OPEN MIKE FROM GEIR BRYN-JENSEN

Remote Production Can Revolutionize Live TV

Nevion CEO Geir Bryn-Jensen: "Viewers today eat up live programming of all types. Live programming — with its potential for enrichment and analysis — is also a powerful asset for broadcasters against the encroachment of OTT services. The ability to cover news live, cost effectively and with the highest quality is more significant than ever for today’s newsroom. Remote production is now a practical, deliverable, proven proposition, enabled by the ability to transport multiple signals, either uncompressed or with gentle mezzanine compression, over a range of fabrics, at very low latencies."

For broadcasters, success depends on creating and delivering compelling, high-quality content. And nothing is more compelling than live TV. Live content is extremely valuable, with its unique capacity to draw in viewers, and therefore advertisers.

A look at consumer behavior underscores the current zeal as viewers eat up live programming of all types, driving big ratings and large-scale interest. Live programming — with its potential for enrichment and analysis — is also a powerful asset for broadcasters against the encroachment of OTT services.

Fast-turnaround news workflows are vital to delivering live news. Under pressure to do more with less, crews need to be faster and more nimble. Viewers want to discuss news and events of the day with friends via social media. So live programming is also well suited to second-screen delivery, an increasingly important consideration in today’s media landscape. The ability to cover news live, cost effectively and with the highest quality is more significant than ever for today’s newsroom.

Live events, though, are expensive to cover when they take place away from the studio. Consider election coverage or natural disaster response where multiple cameras may be capturing and recording at several locations, which must then be integrated with interview footage, graphics or social media feeds. Ever-increasing production values create more complex on-site production.

The traditional solution has been to transport all the functionality needed for multiple cameras, close-ups, and specialized graphics to the remote location. That means moving expensive and often bulky equipment and re-installing it at each location and a longer return on investment required due to the equipment’s low utilization.

While the logistical challenges and costs may be justifiable for major scheduled news events, it’s unthinkable for fast-breaking happenings. Remote production infrastructure enables coverage of “minor” news (think niche or regional sports and entertainment) much more affordably. Effectively, “lower value” events become more valuable.

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Once on site, skilled staff must operate in unfamiliar locations. Workspaces may be unsuited to the operation, and the change of routine will reduce efficiency. It’s also inherently inflexible. If you don’t have a particular tool or application on site, you can’t use it.

Remote production is now a practical, deliverable, proven proposition, enabled by the ability to transport multiple signals, either uncompressed or with gentle mezzanine compression, over a range of fabrics, at very low latencies.

Transporting signals over dark fiber or via IP circuits with high security, and low, predictable latency is now possible. Compact remote equipment minimizes transport cost, and is easy to set up and establish connections with redundancy built in to eliminate disruptions.

Capable of carrying large numbers of uncompressed HD signals from point to point, dark fiber is ideally suited to point-to-point connections between regularly used venues and broadcast centres, for example in a metropolitan area.

Some broadcasters and production companies are using new technology to eliminate conventional outside broadcast trucks altogether. Camera and microphone outputs are multiplexed together onto a single dark fiber circuit, and the segment is cut live in a studio gallery.

The savings in costs and efficiency are huge, and news teams are more efficient. All camera outputs are recorded onto the studio server network and available to the post-production team, who again can work in a familiar environment. Now everything from pan/tilt cameras, to lighting and audio can be handled at the home studio so that only a reporter is needed at the remote location.

Where dark fiber isn’t available or practical, signals can be sent over telco-provisioned IP circuits. IP networks, with the benefits of new monitoring and management techniques, are gaining a lot of traction in remote production because of their ubiquity and cost-effectiveness. Depending on the bandwidth available and the number of circuits required, IP networks can deliver uncompressed signals or use low-impact, low-latency JPEG2000 compression.

From easy-to-install, compact “plug-and-play” solutions and low-resource remote production to end-to-end solutions encompassing multiplexing, intelligent switching, and a high degree of interoperability, advanced, streamlined solutions are enabling better quality, greater efficiency, and far-reaching live broadcasts.

One European broadcaster sent 200 people to cover the 2008 Beijing Olympics but only 40 people for London 2012 — an 80% reduction due to remote production.

Better productivity at lower costs also means the ability to create content for more online services and more localization. These are compelling propositions, which in turn become revenue opportunities, all funded from cost savings and higher revenue achieved through remote production.

Geir Bryn-Jensen is CEO of Nevion, an international company that provides media transport and broadcast infrastructure solutions.


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