Remote or Cloud?
In the quest to find more efficient ways to record multiple-camera TV productions, a great deal of international experimentation is taking place with Remote Production. But not everyone has the same understanding of this term.
In the USA, the term Remote Production is used for productions for which an Outside Broadcast Truck (OB) is driven to a production. The distance between the cameras and the OB is usually no longer than a few hundred yards, and the director could easily walk up to the cameramen to give instructions. In this case, Remote refers to the distance the OB drove.
Currently, the term Remote Production is increasingly being used when the event takes place thousands of miles from the control room. This is used on a regular basis for sporting events in particular. The advantage of this system is that far fewer people need to travel to the event location and everyone gets to sleep at home instead of in an expensive hotel after the day’s work is done. Due to bandwidth costs, the images are first made smaller (compressed) before they are sent live over a data network. This does, however, result in a significant delay between the event location and the monitor wall in the control room. Therefore, when using Remote Production, the usual practice is to switch between a linked program feed from the location and one or more proprietary cameras that show additional footage, for example, the broadcaster’s “home” team. Due to the delay in video connection, this type of Remote Production is not suitable for connecting all the individual cameras to an Outside Broadcasting Truck after which the entire program is linked remotely. Naturally, Remote Production is also possible at smaller distances with less delay, but then the advantages disappear as well.
Another option will become available starting in October. After having successfully introduced remote editing in the past, in October we will introduce a comparable concept for multiple-camera productions. We will also be launching a new term for this: “Cloud Production”.
We chose the name Cloud Production because it aptly describes what we are going to do. Just as with cloud storage providers like Amazon and Google, the technology will be housed in a data center. The components will be assigned to various programs for the day. In the morning, an image mixer, four camera base stations and an audio table can be used for a taping somewhere in the country, while the same equipment can be used in other combinations in the afternoon, for example, perhaps taping in Studio 1 and Studio 22. Using yet another equipment combination, the same day will be wrapped up with a live evening broadcast from Amsterdam. With Cloud Production, the director can choose to be on location or in a central control room at the Media Park.
A traditional Outside Broadcast Truck has all the standard equipment necessary to tape a variety of programs. Sport events, ballet performances, talent shows, interview programs and pop concerts are all taped with the same Outside Broadcast Truck. Only part of the equipment is used for each taping, although everything does come along to the location every day. Consequently, the equipment is only used for one production a day – which is not very efficient. This is no longer the case with Cloud Production. Only the equipment that is really necessary is scheduled for each specific program.
Thanks to major investments in infrastructure and a data center in the past 10 years, our company has almost endless bandwidth, allowing us to work without any compression or delays. By using intelligent, scalable IP technology and the capacity of our own national fiber-optics network, not only can we process HD 1080i and 1080p, but formats such as 4K, high frame rate and high dynamic range will now be options as well. And the great thing about all of this is that these new technologies are environmentally friendly. We will no longer need large semi-trucks or most of the crew buses. Hence, the quest for efficiency will also result in less environmental pollution. And if that isn’t a win-win situation…