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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » Satellite receivers for live events -what do you use? (Page 1)

 
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: Satellite receivers for live events -what do you use?
Elise Brandt
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 160
From: Kuusankoski, FIN/ Kouvola, Finland
Registered: Dec 2009


 - posted 06-18-2011 04:23 AM      Profile for Elise Brandt   Email Elise Brandt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Long time no write. Been reading though...

First, I'm not sure if this should go to ground level but since it's equipment based it might fall into the digital side. The problem: we have started to receive live events via satellite in addition to recorded content in our cinema. The first live event did not go well (ended up looking unwatchable so we had to go to plan b and show a recorded event as a backup. Audience was happy, I think mostly because we talked to them through the problem, let them know instantly what was going on and kep them informed) and the other end of the transmission says levels were good, dish size is fine, everything looks good... the only weak link is the receiver box at our end.

We are in the process of trying to find a new receiver now, but cannot find information as to which to choose. Salespeople we cannot trust here, I want a professional opinion. Those of you who use satellite receivers, what do you use? Which ones work and have you thrown any out the window? Ours was a Vantage, and I won't even go into detail unless someone asks...

Please help us out. Our next live event is in September and we have the summer to make any upgrades. All we lack is the experience of someone who has been using this equipment for some time and can educate us a bit.

Thank you for reading.

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Kris Verhanneman
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 182
From: Belgium
Registered: Dec 2009


 - posted 06-18-2011 05:31 AM      Profile for Kris Verhanneman   Email Kris Verhanneman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Elise,

the answer is not that simpel to give.
first question you need to ask yourself: do you want to use live 3D or not? If you want live 3D, you more or less are stuck in the professional recievers.
If not you can take a normal topbox...

We have been using Topfield, Humax and other recievers. They all give us decend images.

Before deciding what reciever you would like to buy have a look at this white page: http://www.dtg.org.uk/publications/books.html
There is a part on coding the live feeds and I'm not sure we can configure those on humax/topfield.

For our live (2&3D) we have one like this: http://www.datacast.com/products/byfunction/video-receiver/superflex-pro-video-series

Neither the Humax Topfield or datacast can give you a perfect image if the reception isn't good (been there also ... seen it on screen...). You should speak to your local partner that sells you the rights to projects this live events. They should give you the correct equipment to get a decent signal on the reciever and on screen (and that way you have someone who to turn to in case of a probleme).

We use most of the time atlantic bird for the live content. Most of the time a good reception. When we need to lock on another satellite ...

Also try to find someone that can mesure the signal that arrives on the reciever. Not just on a free to air signal but really on the band on witch you recieve the live feed (during the test a few days before the real event). Maybe you just need a better coax cable between the LNB and the reciever or remove a splitter ...

Kris

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Elise Brandt
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 160
From: Kuusankoski, FIN/ Kouvola, Finland
Registered: Dec 2009


 - posted 06-18-2011 05:39 AM      Profile for Elise Brandt   Email Elise Brandt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for the suggestions.

Indeed measuring the test transmissions is tricky because they only do very few of those and about 10 days before the event an hour at a time, that gives very little time to try out different options, boxes and cables. Therein lies the problem. Since we can't test the new equipment but limitedly, I want to get the absolute top receiver, not a domestic model. Signal strength and dish size are good, says the helpdesk where the transmission comes from, and I'm inclined to believe them... it's the receiver salespeople I don't trust. Of course everyone says their equipment is the best, why wouldn't they? That's why I'm grateful for any info on what others use and if they've managed to get decent results with them.

I did look at that box you linked to, before I posted, looked good to me then. I'll take it as a good sign.

Tahnk you for the input and the links. I truly appreciate it!

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Kris Verhanneman
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 182
From: Belgium
Registered: Dec 2009


 - posted 06-18-2011 05:43 AM      Profile for Kris Verhanneman   Email Kris Verhanneman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Are you able to get a free to air signal on the reciever (current topbox)?
If so what signal strenght and quality does the reciever give you?

It could be helpfull to get some more info on what kind of satelite you need to lock and what kind of dish you have.

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Elise Brandt
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 160
From: Kuusankoski, FIN/ Kouvola, Finland
Registered: Dec 2009


 - posted 06-18-2011 05:51 AM      Profile for Elise Brandt   Email Elise Brandt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The current box gave us a goodish signal twice during the test transmission. We had another box (same make, different model that we got in the first place, the current was left to us as a back-up) that we switched to during that test, hoping to get a better signal and that box gave absolutely nothing off the same frequency. Switched back, and got signal again. TV-channels the lttle darling picks up like crazy but nobody's interested in those... at least we know it works, if badly.

