Industry Insights: Lessons learned from broadcasters shift to at-home production

By NewscastStudio

Subscribe to NewscastStudio's newsletter for the latest in broadcast design and engineering delivered to your inbox.

We recently gathered a panel of broadcast industry veterans to look at the year ahead given our new reality. In this next installment of our coronavirus-focused Industry Insights panel, our group gives us the inside information on broadcasting from home.


Make sure to read the earlier part of our coronavirus-focused Industry Insights series:


How has the move to truly at-home production changed your view on the broadcast world?

“We are also seeing different types of trade-offs being made. Speed of implementation is being favored over quality in an increasing number of cases,” said Kevin Savina, director of product strategy for Dalet.

“It certainly shows the ‘art of the possible’ when it comes to working remotely. Everything from comms to video and audio to switching and transport is a huge challenge. But LTN Global has been working in these environments since the beginning, so we are already comfortable providing all of these support services,” said Chris Myers, LTN Global EVP and chief revenue officer.

“If anything, it’s showing our entire industry how flexible we can be, and what’s truly possible with remote production if we leverage the right tools and technologies. In fact, this might turn out to be one of the silver linings of this awful pandemic. While many broadcasters probably feel they are being forced into a new way of working almost overnight, they might discover just how advantageous the REMI model really is and help accelerate its long-term adoption,” answered Primestream’s Namdev Lisman.

“Many broadcasters had already adopted remote production workflows before the coronavirus. There are some really compelling reasons for this new paradigm including significant CapEx and OpEx savings. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that the process has been accelerated, and broadcasters are reaping the benefits much sooner. We believe this is one of the ways the industry might be changed forever, but for the better,” said David Candler of Veritone.

“Now that broadcasters see that technologies used for live remotes and mobile journalism can be used in more scenarios, it allows them to be more creative and nimble in how they produce content beyond this pandemic. We think the transition to cloud-based solutions for contributing and distributing content will accelerate faster than before, and more content will be produced with remote production workflows that require fewer staff and less equipment on location,” responded Richard McClurg, vice president of marketing for Dejero.

“Periods of crisis often lead to opportunity, through the collective innovation required to carry on with business during difficult times. New technologies developed by the broadcast community have made it possible to streamline remote work for professionals across many different industries, in addition to new solutions to power OTT, streaming and remote broadcast production. As we emerge from this crisis, broadcast innovations will continue to provide flexibility for remote production workflows, enabling teams to collaborate and create high fidelity content from virtually anywhere with an internet connection,” said Bryce Button, director of product marketing for AJA Video Systems.

“While at-home productions have certainly generated a greater appreciation for studio productions, I’m amazed at the creative solutions the broadcast technical community has developed to enable production to continue and be valuable to the audience. I think we have learned the importance of being able to provide the “basics” for people working from home, including lighting, cameras, and audio equipment, especially good quality microphones. To that end, ASG has assembled and shipped more than 100 remote production kits to our clients in March and April. In addition, I think we’ve all learned a great lesson about the importance of reliable connectivity,” said Dave Van Hoy, president at Advanced Systems Group.

“I see new levels of creativity and a greater willingness by broadcasters to embrace the less formal techniques people have refined on Zoom, YouTube and similar platforms on an individual or household level. With remote production forcing them to be more flexible in terms of production value and the user experience, broadcasters brought a more personal and friendly feel to live programs. By necessity making decisions quickly and without the usual red tape, broadcasters have greater freedom to consider and try new ways of working at many levels,” suggested Olivier Cohen, senior vice president of marketing for ChyronHego.

“The technology and the people involved are innately flexible. While the health repercussions are catastrophic, I don’t think our industry will suffer anywhere near the same negative effect. But we must adapt quickly or suffer the consequences. As a smaller company in this space, we can adapt our design and development immediately to meet customers’ needs. I believe that’s a huge advantage right now,” said Van Duke, director of U.S. operations for PlayBox Neo.

“I think that the broadcast community has always been very creative, nimble and quick to adapt, and this has been no exception. I personally think viewers like seeing talent in their own environment. It adds a nice personal touch during this challenging time,” suggested Kathy Skinski, general manager of broadcast and media for Planar.

“The definition of ‘broadcaster’ has been evolving for some time now, and we see it as applicable to content creators of all sizes, abilities and locations – whether it’s from a studio or a home. While we’ve seen an uptick in at-home productions recently, for us, they have always been part of the broadcast world, which is no longer defined by location. We believe this trend will continue to develop throughout the broadcast industry as content creation tools continue to provide professional quality tools at affordable prices,” said Bob Caniglia, director of sales operations for Blackmagic Design.

