Wireless video transmission has only recently become a reality for film sets. True, it’s been around for a while in limited capacities but in the past handful of years it’s really blossomed into something great. There are a handful of companies offering products in this very specific part of the market (TeraDek, IDX, Transvideo, CamWave, and Paralinx).
About a year ago there started to be some buzz on the RedUser forum about two wireless systems: the TeraDek system and Paralinx. Initial investigation yielded that Paralinx clocked in at a much more affordable price point – at least $1,000 less than TeraDek at the time. The range seemed comparable and in general the reviews and demonstrations I was seeing on the forum made a strong case for the Paralinx.
So let’s do a run down…
The Paralinx system is rated over 300 feet for direct line of sight transmission. Most people never have to go nearly that far. To date, I have not myself – but I can tell you this… I have probably pulled 100′ to 150′ without problem and the Paralinx has transmitted successfully when I was shooting on a boat in the middle of a lake and the director’s monitor was on the shore. It transmitted through walls and down a hallway when I shot a narrative several rooms away from video village in an office building. Any time the camera flies on a steadicam or glidecam, we don’t have to wait for playback to review the shot – we can monitor the take as it’s being shot. It was a life saver when I shot handheld footage 15′ in the air on top of scissor lift. And continues to make my on-set life a million times easier with every jib, dolly, and slider shot I do – not to mention every camera repositioning from shot to shot.
At the time of writing this blog, a single system of transmitter and receiver set is on sale and clocks in just under $900 – which I believe is probably several hundred dollars less than what I paid for the initial set. In my opinion, I’m often happy with with the value I get for my purchases but I’m rarely enthusiastic about it. Paralinx is one of the few exceptions. I am truly ecstatic about their products and company in general. If there was ever a product that gave you more product than what you were paying for, Paralinx is definitely one of them.
Ease of Use
The Paralinx is almost as “plug and play” as it can get. In the 6 months I’ve owned the system, I’ve never needed to calibrate or program the set. I upgraded to the Arrow Plus system with multiple receivers and they both sync and receive the signal without issues. Thumbs up in this department.
Paralinx offers a few different way to power your units and some of the solutions are really awesome. Here’s what I’m doing. I use the large RED Brick batteries to power my RED Epic – so with that, I have an Anton Bauer 1 to 4 D-Tap splitter from the battery plate. I then use the Paralinx D-tap to USB voltage regulator and cable adapter which connects to their USB to mini-USB cable. This powers the transmitter. I have the Paralinx Arrow transmitter mounted directly to a RED universal mount on my top rail system which also ties into the RED Brick cradle. The Paralinx Shield accessory is a must have, in my opinon – it has mounting points and turns the male Paralinx into a female receiving input for the camera’s HDMI cabling. An 18″ HDMI cable connects from my RED Epic’s HDMI output to the Paralinx transmitter and we’re in business for signal transmission.
On the receiver end, I use the supplied AC power supply for the Paralinx receiver and simply run an HDMI to the director’s monitor. I also have at the ready a passive 1 to 2 HDMI splitter. Additionally, I have a powered 1 to 4 HDMI splitter with signal boost (if ever needed) and a Black Magic HDMI to HD-SDI signal converter for any HD-SDI monitor needs. Simple enough. Monitoring is ready to go.
One of the options that I look forward to utilizing is using this system in conjunction with the Small HD monitors which have been taking the AC monitor market by storm over the past year or two. Small HD was smart enough to build USB power output into their monitor design – this, in conjunction with Paralinx’s USB to 90° barrel male power supply cable means that you can have portable and remote wireless monitoring anywhere you go. That’s a whole new level of awesome…
The people spoke and Paralinx listened. The upgraded system (named Arrow Plus) can transmit up to four receivers at the same time. Each receiver can be added on as need. I, for example, currently have two receivers with my upgraded system – but should I need one or two more, I can simply order one or two more receivers for the system.
I’ve got my mounting solution for the transmission end of things fully under control. On the receiver side, I’m still experimenting with solutions to find the one I like best. The Paralinx receivers have a 1/4-20 threaded mounting point in the back – I’m currently using a Noga arm in conjunction with a Manfrotto Nanoclamp for mounting the receiver. It’s not a bad solution but I still feel like there’s a better solution out there… If and when I find it, I’ll update this section of the blog.
With any wireless system, interference is going to factor into how you use it. Obviously, direct line of sight is going to yield the best results. In my experience, non-line of sight shots are best done with shorter distances (75 to 100 feet) to maintain a strong connection with the receivers – this includes transmitting through walls, different floors in a building, near or across small bodies of water. Plan your receiver placement with the standard factors for interference in mind and you’ll get the most out of the system. You can also take steps like elevating the receiver on a C stand to reduce nearby on-set interference.
As if the system wasn’t cool enough, your camera’s audio is transmitted wireless and can go straight to the monitor. Often times, you’ll want to mute the monitor’s audio during a take but this can come in really handy when it comes to playback and review.
Image and Data
The Paralinx system can transmit a 1080p uncompressed HD video signal. It also transmits any monitoring data that your camera is set to output. It’s always great to have the ability to monitor tech data in video village.
In summary, I’m pretty much in love with this HD video transmission system. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a better system at even close to their price point. Once you use this system, you’ll see why I and all of my ACs rave about Paralinx.
(5 out of 5 stars)
*More pictures coming soon