What We Learned at Cine Gear Expo 2017

2 Days and 3 Ways to use Onyx

We had a blast at Cine Gear Expo last week, talking with entertainment professionals that work behind the scenes of the film and television industry. People who stopped by our booth tried guessing the weight difference between an Onyx and traditional walkie-talkie (hint: those old bricks are a bit heavier), and our conversations would wind their way to the reason we were there: the industry.

Onyx is new to the production scene, and Directors of Photography (DPs) and Line Producers (LPs) wanted to talk to us about their communication challenges. Walkie-talkies were a constant source of frustration. Three challenges kept coming up in these conversations: long distance communication, live events, and increasingly crowded frequency bands.

Long Distance Communications:

Walkie-talkies were built to communicate over short distances. However for many DPs and LPs in our globally connected world, local doesn’t fly anymore. We chatted with a producer of high production value TV commercials, and they broke down the problem: They usually divide their shoot teams into Team A and B. With Team A being the main crew and Team B is a splinter team that shoots other scenes, B-roll or preps the next location. These teams often work simultaneously in different locations and even countries and need to constantly communicate about logistics or coordinating specific shots.

For example, team A might be shooting a car chase scene in the middle-of-nowhere while team B films interior shots with the actors in the studio simultaneously. The teams often need to talk to each other to make sure that the angles and lighting match up creating a cohesive story.

For long-distance communications, this producer’s crew relies on cell phones, but that means stopping after every shot, utilizing international calling plans, and waiting for calls to go through. This can result in increased delays and significant expenditures.

That’s where Onyx comes into play. Instead of having to re-set and call one another, your teams can connect with the press of one button. Shots take less time, everyone saves money, and you ditch communication frustration.

Live Event Management

When producing live events like the Oscars and Emmys, real-time communication between the production crew on the ground and the off-site studio crew is crucial. Real-time communication is critical but can be a challenge. If you take your hand off the camera to click your walkie-talkie you can miss the shot of the night, and if you look down at a phone you can miss your cue. Live event teams need a better way to stay in constant communication to hit that shot all while staying quiet so as to not distract from the main event.

With Onyx’s push-to-talk button and headphone jack, you can whisper to alert your in-studio production team to an issue, or a once-in-a-lifetime view from another angle.  

Increasingly Crowded Frequency Bands

One of the more technical issues that have arisen in the past few years is the crowding of radio bands. The FCC keeps selling off frequency bands, and more and more devices are transmitting huge amounts of data across radio frequencies. In a busy city like Los Angeles, there could be no available radio frequencies for your team to communicate on.

The Orion Labs team talked to a special effects expert who is in charge of the frequency spectrum at shoots, and he told us that existing bands are becoming obsolete as they get too crowded. Towards the afternoon, he will scan his predetermined radio bands and none of them will be available for voice communication. This results in shoots getting delayed as alternative methods of communication need to be found, ultimately delaying the entire production.

Onyx avoids this challenge completely by using WiFi and cellular networks. This means that your production team can communicate anytime, anywhere.  

Orion Labs at Cine Gear 2017

All-in-all, Cine Gear Expo was an amazing experience for our team, and we enjoyed meeting so many fantastic industry film, media and entertainment professionals. We enjoyed many great conversations (plus some great doughnuts) and gained deeper insights into some of the entertainment industry’s challenges. We can’t wait to be back at Cine Gear next year!