By Larissa Goerner Consumers are more content hungry than ever before, demanding content anytime, anywhere, on any screen – with stunning images. Around 600m people across 200 countries, including around 40m in North America alone, watched English Premier League football matches last year, and these figures are only set to rise. An IAB study shows […]
By Larissa Goerner
Consumers are more content hungry than ever before, demanding content anytime, anywhere, on any screen – with stunning images. Around 600m people across 200 countries, including around 40m in North America alone, watched English Premier League football matches last year, and these figures are only set to rise. An IAB study shows that globally, more than two thirds of all people have live streamed videos in the last year, with 47% of those having increased their consumption over the previous year.
The need to work smarter, with greater agility and flexibility, is now front and centre. At-home or remote production capabilities, with only a small amount of equipment and staff required to be on location, are gaining popularity at a staggering rate.
At-home and remote production, in which only a small amount of equipment and staff is required to be on-location, are gaining popularity at a staggering rate owing to time and cost savings and the positive impact on the environment.
The industry’s transition to open-standard IP technology is accelerating the move to remote/at-home workflows and bringing the majority of live sports and event production infrastructure and workflows back to the home studio. Unlike SDI production environments, there is no long set-up period required and access to signals and services are instant; the same system can be spun up or down and reconfigured quickly and easily. In many instances, only the on-site cameras and connectivity will need to move on to the next event location while the rest of the production workflow remains at the central studio. In cases where some additional kit is required at the event venue, with lighter IP technology flight sets on-site deployment can be done with less rack space and less cabling.
The biggest hurdle to the widespread adoption of at-home models is latency, which is typically introduced at the encoding or decoding stage or as a result of the contribution network determined by the distance between the production hub and remote venue. Signal round trip times across EMEA do not usually exceed 80ms, but for cross-Atlantic connections, they can quickly add up to about 100-150ms, which makes operations more challenging. Several productions and many tests have demonstrated, however, that for many production tasks, like switching video signals and matching cameras, delays up to 200ms are acceptable.
Tolerance for replay is more challenging and highly dependant on the use case, as usually delays in the jog/shuttle of content and finding the right In-Points becomes challenging for the operator. Video return feeds, which provide everything from production monitoring, teleprompting and real-time confidence monitoring to bi-directional video for remote interviews, must also remain uninterrupted and subject to minimal latency so that productions can run smoothly.
Although we see more availability of higher network speeds, bandwidth remains the challenge for most of the remote production applications. For instance, 100GbE is soon eaten up by just a couple of 4K UHD signals.
In the future, broadcasters and production companies will use even higher resolutions and camera angles that will put greater stress on the network and available bandwidth. Efficient compression solutions – JPEG2000-ULL, JPEG-XS and H.265 – offer an attractive alternative. These options deliver ultra-low delay compression to the video signals, while leaving everything else in sync. Codecs enable reductions of the video data rates by up to 95% while guaranteeing high picture quality, but significantly reduce the requirement for bandwidth, which is especially scarce at the last mile.
Distributed production models are coming into the spotlight as the creative crew and directors want the flexibility to be on-site in cases where this approach can increase the production value. For example, this could involve having the director on location with only the vision mixer panel, while the mainframe, processing and rest of the crew remain in the production studio. These models enable production teams to deploy processing and storage equipment at the venue on-site and operators and remote panels at the production hub. This has a low impact on bandwidth, as only the control and one multiviewer video signal needs to be transported on site. This type of “remote on a string” workflow enables the greatest flexibility for replay operators, technical directors and producers.
Larissa Goerner is Director of Advanced Live Solutions, Grass Valley.