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Grammy Gear: What it Takes to Produce the Grammy Live Webcast

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All Mobile Video Digital Media’s Joe Einstein supplied Streaming Media with a comprehensive list of his team’s equipment for the Grammy Live webcast, along with comments.

AMV Mobile Unit Celebrity (Production)

  • Four Sony HDC-1500 cameras (used on the red carpet and the backstage coverage)
  • One Sony HDC-2500 camera used on backstage wireless camera due to better sensitivity to low-light environments

This is an RF camera that uses licensed frequencies and will allow us access to roam on the red carpet and backstage during the broadcast. This is important because of the restrictions we have from the venue and fire marshal regarding cabling.

  • Four Panasonic HE-120 robotic cameras
  • Eight pool and press feeds from various locations around the site
  • 24 channels of DDR for recording and playback of media assets

Cabling

One of the big challenges with this show is the large number of locations we have equipment around the campus. We have multiple feeds and cameras on the red carpet, feeds and cameras at the Premiere broadcast (which happens at Nokia Theatre, across the street from the Staples Center), as well as cameras backstage and in the press area. Each area has cameras, video feeds, intercom, and interruptible foldback (IFB) for the talent. We end up with 8 IFBs in different locations and about 30 intercom drops outside the truck. The biggest challenge is that all the cabling has to be done with single mode fiber, due to the fact that the shortest run into the venues is about 4,000 feet. We use the in-house Staples Center fiber network and use various patch panels around the venue to get close to our production areas. In total, more than 45 miles of single-mode fiber and 6 miles of audio cable were used.

Equipment we use on the fiber network:

  • Telecast SHED: Used to convert the Sony cameras to use single mode fiber instead of the traditional SMPTE camera cable
  • Multidyne FiberSaver: CWDM technology used to “mux” multiple fiber feeds onto one strand of fiber (very important due to the face that we are very limited in the amount of fiber we have in various parts of the Staples Center)
  • Telecast TR6442-i15: Allows us to run intercom and IFB circuits over fiber
  • Telecast Rattler: We use these to send HD-SDI video over fiber. This is used for the press and pool feed, the robotic camera, and on-set monitors. There were more than 25 video feeds on fiber by the end of the weekend.

Graphics

We use multiple Ross Expression units for all production graphics as well as social media integrations that happen throughout the day. This is a change over last year. In the past all social media has been placed in the page, but we are seeing more and more it is now being placed in the video stream. This allows for a much simpler page design, and for a uniform experience across mobile devices, connected televisions, and so on.

We use CG Social from CGLA to moderate and publish all the social media content into the main show.

VOD Clipping

  • EVS XT[3] using IP Directors for VOD clipping for VOD assets on Grammy.com
  • VOD clips are clipped in real time throughout Sunday, transcoded, and uploaded in less than real time to the Grammy.com website.

Transmission

We use both AT&T video services fiber and the AMVDM dark fiber network to send four discrete feeds from the site at Staples Center back to our broadcaster in Marina Del Rey, Calif. This gives us a fully geographically diverse transmission path between the Staples Center and our broadcast center.

AMVDM’s dark fiber network currently passes about 50GB/sec. of video traffic around Los Angeles. It is connected to LA Live (Staples Center), One Wilshire Colocation, and Pacific Television. This provides us video services access to PacTV, The Switch, Vyvx, etc.

On each circuit we compress each of the four video feeds to an MPEG-4 ASI stream, and then we mux those feeds onto the circuits. These feeds are encoded using Cobalt encoders. Those feeds are then decoded at our broadcast center back to HD-SDI using Harmonic and Ericsson decoders.

In addition to video transport, we also connect the two sites via Gig-e Ethernet services. This is used for the following services:

  • Internet access (500MB/sec.)
  • File transfers for VOD
  • Intercom circuits between the site and our broadcast center

Live Encoding Services

  • Each feed is encoded on both a primary and backup encoder and delivered to geographically diverse entry points into Akamai’s network.
  • Encoding takes place on Cisco Anystream 8100 and 9300 encoders.
  • All encoding services are monitored in our broadcast center and coordinated with Akamai in terms of end user delivery.

Player

AMVDM’s player deploys a four-angle play for the event that offers streaming thumbnails of all feeds and allows users to click the stream that they want to watch.

This article appears in the April 2015 issue of Streaming Media.

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