“Back in 2013, we were actually hit by a tornado. The car almost flipped over, all of the equipment was damaged, and we almost died. I had dash cams and internal cams taking footage the whole time. The video actually ended up on National Geographic!”
Brandon Sullivan, meteorologist and avid user of streaming technology, has been storm chasing for the past 8 years, risking life and limb to capture the harshest weather in Tornado Alley. Since the inception of live streaming, his storm chasing projects have taken on a new digital form, inviting viewers to follow him into the eye of the storm.
As a mobile meteorologist based in Oklahoma, going into tornado territory doesn’t exactly allow for the most high-definition of streaming videos. Tornadoes occur in typically remote locations where Ethernet and WiFi are completely out of the question, and storm chasing footage is usually restricted to filming for later airing rather than live streaming. In order to remedy this and give his viewers an authentic experience, Sullivan chooses to live stream using the VidiU Pro and its Sharelink bonding feature.
The VidiU Pro is an H.264 encoder that allows for up to 1080p30 streams directly to any online destination from a camera source. Sullivan attaches his VidiU Pro directly to any of his HDMI cameras depending on the storm chasing scenario: Panasonic Lumix GH4 for handheld/tripod or Sony FDR AX33 for dashcam. These are then connected to his Sharelink account.
Sharelink is the VidiU Pro’s native cellular bonding service which allows up to 4 iPhones to aggregate bandwidth for the VidiU Pro’s outbound stream. In addition, it can use any combination of Ethernet, WiFi and cellular to lessen the usage on data plans.
Sullivan and his team use a combined bandwidth of a USB cellular modem (AT&T, Verizon, MiFi) and his linked iPhone to broadcast a video/audio feed directly to Facebook Live. The quality of his livestreams fluctuate from 720p to 1080p with bitrates of 1Mbps-5Mbps depending on cellular congestion and reliability of connection in remote locations. While the live feeds can suffer occasional delays, latency issues are predominantly miniscule thanks to widely accessible 4G connections and VidiU Pro’s bonding solution.
Modern technology like the VidiU Pro allows Sullivan to achieve his dream of showing the world the intensity of monstrous tornadoes without the need for complex computer software or satellite trucks. With thousands of viewers tuning in to his streams at every broadcast, his videos are making a big impact on the mobile meteorologist field.
“In the hobby of storm chasing, we have to be aware at all times. The great thing about the VidiU Pro is that I plug it in and let it go. It has allowed me to share my content with the world very easily and produces great results.”