwest bonding system. The company can also offer transmission via a dedicated satellite truck. The van's presentation space is backed by a 65in 4K TV for display of company logos, backgrounds and live or prerecorded video up to 4K.
Stryder TV says that the pre-rigged mobile studio has a very low set up time, allowing extra convenience for guests and presenters. The company believes that the greater flexibility offered by the pre-rigged studio, encourages a greater diversity of guests who may otherwise be at ther mercy of child commitments or other time pressures.
Stryder TV's Steve Ryder knows about working lean and mean. He has worked as a broadcast cameraman for more than 35 years and has been supplied satellite trucks to major UK broadcasters.
"I was one of the first in the UK to build a Ka satellite IP van which Sky Sports News used to feed in football matches," says Ryder. "This was right at the start of technologies like LiveU, and I have followed and indeed lectured about the technology ever since."
Last autumn Ryder realised that a combination of emerging technologies made the concept of a roving microstudio much more feasibloe.
"The two main factors are power and transmission. With LED lighting, power consumption would be minimum as would heat generated. And a modern 65 inch TV is now affordable and also has minimal power consumption.
"As far as transmission goes, bonding technology such as LiveU has advanced to a stage of widespread international acceptance so the expense of my traditional satellite van is not necessary. This, supported by the better rollout of 4G with the option of adding Ka satellite broadband, means that the whole operation is feasible."
Ryder canvassed a lot of players in broadcast TV, both inside and outside the UK and received universally positive feedback. "I looked everywhere for competition, and the only one I could find was a company called StudiGo in Washington DC who have just launched a similar idea."
He sees two main markets for the van: "I am getting a real interest from smaller international broadcasters who have no UK facilities. For them, the cost of hiring a UK studio for a guest and the hassle of getting them to it or the hiring of a camera crew to go to the guest and set up in front of what may be an inappropriate background is prohibitive. They email me a simple 1920x1080 graphic with their station ident on it or we can just use a London skyline, and I put it behind the guest, and instantly they have a dedicated studio in this foreign country.
"I also see a market with corporate entities who need to do an in-house stream or put up a spokesperson to the media. Instead of the CEO touring round multiple studios, I park up at his 'stately mansion', and he just wanders out minutes before airtime. Minimum disruption, maximum convenience. Don’t forget that LiveU nowadays can stream to any of the CDNs, Facebook Live and YouTube, so corporate messages are simple."
The van is fully carpeted with additional internal and external worklights and has two 180Ah batteries that can be charged either from the engine while driving or via the Victron inverter/charger which can be connected to an external 16A socket for local mains power if available or a generator.
There is a variable height, non-swivelling seat in front of a 65in 4K HDR TV, which can be fed with static or moving images, skylines, or company logo’s. The van also carries a Sony A6300 camera to instantly record a relevant 4K quality skyline or local background if necessary.
The pre-rigged lighting system consists of a key, fill and either one or two backlights depending on guest requirements. All lighting is 90+ CRI/TLCI bi-colour LED and is on rails.
In addition to the Sony A6300 for capturing backgrounds, the van features a Sony PMW shoulder mount ENG camera, and a selection of microphones, feeding either a LiveU or Aviwest bonding system with the option of feeding to Stryder's separate full satellite truck if required.
The IFB talkback from the broadcaster, which is split to both the guest and the cameraman, can be either from the LiveU or via a separate Glensound MPI004 GSM unit, or a Comrex Access if the client wishes. The van also has a Ka satellite dish for use if there is a poor 3G/4G mobile phone signal.
There is a simple iPad based prompt system onto which, if not being used as a prompt, I tend to put reminders for the guest, the name of the interviewer at the other end or complicated facts difficult to remember.
The van is based near Lon main base is near Worcester next to the M5 for easy access to anywhere in the country, I have another base at Taplow near Maidenhead when operating in London and the south east. I have filmed in 50+ countries and last year covered the Paris bombings for CBS, Irish Elections for RTE in Tipperary, the Brussels bombings for AP and the Tour de France for S4C so we get about. The van is Euro6 so travel restrictions do not apply. I am happy to travel wherever the client wishes and that is the beauty of the concept, wherever it parks becomes a dedicated studio.
Ryder is currently doing demos at the some UK broadcasters.
"I posted our video on Facebook last Saturday and by the end of the weekend had 1900+ views, 93 Like’s and 31 comments. I have had a lot of interest across the world, just this morninng I had an email from Al Jazeera wanting to know more, and an Indian business channel based in Mumbai have the van pencilled to do a possible live from Haymarket tomorrow."