Art Aldrich, a partner at consultancy OTEK TV, has for several years ventured into the Alaskan tundra to cover the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. This year, he sought to simplify his live production workflow with fiber-optic connectivity solutions from MultiDyne Video & Fiber Optic Solutions while maintaining the cinematic look and feel that are hallmarks of his production work.
OTEK TV specializes in corporate video production work and live streaming, and Aldrich first used MultiDyne products for some virtual corporate golf productions. “There are many logistics to consider when live streaming from a golf course, including satellite uplinks, and fiber is clearly the best route to these uplinks,” said Aldrich. “I was introduced to MultiDyne’s SilverBullet Series, which are very compact, interlocking devices for single-link transport from a camera. I then realized that these would be perfect for this crazy one-month job I have in Alaska each year.”
As Aldrich explains, the live streaming element is as important as his video production work for Iditarod. On a good year, approximately 100 dog teams enter the race, and subscribing fans want to see them all finish. The teams finish at various times over the course of a week.
Aldrich has used GoPro cameras with HDMI to SDI converters prior to this year’s race, with an SDI cable back to the control room. “That was a weak link because there are so many bits in the signal path,” he said. “I decided to upgrade to SDI cameras and put them on fiber. We ran one tactical fiber cable and dropped SilverBullets on both sides. They are simple to connect, lightweight, dependable and unaffected by cold weather.”
The weather-resistant reliability was especially important, as temperatures can reach 50 below Fahrenheit without factoring in the wind chill. Aldrich noted that every cable and connection in his previous setup was a failure point because of the brittleness of this equipment in such extreme cold weather. There is also the added benefit of the SilverBullets being unaffected by distance.
“These are interlocking units that plug right into the camera cable,” he said. “It is one connection to power and one connection to fiber, with no limitations on distance. We are already hitting a limit of about 300 feet on the SDI coaxial cable, and the SilverBullet just makes everything simple. It shoots and delivers, and is easy to use.”
Aldrich adds that the SilverBullet includes small LED displays that provide much-needed confidence monitoring in the very cold weather.
“When we set up gear, we need to protect our hands from the cold, as the weather can cause permanent burn to skin if exposed for too long,” he said. “Having those little LEDs to confirm that we are connected and don’t have to fiddle with settings is a huge bonus. And we have master control technicians in the city hall to verify our signals are getting there, which they always do with MultiDyne.”