Italy’s VideoB hails the benefits of Cobham camera control

British broadcast communication specialist Cobham continues to enjoy great success with its wireless camera control systems. In Italy, where the products are distributed by Aret Video and Audio Engineering, Cobham’s high-profile customers include VideoB Television, which was founded in 1985 and is based out of the city of Parma.

The company has four OB vans out on the road for clients including RAI, Mediaset and Sky Italy. It is always keen to employ the best possible technologies, and it is no coincidence that owner Ettore Cortesi has field-tested systems from Cobham.

“Talking about RF performance, and so evaluating the efficiency of the algorithm that deals with the H.264 coding, it is very difficult to talk about the performance of a radio camera if not comparing it side by side to another competitor,” says Cortesi. “We have carried out tests in some sports events of international importance, such as the football Serie A in Italy, and we can say that [with Cobham systems] the covered area is almost double compared to the majority of competitor systems, in equal conditions, maintaining a sturdy signal and definitely with fewer dropouts.

“[Also] the size of the transmitter is significantly lower than those of the competition; it is completely closed and there are no fans. The receiver is also amazing. It is equipped with eight diversity channels and two demodulators on board, so each receiver can pick up two radio cameras, using an ASI output.

“The system control is through a simple web browser from which we can manage all the features of the transmission. In the same web browser is a very useful spectrum analyser which allows you to check quickly if there are frequencies occupied.

“This came in really handy when we carried out an inspection at the San Siro stadium in Milan the day before the event and on the day after, during the Serie A match, the actual situation of the free frequencies was varied significantly by electromagnetic pollution. This enabled us to position ourselves immediately on alternative frequencies to avoid interference.

“The compact size and weight of the transmitter is equally important.”

Compression experience

The experience of Cobham in HD compressed COFDM transmissions derives from a long history of collaboration with the US Government, which for the last decade has commissioned the company to produce a variety of video downlink equipment.

As a result of these experiences and field research justified by thousands of units sold, Cobham claims to deliver superior electronics and a compression algorithm that is exceptionally effective, fast and robust.

Cortesi continues: “It’s a product that I believe in very much, which involves many intelligent features such as the antenna remote via fiber optics and an SMPTE cable that also conveys downconverter power supply. [There is] an intelligent control system that allows [for very efficient operation]; the RCP is composed of a IDU and an ODU; the indoor unit controls up to four cameras; and the outdoor unit is capable of transmitting to four cameras. In case we want to control four cameras we just need to add four camera telemetry units.

“In a delicate ‘downturn’ moment in the market these radio cameras [deliver] huge benefits and so become very interesting in this segment at such a highly competitive price.”

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