The remote broadcasting hubs have delivered improved streaming performance from the expansive lakes that host the competitions.
“For us, purchasing the Portable Bridge was part of our strategy to get better reception from the water to get better streaming for our live show,” explained Peyote Perryman, president of Digital P Media. “We tested the Portable Bridge last fall and it was exactly the package that we needed to bolster what we already had from JVC.”
Streaming live footage of the FLW Tour is a technological challenge. Each event takes place on a lake that is larger than 50,000 acres, because there are 180 professional anglers during the first two days of the tournament. Depending on the body of water, anglers can be up to 75 miles away from other competitors.
At least three lakes on the tour are known for poor cell service and dead zones. Most recently, for example, the FLW Tour visited Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. Last year, using a 4G LTE modem connected via USB to each camera, Perryman said the production only had two cameras providing live footage at any given time. This year, with the use of the Portable Bridge units, at least four cameras regularly delivered live streaming.
The Portable Bridge also helped solve another production problem earlier this season. As part of the established workflow, camera operators would to connect to a conference call via cell phone as part of a makeshift intercom system. However, there was difficulty finding a signal at Smith Lake, Ala. Now, the camera operators use their Portable Bridge units as hotspots to connect their phones via Wi-Fi, and use the Discord voice chat mobile app for improved intercom communication.
Digital P Media has been using one GY-HM850 and four GY-HM890 cameras to stream live footage since the 2017 tour. Each camera is assigned to one of the top ranked boats during the last two days of the tournament. During the four-hour productions, which are produced in partnership with the FLW, the cameras stream live footage to the FLW studio in Benton, Ky., and record the footage locally to SDHC/SXHC cards for a one-hour program that airs on NBC Sports Network after each tournament.
Two of the eight FLW Tour events remain this season, including the next stop at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Detroit that begins June 28. Perryman said each Bridge unit lasts throughout the day on one battery, and is usually positioned on the floor of the boat in front of the passenger seat. During recent inclement weather, the units were stored in dry bags but never lost signal.
JVC offers two other Bridge products, the Wireless Bridge with a vehicle-mounted uplink and the new Dockable Bridge that connects directly to 800 Series and 900 Series cameras. For the FLW Tour, however, the Portable Bridge provided Digital P Media with the best blend of performance and portability.
“We’re going out in some very remote areas and moving to a different boat every day with a different angler,” said Perryman. “The Mobile Bridge gives us the most power in a form factor that is truly portable. They have plenty of throughput for us – we’ve achieved anywhere from 5-10 Mbps upstream. I’m very pleased with the performance of the Bridges.”
While one Portable Bridge can accommodate multiple video streams, it was more practical for Digital P Media to assign one uplink to each camera. In fact, the cellular uplinks have worked so well they may eventually replace satellite systems used for live broadcasts of other fishing tours.
The ProHD Portable Bridge is a self-contained, remote broadcasting hub powered by AC or attached Anton/Bauer battery. Unlike other bonded solutions, the ProHD Portable Bridge, with Peplink’s SpeedFusion VPN Bonding technology, allows live streaming from multiple cameras to HD-SDI decoders or servers at a central location, as well as CDNs like Facebook Live. It also doubles as a secure, high-speed hotspot, so crew members can connect mobile devices to the internet or an enterprise LAN in the field with a secure VPN. Dual cellular modems with redundant SIM slots support up to four different cellular providers for bandwidth bonding, data overage protection, or blind spot elimination.