Increasing access to a “more encompassing” product ecosystem is allowing broadcasters to reap the technical, practical and environmental benefits of remote production, as a cluster of IBC 2022 exhibitors explain to David Davies.
What was temporary is now being refined and made permanent. Remote production (RP) is certainly not the first technology trend to have passed through this process, but it’s arguable that the pace at which it has grown is without recent parallel.
Moreover, it is clear that many broadcasters are now seeking to explore the limits of this operational model as its numerous advantages become increasingly evident. Specialists including Dejero, LTN, Caton Technology, Haivision and EditShare are providing remote production tools and technology to help them do exactly that.
Rob Waters, Global Sales Director of connectivity specialist Dejero, provides a concise summary of RP’s trajectory: “Remote production is not new. However, the pandemic created a scenario that accelerated the adoption of remote production, impacting broadcasters all around the world.”
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“Suddenly, travelling is restricted and having too many people in the field, close to each other, is problematic. So remote work becomes extremely compelling because you can deploy smaller teams and still transmit low latency, high definition video with an easier set-up. You can go live much faster with less people and less cabling infrastructure, or simply record and transfer to your facility later over IP connections. Less travelling also means less carbon emissions, which is great for the environment.”
So as IBC Show visitors will discover, RP is presently the centre of remarkable creativity across broadcast & media. What follows is a snapshot of that innovation, covering new tools designed to improve connectivity, streamline workflows, and enhance efficiency of production models rooted in RP.
A more encompassing remote production ecosystem
Without robust and reliable connectivity, you cannot possibly have an effective remote production workflow. Hence this is a major target of R&D, as Dejero’s Waters can attest.
“A more encompassing remote production system is becoming the norm as companies offer solutions that complement each other,” Waters says. “Dejero is very focused on the connectivity aspects of broadcasting, so field crews can use our EnGo mobile transmitters to go live or quickly transfer large files from anywhere, even in dead zones or locations with intermittent cellular reception.”
Collaboration is another abiding theme and Waters highlights Dejero products’ support for the use of IFB (Interruptible Fold Back) and intercom, enabling distributed teams to communicate with each other in real-time. Meanwhile, the roll-out of 4K capture and 5G connectivity is reflected in two products that the company will be showcasing at IBC 2022 (stand 2.B51).
“We’re about to launch the new EnGo 3 and EnGo 3x mobile transmitters with native 5G modems and a completely redesigned RF and antenna architecture,” Waters says. “The EnGo 3x will offer 4K UHD video transmission and multi-camera support with up to four fully-synced HD feeds. Customers who buy this transmitter won’t need to pay an additional licence to broadcast in 4K UHD; it’s already included in the base unit.”
Like many others, Waters indicates that 5G is going to be a game-changer for remote video production. “Increasing access to 5G networks will make it easier for broadcasters to transmit video and transfer files from locations where they previously struggled with coverage and bandwidth,” he explains. “
However, 5G networks are only one side of the coin. The other side is that you still need equipment designed not only to be 5G compatible, but also leverage its full potential. Dejero’s 5G implementation takes the best of our high-performing Smart Blending Technology and combines it with best-in-class RF and antenna design to drive the most resilient connectivity on the EnGo 3 and 3x.”
High quality standards and the right RP tools
Global video broadcast solutions provider LTN (5.A77) is another company to have recognised early on that “the industry was under radical transformation, with the pandemic acting as a catalyst for change,” says LTN General Manager of Event Production and Transmission, Mike Burk. “Whether it’s a local sports event or a nationally distributed show, remote production demands high quality standards and the right technology tools. With this in mind, LTN used its foresight to launch its LTN Flex Production solution.”
LTN Flex allows users to transport any number of feeds back to a centralised hub. LTN Transport, LTN’s IP-powered network, transmits video feeds to the company’s centralised production facility in Kansas City. There, explains Burk, “operators eliminate the variables associated with on-site crews or equipment, and take advantage of a remote team of experts to ensure that each job is successful.”
Few would argue with Burk’s assertion that “we are in the midst of one of the most exciting periods of transition the industry has ever seen. LTN has been there for the move from standard definition to HD and 4K, and now the shift to remote production is taking things to new levels.”
The potential for sports, he indicates, is especially significant: “We are now seeing niche sports able to reach global audiences across every screen, and media companies can distribute more content for events at a better quality and much lower cost. The quality we have seen in streaming has rapidly improved and will undoubtedly only get better over the next few years.”
Local production on LAN
A driving impulse behind new remote production tools and technology is to ensure that personnel can work as effectively at home or in the field as they can back in the broadcast centre. That certainly applies to IP distribution specialist Caton Technology (1.F36) and its newly announced Caton NDI Gateway, which allows users of the NDI video-over-IP transport technology to send their locally-produced NDI output over the internet.
