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"Firewire & Bluetooth" 

Comdex and the Consumer Electronic Show (late 1999 and early 2000, respectively), showed us that the digital future is very bright.

Most noteable was the proliferation of Firewire and Bluetooth technologies.  Firewire, also known as iLink and IEEE 1394, allows for high-speed quality transmission of digital content, such as video or still frames from video cameras and digital cameras.  A Firewire card for a PC these days can be found for less than $150 bucks.  Expect this price to keep dropping.

Bluetooth is the radio frequency technology that allows video and digital cameras along with PDAs and a myriad number of devices to transmit and receive data without needing to fuss with wires (or line-of-sight constraints, as was imposed through the use of infra-red technology).

What's so exciting about Firewire & Bluetooth in combination? 

Attach a Bluetooth Firewire Transmitter (BFT) to your Firewire-ready video camera Firewire port and add a Bluetooth Firewire Receiver (BFR) to each computer on your set's Firewire card.  There are a lot of benefits to this approach.

  1. Say good-bye to recording with the video camera itself.   It will last longer if it captures and transmits an image with as few moving mechanical parts as possible.  Also, the camera assistant will nolonger have to worry about changing tapes.  If you have the camera on a mini-crane, not having to bring it down for tape changes is also a good advantage.

  2. The cost of shooting just dropped.  The only tape that you will need to buy is the one for the master dump, coming from your harddrive - after you have finished editing.    Even at $16 per miniDV tape (or $7 each when you buy them in boxes of 10),  you will save a bunch of bucks.   Record on your harddrive or if you prefer you can have a seperate miniDV recording device connected to a computer - away from the camera.   Sony has a miniDV deck that will hold over two hours of data on a single tape.  The Sony Video Walkman can also be used, albeit for just over an hours worth of tape.

  3. Each computer on your set that has a Firewire card with a BFR can receive the trasmitted Firewire signal coming from the camera.  Buy a 14.1" active matrix laptop.  With a BFR connected to it's Firewire port, you can walk around the set and use the laptop as a portable wireless monitor - coming directly from the camera.  You can have as many of these laptops or desktop camera monitors as you want, since the Bluetooth signal is being sent out and can be received by as many devices that have the signal receiving key.  If you are using multiple cameras, you can designate by receiver which recording device will be montoring and recording which camera by using unique keys.

  4. Say good-bye to tripping over a bunch of cables.  A three-hour battery pack can eliminate the need for electrical cables on the floor - one less thing to trip over.

The bad news.   Until the Bluetooth Firewire Transmitter (BFT) and Bluetooth Firewire Receiver (BFR) devices are commercially available, you will have to run the Firewire wire from your camera to your recording and/or monitoring computer.

Some company is going to make a bundle selling BFTs and BFRs.  These little devices will be small, no bigger than a one-to-two telephone wire coupler that you stick into a wall phone jack.  Each will have the ability to change the transmission/receiver key number manually.  Expect to pay around $50 to $80 a piece for these little gems.

Comdex and the Consumer Electronic Show are giving us indicators of a very bright digital future - one that isn't wireless - but, moreover, one with less wires, one that allows for lower production costs and greater monitoring of what is being recorded.  That has to be welcome news to producers.  It sure is to me!

James E. Tessier
Editor, Surfview Entertainment ™  http://www.surfview.com

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Copyright 2000  James E. Tessier. All Rights Reserved.