Joseph Electronics’ Waveshifter-4 Enables Multicamera Production on a Single Fiber at Syracuse’s Newhouse School
Feeds are sent to the Dick Clark Studios from venues both with and without dedicated fiber
Here at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, our students take part in hands-on learning in a cutting-edge media facility that offers the best possible preparation for careers in communications. Part of that facility is the Dick Clark Studios, a high-tech entertainment-production environment that rivals many Hollywood studios. Through live and digitally recorded productions, students can learn all aspects of a full digital workflow that extends from the studio to the control room to the postproduction suite.
One of the many things we do at the Newhouse School is collaborate with our Athletics Department to produce programs for our ACC Network Extra feeds to ESPN. For that we have dedicated fiber-optic lines: 48 strands of single-mode fiber-optic cables run to venues located up to two miles away — soccer stadium, field hockey stadium, ice hockey arena, softball stadium, and volleyball court — and another 288 strands go to the Carrier Dome.
Other venues don’t have dedicated fiber, but we still need to originate video or camera feeds from them to one of the three production-control rooms at Dick Clark Studios. We use Dejero gear, Teradek Cube encoders, and Skype TX to get the feeds, but the challenge with the non-athletic venues had always been the lack of a transmission medium that would allow us to use multiple cameras, intercom lines, return videos, microphones, and/or line feeds from the house PA system.
We have five pairs of Studio Technologies Live-Link Jr. remote camera interfaces, each requiring two strands of fiber. Each pair can carry a camera feed, provide a return video feed, power three intercom beltpacks and connect to an intercom PL system, provide two channels of mic or line audio, and even provide an IFB output to onsite talent.
With four pairs available for this purpose (the fifth is dedicated to our newscasts), that means we can easily have a four-camera production with eight selectable microphone- or line-level feeds, 12 intercom beltpacks, four return videos, eight line-level audio outputs to the venue, and four IFBs. To accommodate that level of production, we need a total of eight single-mode fiber-optic cables. Regrettably, not all venues have eight fiber-optic lines. We are lucky if we have two, and sometimes, even when we have two, only one line is usable or available. And of course, there are venues that offer no fiber-optic lines at all.
To solve the problem, we use Joseph Electronics’ Waveshifter-4 fiber transport system, which can transport up to four HD camera systems on just one single-mode fiber. With the Waveshifter-4 sitting between four Live-Link Jr. truck-end units and four Live-Link Jr. camera-end units, we can conduct multicamera productions on one single-mode fiber-optic cable.
Why does this matter? Because it is easier to ask our Network Wiring group to temporarily patch and provide us a single fiber-optic run from venue to studio than it is to ask for eight of them. Such was the case when we did a multicamera sports-production class of a lacrosse game from the Carrier Dome, prior to the installation of the 288-strand fiber. We have also produced a multicamera pregame show from an outdoor patio with only one installed pair of fiber-optic ports outside the building, a situation that required us to use our tactical cables. In both cases, the Waveshifter-4 made it possible to proceed with the multicamera productions.
Moving forward, as the university adds more connectivity to more venues, the Waveshifter-4 will gives us the option of provisioning for either a single strand or a pair of fiber-optic cables. With our Waveshifter-4 requesting to replace existing RJ11 or RJ45 ports with LC or ST connectors in older venues without having to install new pathways, I envision that our budget requests will be smaller and easier to get approved.