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How to Choose the Right Streaming Gear for Each Gig

SLVLive's Shawn Lam, LiveX's Corey Behnke, and LiveSports' Jef Kethley discuss how to choose which live production and streaming gear to use for the job at hand in this clip from Streaming Media West Connect 2021.

Learn more about streaming gear at Streaming Media East 2022.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Shawn Lam: Let's talk a little bit about strategy in terms of making choices, in terms of what your average workflow might be or, or on the most recent job you produced. What are some of the choices you might've made in terms of equipment to provide? I know a lot of this comes in when you're doing your pre-production planning and you're providing quotations. You decide what equipment you use on which job. If you have six different types of cameras and, like me, multiples of everything, how do you decide what to use and where? Let's start Corey.

Corey Behnke: I start with budget. Everything starts and ends with budget, right? I'm not going to sell somebody SRT, full, high-quality workflows with remote stations sent to all the clients if they don't have the money for it. Also your talent--that's a huge thing. For us, what we've found in the remote workflows is "Keep it simple, stupid," a hundred percent applies. If the client wants something where they can talk, like we're talking right now, what I like to call an "elevated Zoom webinar" where you have graphics, lower-thirds, it looks like television, except for the remote people are coming in WebRTC, we'll do what I call a "Zoom Garden" approach to to live, which is having everybody come on Zoom, then we pull them out with either NDI or whatever we need to--Dante audio, get them into some kind of switcher and make a show out of it.

And that's kind of baseline because a lot of people just want to talk to each other. So I guess it comes down to format. When we're doing a sports show and it's just two people talking, we might throw in SRT and use our Rivet application to send SRT because we know we can get a really high-quality remote signal out of that. So what's funny about remote, as most of us know in the industry, is that the better the quality, the more problems that you have, either with talent, with IP, with the kind of producers that you need, with how you have to do the setups. It becomes more complicated, the higher quality you want in a virtual and remote environment. But for us, everything starts with budget. If you don't have the budget, there's no reason for us to push some of the higher-end, more innovative solutions out there.

Jef Kethley: With our work in live sports, we don't have to worry about the budget as much because we're working on the contract mostly for the tour that we're managing, which is professional tennis. So for us at those events, we have specific kits and I definitely subscribe to same cameras everywhere, never mix and match manufacturers. And I try to stay with the same exact camera everywhere, because that just makes things easier. You don't have to fight a lot of things. How the guys are doing it in the NFL and a couple of the others you've noticed where they have that full frame that they're throwing in, and it's just such a big jump for those of us that are in the business. Some people out there saying, "Oh, look how cool. The depth of field is different," or if they don't know that, they just know it looks different. They like it for whatever reason. I'm not one who subscribes to that. I would rather have consistency in the same look across the board. So we use the same cameras everywhere, and that also makes it easier to troubleshoot. Like Corey was saying, the more elaborate your productions get and the higher quality you're shooting for, then the more challenges you're going to have in maintaining that quality all the way through.

Shawn Lam: So you guys produce a lot of tennis. And now is it Panasonic the box cameras that you're utilizing, or have you upgraded? Okay. How was that?

Jef Kethley: Well, the UB300s were originally purchased four years ago now. It's a 1" CMOS sensor. It's a box camera. So it's designed to have a B4 lens added to it, which was the second requisite that we needed. 4K output was a big part of tha. Right off the bat, we had to be 4k for this contract. And then the other part is, we put these on robotic heads. And so all our camera operators are either in the truck or fully remoted. And so that is something very unusual, very different than we do. They call them REMI setups. But that is something that we do and we've done very well with. And so our camera robotics are operated. And that was a reason for going with those cameras.

It's just a matter of which lens do you want. That's the only choice now. But most of our lenses are the same lenses, for that matter. They're all Fujinon, but there's a couple of different sizes that we have depending on if we need a little bit longer reach. And we do put those cameras sometimes on big box lenses, if we need them for some of the larger sporting events that we do, like the ATP 250s and 500s. They require that as a prerequisite. So we'll change out to use the same cameras on different lenses just like any other TV truck would do. And then that gives us a capability to have consistency still all the way around, whether it's somebody behind the camera behind a big-box lens and have those Zoom controls and everything like a normal studio-type setup, or if they're sitting in the truck running the PTZ-type cameras.

We do use some PTZs now a little bit more. The Panasonic UE150. It is practically the same camera. The guts.

Corey Behnke: I'll tell you right now--that's one of the best cameras.

Jef Kethley: For PTZs, hands-down. It is, without a doubt, one of the best PTZs on the market and its guts are pretty much the same as our UB300. They go together really well. We use them for B-shots and C-shots, but they're definitely what I would consider the top of the market without a doubt.

Shawn Lam: It's kinda neat too that, going back even four years, that before distancing was a requirement, you had a lot of advanced training in that. So once everything became remote production it wasn't like it was a massive change for you and your operators to, all of a sudden, get behind the joystick and have to do the PTZ control, if they were used to, to physically being on the tripod there and in person. I'm sure there's also environmental factors that come in there as well. Those are long days and some of those locations can be quite warm and in the sun.

Jef Kethley: That was a big part at first. People always think, "Oh, remote production, you're saving all this money and travel, you're saving lodging." That's part of it, but a big part of us making this transition was about giving a higher quality of life to our employees and to our contractors that we have, because they don't have to cook on a tennis court where it's 120 degrees. I'm not exaggerating. We actually measured it one day because it was so hot in Lexington. It was 135 on the court. So whenever you're out there cooking like that, you get used to it, but nobody wants to be used to it. It's a lot better, and you could work a lot better and also longer hours if that was necessary, whenever you're in a nice A/C'd truck, or if you're sitting at home on your couch.



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