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New Wireless HD System Unveiled

High-defintion programmers over the years have been frustrated by the inability to transmit HD content from remote locations to stations, ENG vans and production crews via wireless technology. But a new technology from HD-Wireless, based in El Monte, Calif. and put to use by Fox Sports could help end the frustrations.

“It’s very important for production crews to have the ability to put cameras in airplanes, cars, boats, and other places that allow producers to enhance the viewer’s experience,” says Nigle Spratling, president of consultant firm Mavens who worked on the project. “Small HD cameras are now available and more are on the way, so affordable wireless systems will allow the use of these cameras for these applications.”

The new system was put to use on June 25 during Fox Sports’ coverage of the Dodge/Save Mart 350 that took place at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Fox Sports used a complete two-channel HD system within a Twin-Cessna Skymaster airplane to get aerial shots of the road race.

"The HD pictures we were able to receive live were the best we have seen from an airplane,” said Jerry Steinberg, vice president of field operations for Fox Sports. “I hope we will be able to put this system to use for future events.”

Spratling says the system, which transmits the HD signal at 42.5 Mbps, gives directors the freedom to move cameras to any location. “Many have been using SD wireless cameras or go go back to wired for HD,” Imagine if someone took away your cell phone and gave you a landline instead – you would probably accept bad service rather than be wired. But this system gives the same effective quality they can get from a wired HD camera.”

The system also has low-latency and while it isn’t available yet two models are planned: a low-cost unit for wireless connection of HDV and a high-end system for special events like sports, concerts,or award shows. Expect the high-end system to cost around $65,000-$90,000 with the HDV system costing much less.