Strength and quality were both in the 70-80% range with the box that got any in the first place. Since testing from the dish directly (according to our installator) looked very good, we can only assume it is the box that gives the variance.

We got our material from Intelsat 10-02 with a 110cm dish, which according to te transmitter side, is big enoug. Nobody would give me numbers on the strength of the transmission though.

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

Posts: 3681
From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
Registered: Aug 2009


 - posted 06-19-2011 08:08 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
These given percentages do not mean much. Also, it is highly dependant on the receiver type wether it can cope well with medium quality signals.

How long is the cable run from the dish to the receiver? Do you have a quality LNB? Who did the installation? I don't think you absolutely need an expensive 'pro-receiver' - although, if you're willing to spend the money, no problem. But then I would probably go for a 3D capable pro receiver.

It is very important to have someone at or near the cinema who is able to understand receiption problems. A satellite system is highly modular, one has to think dish to receiver to identifiy potential problems. The good thing is, it is relatively easy to have individual backup components at hand at low cost, and it is also relatively easy to solve problems by changing components systematically.

That said, millions of people are receiving HD content everyday without reliability issues.

On of your employees should make himself familiar with the receivers. It is also advisable to have one or two spare receivers at hand. And some needs to know the receiver software in order to be able to adjust LNB/transponder settings if needed.
This special knowledge like needed for 35mm or DCI projection - if you do live broadcast showings, someone needs to make himself familiar with possible point of failures.

Best is to have a professional satellite installation service nearby willing to service outside normal office/shop hours.

Most cinemas I know in germany use commercial grade receivers, but have one or two backup receivers with easy setup menus. DreamBox is used a lot.

- Carsten

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Elise Brandt
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 160
From: Kuusankoski, FIN/ Kouvola, Finland
Registered: Dec 2009


 - posted 06-20-2011 07:00 AM      Profile for Elise Brandt   Email Elise Brandt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks, Carsten. DreamBox is another name that keeps popping up in my research. It's obvious that there should be a person able to use ad tune the equipment available at the shows, that would be me. I learner to use the box that we had and this appears to be awhole other line of science that I'm required to learn [Big Grin] I don't mind learning but I do hate learning the hard way, by mistakes.

The cable run is not that long, and definitely the shortest we can manage, no room to wiggle there. The installation was done by a small firm, and they are not exactly close by... which will create problems in the future, that I know. We have to find another tech in the area who will be able to help if needed.

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

Posts: 3681
From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
Registered: Aug 2009


 - posted 06-20-2011 05:56 PM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As I said, equipment ist cheap and easily swappable - have a second line installed, a twin LNB, a second receiver. Maybe also a smaller dish oriented for a consumer program satellite for simple crosstests.

In case of problems, it is necessary to systematically rule out potential points of failures. That's easier if you have redundancy in the system.

- Carsten

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Kevin Markwick
Film Handler

Posts: 43
From: Uckfield East Sussex England
Registered: Sep 2004


 - posted 06-25-2011 10:05 AM      Profile for Kevin Markwick   Author's Homepage   Email Kevin Markwick   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Elise,

If it's any help to know, we have been using the very simple cheap Fortec Star Innovation receiver with no problems at all.

The only time I've had issues is when I bought a second Humax PVR, to record programmes for "Encore" shows. NT Live, Met Opera all fine, but it would not lock onto the Bolshoi from Moscow, it seems the non default DVB setting of DVB S2 is the problem.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6410
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-25-2011 11:34 AM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
How many birds do you have to be able to read?

The best solution for your dish problem is to have one dish dedicated to each bird, however, that would be cost prohibitive if you had to install more than, say, two dishes.

You would use a protocol called DiSEqC (pronounce: "Die-Sek") to command your receiver to read from one bird or the other via a specially designed splitter/switch arrangement. If you have a DiSEqC compatible receiver all that is needed is to program the channels into the receiver. Once done, the system automatically reads the correct signal. From there on, it is literally a point-and-click operation.

The time, trouble, worry and expense of having a tech come out and constantly realign your dish will vanish. From then on, you only need to have a tech come to your venue approximately one time per year for preventative maintenance.

Second: Get good dishes!

Avoid those "Pizza Pan" dishes. They aren't worth crap!
Get a full-size (1.2 meter or larger) fiberglass dish or better.
Have it professionally installed and don't let the technician get away with just using a "Whistler" or a "Bird Dog" to point it with. Make him use an analyzer. It's a box that looks like an oscilloscope. With it, you can align the dish and LNB very precisely.

Aligning a dish with an analyzer is like aligning your Dolby Digital system with an oscilloscope.

Aligning a dish with a "Bird Dog" is like aligning your Dolby Digital system by using only the DRAS software.

If your technician doesn't have a satellite signal analyzer get another tech.
Try to get your tech to come to your venue when you have a live signal from the bird. Sometimes there will be a 24-hour test channel on your bird but some satellites don't. If your guy can't see a picture on-screen when he visits, you have no way to tell whether you really have your setup tuned in or not. Maybe 90% but, you never know. When you have customers in your theater, paying to see your program, you want 100%. (Or maybe 99.9%)

For your receiver, it all depends on whether you have a "free-to-air" channel or an encrypted channel. FTA channels can be received by nearly any kind of box. Encrypted channels might need specific box or a box that has a smart card. For that, you'll have to coordinate with your satellite provider. They are the ones to advise.

Our programs come FTA. We use Sonicview HD8000 receivers.
http://sonicviewusa.com

They have been relatively trouble free, the produce a good picture and are easy to use.

The only time we have had any trouble reading the signal was during exceptionally snowy weather but, since we have the bigger, better dishes in place, it takes a lot of snow to block our signal. On that occasion, we were still reading the satellite when other venues had lost the signal.

Then, again, they had pizza pans. We have real dishes.

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Elise Brandt
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 160
From: Kuusankoski, FIN/ Kouvola, Finland
Registered: Dec 2009


 - posted 06-26-2011 06:56 AM      Profile for Elise Brandt   Email Elise Brandt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've been so focused on the receiver I didn't even think the dishes might be below par! Pizza pans [Big Grin] exactly what kind of dish is that and how do I tell if the ones we have (we have two, and they're supposed to get any signal from about ten satellites...) are fit only for baking pies?

The tech did have a machine to test the signal but I didn't ask what the thing was called. I knew there was a stupid question I neglected to ask.

We have DiSEqC in play, and theoretically after the channel was found it was a point and click thing. How weather sensitive are these things? There was a rain front coming in when the signal dropped off. But we can't have anything that sensitive to rely on, this is Finland! The weather's good about three weeks a year!

I keep wondering if we should go back to only recorded material. On the other hand, this is only the first setback.

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Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1944
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 06-26-2011 12:02 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Pizza pans" are the small dishes that you see mounted on homes, used by such outfits as Dish Network and the like for "cable television".

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

Posts: 3681
From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
Registered: Aug 2009


 - posted 06-26-2011 08:24 PM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For cinema live broadcasts, they recommend at least 100-120cm dishes. Should be easy to tell wether you have a dish that size.

However, Finnland is far north. Maybe large dishes like that are quite common there even for consumer installations.

- Carsten

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Elise Brandt
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 160
From: Kuusankoski, FIN/ Kouvola, Finland
Registered: Dec 2009


 - posted 06-27-2011 12:11 PM      Profile for Elise Brandt   Email Elise Brandt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
scared me there for a minute [Big Grin] no our dish is 1,1m and the broadcast side says that's enough. So, back to receivers then. You have given me some ideas, thank you guys! You'll hear me reporting come end of September and the next live go. It's either whine whine or victory dance, and crossing my fingers for the latter.

What seriously surprised me about this opera venture by the way, is that the audience doesn't seem to care if the performance is live or recorded. Why has it been marketed as such a big deal? We had bigger crowds for recorded titles easily than the first live, and all I've heard them say points to the same; they don't care how it comes to the screen, as long as the content is great. I wish soeone had told me this earlier, might not even have stressed about getting a dish installed in the first place.

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Mark Hajducki
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 500
From: Edinburgh, UK
Registered: May 2003


 - posted 06-27-2011 06:32 PM      Profile for Mark Hajducki   Email Mark Hajducki   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Elise Brandt
What seriously surprised me about this opera venture by the way, is that the audience doesn't seem to care if the performance is live or recorded.
The general impression I got from customers for similar events was the opposite (that the live aspect was important). Some of the shows sold out 6 months in advance.

If using recorded shows it is essential to make sure that there is a strictly limited number of shows, otherwise it will not be able to command a high ticket price.

--

In terms of dish size you are probably one of the furthest sites from the satellite, being quite far North and East from it so you may need to go large still.

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