Head of Marketing & Communications
Before the outbreak of Covid-19, transitioning to remote workflows was generally perceived as a desirable yet intimidating process for many broadcasters, and one that could be best addressed again later in the future. Those that did produce content remotely tended to focus on either lower tier sports where the audiences and expectations were smaller, or supplement traditional broadcasts of top tier or primetime events. However, the pandemic we’ve faced in 2020 has changed everything. The way live sports are produced has had to be completely rethought during the lockdown, and we’re seeing very different production models appear as we prepare to hopefully return to some semblance of normality in 2021.
Remote production workflows have therefore quickly become an absolute necessity. While many technologies have emerged in recent years to facilitate these, questions still remain about how best to develop, deploy, and manage them in a reproducible, flexible, scalable and secure fashion.
Creating more efficient ways to capture live events and enhancing collaboration between production crews working together in multiple locations have become top priorities. And, with much of the world still facing tight restrictions, this will only increase as we head into next year.
The remote model
Those who have implemented remote workflows have reported positive experiences. Indeed, recent feedback to EVS has shown that our customers don’t appear to be worried about working with remote team members, proving the resilience of the industry in adapting to this new landscape and also suggesting that remote working isn’t as daunting as many expected. Reduced costs, less travel, greater scope of events to cover, the ability to do more with less and delivering more consistent high-quality programming are all cited as benefits that this new approach can bring about.
The travel restrictions and social distancing measures brought on by Covid-19 meant crews needed to be relocated from studios and centralised production facilities where possible. Despite the limited window they had to do this, many broadcasters found new and creative ways to adapt their existing setups so that some of their production crews could work from the safety of their own homes, ensuring essential social distancing measures were followed. These distributed remote workflows enabled organisations to carry on producing and delivering content while protecting their staff and helping to reduce the chances of the virus spreading. The result was that almost overnight, this ‘operator at home’ production model became the prevalent form of remote production, ensuring that programmes could get back on air as quickly as possible.
Unlike sports productions, which have been among the most severely hit by the pandemic with live events ceasing for a prolonged period, it has proved easier for the creators of news programming and talk shows to adapt and find workarounds to continue operating with less disruption. The absence of live games however, has given those who oversee live sports broadcasting the opportunity to take a step back and rethink their production models for the future.
A “new normal” for live productions
Transitioning to remote production models doesn’t necessarily mean having to perform a complete overhaul of existing infrastructures. The good news for broadcasters is that the main elements that are already in place today will allow them to easily adapt their own production setups to accommodate and support remote workflows – while still being able to extract a return on their current technology investments.
By leveraging IP-based toolsets, software-defined technologies, and cloud-based solutions, broadcasters can switch to production models where location is no longer a bottleneck. Whether it’s REMI, GREMI, centralised, at home or distant remote, broadcasters are all looking for a way of doing live production anywhere.
As an example, the delivery of live replays usually involves multiple operators working together in a compact environment. But, with new replay systems that now exist and a secure IP connection, operators can work in low-latency from literally any location. It’s now quick and easy to set up a replay controller and a multiviewer either in the broadcast centre, or from the comfort of their own homes, connect to a server deployed at the event location, and begin working immediately. They can build their replay and highlights packages from a distance, sometimes even thousands of miles away, in a similar way to how they would normally do back at the venue.
Producing a live event is a collaborative process. The dispersal of crews now means that it’s critical to find ways to facilitate the exchange of content between remote sites. This ensures that the same level of efficiency in the production process is maintained. File accelerators and cloud integrations let users access content from anywhere for real-time collaboration and contribution. And, by adding a layer of monitoring that provides complete control and visibility of exchanged content, a streamlined distributed workflow can be ensured.
Looking to the future
Covid-19 has shown the entire industry that working remotely is now not only a viable option, but also likely to be central to the future of live production. Once we emerge from this pandemic, broadcasters must ensure they make the right technology choices to further enable this, while keeping business continuity in mind.
There are still a lot of unknowns out there. But as we head into 2021, we should anticipate an acceleration in innovation that will further enhance the remote production experience, enabling crews to collaborate in real-time no matter where they are located.
For more information please go to https://evs.com/en/live-production-anywhere