For anyone working in live events production, planning out and laying hundreds (if not thousands) of metres of video cable can be an absolute pain. Cable runs can’t always be laid in a straight line, or they might need to be patched through a distribution amplifier or converted to another signal type to allow for longer runs. This can add video delay, which leads to sync issues and…you get the idea.
Fortunately, Teradek have recently announced a new product that can help to make this whole process easier and get rid of many of these annoying set-up processes.
The Spark 4K is a simpler, more cost effective version of their award-winning Bolt range that has been designed specifically for the AV & live events market. From conferences and music venues, to houses of worship, the Spark 4K will streamline your entire operation.
With a range of up to 500 feet, the Spark 4K can transmit wireless 4K video – at up to 30 frames per second - from any HDMI source to any HDMI destination in full, uncompressed video quality and with zero delay. This is going to allow for so much more flexibility in events production. Roaming cameras, for example, will no longer need to be tethered to the switcher by flimsy HDMI cables!
This is something that Teradek excel at, as they have been producing wireless transmission systems to the film and TV production market for close to a decade now.
The Spark 4K comes as a pair - a transmitter (TX) and a receiver (RX). Both TX and RX have a scaled back, minimalistic feel to them. The units are constructed out of slate-grey ABS plastic and have a single ¼-20 mounting point, for mounting onto a camera/monitor, or anything else you might need to mount to.
Physically the transmitter is tiny - 87mm x 68mm x 31mm - weighs just 158g and has an internal battery that can power the unit for up to 1.5 hours.
The receiver is a little bigger, 112mm x 81mm x 25mm, but has no internal battery. Instead, it relies on mains power, although you could also use an external battery to power if needed. On the front is a small, bright, OLED display and on the back there is the power switch, a USB-C port (for charging and firmware updates) and a single HDMI connection.
The Spark 4K is extremely ‘plug and play’. There’s no menu system, as both TX and RX Sparks operate completely automatically. All the information you need, such as video format, wireless frequency, video quality and link status, is shown on the OLED display.
Spark 4K automatically selects and manages wireless frequencies in the 5GHz range to give you the most stable connection possible. All you need to do is connect your camera, laptop or any other HDMI video source to the HDMI input of the TX, connect the RX to a video mixer, monitor, projector or recorder and the Spark 4K will makes sure that you get your video where it needs to be.
Out of the box, the units come paired up. However, if for any reason they become unpaired, you can use Teradek’s free Launchpad app (available for Android and iOS) to connect your smartphone via Bluetooth and re-pair the units. You can pair up to 2 receivers to the transmitter, so if you do purchase a second receiver, you can set that up through the app in the same way.
The Launchpad app also gives you access to the Spark’s Status and Configuration tools; allowing you to monitor the signal strength, frequency, video quality, and the distance between TX and RX. Dig a little deeper and you can change the name of the unit, view its serial number and firmware version and initiate a system restart, should you need to.
Overall, Teradek have produced an amazingly reliable, lightweight and easy to use 4K video transmission kit that won’t break the bank and will make the whole process, from set-up to going live, much easier. Just think of all those cables you won’t have to coil up anymore!