Two iPhones and iPad used for NBC ‘Today Show’ outside broadcast

By Malcolm Owen
Saturday, March 28, 2020, 01:56 pm PT (04:56 pm ET)

The iPhone has shown its usefulness in one unusual work-from-home situation, with NBC Today Show host Al Roker revealing the use of two iPhones and an iPad as part of his remote broadcasting setup.

Al Roker’s iPhone setup for outside broadcasts (via @alroker/Twitter)

The coronavirus has forced many businesses and organizations to keep their employees at home where possible, with those affected being set up to do their jobs remotely. While many office-based roles can easily traverse to home-working environments, broadcasters are having to work out alternate ways to get their stars on-air, and sometimes broadcasting live.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Al Roker revealed his setup to broadcast for NBC’s “The Today Show,” filming live from outside his home. Roker appeared on-air live during the show, which appeared to operate as a typical outside broadcast to onlookers, but the tweet showed it was not a normal setup.

Yes. Made it to Fri-yay. Here’s my backyard setup for @todayshow and @3rdhourhourToday iPhone is Live U, other iPhone is return. iPad is prompter. And a LED light panel and an iRig/Sennheiser mic combo pic.twitter.com/DomHW57KTf

— Al Roker (@alroker) March 27, 2020

Roker advised he used a pair of iPhones to film his segments, with one iPhone 11 Pro used as the main camera while the other was a “return.” Using applications such as LiveU, the live feed from the iPhone’s camera was sent directly to NBC’s server, with the return iPhone showing selected video streams and clips provided by production, allowing Roker to have visual contact with other members of the team.

As well as the dual iPhones, pictured on stands, Roker also used an iPad as a prompter, an LED light panel, and a combination of a Sennheiser microphone and iRig hardware to provide audio.

LiveU is a live video transmission and streaming platform, one that NBC has extensive experience using. After becoming a shareholder of Euronews in 2017, NBC News and Euronews discovered they both used LiveU systems, and have since started to share video files between the organizations on the platform.

Given the video quality afforded by the iPhone’s camera, as well as services like LiveU, it is probable that NBC has used similar iOS-based setups for outside broadcasts in the past, or at the very least, will consider doing so in the future.

As for home users who may live-stream on services like Twitch or film vlogs for YouTube, the tweet demonstrates that a relatively small collection of consumer-grade hardware can achieve high video production values.

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