Tuesday, January 06, 2004

I love television.

Today I was reminded why I got into this field in the first place: the cool technology. Sure, the creative aspect is what I am into now -- but I have always had a soft spot for the gear.

The snow and cold continued in Vancouver today, and this morning I got called into work. It was the standard writing shift. But as the day unfolded, it was decided that we were going to go all out with our live coverage.

We have a number of live trucks (4), plus a satellite truck. In order to use a live truck, you have to be able to transmit the signal from the truck to a receive point. In Vancouver we transmit to one of the north shore mountains. This has to be line-of-sight -- and, that means that the truck raises a tall mast and cannot move. The same goes for the satellite truck, though you've got to be line-of-sight to the satellite.

There is a technology called COFDM that is used to transmit live signals. It uses an omni-directional sort of antenna that allows movement. So, a COFDM transmitter can broadcast live signals from helicopter or a news truck.

CTV Vancouver doesn't have a COFDM equipped truck. But the multi-lingual station Channel M, has such a truck. CTV and Channel M have some sort of news sharing agreement -- and this extends to us being able to use their live truck.

Today we had 4 live signals off the top of the show -- and we used a quad-box to show them all at once. The viewer could see the storm from 4 different sources at once. Live.

But -- this is the cool thing -- one of the shots, which we then took full screen -- was a live shot of driving in rush hour traffic. The reporter was able (the camera panned to her, then back out the windshield) to report on the traffic as the truck driver was driving through it.

Sure, the news value of such a live "hit" is somewhat limited, but the coolness factor was off the scale. And we looked a billion times better (and covered the story better) than Global.

Anyway... it was a cool day to play TV.


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