ABC Radio Reaches New Benchmarks with Tieline
ABC radio’s AM program recently completed a very successful three week Federal election tour of Australia with Tieline IP audio codecs featuring prominently in performing live outside broadcasts from all corners of Australia.
Tony Eastly broadcasting live on location with AM
“The tour set new outside broadcast benchmarks for ABC radio and maybe Australian radio too, as I'm not aware of any other national program outside broadcasting day-after-day for three weeks from such a wide variety of different remote locations in different states,” said Alan Arthur, ABC Radio Current Affairs Technical Producer. “While on the road I mainly used a Tieline Commander G3 IP audio codec fitted with a wireless 3G module to send IP audio back to a Tieline Bridge-IT IP codec at our studio.”
“The Bridge-IT codec got a very good work out as it was running on-line for about three hours a day and on-air for 50 minutes a day during those three hours.”
“Although I did set up the sat phone most days for redundancy, we made substantial savings over the three weeks by using the wireless 3G network instead of using satellite phones.
“Over the three weeks on the road we used satellite ISDN on one and a half days and wired IP on one day. For the rest of the tour we used the Telstra Next G wireless 3G IP system,” said Alan.
“3G setup and testing takes literally five minutes! It has sped up my overall OB set up time immensely and has made OBs very flexible in terms of where we want to broadcast from,” he remarked. “No longer do we have to find a spare fax line, phone line, internet modem or run up expensive bills on ISDN satellite phones. When we arrived at a new site – usually the night before the broadcast - I would just perform a quick battery powered check for 3G coverage and dial into Tieline’s test line with J.J. Cale playing in Perth to confirm codec connectivity.”
“During the broadcasts I used the Tieline Music Music algorithm at 33.6Kbps,” he said. “This set up works very well for our needs. Many people said the audio sounded so clean it was just like being in the studio. We also mixed in some sound FX on location to add some more atmosphere to the broadcasts.”
Chris Byrne being interviewed by AM's Tony Eastley
“The Commander G3 can be preprogrammed with unique connection profiles. I have programmed a swag of different profiles with unique audio routing and connection settings for different locations - based on network availability and other requirements. This saves time and makes it easy to change settings as required.”
“Where possible we insert live interviews on-location but a lot of the recorded packages in the AM program are inserted live into the program from the studio,” he said. “As a result we rely heavily on the IFB mix-minus return audio path for live throws. We can also mix the return program feed and the live on-site audio for a live PA feed on-site.”
“During the election, we also got plenty of use out of the Tieline Report-IT Live iPhone app with one of our reporters using it to file high quality audio while travelling with one of the party leaders,” he said. “Our reporter attached an external microphone and we found this worked well with Report-IT, giving us a nice balance of direct and ambient sound,” he said.
“Ultimately the app is only as good as the network you are connecting to and if mobile traffic is high or line of sight to a mobile tower is not good you can experience artifacts,” he said. “We learnt that it is best to connect around 10 minutes prior to a live cross and monitor the connection to ensure the connection is stable – particularly when you are broadcasting from inside city office towers or in areas where a lot of RF is flying around.”
“When live reporting, our phones are programmed to ‘record on connect’ automatically,” he said. “This means that we can FTP the quality, drop out free side of the interview recorded on the phone back to our studios and use it in program updates or packages put together after the live interview.”
“It was certainly a tiring tour with long days and early starts but the feedback from everyone I spoke to about the broadcasts was really positive.”
You can view video slide shows and hear audio excerpts from the tour at http://www.abc.net.au/am/specials/election_roadshow/
Footnote: The views expressed in this article are personal and do not represent the view or opinion of the ABC