This article first appeared in IF Magazine and has been republished with permission.
Digistor managing director Andrew Mooney outlines how new technologies are making live and remote production less expensive and more accessible.
The ability to send a live video feed, at high quality, from one location to another is becoming a common requirement for many productions. Delivering live video feeds was once a choice between high cost or low quality. Today, it is possible and increasingly cost-effective to deliver live video feeds reliably and at very high quality over normal internet connections.
Historically, delivering high-quality, live video signals from one location to another required the use of dedicated lines, microwave links or even satellite connections – all of which are very expensive. Now, with advances in video encoders from Kiloview and others and error-correcting technology like SRT and Zixi, it's viable to use the open internet to deliver high quality (broadcast) live feeds. This dramatically reduces the cost and means that live feeds can be established very quickly without the setup or booking of expensive signal paths.
Monitoring Live Video from Remote Locations
Remote monitoring of live video on set is a common requirement these days. This is easily achieved with relatively low-cost devices and the open internet, enabling a remote director or other stakeholders to view live video in real-time and at high quality.
Remote monitoring is also used extensively in reality-style television where multiple cameras need to be viewed live, and in some cases recorded, from a remote location. The remote location may be in another city or even in another country. Distance is no longer a barrier.
Remote Production of Live Events
In addition to remote monitoring applications, we're also seeing an increase in remote production for live events, including sporting events. This is where the cameras are in a different, remote, location to the production control room and the production team. Traditionally an 'OB Van' would be driven to the venue and the cameras would plug directly. The production team would produce the show inside the OB Van and the video output would then be distributed to the appropriate channel (Terrestrial TV, YouTube, streaming service, etc). This involved considerable travel expenses to fly camera operators and the entire production team to the venue. When the event was over, the team would need to fly back to their home base, spending a lot of time travelling and not working.
The newer remote production model means that only the camera operators travel to the venue and the production team operate from a production hub back at their home base. There are significant costs savings in this model and the production team can produce more events each week, utilising the time they would have spent travelling.
As with remote monitoring, remote production that makes use of the new generation of lower-cost encoders and the open internet to deliver camera signals back to the production base provides a very cost-effective model. This has resulted in coverage of lower-tier live sporting events reaching new audiences and new markets.
New Generation Production in the Cloud
A lower-cost, model for covering live events has provided opportunities for new, tech-savvy, operators that are taking this to the next level and using the cloud as their production hub. That is, rather than delivering the live camera feeds back to a physical production hub, the production hub is in the cloud, further reducing costs.
These 'events' do not need to be sporting events but could be corporate events (AGM's, meetings, product launches, etc.), emergency service-related activities (rescues, natural disasters, etc.), training and any other applications where one or more live signals are required to be viewed by external parties, either publicly or privately.
Is the Internet Good Enough?
What about when there is no internet available? Perhaps in a remote location? This is where we can now leverage cellular 4G/5G networks to deliver live signals from remote location or production hub, be it physical or in the cloud.
We all know that cellular network signal strength tends to fluctuate, so to overcome this and provide a solid, reliable and redundant signal path we use a technology called bonding. Bonding takes two or more cellular 4G/5G connections and 'bonds' them together to provide a more stable signal path. Bonded cellular routers from companies such as Peplink and Dejero are suitable for the delivery of live broadcast video signals over 4G/5G networks.
If you need an all-in-one portable solution to deliver a live, broadcast-quality, signals reliably over 4G cellular networks then the Dejero EnGo is what's required. This truly portable device includes the video encoder and up to six 4G connections in one unit – just plug your camera in and you can 'go live' with the push of one button. The Dejero EnGo allows you to reliably transmit a live video signal over 4G cellular networks even in the most demanding situations. It has extremely low latency which can be important for live video crosses and other applications where minimal delay is essential.
There are lots of new technologies on the horizon that will further push the boundaries of what is possible today and we'll see more use of traditional IT products and the internet for the transmission of broadcast-quality live video signals. Remote collaborative production will become more commonplace, and this will help to drive down the costs of covering events and, as a result, we'll see more events being covered in real-time with live video.
5G is just around the corner and this technology will accelerate what we are already seeing with 4G and the internet, bringing faster speeds and lower latencies. Following on from this, operators like Starlink, with their global network of communications satellites, aim to deliver high-speed, low latency broadband internet to anywhere on the globe. Technologies like this will really change the game.
|Indicative RRP AUD
|Decoder, SDI & HMDI
|Dual 4G bonded Router
|MAX Transit Duo
|Six 4G bonded router
Digistor is Australia's leading expert in utilising the latest technologies for live and remote production. If you have an application you'd like to discuss, contact us so that we can explore together the best solution for you. We have equipment and demonstration facilities at our offices in Sydney and would welcome the opportunity for a "hands on" discovery session.