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Broadcasts are Moving More and More Toward Remote Productions

While remote broadcasting isn’t anything new – as many have been doing it this way for decades to save on money – it looks like it may be the new norm.

They say the show must go on even amid a worldwide pandemic.

From daily news shows to talk fests, regularly scheduled sitcoms, and dramas, the way we continue to get our broadcasts have certainly changed.

When the pandemic was announced in March 2020 all of us were affected and we were told to stay home and hunker down.

Rather than broadcast from a radio studio live or at a news desk in front of millions, broadcasters in radio and TV had to present their shows remotely.

Things have changed more than a year later, however, many are still performing their daily, weekly, or monthly broadcasting duties the same way — remotely.

While remote broadcasting isn’t anything new – as many have been doing it this way for decades to save on money – it looks like it may be the new norm.

Graham Sharp who writes about broadcasting reports in a column for NewcastStudio, a trade publication for broadcast production, various broadcasters over the years have learned ways to cut back on high costs of sending out equipment, trucks, and camera crews, as well as reporters covering live events by going remote to save money.

Sports Shorts

Sports to have taken on broadcasting reportedly, Sharp cites several segments of the Olympics that have been covered this way for years.

For example, even ESPN has been doing more remote broadcasts during the pandemic mandates and continues to make sure its staff is protected by building out individual pods and doing live-from-home reports.

Because of the pandemic, doing remote work has become popular when producing and streaming broadcast-quality content with fewer people.

Sharp writes, “A big enabler has been the advances made in the quality, controllability, and price of IP robotic PTZ cameras which reduce the requirement for camera operators.”

He adds in a previous article about approaches to control and automation  “the importance of a distant architecture, thoughtfully compartmentalized and connected by off-the-shelf IP technology and protocols.

“This architecture perfectly lends itself to the move to remote productions, as functionality can be remotely operated, and content contributed from a distance.”

Apparently, by utilizing this type of setup, the cameras can be in one location while integrated production software can be based in a data room or what is known as the cloud.

Sharp also notes control surfaces can be based anywhere, all connected by the World Wide Web aka the Internet.

New Formats

Sharp adds newer video formats, including what is known as NDI, provide high quality, low latency compressed video, but also self-discovery is popular these days.

This means devices using NDI connected to a network will be identified in the application software, “even self-naming in the control system – moving IP-based systems significantly closer to the holy grail of being “plug-and-play,” he writes.

Together, Sharp said all these advances are helping remote productions not only possible but simple to install, easy to operate, and flexible.

Sharp summarizes:

Acquisition: Cameras may be installed and controlled remotely with a single CAT5 cable and an Internet connection.

Processing: The integrated production solution can be hosted on-site, remotely, or in the cloud, reducing cost, increasing utilization, and making support easy

Control: Multiple operators such as a graphics operator or technical director can work on the same event from remote locations, each with dedicated functional interfaces that can be either hardware panels or browser-based, even the technical director can be remote, viewing feeds and making creative switching decisions.

Working this way is one of the biggest single trends that will impact integrated production solutions, and it is being used more and more during the pandemic.

“It is also highly likely that once users get used to this new low-cost, yet high-quality, way of working, it will become the new normal,” Sharp writes.

Bottom line: Watching your favorite newscast or any program these days has changed like mostly everything during the global pandemic. When we hit post-pandemic days watching what we love is going to be different from what you’ve come to know since television began less than 100 years ago.

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