Electronic news gathering

Electronic news gathering

Overview


ENG is a broadcasting
Broadcasting
Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio visual medium. Receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset of thereof...

 (usually television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

) industry acronym which stands for electronic news gathering. It can mean anything from a lone broadcast journalist reporter taking a single professional video camera out to shoot a story, to an entire television crew
Television crew
Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew, but with several differences.-Pre-production:-Casting Director:-Costume designer:-Director:* Associate Director -Location Manager:-Make-up artist:...

 taking a production truck
Production truck
Television Production trucks were developed to take television studios on the road so video productions could be made at distant locations for a remote broadcast, outside broadcasting , electronic field production with multiple-camera setup and a support of a number of different technologies to...

 or satellite truck
Satellite truck
A satellite truck is a mobile communications satellite Earth station, typically mounted on a truck chassis on a platform allowing satellite transmission from any location that the production truck can reach, provided a line of sight to the desired satellite is available.-Equipment:Typically a...

 on location to do a live television
Live television
Live television refers to a television production broadcast in real-time, as events happen, in the present. From the early days of television until about 1958, live television was used heavily, except for filmed shows such as I Love Lucy and Gunsmoke. Video tape did not exist until 1957...

 news report for a remote broadcast
Remote broadcast
In broadcast engineering, a remote broadcast is broadcasting done from a location away from a formal television studio and is considered an electronic field production . A remote pickup unit is usually used to transmit the audio and/or video back to the television station, where it joins the...

 newscast.

The term ENG was created as television news departments moved from film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 based news gathering to electronic field production
Electronic field production
Electronic field production is a television industry term referring to a video production which takes place in the field, outside of a formal television studio, in a practical location or special venue...

 (EFP) generated images on video tape.
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Encyclopedia


ENG is a broadcasting
Broadcasting
Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio visual medium. Receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset of thereof...

 (usually television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

) industry acronym which stands for electronic news gathering. It can mean anything from a lone broadcast journalist reporter taking a single professional video camera out to shoot a story, to an entire television crew
Television crew
Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew, but with several differences.-Pre-production:-Casting Director:-Costume designer:-Director:* Associate Director -Location Manager:-Make-up artist:...

 taking a production truck
Production truck
Television Production trucks were developed to take television studios on the road so video productions could be made at distant locations for a remote broadcast, outside broadcasting , electronic field production with multiple-camera setup and a support of a number of different technologies to...

 or satellite truck
Satellite truck
A satellite truck is a mobile communications satellite Earth station, typically mounted on a truck chassis on a platform allowing satellite transmission from any location that the production truck can reach, provided a line of sight to the desired satellite is available.-Equipment:Typically a...

 on location to do a live television
Live television
Live television refers to a television production broadcast in real-time, as events happen, in the present. From the early days of television until about 1958, live television was used heavily, except for filmed shows such as I Love Lucy and Gunsmoke. Video tape did not exist until 1957...

 news report for a remote broadcast
Remote broadcast
In broadcast engineering, a remote broadcast is broadcasting done from a location away from a formal television studio and is considered an electronic field production . A remote pickup unit is usually used to transmit the audio and/or video back to the television station, where it joins the...

 newscast.

Creation of ENG


The term ENG was created as television news departments moved from film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 based news gathering to electronic field production
Electronic field production
Electronic field production is a television industry term referring to a video production which takes place in the field, outside of a formal television studio, in a practical location or special venue...

 (EFP) generated images on video tape. All film, of course, required a trip through a chemical bath (processing) before it could be viewed and edited. This generally added at least an hour from the time the film arrived back at the television station
Television station
A television station is a business, organisation or other such as an amateur television operator that transmits content over terrestrial television. A television transmission can be by analog television signals or, more recently, by digital television. Broadcast television systems standards are...

 until it was ready to be seen by the viewing public (as in the cliche "Film at 11
Film at 11
The idiom "Film at 11" originates from television news broadcasting. Traditionally, it follows a promotion aired earlier in the evening for a particular story to be detailed on a later local news broadcast at 11 p.m., a traditional timeslot for local news broadcasts in the Eastern and Pacific time...

!"). Film was also difficult to handle, subject to easy scratching and other damage. Film editing
Film editing
Film editing is part of the creative post-production process of filmmaking. It involves the selection and combining of shots into sequences, and ultimately creating a finished motion picture. It is an art of storytelling...

 was done by hand on what was known as "color reversal" film, meaning there was no negative film. Edits could not be changed without cutting segments out of the film itself. It was not that rare for the splices used for film edits to break on the air when the film was being sent through a TV station's film chain
Film chain
A film chain or film island is a television - Professional video camera with one or more projectors aligned into the photographic lens of the camera. With two or more projectors a system of front-surface mirrors that can pop-up are used in a multiplexer. These mirrors switch different projectors...

 for inclusion in newscasts. While a wonderful medium for the creation of motion pictures and documentaries, filmmaking
Filmmaking
Filmmaking is the process of making a film, from an initial story, idea, or commission, through scriptwriting, casting, shooting, directing, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a theatrical release or television program...

 presented many difficulties for use in local television news. The use of film in news gathering virtually disappeared by the end of the 1980s.

It meant that the news gathering and the reporting process became one continuous cycle, with little pause between arriving at a news site and putting the story on the air. Coupled with live microwave
Microwave
Microwaves, a subset of radio waves, have wavelengths ranging from as long as one meter to as short as one millimeter, or equivalently, with frequencies between 300 MHz and 300 GHz. This broad definition includes both UHF and EHF , and various sources use different boundaries...

 and/or satellite trucks
Outside broadcasting
Outside broadcasting is the electronic field production of television or radio programmes from a mobile remote broadcast television studio. Professional video camera and microphone signals come into the production truck for processing, recording and possibly transmission...

, reporters were able to show live what was happening, bringing the audience into dramatic news events. This also led to reporters being live at news scenes long after news events had occurred, such as a reporter standing on an empty, darkened street five hours after a fire had been extinguished. Reporters now find themselves standing in front of empty office buildings to add "drama" and authority to a scene that occurred many hours previously.

It can be argued that News organizations like CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

 and others could not have existed successfully during the era of film technology. As it happened, CNN began its news transmissions in 1980, just as ENG was starting to come into its own. The technology had not yet been fully perfected and integrated with satellites and microwave, which accounted for some of the clumsiness of early CNN transmissions. However, ENG proved to be a crucial development for all television news. With news recorded on U-matic
U-matic
U-matic is an analog recording videocassette format first shown by Sony in prototype in October 1969, and introduced to the market in September 1971. It was among the first video formats to contain the videotape inside a cassette, as opposed to the various Reel-to-Reel or open-reel formats of the...

 3/4" videocassette recorder
Videocassette recorder
The videocassette recorder , is a type of electro-mechanical device that uses removable videocassettes that contain magnetic tape for recording analog audio and analog video from broadcast television so that the images and sound can be played back at a more convenient time...

s (VCR) was far easier to video edit, duplicate and distribute and, over time, control of the technical processes passed from highly trained broadcast engineers to television producer
Television producer
The primary role of a television Producer is to allow all aspects of video production, ranging from show idea development and cast hiring to shoot supervision and fact-checking...

s and television writers. This made the process less complicated, quicker and easier. In the film era, news stories were often transferred to bulky two inch video tape for distribution and playback, which made the content cumbersome to access, something that an all news channels requires repeatedly.

While it brought many advantages to television news gathering and reporting, at first ENG involved considerable compromise. Contrary to popular belief, ENG cameras and recorders were heavier and bulkier than most film equipment. An ENG camera required a heavy 3/4 inch cassette tape recorder to be carried along side it. It was virtually impossible for a camera operator to run carrying such equipment, whether away from danger or toward a news event. Editing was done on expensive, dual video tape arrangements with an edit controller in the middle. Each scene recorded on tape had to be searched out on the master recording, which meant that news stories were often slapped together with whatever could be managed by air time.

Technology developments


The development of Betacam
Betacam
Betacam is family of half-inch professional videocassette products developed by Sony in 1982. In colloquial use, "Betacam" singly is often used to refer to a Betacam camcorder, a Betacam tape, a Betacam video recorder or the format itself....

 and other compact half inch cassette formats allowed the integration of the field recorder into a single, shoulder mounted arrangement which was a major advancement in news gathering, while producing lifelong back injuries to many who carried the cameras on a daily basis. With these professional "camcorders", there was no longer a need for an umbilical cord between the camera and recorder. As a result, television crews could more safely venture into dangerous situations, like war zones and hurricanes. The development of cameras and recorders that could record in digital formats in the 1990s and early 2000s meant that various new forms of recording devices could be used, including hard disc drives, solid state media and much smaller video tape formats, such as DVCPro.

It seems likely the ENG will fade as a terminology for news gathering, since virtually all news is gathered and processed electronically. At the start, producers and assignment editors would say, "I'm sending the ENG crew", to distinguish from those still using film. The term was also used so that those discussing electronic methods would clearly understand that they were not discussing film.

DSNG



ENG became a catch-all term for various elements of the electronic news gathering process, including the use of point-to-point terrestrial microwave signals to backhaul
Backhaul (TV industry)
In the context of broadcasting, backhaul refers to uncut program content that is transmitted point-to-point to an individual television station or radio station, broadcast network or other receiving entity where it will be integrated into a finished TV show or radio show...

 the remote signal to the studio. In modern news operations, however, it also includes SNG (satellite news gathering) and DSNG (digital satellite news gathering). ENG field operations are usually done with a specially modified truck or van. Terrestrial microwave vehicles can usually be identified by their masts which can be extended up to 50 feet (15 m) in the air (to allow line-of-sight with the station's receiver antennas), while satellite trucks normally use a dish that points skywards towards one of the geostationary communications satellites. New phased array satellite antennas are, as of 2010, being adapted from military and aircraft applications for news gathering by networks and local stations. These systems will allow broadcast live from moving vehicles.

Advances


Recently, with the advent of high quality, low latency video encoding for IP
Internet Protocol
The Internet Protocol is the principal communications protocol used for relaying datagrams across an internetwork using the Internet Protocol Suite...

 (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC
H.264/MPEG-4 AVC
H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10 or AVC is a standard for video compression, and is currently one of the most commonly used formats for the recording, compression, and distribution of high definition video...

 or wavelet
Wavelet
A wavelet is a wave-like oscillation with an amplitude that starts out at zero, increases, and then decreases back to zero. It can typically be visualized as a "brief oscillation" like one might see recorded by a seismograph or heart monitor. Generally, wavelets are purposefully crafted to have...

), lower-cost alternatives to expensive proprietary microwave solutions have entered the market. These are based on COFDM and OFDM
Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing
Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing is a method of encoding digital data on multiple carrier frequencies. OFDM has developed into a popular scheme for wideband digital communication, whether wireless or over copper wires, used in applications such as digital television and audio...

 technology such as IEEE 802.11
IEEE 802.11
IEEE 802.11 is a set of standards for implementing wireless local area network computer communication in the 2.4, 3.6 and 5 GHz frequency bands. They are created and maintained by the IEEE LAN/MAN Standards Committee . The base version of the standard IEEE 802.11-2007 has had subsequent...

 and 802.16
IEEE 802.16
IEEE 802.16 is a series of Wireless Broadband standards authored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers . The IEEE Standards Board in established a working group in 1999 to develop standards for broadband Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks...

. More compact, significantly less expensive systems that use licensed or unlicensed frequencies are becoming available. These systems typically use highly asymmetric network design and rely on technologies such as multicast
Multicast
In computer networking, multicast is the delivery of a message or information to a group of destination computers simultaneously in a single transmission from the source creating copies automatically in other network elements, such as routers, only when the topology of the network requires...

 or RTP
Real-time Transport Protocol
The Real-time Transport Protocol defines a standardized packet format for delivering audio and video over IP networks. RTP is used extensively in communication and entertainment systems that involve streaming media, such as telephony, video teleconference applications, television services and...

 over UDP
User Datagram Protocol
The User Datagram Protocol is one of the core members of the Internet Protocol Suite, the set of network protocols used for the Internet. With UDP, computer applications can send messages, in this case referred to as datagrams, to other hosts on an Internet Protocol network without requiring...

 to achieve similar performance to high end-microwave. Since the video stream is already encoded for IP, the video can be used for traditional TV broadcast or Internet distribution without modification (live to air).

As Mobile industry continues deploying 3G/4G, there is a whole new generation of ENG products that have appeared. Often, they are very compact, as small as a backpack. Some of them aggregate multiple mobile data lines to deliver a HD quality content live.

The interior of DSNG, satellite trucks and microwave vans resemble small control rooms on wheels. With digital evolution, bulky tape editing systems are being replaced with single computers using multiple monitors or the computer's screen. An edit suite, which used to weigh over one hundred pounds, can now be replaced by a laptop computer. This is made possible by the fact that digital video is easier to transport (inside and outside an edit system), because it takes less bandwidth. There are many other qualities available through digital video that were previously unavailable or only through systems costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. In its essence, digital video allows the manipulation of video scenes more easily because all of the scene is translated into computer language, thus making it accessible to the computer instead of a fixed video frame.

Technical information


In the U.S. there are ten ENG video
Video
Video is the technology of electronically capturing, recording, processing, storing, transmitting, and reconstructing a sequence of still images representing scenes in motion.- History :...

 channels
Channel (communications)
In telecommunications and computer networking, a communication channel, or channel, refers either to a physical transmission medium such as a wire, or to a logical connection over a multiplexed medium such as a radio channel...

 set aside in each area for terrestrial microwave communications, with frequency coordination
Frequency coordination
Frequency Coordination is a technical and regulatory process which is intended to remove or mitigate radio-frequency interference between different radio systems which utilize the same operational frequency....

 typically done by the local Society of Broadcast Engineers
Society of Broadcast Engineers
The Society of Broadcast Engineers or SBE is a professional organization for engineers in broadcast radio and television. The SBE also offers certification in various radio frequency and audio technology areas for its members.- History :...

 chapter rather than the FCC. Use of these channels is restricted by Federal regulations to those holding broadcast licenses in the given market. Channels 1 to 7 are in the 2 GHz band and channels 8,9 and 10 are in the 2½ GHz band. In Atlanta for example, there are two channels each for the four news TV stations (WSB-TV
WSB-TV
WSB-TV, virtual channel 2.1 , is the ABC affiliate in Atlanta, Georgia. It is the flagship television station of Cox Enterprises and its Cox Media Group subsidiary...

, WAGA
WAGA-TV
WAGA-TV, virtual channel 5.1 is an owned-and-operated television station of the News Corporation-owned Fox Television Network and based in Atlanta, Georgia, United States...

, WXIA-TV
WXIA-TV
WXIA-TV, virtual channel 11.1 , is the NBC-affiliated television station in Atlanta, Georgia. Popularly known by its 11 Alive moniker, WXIA is owned by the Gannett Company in a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate WATL...

, WGCL-TV
WGCL-TV
WGCL-TV, virtual channel 46.1 is the CBS-affiliated television station serving the Atlanta, Georgia area. Its city of license is Atlanta, and the station is owned by Meredith Corporation, making it the largest-market CBS station not owned by the network...

), one for CNN, and another open for other users on request, such as GPB
Georgia Public Broadcasting
Georgia Public Broadcasting is the public broadcasting radio and television state network in the U.S. state of Georgia. It is operated by the Georgia Public Telecommunications Commission....

.

Traditionally, the FCC has assigned microwave spectrum based on historic patterns of need and through the application/request process. With the popularity of the Internet and other uses of radio spectrum growing in the 1990s, the FCC made available some bands of spectrum as unlicensed channels. This included spectrum for cordless phones and wi-fi. As a result, some of these channels have been used for news gathering by websites and more informal news outlets. One major disadvantage of unlicensed use is that there is no frequency coordination, which can result in interference or outright blocking of signals.