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Two iPhones and an iPad for the NBC ‘Today Show’ outside of the show

By Malcolm Owen
Saturday, March 28, 2020, 1:56 p.m. PT (4:56 p.m. ET)

The iPhone has proven its usefulness in an unusual situation from home. NBC Today Show presenter Al Roker revealed the use of two iPhones and an iPad as part of his remote broadcast setup.

Al Roker's iPhone setup for external broadcasts (via @ alroker / Twitter)

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

The corona virus has forced many companies and organizations to leave their employees at home where possible, and those affected have been set up to do their work remotely. While many office-based roles can easily transition into home work environments, broadcasters need to find alternative ways to get their stars on the air, and sometimes broadcast live.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Al Roker revealed his setup for broadcasting NBC’s The Today Show, which was filmed live from outside his home. Roker performed live on the show, which seemed to work as a typical external broadcast for viewers, but the tweet showed that it wasn’t a normal setup.

Roker advised him to use a pair of iPhones to film his segments, using one iPhone 11 Pro as the main camera while the other was a “return”. Using applications like LiveU, the live feed was sent from the iPhone camera directly to the NBC server, with the returned iPhone showing selected video streams and clips from production so Roker can have visual contact with other team members.

In addition to the dual iPhones shown on stands, Roker also used an iPad as a prompt, an LED light panel and a combination of a Sennheiser microphone and iRig hardware to provide audio.

LiveU is a live video broadcasting and streaming platform that NBC has extensive experience with. After NBC News and Euronews became shareholders of Euronews in 2017, they found that they both used LiveU systems and have been sharing video files between organizations on the platform since then.

Given the video quality offered by the iPhone’s camera and services like LiveU, NBC is likely to have used similar iOS-based setups for external broadcasts in the past, or at least will consider doing so in the future.

For home users who may be streaming live on services like Twitch or movie vlogs for YouTube, the tweet shows that a relatively small collection of hardware for end users can achieve high video production values.

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