Presteigne covers the Great Migration
TANZANIA: Presteigne Broadcast Hire was recently called in to supply technology, project management, and system design on its mobile IP Mesh system for Good Morning America’s GMA on Safari broadcast. The event took the audience on a live, immersive 360-degree virtual reality tour of the Great Migration, which begins at approximately the same time each year in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
GMA on Safari showcased wildlife live in its natural habitat using a total of five DJI drone-mounted camera systems operated by Skynamic, plus a stationary Immersive Media IM360 virtual reality camera. The latter enabled viewers on internet-enabled devices to see and control their own experience from any phone, tablet, desktop, or VR headset with live 360-degree images, making it the first GMA event to be simultaneously broadcast live in 360-degrees.
‘GMA needed the fixed VR and drone-mounted cameras to be able to transmit from anywhere in the immense Ngorogoro Crater,’ said Presteigne project manager Martin Sexton. ‘This proved to be a challenge because, while the Ngorogoro Crater is home to the lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and black rhinoceros, it is decidedly not home to IP infrastructures or mobile phone data coverage.’
In addition to the 360 VR cameras, GMA needed a fully remote HD production setup with three RF-linked jeeps; wide angle cameras; and a long-lens camera. All of the technology had to be able to transmit in HD from anywhere within the 260 sq-km of the 610m deep crater. ‘We’re experts in establishing RF systems, often in very challenging locations and conditions, but the scale of the crater and surrounding area was, quite literally, a new order of magnitude,’ said Mr Sexton.
To resolve the issue, Presteigne deployed a wide area NETNode IP mesh system from Domo Broadcast between the crater and the base camp, interfaced at the base camp with Presteigne’s Idirect-based technology (working on the Melcom satellite network). This was used for the live VR pictures, off-line uploads, and other IP/Internet based services. Presteigne added wide area, low delay HD RF circuits for the roving jeeps to service video and audio from the drones, plus a presenter camera and further long-lens camera system with a stabilised Canon HJ40 lens and accessories. One wide area return vision system fed an HD low delay quad split of all local sources from the base camp back to the presenters’ roving vehicle to enable live commentary on the pictures from the separate jeeps. Four wide area RF co-ordination networks were established to cover the entire crater for presenter IFB, plus producer, director, and engineering talkback.
‘Having tested the technology in the UK and carried out a site visit with ABC to help designate the base camp and suitable RF locations, we then prepped, packaged, and shipped all of the technology to Tanzania in double-quick time,’ added Mr Sexton. ‘The powerful combination of our respective logistic and engineering teams meant that the show was successfully rigged, rehearsed, transmitted, and de-rigged precisely according to plan, including last-minute production changes. There wasn't a single break in service or failure of any of the facilities provided, either on or off screen. Viewers around the world were delighted and amazed by the scale of coverage achieved and the intimate experience provided.’