“No one was prepared for the swiftness of the health crisis, and the almost overnight requirement to ‘accommodate and adjust’. There has been a scramble to adopt and incorporate alternate technologies to maintain and sustain content production and delivery, but the result has reinforced the importance of timely communications with viewers in times of crisis,” answered Rush Beesley, president of Rushworks.

“Due to the abrupt change to at-home production, broadcasters have not had time to adapt operations and have therefore initiated contingency plans relying on available resources to maintain current productions. Some have even been postponed due to the lack of alternative technical options needed to complete projects. So, in my view broadcasters will begin to plan for at-home production gradually so they will be properly prepared if and when a similar situation occurs again,” said Julián Fernández-Campón, Tedial’s chief technology officer.

What technology or systems will help facilitate the improvement of at-home production if needed again during another lockdown?

“Remote working is necessarily going to rely on distant work and good enough networks. Technologies that are mature enough to provide a good user experience while leveraging hybrid cloud infrastructure to scale and smart media workflows to optimize the media transfers between on-prem, cloud technologies and remote workers are key. A good hybrid-cloud or native-cloud media supply chain is part of the toolbox to address these challenges,” said Savina.

“I don’t think folks will just snap their fingers and say this lockdown is done and everyone should get back to work as we did. Rather, we will live with a lot more of these virtual production elements day-to-day for the foreseeable future, probably forever. I think we will see huge improvements to video conferencing systems and more cloud-based tools to make all this easier and more reliable,” Myers said.

“Cloud-based solutions are already playing a huge role in facilitating remote workflows and at-home productions. In fact, we can imagine a future when all of the services that a broadcaster needs will be available in the cloud. Someday, launching a channel or a project will be as simple as provisioning everything you might need – from storage to asset management to creative tools, rights management, scheduling, and distribution. And with a cloud architecture, all of those things can be done from any location, anywhere in the world. One of the keys to this is a 100% cloud-based asset management solution that lets any business store and manage critical media assets from any location,” Lisman explained.

“Cloud and AI-based solutions will play a big role in helping broadcasters not only maintain business continuity but to actively enhance their operations. These solutions can be accessed by staff and leveraged from any home office in the world as long as there is internet access. And that means significant time and cost savings and seamless, connected workflows in which data and content sharing is easy, efficient, and universal,” said Candler.

“Many broadcasters scrambled to set up their news anchors, reporters and meteorologists with equipment and workflows that would work at home, often without onsite technicians, and using the equipment that presenters had on hand such as smartphones, tablets and home computer monitors. Now that these new workflows have been tested and refined, we think broadcasters will be looking for ways to quickly deploy kits should the need arise again as part of their business continuity and disaster recovery planning,” McClurg said.

“Our goal is to effectively help broadcasters deliver professional news content with ease. We recognize the importance of staying connected, especially when many organizations have no choice but to adapt to an even more remote methodology, all whilst remaining cost efficient and within budget. This story-centric approach sits at the center of any modern newsroom, with online, radio, television, social and more being able to utilize those assets to produce material ready for cross-media delivery regardless of location or distance. Automatic publication reduces the effort, meaning stories can be taken online swiftly and securely,” answered Michael Pfitzner, CGI’s vice president of newsroom solutions.

“Better video compression technologies that provide higher quality over restricted networks at lower latency, which is critical when transferring more content between sites,” said Laurence Venner, product manager at V-Nova.

“I expect to see companies take a harder look at network conditions in all their locations and even at the homes of their key staff so that people can jump in and work easily from anywhere. We’ve seen a spike in the use of cloud storage as well since IT teams can spin up what they need without setting foot in the office so that was another trend already in motion that I expect to continue, just at a faster rate,” said Jon Finegold, chief marketing officer for Signiant.

“If we have future stay-at-home orders, there is room for improvement and technologies available to make those improvements. I see an increased acceleration for IP and cloud-based solutions including collaboration tools. Video editing is a great example of how to use cloud-based technologies during this production environment,” Skinski answered.

Participants

Kevin Savina – Dalet
Chris Myers – LTN Global
Namdev Lisman – Primestream
David Candler – Veritone
Richard McClurg – Dejero
Bryce Button – AJA Video Systems
Dave Van Hoy – Advanced Systems Group
Olivier Cohen – ChyronHego
Van Duke – PlayBox Neo
Kathy Skinski – Planar
Bob Caniglia – Blackmagic Design
Rush Beesley – Rushworks
Julián Fernández-Campón – Tedial
Michael Pfitzner – CGI
Laurence Venner – V-Nova
Jon Finegold – Signiant