Wireless Video Transmission for Filmmaking | Hollyland… | Aerial Guide
Wireless Video Transmission for Filmmaking | Hollyland Mars 400S Pro Review Banner Image

Wireless Video Transmission for Filmmaking | Hollyland Mars 400S Pro Review

Publish Date:
Dec 18, 2020
Categories:
Production

Intro & Disclosures

Wireless video transmission systems are particularly nice-to-have while working as a team with a client. In the YouTube and streaming space, they're also great for easily monitoring yourself or setting up a camera for wireless live streaming.

In this video, we’re taking a look at the Hollyland Mars 400s Pro. This is a wireless HDMI or SDI video transmission system that can send video up to 1080p up to 60 frames per second to the receiver. The transmitter also sends a signal up to 400 feet away to the receiver or can be used at a much shorter distance with their smartphone app.

Hollyland sent me this unit to test and review, but all these words are my own. They did not pay me to make this video or see this video before I've posted it on my channel.

Device Overview

Getting into the build of the Mars 400S Pro, the body of the receiver and transmitter is an all-metal design that can mount to a cold shoe or be used with a quarter twenty mount, like a tripod or magic arm. I typically used these with my Sony cameras and Ninja V both of which were in cages, so I could attach them anywhere via a magic arm or cold shoe. This was nice because I could tuck these devices out of the way or move them easily if needed, but overall the footprint of the receiver and transmitter is pretty small.

There are 5 antennas in the box, two for the transmitter, two for the receiver, and one extra. The transmitter does not have an HDMI passthrough, and the receiver has one output. If you're using the transmitter with a monitor on your camera, you'll need to have a monitor that has HDMI IN and OUT for the transmitter to get the video feed.

The device has a pretty simple interface and menu system. You're able to access device information, scan for channels and my favorite menu feature, adjust the fan speeds, or turn them off completely. If you're going to be using this device close to a microphone, being able to turn off the fans will make your audio much easier to process. I typically leave mine on auto and keep it off-axis to my microphone and don't notice any fan noises in my audio. I'd compare it to the same sound the Ninja V's fans put out. Not loud unless you're using your transmitter or receiver close to a microphone.

Latency

For me, one of the most interesting parts of the Mars 400s Pro is the low-latency between the transmitter and receiver. Hollyland claims the latency between devices is 8 hundredths of a second, which is pretty fast but this isn't taking into consideration your camera's latency. Adding your camera's HDMI to monitor latency will add to the overall lag between the camera and the final output.

I tested my a7s iii using an HDMI cable straight into my monitor, and it had a latency of two-hundredths of a second. I then tested my A7s III with the Mars 400s Pro and sure enough, the latency was one-tenth of a second. I also tested my A7III and A6400 which all had the same total latency of .1 or one-tenth of a second. For what I use this transmitter for, those are great numbers. I'm not using this transmitter in any environments where I'll be needing any less latency than that. In my use, one-tenth of a second wasn't a visible "lag" in the signal when using the monitor and my camera’s screen side by side, so I'm happy with the final latency of the devices while using my Sony cameras.

Powering

There are multiple ways to power the devices too, you can use Sony NPF batteries, USB-C, or with the included DC power adapter. When powering it with NPF batteries, the device will show how many volts are left in the battery. Powering by USB-C or DC power will have a power icon where the battery voltage will be. Hollyland only includes one DC power adapter in the box, so if you want to power this indefinitely you'll need to purchase an additional power adapter or you can use a USB-C cable connected to a power source.

While I was using this for a quick live stream test, that turned into an 8-hour live stream, this was acting as my b-cam and I was able to use this with a generic NPF dummy battery that powered the transmitter the entire 8 hours of the stream without any hiccups. This isn't an officially stated powering source from Hollyland, but in my testing, it worked fine for long periods of time.

Setup

Setting up the devices is pretty easy. After you attach everything and turn it on, the transmitter will automatically scan and pick a channel and the receiver will change to the correct channel. I haven't had any issues with these devices choosing an incorrect channel or taking more than 10 or 12 seconds from start-up to displaying an image on the monitor.

