I make my living as a second-unit for independent music videos and feature films. All I work with is my RED camera, a pro voice-recorder, my HP laptop workstation and my van. I can’t complain about my life, as I love traveling and that is what this job offers me. A decade ago my job was much easier, as film producers and filmmakers did not demand to receive their footage instantly, and they would get back to me about possible re-shoots or extra inserts they needed while leaving me ample time. But now, my cell phone is constantly ringing with impatient clients, making my life and work more difficult. To send out footage, I was initially using whatever WiFi was available to me. Whether it was my hotel or if there was a Starbucks around, that became my solution. As many of you know, public WiFi connections aren’t anything near reliable, and—needless to say—I’d often spend hours running file uploads! The result was unhappy, yelling, and cursing filmmakers; a change was necessary.
My next step was buying a plug-in wireless-data card, along with a data plan from a major mobile company. This solution was more convenient then WiFi, but still not good enough, as I had to send a high volume of shots on a daily basis. I even had to move to my Macbook Pro (after obtaining compatible hardware for it) because my HP was crashing during large-scale uploads with the wireless-card.
Sam at Cinema Without Borders happens to be a good friend of mine, and one evening as I was drowning my file-upload-sorrows with vodka in a bar in Burbank, he told me about Verizon’s MiFi he had been testing for Cinema Without Borders. After speaking fondly of the device’s features and capabilities, Sam offered to let me try out MiFi, so long as I would write about my experience with it. I took the offer and went on a test trip, hoping that the future would not be as gloomy.
I shot a nature scene in Santa Barbara’s suburbs, and when I sat down to begin my work, I first checked the speed of my old, plug-in card and it showed an upload speed of 1.05 Megabits. Next up was MiFi, and I was eager to see what it could do! To my surprise, Verizon’s 4G LTE Hotspot showed an upload speed of 5.57 Megabits! I could not believe my own eyes; it was faster than my Charter Cable internet at home by 1 Megabit/second for uploads!
Still in disbelief, I told myself, “This may be deceiving, let’s try uploading a shot.” A short while later, I was thoroughly impressed. I tried Verizon’s MiFi in different locations and during different times of the day; the speeds varied from 2.75 to 5.88 Megabits, but the device did not fail me once. My only complaint is that I had to charge the device, as it would die after over 4 hours of use. I must mention that the MiFi allows multiple connections and is compatible with a greater number of devices than my previous solution. Now, both my HP and Mac laptops could use the Verizon’s 4G LTE, and let’s not forget about my iPad and my Galaxy Note 2.
I consulted a friend/filmmaker and went through more tests with him, uploading over 10 minutes of HD footage with lightning fast speed! I felt as though the MiFi could enable me to get my clients back and get on the road again! While admiring what Verizon’s 4G LTE Hotspot does now, I can’t wait to see what Verizon has to offer with its future MiFi devices.