Using Wireless Transmission


Jeremy Benning TV-Bay Magazine
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Wireless acquisition is a staple of live sports, entertainment and reality shows where cable free capture permits shots not previously possible, for health and safety reasons, and gives the camera-operator greater artistic licence to roam. The same is increasingly true of narrative drama where cinematographers are keen to work handheld or Steadicam where that helps tell the story. Any equipment which frees their movement and time by being lighter, easier to use and reliable in performance is going to tick a lot of boxes.

“Between handheld, steadicam, cranes, vehicles and gimbals, its increasingly necessary to have no cables whatsoever linking the camera to monitors,” explains Jeremy Benning CSC (Canadian Society of Cinematographers). “It’s pretty much the standard for all of the long format TV series, feature and commercial work I do.”

That includes The Expanse, the award winning science fiction drama series produced by Alcon Entertainment for Amazon Prime Video. Benning has been Director of Photography on all three seasons working with regular camera and Steadicam operator Jason Vieira (The Handmaid’s Tale). They are both currently shooting season four.

Based on the novels by James S.A Corey, the show is set in a future where humanity has colonised the Solar System and follows United Nations executive Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), police detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), ship's officer Jim Holden (Steven Strait) and his crew, as they unravel a conspiracy that threatens peace in the system and the survival of humanity.

“Jason introduced our team and myself to the Boxx Atom a couple of years ago when we first used the system on season 2 of The Expanse; it has now become the mainstay for wireless transmission on this production,” comments Benning. “Wireless video transmission has been a part of my work for as long as I’ve been doing it, twenty-five years or so. When HD came along, we sought whatever the best systems were on the market to get us the most reliable and cleanest and lowest latency wireless HD image.”

Vieira explains that he was introduced to the Atom by a video technician in the commercial world who had been using the system for some time. “I immediately liked how easy it was to change channels and link new receivers to the Atom transmitters,” he says. “Of course, the range you could get with the larger receivers is more than sufficient for our production requirements. It also inspired me to make the change to the Boxx Atom when I could link as many receivers as I needed to one transmitter.”

The Expanse is principally shot on dual Alexa Minis. “We rely on wireless video one hundred per cent of the time we shoot, for every set up and shot,” says Benning. “We almost always shoot with two cameras, so both need to be seen wirelessly. These days, our focus pullers, myself as the DP and often our operators are counting on a solid HD video link so we can see our shots clearly, with little latency and in challenging environments in terms of signal interference.”

The system is vital as a video assist tool allowing everyone from director to focus puller to concentrate on the shot. “Everyone has their own wireless unit so that the Atom’s signal not only feeds our director’s monitors, but also monitors for our focus pullers, operators, DIT and myself as the DP,” says Benning.

Benning has subsequently adopted the Atom to shoot The Boys, an Amazon Prime Original. For the new superhero satire co-created by Seth Rogan and starring Karl Urban and Elizabeth Shue, Benning paired the Atom with a Red Helium.

“In my opinion, having used various systems over the last five to ten years in the HD world, the Boxx Atom has been the most solid in terms of least amount of dropped signals, longest range and fastest connection times plus low latency. With how we work now, for our focus pullers and operators, bullet proof HD transmission systems are immensely important.”


Tags: iss134 | wireless | 4k | transmission | Jeremy Benning
Contributing Author Jeremy Benning

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