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Wireless transmitter recommendations


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#1 Jeff Tanner

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 10:59 AM

I'm involved in a tv series that will be shot on a stage for about 5 weeks. We're looking for a good, reliable video transmitter system that we can use to send the video assist signal out to numerous monitors in other parts of the building and outside to a production trailer. Are there any manufacturers or models that would be recommended for this application? Any to stay away from? Thanks in advance.

Jeff Tanner
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#2 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 01:34 PM

There is the standard Modulus, which is probably the most common transmitter. I own one, and it works well the majority of the time. There is supposed to be a new Modulus 4000 coming out any day now (but they've been saying that for at least 6 months). There is also the Canatrans, which is supposed to be good, but I've never used one. It's also about twice the price of a Modulus. The Modulus and Canatrans are both RF transmitters that transmit on channels 13-69. Modulus is famous for having horrendous service. It's basically one guy in a small shop in Maine, so if the unit goes down you can expect to wait a long time for repairs (months in some instances). Personally, I've sent mine to a guy in Canada for repairs when needed, and the turnaround has been exceptional.
There is also microwave and now WiFi. I have less experience with these, but microwave always seems to have breakup issues and I've never seen one as reliable as a Modulus.
A friend of mine has an IDX Cam-Wave transmitter/receiver. I know the image is rock solid 99% of the time, but there is a slight delay, which means you have to add something to sound so that the image and sound will match up for use with Comteks. This can be an issue when the people on Comteks (i.e., directors and producers) are close enough to set to see and hear the action. Some people have stopped using these types of systems because of the delay issues. But the image is so good that my friend recently used this system on a movie and they recorded his transmitted image and used it to cut together a few scenes from the film. Obviously, this was just for preliminary use, but it gives you an idea of how good the image actually is. I'm not sure of the exact price, but I know the Cam-Wave is not cheap. I think it's over $5000.00. A used Modulus (you can't but a new one at the moment) will probably run you about $1200. And a new Canatrans will be around $4500 after taxes.
So, after saying all this, my recommendation would be to rent whatever unit you decide on. My personal recommendation (for both budget and image quality concerns) would be a Modulus. Most rental houses will have them or can get them pretty easily, and the fact that you can transmit and receive the signal on a regular tv tuner is nice. The same is true for the Canatrans. If you go with microwave (which are generally much cheaper) you can only transmit on one or two channels, and only to a dedicated receiver that comes with the transmitter. The problem with this is that if the image has breakup you're screwed. You can't find a better channel like you can with the RF transmitters.
One last thing....you probably won't be able to transmit out to a truck with any of these systems. They are generally very low power and work best when the antenna and transmitter have a direct line of site. The best bet would probably be to transmit to the main video assist and then run cable to other monitors that are further away.
Hopefully that helps.
Good luck.
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#3 Olex Kalynychenko

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 04:45 AM

I'm involved in a tv series that will be shot on a stage for about 5 weeks. We're looking for a good, reliable video transmitter system that we can use to send the video assist signal out to numerous monitors in other parts of the building and outside to a production trailer. Are there any manufacturers or models that would be recommended for this application? Any to stay away from? Thanks in advance.

Jeff Tanner


I recommend to use of video wireless system on 2.4 Gh or near this frequency.
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#4 David Regan

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 11:50 AM

I was recently doing a lot of video assist stuff on a film, so was primarily setting up the monitors, which was sometimes done wirelessly via Canatrans. The image was so-so on it, as Brad said, if you have a direct line of site, and could preferably get the anntenna close, it was decent, but on a lot of handheld, running around shots, where it bounced a lot and was far away, the image quality was pretty poor. So yeah, broadcasting to a truck probably won't work all too well.
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#5 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 01:04 PM

I recommend to use of video wireless system on 2.4 Gh or near this frequency.

The problem with the 2.4 systems is that (as mentioned in my previous post) you don't have many (if any) choices of different channels, so that if you don't have an image there's basically no fixing it. Also, RF transmitters perform better overall than 2.4 systems. I've found that most microwave systems constantly have some kind of breakup, sometimes it becomes un-viewable.
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#6 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 01:06 PM

I was recently doing a lot of video assist stuff on a film, so was primarily setting up the monitors, which was sometimes done wirelessly via Canatrans. The image was so-so on it,

Did you have the opportunity to test the Canatrans against a Modulus at any point? I've heard that they basically perform the same, but I haven't been able to do the tests myself.
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#7 Jeff Tanner

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 03:38 PM

Thanks for the information. I'll get some units in and set up a day for testing.

Jeff
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#8 David Regan

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 04:25 PM

Did you have the opportunity to test the Canatrans against a Modulus at any point? I've heard that they basically perform the same, but I haven't been able to do the tests myself.


Unfortunately no, I was interning in the camera dept. so mostly was assigned the work of video, but never got the opportunity to do things such as test equipment :/ I hadn't heard of the Modulus however, so hopefully I can get a chance to try one of those out at some point.
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#9 Mitch Gross

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 10:06 PM

My experience is that the Canatrans outperforms the Modulus 3000, but I'm curious to see the performance of the Modulus 4000 once it finally ships.
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#10 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 04:07 AM

My experience is that the Canatrans outperforms the Modulus 3000, but I'm curious to see the performance of the Modulus 4000 once it finally ships.

Yeah, I think a lot of people want to see the 4000 in action. I think a lot of people are starting to wonder if it's just vaporware. And more still aren't that interested in it because of the customer service they've had to deal with in the past with the previous models. The thing is, it's still the industry standard, and one of the best transmitters out there.
Funny, today I was dayplaying on a TV show that uses 2.4 ghz microwave transmitters full time, and the "A" camera transmitter stopped working and the "B" camera transmitter only put out a decent image from 100 ft away or less. No steadicam today, so no modulus. The boom op asked me if I had mine with me so we could use it and he could check his frameline on his handheld monitor. This is another good reason to use an RF transmitter, since it seems like every department has handheld monitors or receivers and can have a look at the frame without having to crowd the directors monitors.
For the record, I have no connection to any transmitter manufacturers, besides using them. But I (and most other steadicam operators) have tried many different transmitters and have had to deal with this exact subject quite a bit in the past.
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