Tech

How I do Live TV including The Today Show from the EFTM office using an iPhone

How just unexpectedly amazing is the world we are living in today. Amazing on one hand because we could never have imagined such a thing and Amazing how we’ve adapted as a society to the huge changes, and as workers to the concept of “not going to the office”

Which has sparked a lot of questions to me about how I keep doing what I do each week, under these new circumstances.

The answer is technology. And if you’re not keen to get really nerdy, look away – this is complex:)

All my radio spots stay the same, using the same technology, my phone, my Rodecaster Pro and a good set of headphones and microphone.

But TV – wow, that’s a whole new ballgame.

If you’ve watched almost any TV news or current affairs program in the last 8 weeks, you’ve seen the look – Pixelated screen, headphones – probably Airpods sticking out of the ear, and a less than flattering angle from lower than should ever be seen.

Fortunately, I have the luxury of a space I can work in to make it better for me, and for the TV shows I’m crossing to.

Early in the pandemic, I began to re-work the EFTM studio space to allow for a better live TV situation.

Using a Sony RX10iv camera, plugged into my PC via an Elgato Game Capture card which was then visible as a “camera” source in Skype.

On an NBN 100/40 connection, Assuming things are good at Skype’s end, things turn out pretty well:

Businesses will see 'that working from home can be achieved' amid coronavirus fears

Tech expert Trevor Long has spoken with Sky News about whether he thinks the NBN will be able to withstand the influx of internet activity as businesses begin the shift to have employees working from home amid coronavirus fears.More: https://bit.ly/3dwevGC

Posted by Sky News Australia on Wednesday, March 25, 2020

BUT – there’s one big issue with using Skype or Zoom for live TV crosses. You’re at the mercy of Skype or Zoom when it comes to quality.

Just like Netflix has done around the world, Skype and Zoom can and will reduce quality based on their own needs, either to save bandwidth costs, or ensure consistency of service.

This is why I’ve not been able to replicate that quality since late March.

For The Today Show, I needed a reliable, high quality solution.

All TV networks have a remote camera connectivity system. These systems use Internet, a combination of WiFi and multiple 4G SIM cards to connect back to the station and delivery high quality audio and video.

Some use LiveU, others TVU, others Dejero. The Nine Network for whom I do most of my live TV work uses Dejero.

So I set out to get the best one man band remote setup possible.

Thanks to the resources team (Michael Sammut) at the Nine Network, I’ve now got what in the industry could be referred to as a “TOS” – Talent Only Studio setup at my office here at EFTM.

Firstly, I am using a standard iPhone 11. With the Dejero LIVE+ Mobile app installed, and my personal credentials and passwords locked in, I can make a direct connection to the Master Control team at the Nine Network.

Within the App Settings, we’ve chosen PAL format and 1080P as the resolution.

You might think it best to use the iPhone 11’s excellent rear cameras, but in fact the front-camera is a much better solution because the on-air talent can see themselves and check they are correctly in frame.

(I tried multiple other options including pointing another camera and screen at the screen of the phone while the rear camera lens pointed at me, and also AirPlay of the vision to an Apple TV screen – but this resulted in the Dejero freezing live on air – not fun)

Particularly useful for me for any larger segments where I might move around.

Connected to the iPhone is a lightning to 3.5mm adaptor, a 3.5mm cable splitter (which splits the Headphone and Microphone channels), and into the Microphone Channel is a Rode Wireless Go receiver.

The Rode Wireless go is one of the best tech products to be Made in Australia, and with it, I can be anywhere up to 70 meters from the iPhone, though that’s hardly necessary here.

Now the Network Control can hear me, I just need to hear Karl and Ally talking and the “off-air” program.

This I do through a standard TV industry in-ear monitor. These earpieces (not dissimilar to the secret service style hidden earpiece with the twisted cable behind the ear) aren’t cheap, at $300 or so – Fortunately, and strangely, former Today Show host Steve Leibmann gave me this one 10 years ago when we worked together in radio – I’ve held onto it since!

That earpiece though is plug-in 3.5mm style. So I have a Fiio Bluetooth adapter. This adapter pairs with the phone, and the earpiece plugs into it.

To hold the iPhone in place, I have a simple tripod, and a smartphone tripod mounting bracket – cheap, nasty and easy.

And to round it out, I have LightPRO LED lights – a couple is enough for this, but sometimes I have gadgets to light up too.

Now this is a bit more than is needed, but I’m also fortunate to have a “Return feed” – this is a live feed from the studio on a minimal delay. This again uses the Dejero system and a product called Cuepoint – this allows me to use a Chrome Browser, my Dejero login and get a look at what’s going to air, so I can see what vision is running while I talk, or what Graphics are on screen I need to refer to.

It’s all a perhaps a bit more over the top than required, but if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it well.

I think this is more than just the new normal.

Welcome to the ultimate #ShotOniPhone content – Live TV.

How I do Live TV including The Today Show from the EFTM office using an iPhone
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