How COVID Accelerated the Virtualization of Live Production
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Learn more about remote and cloud-based live production at Streaming Media East Connect 2021.
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Eric Bolten: Live production and live control rooms were always slated to virtualize, but it was going to take a lot longer. And then that had to happen overnight. You saw some emergency things, people trying to use Zoom in a variety of fashions. But the media and entertainment business has been in a very steady and now accelerated virtualization mode. You use different data rates, like you take in very large streams in chunks. And sometimes it's in strange protocols like NDI. And the idea that you can bring that to the cloud, that groups can be disparate. So you're going to have a producer, a director, a graphics operator, and we're working on how you do the switching in the cloud, but we've been watching that happen pretty successfully. And being able to bring out four, five, or six feeds of a given venue ... like we do work with the NHL and they're able to bring out 4k feeds that you can see and pin and scan on, you can see end to end. That gives it to a number of delivery partners that can now go to cloud, Meet-Me Rooms and acquire this content. So you've got a lot of different monetization options. People can use both radio and other things while they're watching real-time feeds.
So, the technology has definitely evolved. And I think part of this now is the idea that, your production trucks ... There's a lot of pressure on that and on those cost models. And also, to hold a variety of audiences from your traditional broadcast audience to now trying to find younger more mobile audiences, and basically being able to showcase many, many more facets of any given event, whether it's a concert, a live show, or any sports.
I think we advanced probably three years in the last 12 months.
Casey Charvet: We were already, like Eric said, moving towards the direction of virtualization and moving equipment into data centers in the cloud. And then we were able to leverage that equipment to such a bigger degree. The other thing that's made that easier though, is that bandwidth has become even cheaper now. So we're able to move, as Eric said, high-bitrate feeds at low latency. I think it helps a lot with trying to have a virtualized control room or a control room at our office where the gear is physically residing in a different location. And so our network infrastructure is now able to help accommodate that a lot more easily than in the past. So we don't need the generators and redundant connectivity and all of the nice things at our office anymore. All of that can live somewhere else. And then we just are remote-ing into that.
So, whether it's a quarterly meeting, an annual marketing show, or an industry event like CES or the International Auto Show, we still need in-person events. But how these events recognize and incorporate remote presenters and remote audiences will have to change from what was done pre-COVID. The future of events is hybrid, although these hybrid events will take different forms, depending on the event size, budget, and nature and complexity of the off-site elements. There are what I call "Three Tiers of Hybrid," which represent three different ways to bring local and remote presenters and attendees together.
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Zixi's Eric Bolten discusses the transition to remote and cloud-based production in this clip from Streaming Media Connect 2021.
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