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Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc

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Eric Olson
Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 1, 2011 at 4:47:54 pm

Hi all,

I work for a publishing company in NYC that publishes a large number of magazine titles. Often our editors are asked to appear on broadcast news as commentators.

Our PR dept has inquired about setting up a hi-quality live feed that we can send to the networks for a live broadcast. This would prevent our editors from having to travel across town to appear on the broadcast.

Is this possible? What would we need to purchase and how would we set it up?

Thanks so much,

Eric Olson
Video producer and editor


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David Johnson
Re: Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 2, 2011 at 12:46:09 am

Consider at least looking at VideoLink services ... with both the costs and potential for technical gotchas related to laying fibre, fibre encoding equipment, etc., trying to do this yourself on the cheap quickly gets very expensive and often yields poor results.

http://videolink.tv/


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Mark Suszko
Re: Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 2, 2011 at 3:10:17 pm

You are talking about "Satelite media tours", I think. What that means is you buy up a 30 or 60-minute window of transponder time, then you line up various TV news stations across the country to access that time in five to ten minute periods, one at a time, to have 2-way remote interviews with the guest you've arranged, over the satellite. The guest doesn't usually see the interviewers, just hears them thru a phone connection. Very common for the kickoff of things like a new book or movie.

NYC is a great place to do this, there was, last time I checked, an antenna farm on the Empire State Building that accepts microwave feeds from remote locations. You put a small feeding dish on your building's roof, aim it at the relay, they forward it on to the uplink dish to the satellite. You also have lots of fiber lines in Manhattan you can tie into, to feed to an uplinking facility, if you insist on doing the shots out of your own building. It would be cheaper, lots cheaper, to just find a facility that already has a fiber or single-point microwave link connection to the uplink facility (which I'll guess is at an antenna farm across the water in New Jersey).

Check the New York film commission's services guide book, whatever they call it, they probably have it online, and look for something like "Live satellite production" or "SMT".


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Eric Olson
Re: Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 2, 2011 at 3:21:30 pm

Thanks a lot. Any idea how much this kind of thing would cost?

Eric


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Mark Suszko
Re: Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 2, 2011 at 7:41:31 pm

I took it you were asking me. We do this kind of thing in-house because we own a Ku dish and transmitter. We charge a fee for the studio time which includes all the tech stuff, then you also have to buy the airtime or "transponder access" on the bird, we also broker that in a one-stop shopping type deal. I don't have our rate card handy, I'm not allowed to run with scissors or talk to grownups about our rate card, and it wouldn't apply to your situation exactly anyway, but you can buy that transponder time in 15-minute increments, up to however much time you need. Figure a 10 to 15-minute hunk for each station that has lined up to interview your guest, and a minute in-between to make the new phone connections to the next station and get their audio in the guests' earpiece. If you have a lot of these TV station folks lined up, you have to make it clear that if they blow their time and are late, you go on without them, and they go to the back of the line. If Fox or CNN or whatever are interested in your person, they might pay for the transponder time and leave the uplink up to you. That's between you and them, they would probably also advise you where to go in the city for the studio. I would expect to pay from five hundred on up for a very basic hookup at 15 minutes. Your studio needs at bare minimum a lit seat, camera, access to two phone lines and an audio person who knows what a "mix-minus feed to an IFB earpiece" means. Arranging this in your own building brings in a huge added expense to make the hookup to the uplink facility, so I'd advise you take advantage of the slack economy and lower rates and send your guy cross-town to an established facility that is already hooked-up.

Also, a second strategy you should explore that is very cost-effective is to create a VNR (Video News Release) package, also called an Electronic Press Kit. Not as immediate as a live satellite shot, but still very useful. This is a collection of selected interview clips you have shot with with the artist, plus a variety of b-roll clips of cut-aways and other kinds of shots, you send that raw material out to stations and they use the construction kit of shots and clips to craft their own custom version of your story. These can be mailed out or sent via internet as an FTP which can be very cheap. We can chat more about that in a general sense here if you're interested.


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Chuck Reti
Re: Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 5, 2011 at 3:18:21 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Also, a second strategy you should explore that is very cost-effective is to create a VNR (Video News Release) package, also called an Electronic Press Kit. Not as immediate as a live satellite shot, but still very useful. This is a collection of selected interview clips you have shot with with the artist, plus a variety of b-roll clips of cut-aways and other kinds of shots, you send that raw material out to stations and they use the construction kit of shots and clips to craft their own custom version of your story."

The other day I had mentioned VNRs and EPKs in a conversation with the producer of the daily A.M. news show I TD. He just laughed, pointed to the wastebasket, referring to it as the "library" for all the VNR's he gets.


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Nick Griffin
Re: Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 2, 2011 at 7:48:07 pm

If you really want to do this in your own offices, and are willing to invest in the right equipment (which will be a substantial investment), you need a professional to help specify equipment then set it up. This is not a do-it-yourself kind of thing.

