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Daniel Ignacio

Smartphones as IFB receivers for clients.

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While researching IFBs, I came across a product from Listen Technologies – Listen Everywhere, a wireless audio streaming system catered to venues, where users can listen (to e.g. a TV at a sports bar, speech/music in houses of worship) via Wi-Fi and an app on their phone. This video explains it well:

When viewed the same way as the Teradek Serv,¹ a wireless video transmitter that beams camera feeds to smartphones and tablets, Listen Everywhere got me thinking.

For cart-based mixers with a shelf to spare for a compact server and a router, Wi-Fi audio streaming could theoretically be applied in a film production setting. A cautious sound mixer may still keep a conventional IFB system for directors and scripties who require more reliability. But for those big commercial productions who would otherwise rent dozens of IFB receivers for producers, ad agents, and guests, a Wi-Fi stream to their phones is potentially advantageous. No more receivers for people to damage or lose, less equipment for sound mixers to maintain daily, and potentially less cost for the production. Plus it makes for an attractive rental package for sound mixers to offer producers, who want the luxury of anyone on-set being able to hear the scene.

I’m being very idealistic and haven’t put more than a few late-night hours of thought into this. But what does everyone think about the practicality and feasibility of using a Wi-Fi audio system on-set to replace conventional IFB?

1. Sidebar: Has anyone sent audio to clients via the Teradek Serv? It apparently also transmits audio, so combined with a wireless hop feeding audio into the camera…

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I’d personally rather not give up my rental on all the IFB I get from those productions (today’s gig has 20 comteks out!), and I can just see all those people scrambling for a place to charge their phone as they often show up to set with a phone about to die!

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I was always hoping Zaxcom would add this kind of App functionality to Zaxnet so that clients can download the app and use their phones for IFB/TC. 

 

Maybe I’d lose a rental— or I can charge for a password each shoot. I’d make $$ on the transmission and not have to own/maintain as many IFB receivers. 

 

Cheers,

Evan

5 hours ago, Daniel Ignacio said:

1. Sidebar: Has anyone sent audio to clients via the Teradek Serv? It apparently also transmits audio, so combined with a wireless hop feeding audio into the camera…

 

I’ve experimented with the Vue system and yes it transmits audio but there is a latency that can be annoying for field producers trying to direct in-scene while listening to IFB feed. 

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36 minutes ago, hobbiesodd said:

I was always hoping Zaxcom would add this kind of App functionality to Zaxnet so that clients can download the app and use their phones for IFB/TC. 

 

The fact that Zaxnet is on the ISM 2.4 band doesn't mean it is "wifi" or "bluetooth" compatible. Thus it doesn't work like that (download an app and be done).

 

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No thanks. Losing rental income - AND have to deal with 20 people standing in a circle around you asking "what is the app?", "how do I install this", "I don't have headphones, can I borrow your's??", "I can't get this to work", "my phone doesn't have a headphone output", "there's a delay in the sound" (or simply "there's a SOUND problem") etc. while you're trying to do your job... just saying LOL

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1 minute ago, Johnny Karlsson said:

No thanks. Losing rental income - AND have to deal with 20 people standing in a circle around you asking "what is the app?", "how do I install this", "I don't have headphones, can I borrow your's??", "I can't get this to work", "my phone doesn't have a headphone output", "there's a delay in the sound" (or simply "there's a SOUND problem") etc. while you're trying to do your job... just saying LOL

LOL

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1 hour ago, Johnny Karlsson said:

No thanks. Losing rental income - AND have to deal with 20 people standing in a circle around you asking "what is the app?", "how do I install this", "I don't have headphones, can I borrow your's??", "I can't get this to work", "my phone doesn't have a headphone output", "there's a delay in the sound" (or simply "there's a SOUND problem") etc. while you're trying to do your job... just saying LOL

This.....

