BBC uses 3G video phones in broadcast TV

Part of UK broadcaster, the BBC, is experimenting with using video phones to collect content for use on TV and radio. Where 3G mobile video phones have been used to capture still images for a while, this is the first time we have heard of them being used for moving pictures.

In a reprint of article in the BBC in-house magazine, Ariel, that has been made available for public consumption, they explain that as the original video shot on the camera is very small, the broadcast version needs to be magnified, leading to a fuzzy and distorted picture. Clearly the quality of this will improve as the cameras become more advanced.

So far, it has been used to shoot video for a BBC Bristol local news show and they are discussing the possibilities of using it for the undercover reporting of underage drinking.

Interestingly, they feel that 3G phones may be of most use on radio, where “Quality is so good that reporters or members of the public will be able to use phones to broadcast without need of a radio car or ISDN line.”

Program makers are also finding that people are being far more candid when interviewed by members of the public using video phones.

“Bristol has already set up a live discussion with the head of the local education authority and the editors were struck by the engagement he showed. ‘It was amazing how he came to life and spoke candidly to pupils at what is considered a problem school,’ says Stephanie Marshall. ‘There was something about the informality of the equipment that was so different from a normal studio discussion.’ ”

This has been recognised for some time by documentary makers, realising that subjects speak more freely and are less intimidated when shot by a small crew on handheld cameras rather than a full broadcast crew.

Ariel reprint