TV innovation goes mobile and unwired at RNC

The Washington Post continues a long history of journalism innovation at national political conventions. Another game-changing technology at this convention is a backpack video transmission system called LiveU. With just this backpack device that is loaded with cards that hook it up to cellphone towers, TV stations can go live or feed video, even high definition video, without hooking up to a big, expensive live truck.

WBBH-TV in Fort Myers, Fla., had a satellite truck at the RNC, but photojournalist-editor Matthew Apthorp says the LiveU backpack enables him to go live from anywhere.

Matthew Apthorp says the LiveU backpack enables him to go live from anywhere.

"Last night I was walking around the convention floor feeding video right out of my camera. I looked like a guy from 'Ghostbusters' with this camera and backpack, but it worked great. We worried that we would have signal problems in the Forum, because it works off of cellphone signals that can drop out in a place like that, but it has worked great," he told me Thursday.

Apthorp says the backpacks are not only useful for "going live" but WBBH, an NBC affiliate, uses them as "feed points" too. He edits a story on his laptop, saves it to a flashdrive and plugs the flashdrive into the LiveU.

"You have to remember that it takes some time to upload. Yesterday I fed a one-minute, 10-second HD video back and it took about 20 minutes. Then I fed a one-minute, 59-second package back and it took 35 minutes to finish feeding. So you have to leave yourself time to get the feed in and not miss your [newscast] slot."

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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