Three success factors for remote production

Expert Insights’ Series – 1

Many people talk about remote production as something of the future. Our customers have done remote production for over 10 years and we now see a huge uptake in major events being produced remotely. The FIS Alpine World Ski Championship in Åre, Sweden is just around the corner and will probably be the largest remote production event in history.

Remote production or “At-home” production, which is the term often used in North America, allows broadcasters or production companies to produce events at their home studios or purpose-built remote production hubs.

Major driver is to save money, since less people and equipment need to travel to the actual event. It also allows the same production crew to handle more productions during a week by having centralized staff and less travel.

When we started with remote productions the actual workflows have been rather static and the camera teams and camera control still needed to be on-site. Today we offer the second-generation remote production technology which is fully IP and based on SMPTE 2022 or ST 2110 technologies coupled with our unique synchronization and transport capabilities, that allow to control cameras remotely and also leave camera CCUs at the home studio or remote hub.

All of this directly reduces cost of production and allows the production teams to do more with less. In a transitioning world with increasing amount of content produced and increased competition, both for broadcasters, production companies and rights holders, reducing cost and increasing efficiency is crucial.

What we have noticed is that once you start doing remote productions for larger events and leagues, broadcasters start to use the same technology for their home studio productions, separating Master Control Rooms from studios and offering a more effective and redundant use of both studios and control rooms. This is also the first step into distributed production where it is possible to locally separate different parts of the production such as video mixing, audio and commentary and graphics depending on where the best talent is located, rather than always in the same room or even same building.

However, there are three success factors with new remote production, especially when running over IP platforms.

The first success factor is guaranteeing the quality and reliability of the media transport and ensuring service separation.

Live events are mission critical and when working remotely, the network quality is key to ensure a smooth high-quality production and to make the production crew feel at ease. Net Insight has always strived to ensure highest possible quality with a lossless transport inherently separating different service. We believe this is key when handling large events like the FIS Alpine Ski World Championship, where Swedish public broadcaster SVT will remotely control over 80 cameras and produce over 600 hours of TV content.

The second success factor is ensuring a low delay.

Our customers say that having an end-to-end delay of less than 100 milliseconds is key to make the production feel normal, even if we have had customers doing Transatlantic productions with delays over 200 milliseconds. Running uncompressed video minimizes the delay but can come with a large cost. Therefore, using encoding technologies with very low delay and almost lossless video compression such as JPEG2000 is a very strong benefit maximizing quality and cost ratios.

The third success factor for a successful remote production event is to control timing and synchronization of audio and video feeds.

This is especially true when running over IP networks and using cameras with IP-based outputs. Timing and synchronization of video and audio is one of the pitfalls many broadcasters and production companies run into, especially in all-IP and ST 2110 production. Ensuring synchronization using PTP and SMPTE 2059 standards requires a transport solution over the Wide Area Network that is well designed and built to cope with it. Otherwise we have seen many implementations putting a lot of money and extra efforts to try and solve it with external clocks and GPS receivers.

The reason so many customers have chosen the Nimbra platform is that we inherently ensure these three success factors and enable an efficient and problem free remote production environment.

We have been involved and instrumental in over ten thousand remote productions, including 3D and 4K productions with hundreds of services over any underlying infrastructure.

If you have any questions or wonder how to remotely produce your events, please reach out to us at Net Insight and we will work together with you to make the most efficient set-up.

Learn more about Net Insight’s Remote Production solution .