As a test, I manually selected a different channel on the transmitter, and before I could even adjust the receiver, the channel switched after about 3 to 5 seconds and the video feed resumed on my monitor. I didn't have to manually choose the new channel on the receiver, which was pretty nice and automatically changed faster than I could manually change it.

Image Transmission - Using the Receiver

Another great part of this transmission system is the ability to view the same feed in multiple different ways. The first and most common way is using these devices to send a signal to a monitor. The transmitter will send the signal to the receiver and you'll be able to attach an SDI or HDMI monitor directly to the receiver exactly like you'd expect it to work.

Image Transmission - Using the HollyView App

Another way to view the feed is with the HollyView app on a phone or tablet. After downloading the HollyView app, you can connect to the transmitter’s wifi signal and view your camera’s feed in the app. The app also allows you to turn on false colors, zebras, peaking, and a few other helpful tools, including updating the firmware. This is one of my favorite ways to use of this device when it comes to clients who want to see your feed, I'll touch on this more later.

A downside of using the app is that the range is significantly less than the receiver. The range in my testing is about 10-20 feet around the transmitter depending on how many obstructions you have between the phone and transmitter. The wi-fi isn't as strong as the signal between the transmitter and receiver, so for the best range, use the receiver and a monitor.

Image Transmission - Using the RTSP Stream

If you want to monitor your feed from a computer, you'll need to attach your Mars 400S Pro receiver to your computer with a USB-C to ethernet adapter, then plug an Ethernet cable into the adapter and your computer. I tried to get this running in VLC, OBS, and QuickTime but wasn't able to get this running after trying for about 2 hours. Compared to the ease of use with the HDMI monitor or HollyView app, I'm not going to recommend you use the RTSP stream if you want to set something up quickly.

RTSP is a pretty common method of monitoring security cameras, this has been my only interaction with RTSP before using the Mars 400s Pro. Typically an RTSP feed is simple to get up and running, but I was using the only USB-C to ethernet adapter I had around and it's more of a 7-in-1 USB-c hub with an ethernet port on it than a dedicated adapter so that may have had something to do with why I couldn't get this to work.

When it comes to the HDMI monitor or HollyView app, I'm very happy with how simple this is to set up, as it should be easy to set up considering its price tag. I just wish the RTSP view was easier to set up and use and didn't require the Ethernet adapter.

One negative about the 400S Pro is the lack of frame rate selection. The 400S Pro will interpret the signal from your device and select the highest framerate possible, typically selecting 1080p 60. If you're filming, make sure the frame rate on the Mars matches your desired frame rate. If you're only using this as a monitor, this is less of an issue, but for living streaming and capturing the stream of the receiver, it's still something to make note of. For my live stream test, I was using 1080p at 60fps. It automatically selected the correct resolution and frame rate and I didn't see any audio or video sync issues but I wish you could manually select your resolution and frame rate from within the menu.

The Mars 400s Pro doesn't come with a case to put all of the gear inside of. This has a place in my bag, so that's not much of a huge deal but for the price tag, it would have been nice to have a soft-sided bag included to keep all of the parts together and secure.

My uses

Before I get into my uses I want to remind you that if you're enjoying the content, to take a second to subscribe if you haven't already. If you're a returning subscriber, thanks for coming back.

As far as my uses for the Mars 400S Pro, I mostly attach this to my Ninja V cage with a magic arm and use it as a remote monitor for my YouTube videos. Since I haven't been going on-location filming that much this year, I've been filming myself for these videos, and being able to monitor a video feed while you're filming is a difficult task. My previous solution was a long HDMI cable running to my monitor but walking around my office was pretty difficult when I was in the middle of filming videos, and I've enjoyed having the freedom of wireless feeds.

When it comes to filming with clients, I'll be using this in two different ways. The first way is with my receiver attached to my monitor, so the client can see what we’re filming and give feedback as needed. The other way and one I’ll be using more often is the iPhone app. I have my old iPhone I use for controlling sliders, lights, and now the feed for the Mars 400s Pro. Some clients don't want to hold onto an expensive, heavy monitor - and also I don't want clients to drop my expensive, heavy monitor so having an iPhone and an app they can walk around with is much easier and less of a risk. My old phone has been dropped plenty of times, but I'm not sure I'd want someone dropping or knocking over my Ninja V and receiver.

