The Max Headroom TV series premiered back in 1987 and was one of the first “Cyberpunk” television shows. The story lines having to do with huge international television / broadcast networks controlling culture and politics were at least 10 or 15 years ahead of their time.
Nobody would argue that mainstream media has a vast influence on these things today!
One of the fascinating things about the fictional “Network 23”, was the idea that all of the camera operators would have continual real time feeds from their portable cameras back to the network. Directors could see the output of any camera at any time, and see their exact location on a map – all in real time.
This type of portable technology was unheard of back in the late 80s, when large satellite uplinks and microwave vans were required to get video back to the station from remote locations.
Fast-forward to 2010, and an update to Sony’s “Location Porter” system looks to be enabling exactly that kind of connectivity, now on a large-scale basis.
Broadcasters have had the capability to use small mobile transmitters and VOIP systems to deliver video for a few years now, but this system takes it up a notch with a turnkey system that enables real time video/audio streaming for up to 12 sources (cameras, remotes, etc) at the same time at the push of a button.
Because it uses high-speed mobile data networks for connectivity, it’s relatively cheap compared with conventional systems. It’s no longer a matter of shooting a story and delivering media back at a later time, but realtime capture right onto a live show, or into an editorial system.
Maybe the future of broadcast news isn’t getting a single camera to an event and trying to cover everything at one, but to get a “swarm” of networked realtime cameras that feed everything and anything back simultaneously.