Last night’s Vice Presidential Debate seemed to leave both parties satisfied. Relax, the purpose of this article is not to argue about who won. I want to take a close look at the technology behind how the big news networks cover these elections. Just think about whats involved when you have 5 HD cameras and 3 microphones streaming live feeds from the debate stage. These extremely high bandwidth data feeds are recorded, encoded, transmitted to space, relayed to TV stations, and streamed for live broadcast over national and local networks ALL IN REAL TIME.
News Floors – Welcome to The Bridge
It feels like the bridge of The Starship Enterprise, only this show stars Captain Wolf Blitzer and 1st Mate Anderson Cooper. In the photo above, there are countless HD screens, thousands of watts of lighting, a fully functional smart board, or two, and every tool a newscaster could possibly need to convey their message to viewers. Don’t forget, that’s only half of the stage, there is a similar array of technology right out of this camera’s view for a second anchor. Now remember, all of this gear works seamlessly with the feeds coming from the field, and is then broadcast to our TVs.
In an equally brilliant display of news media pizzaz and nationalistic pride, Fox News has set up their own 2012 election nerve center. Plenty of room for visuals, pundits, interviews and anything else that might be shown on Fox News Network. A central stage like this and the one above are critical aspects of the modern news media paradigm. However, its whats going on behind the scenes and off camera that really makes all of this possible.
Behind every great news-floor, is a broadcast media control room. I think the only thing you could compare it to is NASA mission control or something inside the Pentagon. The engineers in this room control every graphic, video feed, audio signal, and pretty much everything else. They handle countless live feeds from all around the world and are ready to respond to any crisis no matter what no matter when. A highly skilled team of audio / video engineers operate with tactile control over the entire operation, making critical decisions every second, from how fast to scroll the teleprompter, to what camera angle to display.
Simulcast – Your News, Anywhere
National news networks are no longer confined to the cable television medium. Now you can get all your news in real time via satellite radio, website, or even mobile app. I must say its cool to listen to my favorite news show while I am driving down the highway trying to kill the time. Just think about how amazing it is that my phone can receive a signal from space and let me listen in on a live broadcast as if it were there in front of me. Now think about how much pressure those newscasters must be under, one mistake, one slip, or one stupid unintentionally offensive comment and the whole world hates you…
A Geek’s Paradise
Maybe I am just a bit nerdy, but I find it fascinating how all of this comes together so seamlessly. Even more so, it seems that every year these systems get more capable and equally more sophisticated. I have a love for A/V tech in my blood, and if you enjoyed this article you probably do too! Make sure to sign up for our mailing list to receive more articles like this one from us on a regular basis. Be sure to drop us a comment and let us know what you think the coolest media technology is today.