HUNTSVILLE, AL, OCTOBER 27, 2015 – When the city of Huntsville, Alabama, rolled out its new multi-purpose live production/event response communications vehicle, the microLite HD video link system from Integrated Microwave Technologies (IMT), a leader in advanced digital microwave systems serving the broadcast, sports, entertainment and law enforcement markets, was on board.
Jonathan Crowe, video operations manager for Huntsville ETV, an educational television service of the Huntsville City School District, devised the multi-purpose vehicle. Looking to build a live truck based on the latest IP satellite technology, he proposed the idea to the district. The vehicle would be used for theater events and any public assemblies where the district would like to reach a larger audience beyond those sitting in the auditorium. It was also determined that the truck could double as an emergency response communications vehicle, serving dual functionality for the school and the community. “We knew what we wanted in the vehicle, so I came up with the design and we built it ourselves,” says Crowe. “I had previously demoed the microLite and loved the results, so I made sure it was one of the pieces in the equipment bundle for the truck.”
Used mainly for the district’s graduation ceremonies and live sporting events, the truck is built on a Nissan NV3500 platform. Four HD broadcast cameras were used, two Sony BRC-H700 robotic HD cameras and two JVC GY-HM750ProHD cameras. One of the cameras is fully wireless and outfitted with the microLite to allow the operators to roam freely. The video signals are then switched and then fed into a Streambox 9200 HD/SD encoder/decoder that converts the HD-SDI program signal into IP for live streaming.
The microLite wireless camera system serves to acquire sideline video for the district’s football coverage. Four cameras are typically deployed to cover the game, with one being wireless. On this camera the microLite helps capture low angles, and is used for instant replays. “Sometimes we take the low angle for live shots, like the coin toss or a shot of the coach on the sideline, or to get a shot of people in the crowd from the back of the stands,” says Crowe. “The unit works great and we’ve never had any issues. We are very happy with it, and hope to purchase another one soon.”
The microLite system continued to impress when the Huntsville City School District put it to work for its Green Power USA program. Based on the federal STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program, students compete with international teams to build and race electric cars. “We recently hosted our first Green Power USA car race and used the microLite system extensively for our coverage,” adds Crowe. “Typically, the microLite is used with an omni-directional antenna. For this event, we not only had the camera operator, but also employed a grip holding a pole with a directional antenna on it. The two tracks were on completely different sides of the school campus, with lots of buildings and potential interferences in between. We essentially just pointed the antenna in the general direction of where the receiver was, and had no signal problems, whatsoever.”
The microLite also outperformed expectations during an award ceremony that took place inside an auditorium at one of the district’s schools. Unsure as to whether he could get a signal through the walls of the building, Crowe instructed the camera operator and grip to go inside the auditorium and point the antenna in the general direction of the live truck’s location outside. To Crowe’s delight, the microLite worked flawlessly.
“We strive to provide high-quality live programming to the district, and the multi-purpose vehicle with the microLite system is allowing us to achieve that,” adds Crowe. “In addition, we now have a state-of-the-art, cost-effective emergency vehicle that will provide all of the communications we need to reach out to our first responders and the public in the event of an emergency.”