In my experience, my clients are more concerned about the framing of products and people, see what's in the background if something needs moved around or removed completely - and this use to be done by standing over my shoulder peeking at the monitor. I'm looking forward to having a client be able to see everything in the frame without feeling like they are crowding over me the entire time, and if there are two cameras going at once - they can stand near one camera and have the feed from the other camera on the phone.

As far as live streaming with this device, I thoroughly enjoyed using this as a remote camera for my live streams. I want to get into more live streaming in the future and having a wireless camera to move around that's not tethered to a tripod is a great addition that not too many people have. I did not use the RTSP stream, and plugging this into your computer via USB-C will not enable you to use this as a webcam. You'll have to use the RTSP stream via ethernet or use capture cards. I have a few capture cards for my mirrorless cameras and computer already so I can plug the HDMI from the receiver directly into my computer and import it into OBS, or in my case Stream Labs OBS. My gaming streams on Twitch have been really fun and the people who have stopped in to chat have always commented on the remote second angle camera. Wireless live streaming is pretty fun.

Another bonus usage for this is that you can just transmit any HDMI or SDI signal remotely to a tv or monitor. I tested this out with my DJI Smart controller, and this is something I'm going to use with my drone videography for clients in the future as well. Any time I'm able to give a client their own video feed instead of peeking over my shoulder, I'm going to do it now.

While this is a pretty expensive piece of kit, if you're in the market for a wireless HDMI or SDI image transmission system, I'd check out the Mars 400s Pro. The low latency, form factor, and ease of use make this a pretty strong product. Having a wireless feed for your clients or team to view is a nice way to collaborate without needing to huddle around your camera. The only major downside is the price tag, at $650 it's pretty expensive compared to other video gear but in the scheme of wireless transmitters with these specs, it's an attractive price point. Teradek transmitters with SDI, HDMI, 1080p 60 video transmission with low latency are about double the price.

If you enjoyed this video, subscribe and share it with a friend. If you didn't enjoy this video, share it with someone you don't like. Thanks for sticking around until the end, and I'll see you in the next video.

About the Author:

Keith Knittel

I'm a designer from Cleveland, Ohio and love to shoot photos & videos. I made my first website in 2004 to show friends photos & videos (before YouTube/Flickr were things) and have been shooting and designing ever since! I have a deep passion for making and helping others create.

Free Mavic Mini Getting Started Course

  • Preflight Checklist PDF
  • Free Color Grade LUT Pack
  • Top 10 Tips & Tricks

Free Mavic Air 2 Getting Started Course

  • Preflight Checklist PDF
  • Free Color Grade LUT Pack
  • Top Tips & Tricks

Free Mavic 2 Pro Getting Started Course

  • Preflight Checklist PDF
  • Question and Answer Videos
  • Get up and running quickly

Post Categories:

Check out my latest YouTube video!

Subscribe on YouTube
Do Filters Make Your Footage THAT Much Better? ND vs NDPL Filter

Drone Courses, Community Membership & File Downloads

Shoot Inspiring Images & Connect With Other Students

Drone Training Courses

Learn the entrie process of flying, shooting, editing and sharing.

Learn the do's and dont's, as well as common pilot mistakes and how to fix them.

Private Community Membership

Our privately hosted drone community offers a place to post your work, ask questions and talk to your classmates and your instructor, me!

All skill levels welcome, from beginners to advanced pilots.

Updated Monthly

Drones and technology move pretty quickly. I will add more lessons to the courses every month and update lessons as new information becomes available.

Free Video Courses & Preflight Checklists

Beginner Guides for Specific Drones

Getting Started Guides

Answer common questions and get tips and tricks for your specific drone.

Preflight Checklists

Ensure you're flying safely and have a consistent plan with a preflight checklist. Use these lists to fly safely and not forget anything before and during flight.

Free Courses & Guides
Mavic Air 2 Mavic Mini Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom