View Full Version : News Channels and those "videophones"

03-24-2003, 11:47 AM
I'm going to completely avoid the political parts of this and hopefully everyone will concentrate on the technological aspect I am trying to raise here.

I've noticed that FOX News, MSNBC and CNN seem to have all these reporters sending reports via "videophone." Now, I have been having a real problem with those as the images are so low res and highly pixelated that one cannot make out most of the images. The reporter usually has no discernable facial features and most of the vehicles, structures, etc. look like large, coloured blocks. Does anyone have any firsthand experience with videophones? Are these the same types of devices they are marketing to the masses? Do these LIVE reports bother you as much as they bother me due to the low resolution of the images?

03-24-2003, 12:22 PM
I think that could be the explanation, that they're using the commercially available stuff... why else would news agencies have such cruddy equipment?? I agree wholeheartedly, the "quality" of the "images" borders on useless, WHEN they're not completely breaking up like some digital TV nightmare.... there can be no other reason... hopefully someone who actually knows the deal will enlighten us:)

03-24-2003, 02:26 PM
And how! I personally can't stand anymore of these primary school grade news reports.

03-24-2003, 02:46 PM
I know exactly what you mean, voices sound odd too, kind of warbly and shrill like a bad speak 'n' spell recording or something.
I'm actually amazed at how many reporters are out there. And how many are travelling with the armed forces in convoy. Seems kind of ghoulish in the one sense but perfectly logical in another.
Channel 4 news here has some really good quality non partisan coverage. Just the stories and no political slant that's discernable. Excellent video link ups too. Their footage shot with night vision cameras is really clean and clear.
Plus there's the old faithful
Don't know if they have video clips available I just copied the links from my favorites folder.

03-24-2003, 03:02 PM
The videophone shots are 50-50. Some are really good and others crappy. I think if it is a bad link they should just cut it off.
IMO they should just stick with call-ins and no video.

I too, am shocked at how many reporters are out there. I think they would just get inthe way. Taking up vehicle space and all. They probably need their own transport to get around.

Exhaust Port
03-24-2003, 03:05 PM
They're still in need of some work IMHO but they've come a long way since the 1991 war. The technology at that point was just awful.

03-24-2003, 04:35 PM
I don't think they use a "video phone" but rather it's like what weathermen use. They have a TV monitor they can look at to see where to point on the board, and news reporters have mostly the same thing. I don't think the ones out in the field have a monitor and if they do it's probably small, but back at the station they have a monitor that the cast from the camera is sent to just like how we see it on our TVs. That's why they're usually higher quality images, the ones in the field job use the earplug headphones to hear what the newscaster is saying/asking.

So in the end it's not really a video phone but just alot of basic hook-ups. I've never heard them call it a videophone but if you've heard them say that, they're likely just trying to make it sound hi-tech or somethin.

El Chuxter
03-24-2003, 04:39 PM
Well, first, I wish they'd cut down the coverage a tad. They're turning war into entertainment, trying to get the big ratings, and I have serious problems with that. Not to mention that it seems pretty obvious if you've got a reporter yabbering on about where a platoon is, it makes it an obvious target!

As for the videophones, my first thoughts are, "Hey, this reminds me of the old 'Battle Tank' game on the Atari 2600. Nah, I guess the resolution isn't that good." :)

Emperor Howdy
03-25-2003, 02:45 AM
Low-res or not, I have this weird thing for Christiane Amanpour. :stupid:

03-25-2003, 09:22 PM
I think it's due to the satellite uplinking element of it, the cameras seem to be digital MPEG cams which stream a signal back to the station, but some of the datastream gets corrupted along the way - it reminds me an awful lot of watching the war via Real Player ("net congestion - please wait"). ;)

03-25-2003, 10:56 PM
I can check with work associates who undoubtedly have the precise answer to the question, but I think that it comes down to cost and safety. If I remember correctly, the videophone eliminates the need for a cameraman and the rest of the uplink crew. A normal live "hit" requires at least 2 other people in the field besides the on-air person when using a normal camera and satellite truck. But the videophone, I believe, is a suitcase sized device which essentially is a glorified PC camera. Slightly more advanced to enable better streaming pictures, but still limited in quality due to is basic image acquisition method and delivery system.

Basically, it's a quick and easy way to get news out fast that otherwise wouldn't be possible except via normal voiceover.

03-26-2003, 12:32 AM
At least some of the uses I've seen on CNN definitely had a cameraman and an assistant. In one instance, the camera guy was driving the hummer while the assistant was "filming" the scene and the reporter was talking.

03-27-2003, 01:50 AM
Yes, that is the case JT, there is one guy (long haired dude) who has been near a hill for what seems like ever, and he keeps referring to "what the cameraman is shooting" every time I see him, but Stilla's answer makes a lot of sense in most cases- THANKS:) !!!
The interruptions in the transmission could have something to do with frequency limits imposed by the military activity as well, as someone pointed out to me after I last posted in this thread.

Oh, and "watching the war on Realplayer" ROFL:D !!!!!!

03-27-2003, 02:17 AM
It seems that the number of people involved with any particular news crew varies from location to location. On one occasion I heard the reporter refer to his "producer" and his "sound man" ... I assumed that the producer was doubling as camera operator. The footage of the air jump was shot by a one man producer/cam-op crew ... and then at other locations they seem to have real cameras and not video phones at all.

JT's remark about "Real Player" is probably very true ... no doubt these are digital signals being sent via satellite and are subject to whatever baud rate those phones send at. I find the "night vision" stuff that they can do to be amazing ... I suppose they can probably link these phones up to a small digital camera also.

Yeah ... here's an interesting link about these phones ...


Howdy ... this "weird thing" ... is that what you call ... you know ... it?

Emperor Howdy
03-28-2003, 01:40 AM
Originally posted by plasticfetish
Howdy... this "weird thing" ... is that what you call... you know... it?

You mean Barnaby? :confused:

03-28-2003, 02:05 AM
Barnaby Jones?

Emperor Howdy
03-28-2003, 02:14 AM

......what was I thinking. As if there could ever be another Barnaby.

I now refer to it as "Duesseldorf" :zzz: