Good Morning America (GMA) viewers were recently taken on a 360 VR safari in Tanzania. With segments incorporated into the two-hour broadcast, GMA on Safari was the first GMA event to be simultaneously broadcast live in 360 degrees.
GMA, produced by Disney–owned ABC, took the audience on a live, immersive virtual reality tour of the ‘Great Migration’, a natural wonder of Africa which begins at approximately the same time each year in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania.
“The migration is the continent’s greatest concentration of large mammals, where more than two million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle graze in the lush surrounds of the crater, the world’s largest inactive volcanic caldera.”
GMA showcased the wildlife using a total of five DJI drone-mounted camera systems operated by Skynamic, plus a stationary Immersive Media IM360 virtual reality camera. The latter enabled GMA viewers on Internet-enabled devices to see and control their own experience from any phone, tablet, desktop or VR headset, with live 360-degree images creating the illusion of actually being there.
For the remote production concept to work, all video, audio, co-ordination and IP signals had to be individually linked to the gallery in the US. Through its London bureau, ABC turned to Presteigne Broadcast Hire to source the technology, project management and system design for the deployment of the vendor’s IP Mesh system.
“GMA needed the fixed VR and drone-mounted cameras to be able to transmit from anywhere in the immense Ngorogoro Crater.”
“This proved to be a challenge because, while the Ngorogoro Crater is home to the lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and black rhinoceros, it is decidedly not home to IP infrastructures or mobile phone data coverage.” Presteigne project manager Martin Sexton
In addition to the 360 VR cameras, GMA needed a fully remote HD production setup with three RF-linked jeeps, wide angle cameras and a long-lens camera.
“All of the technology had to be able to transmit in HD from anywhere within the 260 square kilometres of the 610-metre deep crater.”
“We’re experts in establishing RF systems, often in very challenging locations and conditions, but the scale of the crater and surrounding area was, quite literally, a new order of magnitude,” added Sexton.
To resolve the issue, a wide area NETNode IP mesh system from Domo Broadcast was deployed between the crater and the base camp, interfaced at the base camp with Presteigne’s Idirect-based technology working on the Melcom satellite network. This was used for the live VR pictures, off-line uploads, and other IP/Internet based services.
Wide area, low delay HD RF circuits were then added for the roving jeeps to service video and audio from the drones, plus a presenter camera and further long-lens camera system with a stabilised Canon HJ40 lens and accessories.
One wide area return vision system fed an HD low delay quad split of all local sources from the base camp back to the presenters’ roving vehicle to enable live commentary on the pictures from the separate jeeps. Four wide area RF co-ordination networks were established to cover the entire crater for presenter IFB, plus producer, director and engineering talkback.
VRAR World 2016, London, 18 – 20 October
If you’d like to connect with other professionals from the world of virtual and augmented reality, hear expert speakers discuss the use of VR and AR in a range of industries and learn how this technology can be used going forward to benefit your business, visit the VR & AR World event website to find out exactly what you can expect from this year’s event.