IP workflows and a future roadmap of the industry

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SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

Written by Larissa Goerner, director of Advanced Live Solutions, Grass Valley

Consumer habits are changing the world of video, with high picture quality and captivating, immersive viewing now expected as standard. This is especially the case when it comes to live sports content. To satisfy the demands of content-hungry consumers, broadcasters and content producers must simultaneously produce and deliver live coverage across linear, online and social media platforms and to multiple regions. When looking ahead to technology trends in 2020, giving audiences an experience that is the next best thing to being there, or even better, will remain a key driver.

IP Transition Set to Continue

In today’s fast-moving mediascape, operators, broadcasters and content owners must deploy equipment and workflows that are flexible, scalable, reconfigurable and future-ready; IP answers these requirements.

IP infrastructures and workflows deliver the scalability and agility needed to support higher resolutions (UHD or UHD HDR); they are more responsive than SDI environments and can also handle simultaneous multi-platform delivery and social media integration. This, in turn, opens up new and innovative ways of working that are essential to future-ready, successful media businesses.

Although IP is not an inexpensive near-term alternative and requires significant investment, the long-term payoff that comes from improved flexibility and workflow efficiency will continue to make this investment worthwhile for a growing number of customers.

2019 saw major Outside Broadcast (OB) companies like Mobile Television Group (MTVG) and NEP deploy native IP equipment and glass-to-glass open standards-based infrastructures for new trucks. This OB pick up of IP equipment can be seen globally and across all regions, with ALAMIYA, one of the leading media and advertising companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, also selecting Grass Valley’s IP solutions to support a major upgrade of its entire fleet of OB vans. This partnership with Grass Valley allows ALAMIYA to deliver 4K UHD productions of large sporting and live events, future-proofing its end-to-end live production infrastructure.

The industry is also looking beyond a simple IP I/O approach, and we are beginning to see moves toward internal IP, or what’s known as full raster, processing. As a frontrunner in driving the industry transition to IP, this is a priority for Grass Valley. If a workflow is to be truly IP, reducing the number of times that a signal has to be converted optimises the efficiency of the workflow.

Distributed Production; a Smarter and Faster Way of Working

The industry’s transition to open standards-based IP is advancing the move to remote/at-home workflows, which bring the majority of live event production infrastructure back to a centralised or home studio.

As broadcasters and production teams balance tightening budgets with consumer demand for first-class live event coverage, finding ways to extend to lower tiers and produce content cost-effectively is a priority. At-home or remote production workflows allow production teams to work smarter and with greater agility and flexibility, while reducing costs up to 30%.

As well as the obvious time and cost savings that come from sending a smaller amount of equipment and staff on location, remote production models allow the same crew to support more live events in a day. Centralising production also allows broadcasters and production companies to loop-in the best operators and editors to keep production values consistently high.

During 2020, remote production will continue to evolve as solutions are developed that enable greater distribution of resources. Today, it’s not unusual to have a small production crew at a venue while an additional team is at a fixed location, receiving signals and producing the live programme.

The next logical step is what Grass Valley is calling distributed remote production, in which a greater number of locations and more flexible workflows can be utilised thanks to high bandwidth connectivity. Not only will a technical director be able to work multiple live events, taking place in different countries, in a single day, but on-air talent will be able to cover multiple games without having to travel. This is the evolution we expect and it’s not too far down the road.

Distributed production will also take sustainable workflows to a new level, and also deliver improved well-being to production staff by cutting out travel, long periods on the road and time spent away from home as well as leveraging workflow consistency which I proven to enable better productions. The average soccer or rugby game or a week-long ski championship will also operate with a much smaller carbon footprint thanks to this model.

Leading the Way

In 2020, we’ll continue to provide Grass Valley customers with the highest quality production solutions on the market while adding efficiency to their workflows. As a company, we have also made a commitment to collaboration as a strategic priority.

This approach provides unique advantages to our partners and to us – but more importantly, to our customers. By partnering with other vendors through the Grass Valley Technology Alliance (GVTA) to create certified interoperable solutions that complement our already broad solutions offering, we make it easier for customers to work with us.

We expect more initiatives in the next 12 months as we continue to demonstrate leadership through collaboration.