For all those saying live production is possible in the cloud there are naysayers claiming that latency sucks. Not according to Warner Bros. Discovery, which is proving live virtual production on a daily basis on the biggest sports events in the world.
“If you’ve already adopted remote production you’ve already solved latency,” said Dave Duvall, CIO. “Timing and alignment [of signals] in the cloud remains to be solved but it is solvable.”
WBD Sports produces sports in 19 languages across 50 markets. “We might require a studio in Norway, a back-end in London and a commentator in Greece,” Duvall said. “That happens every day at Eurosport. For us, remote is a known quantity. We are very comfortable with it.”
But what does that maths look like around an event the scale of a football World Cup? Scott Young, SVP Content and Production (Europe), said: “Cloud means we can go around the world without dragging loads of people and hard production surfaces. In turn, that enables us to put more effort on screen and it starts to change the bar on what we can really do.”
This means being closer than ever to an athlete before they compete and directly after they compete. “We don’t want to have our audience at the back of the grandstand but right next to where the competition is,” Young said.
“We’ve tasked our staff to run amok in the IBC halls to find out what we can use to push the story.”
WBD Sports is also intent on further enriching the fan experience with data-led storytelling. “Some audiences want to understand the sport in a deeper way,” explained Young, “for example, to understand how a figure skater needs to perfectly land. We are doing that in the Cube today.”
The Cube is the broadcaster’s augmented reality studio environment. Young explained that the evolution of data-led storytelling is to curate individual feeds by overlaying data on the live stream.
“I’m nervous of populating the live feed with extraneous data and graphics but if we can give viewers the option for how much data they want, I think they would love that.”
He added: “You can call it the metaverse if you like. For us, it’s all about having the fan feel like they are there.”
The broadcaster operates a hybrid workflow in Europe but where it touches the cloud it is doing so in concert with AWS.
“The hardest thing with infrastructure is to orchestrate and control it,” said Duvall. “With AWS that control plane is workable, it responds in the way you expect it and it’s reliable.”
“It feels like you guys really push us,” added Marc Aldrich, GM, Global Media & Entertainment, AWS. “We’re hoping for more as you bring [Discovery and Warner Media] together.”