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Wouldn't a system like that have very audible latency vs live sound on the set?  And that latency might be hard to dial in vs a pic monitor in that it might be variable?   If an enterprising mixer wanted to add something like this to their menu of services I guess I could see it, but it seems like it might take a long time to get to the kind of "fire and forget" ease we have with Comtek or other dedicated systems and you'd still need to have your Comteks along just in case, or for people (like directors and scripties) who might be working in direct earshot of the talent voices.   I think it would require a lot more hands-on with the peeps to get and keep everyone online, I guess you could make that part of an argument for why the job should let you hire a 3rd!   I see this thing as maybe being something for high-end "bring it all" commercials, but probably no other sort of gig...

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27 minutes ago, Philip Perkins said:

Wouldn't a system like that have very audible latency vs live sound on the set? [snip]

Try standing next to someone, talking to you over a smart phone with you listening to your phone and to their voice. It is serious latency and hard to bear. Add in very limited audio response with some noise and dropouts and it would be better to use two tin cans and a string.

The cost is outstanding of course, since everybody has one already and the range of thousands of miles is hard to beat, even with really good antennas.

Best Regards,

Larry Fisher

 

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It's never a bad idea to think outside the box and wonder if the most common method is actually the best method.

 

Independent thinking drives innovation.

 

This particular system has enough drawbacks to limit its practicality, but that doesn't mean that a better option can't be done.

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Also, if they're phones are connected to your IFB-wifi they won't have internet, and for some producers that's worse than killing all of the talent

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4 hours ago, Mungo said:

"Ready to shoot?"

"Yes, ready. All cellphones switched off or in flight mode?"

"Ahmmm ...."

 

You can still use WiFi in airplane mode. 

36 minutes ago, Shastapete said:

Also, if they're phones are connected to your IFB-wifi they won't have internet, and for some producers that's worse than killing all of the talent

 

THIS is a massive drawback I see. People will put up with a lot but if you cut off their internet.... oh boy there’s gonna be a problem. 

10 hours ago, Doc Justice said:

It's never a bad idea to think outside the box and wonder if the most common method is actually the best method.

 

Independent thinking drives innovation.

 

This particular system has enough drawbacks to limit its practicality, but that doesn't mean that a better option can't be done.

 

I completely agree. Recently i worked  with a VTR guy who used tablets as client monitors instead of traditional HD monitors. He said they were less expensive to buy and clients felt comfortable with them since they already had tablet/smart phone experience. And, he still gets the full rental. 

 

I imagine there’s a market for that in audio for IFB. Maybe not yet, but once the latency issue is remedied I could definitely see soundies buying up older iPhones and installing a singular app for IFB. 

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20 minutes ago, Patrick Farrell said:

There's a similar system by Barix that is currently being used to feed music cues to hundreds of backgrounds on a certain production. Maybe not ideal for a typical IFB setup but there are uses.

Interesting. But from the spec sheet; 

"Typical delay 100ms end to end"

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4 hours ago, hobbiesodd said:

I completely agree. Recently i worked  with a VTR guy who used tablets as client monitors instead of traditional HD monitors. He said they were less expensive to buy and clients felt comfortable with them since they already had tablet/smart phone experience. And, he still gets the full rental. 

 

I imagine there’s a market for that in audio for IFB. Maybe not yet, but once the latency issue is remedied I could definitely see soundies buying up older iPhones and installing a singular app for IFB. 

You can buy new ipod touches for $200... add a rugged case for $50 you're still cheaper than a comtek, Not sure what the streamer costs but you'll also need to add a high end wifi access point and router. So for the usual number of IFB you're probably even. 200+ for the project Patrick mentioned would put this well ahead

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On 2/28/2019 at 7:07 PM, Johnny Karlsson said:

No thanks. Losing rental income - AND have to deal with 20 people standing in a circle around you asking "what is the app?", "how do I install this", "I don't have headphones, can I borrow your's??", "I can't get this to work", "my phone doesn't have a headphone output", "there's a delay in the sound" (or simply "there's a SOUND problem") etc. while you're trying to do your job... just saying LOL

 

LMAO

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On 2/28/2019 at 10:28 PM, Daniel Ignacio said:

and potentially less cost for the production. Plus it makes for an attractive rental package for sound mixers to offer producers, who want the luxury of anyone on-set being able to hear the scene.