You should talk to the COW's own Bob Zelin. Click on his picture on the masthead of this forum.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 2, 2011 at 8:37:29 pm

Nick as always speaks the truth. I am really trying to discourage you from DIYing this in your own building, when having it is kind of redundant because plenty of existing facilities already set up for it, are a short cab ride away. It's not like you're going to use it every day, either, so no way will it pay for itself to build it in house just to save the commuting time.


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David Johnson
Re: Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 4, 2011 at 2:59:56 am

The reason I suggested at least looking at pre-packaged services for this and that I agree with Nick, Mark and Bob that this isn't a DIY kind of thing is because that's exactly how I and one other guy established this capability for an employer's in-house studio nearly 10 years ago.

So, it's not impossible to do most of it DIY ... it's just not a smart approach (as we both tried to tell the employer from the start). After a year of literal blood, sweat and tears from me and the other guy, said company's executives could do live TV with any network or station in the world within minutes. Considering the value of the free national TV exposure in combination with the fact that the people doing the appearances are people who 30 minutes of their time is literally worth more than I make in a year, establishing this capability in-house was actually a good move for that company. It's how it was established that's the issue.

Much like the "White Knight" analogy Mark Suszko used in a recent post, said company became convinced that you just flip a switch to do this stuff so anything is possible ... if you just find a couple guys smart enough to figure out a way to do just about anything ... yet dumb enough to figure out a way to do just about anything.

The duct tape and bubble gum approach's subsequent damage to the careers of the two knuckleheads who made it work was not the only drawback by a long shot. Said company wasted boat loads of money on various band-aid fixes over the years and still ended up with sub-standard broadcasts. Why? Because duct tape doesn't hold forever. For example, instead of having fibre professionally run specifically for this purpose, the company decided to "save" money by having in-house maintenance staff lay the fibre lines. Since the people who made that and similar brilliant decisions were long gone or had conveniently short memories, take one guess at who got to shoulder the blame for how the pristine signals that left the studio looked on-air. I suppose the building could've just been torn down and all the fibre re-run, but I don't know anyone who wants to have that kind of conversation with their boss.

By the way, we actually went the satellite route for the first however many years, but there are lots of important parts of the story that I'm leaving out since my post is already way too long. I hope I and others have said enough to make the point that, if establishing this capability in-house makes sense for your company, your best bet is to get your company to pony up and do it right.

I understand that the question of how much this will cost seems a simple and straightforward one, but there's two things you have to understand: [1] this is not an off-the-shelf product purchase so it's not realistic to expect even a ballpark without an engineering evaluation since the costs vary significantly depending on details of your location, needs, etc. ... there are just way too many moving parts to guesstimate [2] as Nick, Mark, and Bob pointed out, it is a substantial and ongoing investment.

I hope my two pence helps you prevent your company from making the same mistakes ... if their decision makers aren't too smart to listen to the people they've hired.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 3, 2011 at 5:08:12 pm

It's called a VYVX feed. It's a direct fibre feed that all the networks have, and you tie into a VYVX line.
How do you get it ? You buy this service from VYVX, and they charge you a monthly, and use fee. Is it expensive, you bet it's expensive. VYVX will subcontract the phone company to run a VYVX box (an Artel Codec box) into your facility. (It's like a fancy expensive phone line). They you make an appointment with VYVX (the network will do this for you) and say "we have to have a connection at 8:30am on March 4th to CNBC in New Jersey".

So, your next question is "isn't there anything we can just buy for a couple of grand that will do this, so we can just plug in our camera, and do it ourself " -
simple answer - NO.
Even if you found a box (or had your own satellite dish for transmission), you would have to have the cooperation of the different TV stations to do this. They all use VYVX, and would not be willing to adapt to your solution. Think of it like this - you edit with FCP for example, and all you want to do is send a .mov file to TV Station X. They won't take it - because it doesn't meet their standards. Same with transmission. You must meet the requirements of the TV NEtwork. Easy way out - get a VYVX feed.

You next step - http://www.google.com, type in VYVX, then make a phone call.

Bob Zelin



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Eric Olson
Re: Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 3, 2011 at 6:50:58 pm

Thanks everyone. My initial sense was this that this would be difficult/costly and you've just confirmed that.

I've tried to discourage people in the company from pursuing this but they're determined to at least get a sense of how much it would cost.

As we're located in NYC and so close to so many major media outlets it seems a little ridiculous that our editors can't just hop in a cab for an interview.

Thanks again,

Eric


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Richard Crowley
Re: Live feed to CNN/FOX/etc
on Mar 6, 2011 at 5:07:56 am

Consider also the Streambox product. Many people are using that for such applications and many others. I work with an organization that uses several of them to feed over-the-air transmitters across the northwest US. http://www.streambox.com/


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