2012 Summer games herald remote production trend

Monday, October 15, 2012

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Swedish telco TeliaSonera International Carrier supported remote production for 11 global broadcasters during London 2012, including those from Scandinavia, Japan, Korea and Brazil, giving them access to eight TV studios located at the edge of the Olympic site to create and edit content for their respective games coverage.

Just a few years ago remote production seemed like a daunting and far-off reality. However,Per Lindgren, VP Business Development for Net Insight believes the 2012 Summer Olympics heralded a change, and the advancement of remote production came to the fore. 

So much so that this year’s event in London is now widely recognized as being one of the first larger commercial successes of remote production techniques deployed to date. This article will explore the trend of remote production at live sporting events, how the technology works, and the benefits and advantages of using this technique for the production and editing of live event content.

The trend in how live sports are covered and viewed is evolving, and the changes are clear in terms of how this has developed over the years. At Olympics gone-by, such as Beijing 2008, the world witnessed the substantial growth of HD, while at the FIFA World Cup in 2010 live 3D was delivered to audiences for the first time at a major sporting event. The evolution at this year's games in London was the growing demand for cross-border remote production techniques.

In the past, broadcasters and media production houses have been apprehensive about launching into remote production with a perception that networks are temperamental in supporting live, uncompressed feeds, compared with sending uplinks via satellite. However, the London Games supplied ample evidence of the significance of a greater move towards remote production at live sports events. For example, Swedish telco TeliaSonera International Carrier supported remote production for 11 global broadcasters during London 2012, including those from Scandinavia, Japan, Korea and Brazil, giving them access to eight TV studios located at the edge of the Olympic site to create and edit content for their respective games coverage.  Another example is SVT, the Swedish public service television company, who also used remote production techniques for the Games to deliver live sports programming from London to Sweden via two broadcast channels and six Internet streams. Thanks to the short media network delay and the use of low-latency JPEG2000 compression SVT was even able to remotely control their studio cameras across the network. Such success stories are increasing in number within the broadcast industry.

The technology needed for live event production today is driven by the high quality demands for live broadcasts, which requires uncompressed video links during the production life cycle. This new type of workflow needs the support of a high quality real-time network that provides low delay and lossless routing, thus avoiding quality degradation of the live feed and to enable production crews to remotely control arena equipment such as cameras, sound and speaker kit, from a centralised control location. 
Without this type of high-quality real-time network remote production is impossible. To meet the demands for quality and simultaneously offer a long-term solution for a demanding video distribution service, bandwidth-scalability and flexibility all need to be improved.

This challenge is now being addressed today with technology that offers strict Quality of Service (QoS) enabled bidirectional video and Ethernet transport over IP, coupled with integrated support for high-quality low-latency JPEG2000 compression, providing a perfect platform for remote production and live event contribution to take place. 

As fiber networks become more commonplace in arenas and media environments, they are transforming production workflows, especially for live events, and are driving the change in sports video production, editing and delivery. Broadcasters are now able to take live studio feeds across borders to centralised locations within the broadcaster’s headquarters – saving time and money, in terms of not sending out an Outside Broadcast (OB) truck and OB production team on-site. Through remote production techniques, studio teams are able to access content anywhere, as needed, enabling them to remotely control, produce and edit media content seamlessly over a virtual studio network.

The use of remote workflow solutions can significantly improve efficiency and deliver cost savings, while providing quality in both remote production environments and live event contribution. As a result it is now possible to cover a larger number of live events and ensure editing during the content production lifecycle is carried out with greater efficiency. By increasing efficiency and simplifying workflows the 2012 Games demonstrated how cost savings can be brought to broadcasters by opening the Studio LAN to a Studio WAN environment. As broadcasters and service providers continue to look for ways to cut costs, improve efficiency and generate greater revenue, the remote production trend is likely to continue.

Looking ahead broadcasters and production companies are now focusing their attention on potentially producing content in 3G-SDI format and trialling 4K in a large, international sports event such as the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil 2014.

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