Powered by Caton Transport Protocols (CTP) and CatonNet Video Platform (CVP), the Caton NDI Gateway works by converting the NDI signal into a transport stream (TS) and distributing it over the internet in an optimised manner. Furthermore, the TS file received can also be converted to an NDI signal for further collaborative production with its dual-way conversion ability.
Jason Ho, Senior Business Development Director – broadcast and media at Caton Technology, remarks that: “the rise of NDI really came at the right time in the sense that a lot of people were looking at remote production. Simultaneously, local production on LAN has greatly benefited from NDI, which allows users to work with high-quality video, a mix of media, and even SDI replacement. But with its high bit-rate output, it’s not ideal for delivering 4K video over the Internet. With our new NDI Gateway, we enable NDI transmission over WAN, meaning that remote workforces can collaborate seamlessly with locally deployed NDI set-ups.”
Ho adds that he also sees the combination of NDI and WAN being useful for conference applications, where the pandemic has heightened the need to enable high-quality remote contributions to international gatherings.
Multi-camera contribution over IP
Mark Horchler, product marketing director at Haivision (stand 2.B36), pinpoints the specific aspects of remote production that it has seen achieve greater traction over the past few years.
“During the pandemic we witnessed a rapid uptake of multi-camera contribution over IP, the internet and mobile networks accompanied by bi-directional low latency video streaming to enable decentralised collaboration. SRT, 5G and cloud technology have made remote production and decentralised workflows the new normal for live broadcasting.”
Haivision’s RP range includes its Makito X4 video encoders and decoders, which were recently used by American football team Philadelphia Eagles for RP of away games. Horchler adds: “We also offer the highly portable and user-friendly Haivision Pro460 for real-time encoding and transmission over mobile networks including 5G, as well as StreamHub for receiving and decoding streams to SDI, NDI and ST-2110 workflows. Our cloud solution, which we will be unveiling at IBC, can be used to remotely control field units and route live video streams from event location to production.”
The company will also be using its IBC appearance to “demonstrate how broadcasters can now incorporate video from both stationary and mobile cameras over both fixed and wireless networks using a combination of 5G plus SST and SRT technologies, which enable low latency video contribution for remote production.
“By bringing in ultra-low latency video streams from all types of video sources, fixed and mobile, and keeping them in sync from a live venue to a central broadcast facility or decentralised cloud workflow, Haivision is helping broadcasters to produce live video content in innovative ways.”
Remote production editing as a ‘cultural change’ enabler
For EditShare (exhibiting at IBC2022 on 7.A335), there is the growing recognition that remote editing now has the potential to improve employees’ working lives.
“Video editors and other top creative talent in the post industry have tired of the ‘long hours in darkened rooms’ culture and want to stay fresh by managing their work/life balance,” remarks Stephen Tallamy, CTO of EditShare. “Rather than commute into city centre locations, technology allows them to work from any location they choose, with just a good internet connection to cloud processing.”
In enabling cloud-based remote editing, Tallamy believes that there are three key issues that always must be addressed: “The first is access to the right tools, and at EditShare we have focused on creating an ecosystem in which users have their preferred tools, whether that is Avid, Apple, Adobe, Autodesk, Da Vinci or anything else. You can even move projects between platforms if you need to.
“Second is the need to transport content between the ground and the cloud. This is perceived as a potential deal-breaker for many users. Fortunately, there are specialists in accelerated communications; we have partnered with Data Expedition to incorporate transfers in the gigabit range direct to Amazon S3.
“Third is the often forgotten issue of managing the cloud. It is all very well saying that you can start and stop processes as you need to, and only pay when you are working, but you have to manage your cloud environment to achieve this goal. Again, we have partnered with a third party, Teradici, to integrate its Cloud Access Manager for resource control and single sign-on.”
EditShare’s own latest developments include FLEX Cloud Edit+, which integrates specialist software from Teradici and Data Expectation, and employs industry standards like Microsoft’s directory service, Active Directory. Providing a fast on-ramp to the cloud without the need for specialist knowledge, FLEX Cloud Edit+ automates the management of the environment through simple configuration and single sign-on user access.
Tallamy reveals: “Building on cloud software we have been offering for four years, this new environment is currently in advanced beta trials with a number of users worldwide, from boutique post facilities to national broadcasters.”
With some contributors to this article reporting that broadcast customers are finding they can save upwards of 40% on live productions by using a degree of remote production, there is no question about the longevity of this approach. As many broadcasters also work to adopt long-term environmental strategies, it’s also going to play a big part in making the industry greener, too.
To discover more about the latest remote production tools and technologies, book your ticket for IBC2022 or click to read the articles below: