CNN’s News Bureau in a Bus



The CNN Election Express puts a news bureau in a bus, for CNN’s 2008 presidential campaign coverage, reports Broadcast Engineering.

The mobile unit combines the capabilities of a studio, editing room and production facility with those of a live satellite truck.

The Election Express got its first real road test during the network’s July YouTube debate in Charleston, S.C., doubling as an editing studio for questions submitted via Web video. The Republican national debate on November 28, 2007 in St. Petersburg, Florida, used several high-density Ruckus ZoneFlex 2942 access points supported approximately 500-plus attendees and media at the 2000-plus seat Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Attendees and media could file stories, upload photographs, post BLOG entries using the Ruckus ZoneFlex system.

WiFi connectivity and a phased array Intelsat BGAN terminal allow the bus to transmit video while in motion. Two Clearwater, Fla., companies — Frontline Communications and Parliament Coach — spent two years merging the demands of a live satellite truck with a tour bus for the press, making the 45 foot Prevost H-45 bus into a traveling press room, capable of going live virtually anywhere.

The bus is a fully HD mobile news production vehicle and accommodates up to 20 people in its newsroom. It supports four HD cameras, 10 LCD monitors and a 42in plasma screen. A top-of-the-line editing system and video production server provide full post-production capabilities.

To date, the CNN Election Express has served as the studio for interviews with presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards, former Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. John McCain.

The CNN Election Express provided live coverage for Iowa’s caucuses, and is now in New Hampshire for the nation’s first primary elections and visits to Myrtle Beach, SC, and Los Angeles for CNN’s coverage remaining presidential primary debates.

CNN also built an Airstream-style Express Yourself trailer, which traveled across the country in 2006.

ABC News on their New Hampshire Primary Debates utilized Facebook for real-time feedback and polling. ABC rang in huge Nielsen numbers for its ABC News/Facebook debates, with ABC claiming more than a million Facebook users have downloaded ABC News’ U.S. Politics application.

Online and broadcast are getting together.

CBSNews.com will add political news and analysis from the Digg website to its coverage of presidential elections. “Headlines from campaign and candidate-related stories discovered and chosen by Digg’s audience will be featured on CBSNews.com“. The site will also feature Digg buttons alongside articles and videos. The New York Times and CNBC are sharing web content while FoxNews has MySpace.

Clinton’s campaign just set up a new feature on its web site that allows Facebook users to ask her questions. Twenty-three-year-old Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes left the company this February to work on the Obama campaign.

Mobilized Team Coverage is now achievable by virtually anyone.

“iNews” might beat local broadcasting by offering better journalism with targeted demographics. Microsoft can reach more than 100 million “monetizable users each month” through its gaming, mobile and video divisions, larger than the biggest cable operators.

Panasonic’s 32GB SD card can record eight hours of 1440 x 1080i video or five hours and 20 minutes of 1920 x 1080i video. Armed with a laptop and a simple digital camera, individuals now have the fire power to create first rate journalism. Anywhere.

Animoto is a free multimedia site that allows you to create multimedia shows from still photos. Just upload your stills, choose music (theirs or yours), and you get a dynamic, MTV-like show returned in seconds. Microsoft’s Photostory is free and can output to mobile devices. Soundslides ($40-$80), is used by many newspapers for making slideshows with audio in Flash format. Works on Windows and Mac. Media Storm showcases some great newspaper work combining stills and narration.

Perhaps the studio of the future (today), will dump the satellite link and go live with a 2-4 Mbps Mobile WiMAX uplink using low power MPEG-4 AVC compression chips.

Live video sites include Stickam, which lets you host your own live show, BlogTv, which records your broadcast live and archives it, and Mogulus, focused on live video production tools like storyboarding, that allows you to insert videos or graphics into your feed. Justin.tv, centered around one of the co-founders, Justin Kan, streams his life 24/7 from a head cam. Vimeo allows users to upload and stream high-definition video for free.

Broadcast television simply doesn’t have the social-networking mechanism or the targeting that advertisers crave. Andrew’s WiMAX Location Information Server (LIS) delivers location information for WiMAX clients using A-GPS. Network your state with Creative’s inPerson Wi-Fi Video Conferencing Device ($699) and Spaceway 3 terminals ($299) for a wide-area, multi-cast backbone.

Any newspaper or journalism department can play.

Think about it. There’s 90 MHz available for WiMAX in most communities — and ATSC converter boxes will probably be unable to deliver off-air television reception reliably using rabbit ears.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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