The popularity of cloud-based broadcast production and AI-enhanced content is at its highest point ever. Every aspect of live programming can be produced in the cloud or enriched with AI for faster, easier, and at a fraction of the cost broadcasters have become accustomed to.
Producers can collaborate in real time with team members anywhere in the world with the latest cloud innovations. But cloud-based production is so much more than communication and collaboration. Technical operations function fully and flawlessly in the cloud. Directing, audio, graphics, camera (remote and fixed), instant replays, switching between live and tape, live and remote talent, it is all happening right now in the cloud.
Cloud-based technology innovation has accelerated at light speed and producers are reaping the rewards. The freedom to do a full or partially remote production with no major infrastructure investments, zero setup time, and a 100% reliable transmission are just some of the reasons cloud-based production is growing exponentially. Use cases are as varied as the software services available and the ways in which they’re applied.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup’s draw is one example. Held in Paris, 11 of the 12 rugby coaches couldn’t attend in person, the World Rugby organization and HBS designed a set-up that allowed for each coach to appear in real time with zero latency for rugby fans to not only watch, but fully interact from around the world. Video transmissions from the remote coaches were sent back to France via a TVU One mobile transmitter at each location. Each TVU One was fitted with up to six SIM cards, covering all the main local telco operators.
In transmitting to the cloud, TVU One automatically switches delivery to the strongest and fastest connection. It simultaneously aggregates up to 12 data connections: cellular 3G/4G/5G LTE, WiFi, ethernet, Ka-band and Ku-band satellite, microwave and BGAN. It uses less data and combats packet loss to achieve transmissions with virtually zero latency. Virtually zero latency was critical for the broadcast because capturing the live reaction of coaches just as the results are announced is the key to the success of the show. To avoid finding themselves in a situation where the viewer would have to wait a few seconds between the announcement of the pools in Paris and the coaches’ reaction, the production team developed a solution where the feed of the event was buffered to align with the moment the coverage of the coaches was downlinked in the OB van. Creating this loop allowed the production teams to mix the video and audio sources following the usual protocol and produce a broadcast-worthy show.
While the 2023 Rugby World Cup Draw took place on 14 December 2020 in Paris, the tournament itself will take place in September and October 2023 in France.
SaaS in Broadcast
Pandemic restrictions and the financial benefits of an opex business model have made cloud-based SaaS models and remote staffing more appealing to content creators. Pay-as-you-go models provide much-needed flexibility for broadcasters which is particularly helpful now while organizations deal with the financial impact of the pandemic.
Some have turned to a fully cloud-based model. TVU Networks new cloud-based live streaming package offers a pay-as-you-go model, minimizing a company’s capital and committed operating expenditures while realizing live production capabilities within their daily operating expenses. With the TVU Cloud Production Service, customers can set up a live streaming business for single events such as weddings, seminars, and corporate presentations.
FOX’s LIVEnow OTT streaming news service recently expanded its use of TVU Producer to serve as the backbone of its 24/7 operations. Initially deployed as a cloud-based backup switcher for routing IP feeds to the network’s physical switcher, FOX soon discovered that TVU’s cloud-based solution for multi-camera streaming could serve as the main conduit for distributing its news feeds. TVU Producer has gone from providing basic graphic overlay and signal routing to supporting multiple IP inputs from many sources, delivery to multiple social media and CDN platforms, and closed caption support.
London-based Laminar Global, a new PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) provider, is offering third-party cloud-based remote production solutions as part of its platform, providing live sports customers with low-latency, multi-camera coverage. The cloud solutions will support the platform’s ability to simultaneously stream rights-protected live sporting events in multiple languages, with social media network-specific live graphics.
Barcelona-based broadcaster beteve employed a novel remote production/studio approach for its live streaming and broadcast coverage of the month-long Grec Festival of Barcelona. With roughly 50 shows for live broadcast, producers at betevé used a remote production solution that allowed them to cover multiple live shoots from varying locales while producing from the station’s studio.
Yet another example is the Summer Games in Tokyo. During the Games, broadcasters could access the TVU Anywhere app for free, which allowed full HD live transmission of video from iOS or Android smartphones and tablets including athlete interviews and special interest stories.
With the proliferation of live and recorded content, comes the need to sort through it all and locate what is needed quickly. AI technology makes it possible to enrich live content with metadata that includes voice, facial and localisation recognition. Leveraging AI algorithms, such as speech-to-text, object recognition and facial recognition, TVU Networks’ MediaMind AI engine generates metadata on a frame-by-frame basis for content stored on-premise or in the cloud or any other existing digital storage medium, making it easy to find and use the precise video clip desired.
AI-enhanced search in television touches many workflows. In the newsroom, access to AI-enhanced content increases the productivity of reporters and editors who need to find archived footage for a story. During live news and public affairs broadcast, show producers can find stored clips on the fly that are pertinent to what a guest or host is discussing. For management, having this level of metadata makes it easier to complete documentation required to prove compliance with FCC regulations.
Similarly, in post-production AI-enhanced content makes it easier to find the right takes while editing and quickly identify archived clips for things like establishing shots or even suitable substitute shots in some instances when plans change.
This is all just the start of how cloud-based production and AI-enhanced content affect video production. There will be many more milestones to come as creativity continues to merge with technology in the creation of dynamic live video.