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Outside Broadcasting, On Location

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Nowadays, transferring digital files around the world at the push of a button is part and parcel of movie-making.
Kriss Brown, Mobile Satellite Broadband Engineer at Total VSAT, talks online and outside broadcasting, for the modern age...

You’re on location in the middle of nowhere and need an internet supply, what do you do?
You can’t use a dongle or a 3G Mifi unit as your mobile phone signal is too poor, so the only alternative is an internet connection via satellite.
TVS-UK Ltd formed in 2009 when, after some extensive research the company found that at the time there was no one in the entire UK supplying satellite internet service solely to the production industry. Since 2009, TVS-UK have accrued more than 20 credits on major productions in the UK supplying their temporary satellite internet.
The internet nowadays plays a key role in any production: from sending call sheets, booking hotels to the inevitable daily rushes while on location.
The production office would just not function without the internet. No matter what department you are in, on a production the internet is one of the most important aspects of the offices. It’s also an integral part of the unit base for artists to receive information from production or their agents, or simply to stream TV programmes for that all-important break in their trailers inbetween takes.
The set up time is pretty quick too, as you can be installed and online within an hour in most cases (not including travel time). You can get around 20 or more people on a single wireless network.
As for speeds of the services, there are various systems out there on the market - but the main two give you speeds of up to 20Mbps download & 6Mbps Upload 10Mbps Download & 2.5Mbps Upload. The downfall with satellite is that there is a latency issue which gives you a slight delay when transmitting data, which can make you think the satellites are running slow but, once connected, it provides constant speed.
Satellite works across the globe, of course, so, for example, if you are shooting in London, Wales, France & Morocco, you can get the service from the same company to supply all your internet requirements in all the countries above. This means you can take advantage of using the same people and the same service you used to.
There are now other companies supplying satellite internet to productions. Below is some free advice from the guys at TVS-UK.
I would advise that you have each department on their own system to save any drop in performance. Each satellite broadband system is capable of running about 20 people, but after that the system will start to fail.
With the experience I have gained I would advise you use the following and get a system per department.
System 1 – Production Trailer
System 2 – AD / TRANSPORT / LOCATIONS Trailers
System 3 – Director / Producers Trailers
System 4 – VFX Trailer
System 5 – Unit base (For Make Up, Hair and artists etc)
Also, when obtaining quotes, please be sure to ask for the following to be built in, so all quotes come back the same: 24hr onsite support / Fuel / Installation costs / Bandwidth speeds and costs / Equipment hire / Night installations / No hotel costs / Satellite TV / Full tech support / Usage limits on the bandwidth / Hard wire production trailer with Cat5 cable x 8 connections / VOIP phone hire / penalties for going over the usage limit / Back up services if satellites fail / Contention ratios of the satellites.
In short, temporary satellite internet is a must for every production in the UK as it is more reliable and robust than your standard 3G networks, as well as providing higher speeds.
Read the article in the online edition of Regional Film & Video here.

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