But less revenue for the mixer

On 3/2/2019 at 2:45 AM, hobbiesodd said:

I completely agree. Recently i worked  with a VTR guy who used tablets as client monitors instead of traditional HD monitors. He said they were less expensive to buy and clients felt comfortable with them since they already had tablet/smart phone experience. And, he still gets the full rental. 

 

He does for now. But I bet with time the pricing will come down once they start asking why they're paying so much rental for what is just an old cheap iPad??

On 3/2/2019 at 2:08 AM, Shastapete said:

Also, if they're phones are connected to your IFB-wifi they won't have internet, and for some producers that's worse than killing all of the talent

LOL!

On 3/1/2019 at 6:07 AM, Johnny Karlsson said:

No thanks. Losing rental income - AND have to deal with 20 people standing in a circle around you asking "what is the app?", "how do I install this", "I don't have headphones, can I borrow your's??", "I can't get this to work", "my phone doesn't have a headphone output", "there's a delay in the sound" (or simply "there's a SOUND problem") etc. while you're trying to do your job... just saying LOL

True! Any time you introduce something involving apps/PCs/smartphones then you level of hands on tech support goes through the roof, which will be very costly with your time being used up on the day

On 3/1/2019 at 2:26 AM, JonG said:

I’d personally rather not give up my rental on all the IFB I get from those productions (today’s gig has 20 comteks out!), and I can just see all those people scrambling for a place to charge their phone as they often show up to set with a phone about to die!

Charge for phone charging? :-P 

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3 hours ago, IronFilm said:

 

He does for now. But I bet with time the pricing will come down once they start asking why they're paying so much rental for what is just an old cheap iPad??

 

 

Wrong. He’s been doing it for years. Clients love it. His rate is quite high. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, hobbiesodd said:

 

Wrong. He’s been doing it for years. Clients love it. His rate is quite high. 

 

Yep, and systems like QTake already broadcast audio to these units along with the video assit image directly to the Ipads / Iphones.  For what ever reason, ( thankfully )  listening to the feed has not caught on over the past few years of these systems running on set.  I imaging once folks understand that they can use thier personal BT headsets to listen from these items it might take hold a bit more.  That said, most client villages, they are too busy "working" on their phones that the idea of using them for actually watch what is going on might be a stretch, easier to just ignore what is happing on the big monitor.  I have started to use small BT TX's on a few of my IFB outputs for directors that request the ablity to use their own headsets. 

 

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20 hours ago, chriskellett said:

 

Yep, and systems like QTake already broadcast audio to these units along with the video assit image directly to the Ipads / Iphones.  For what ever reason, ( thankfully )  listening to the feed has not caught on over the past few years of these systems running on set.  I imaging once folks understand that they can use thier personal BT headsets to listen from these items it might take hold a bit more.  That said, most client villages, they are too busy "working" on their phones that the idea of using them for actually watch what is going on might be a stretch, easier to just ignore what is happing on the big monitor.  I have started to use small BT TX's on a few of my IFB outputs for directors that request the ablity to use their own headsets. 

 

 

Exactly. One of the shows I work with has a similar system— running video and audio to director IPads. The (albeit low) latency is still an issue so thankfully no one is listening directly to their monitors and I still rent them Comteks, but that can easily change. 

 

It might be wise for us as a group to get ahead of this instead of just dismissing the possibility outright. 

 

Cheers,

Evan

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I am actually toying around with some programming, getting a Opus stream (opus codec, significant better in therms of audio quality/bitrate vs something like mp3) to get a low latency stream "into the world". So you need a small "computer" transmitter, this can be any linux device. Think Raspberry pi, a hacked phone running plain linux, etc. set to "broadcast mode". And the receiving end can be anything capable of receiving plain Opus streams, so that's every computer/phone/dedicated hardware out there. It is multicast, so the max connected devices depends on the bandwidth, but since it is Opus, we are talking dozens en dozens IFBs easily.  The "codec" latency I can get down to 2x 2.5 ms (if I stream a file), so that's ok I guess, but the ADC converter for live audio input is f*cking me now, adding too much MS in the equation. Working on a macbook, so can not optimise extensively like on a stripped down Linux machine (raspberry pi would be ideal), So when I have a linux thingy, I will continue to fiddle around....

 

 

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