Really long-distance live HD production
In the Red Bull Stratos capsule, company staff mounted an onboard video control system for nine HD video cameras with specially developed telemetry control. This system was used to remotely control the cameras, which included three RED ONE cameras, three Canon EOS 5D DSLR still cameras, nine PENTA Studiotech LMP HD1200 micro HD cameras and 13 Panasonic P2 recorders. It also included a small digital video router to capture all of the ISO signals. This enabled complete remote control of the whole video system and featured three HD video downlinks that were dynamically assigned to the selected cameras and whose feeds were captured inside an on-site company trailer.
The company’s engineers developed the software that allowed mission control to switch any of the nine HD cameras to any of the three video downlinks, allowing mission control operators on the ground to remotely trigger (start and stop) Panasonic P2 recorders inside the capsule, as well as adjust color balance, gain and shutter control on the cameras.
A single dual-digital radio link was employed to control all of the video downlinks from the capsule, Leister said, which allowed them, in the event of RF interference, to switch to another frequency and continue controlling a particular device. Switching so many different devices and brands from different manufacturers proved to be a major challenge in and of itself.
Ground control brings it all together
The communications infrastructure on-site included the entire compound, the mission control, the production offices, the media/press center, an HD edit suite and a mobile production truck (Lyon Video’s MU-8) used as the main A/V control room. All these facilities and positions were networked together into a single communications infrastructure via the company’s Artist Digital Matrix system.
The company also provided an on-site digital radio network with more than 100 radio receivers and 10 channels, which were seamlessly integrated into the wired matrix intercom system. This allowed radio users to directly talk to intercom users and vice versa. The company also supplied the radio system housed inside Baumgartner’s chest pack and used to communicate live during the freefell.
Leister said that the free-fall radio system inside Baumgartner’s chest pack was not as powerful and could not transmit a signal to Earth as well as the one radio system inside the capsule because they could not use a large enough battery system (due to weight and bad aerodynamics). Instead, they used steerable antennas on the tracking trucks and relayed the signal via a TV tower in the nearby town of Caprock, NM. That tower relayed the signal between mission control and the tracking truck.