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LiveX Elevates Remote Streaming Production Above the Zoom Noise

Much of the production work that LiveX has done over the last few months has combined remote contribution with high-quality, in-studio elements to elevate a show from the now-familiar limits of at-home production.

New York City-based LiveX threw its hat into the remote production ring quite a while ago. But as the rest of the video production world rushed to reconfigure itself for remote contribution over the last 6 months, LiveX introduced the new centerpiece of its ever-evolving high-end remote workflow, LiveX Director, in May 2020.Live X event producer Nick Micozzi describes it as “an ultra low-latency multiview display for showrunners and EPs” working with LiveX from anywhere in the world that enables them to view anything they want or need to see in the LiveX control room in almost real time (Figure 1, below).

Figure 1. LiveX Director

“That could be as many as 40 or 50 people,” Micozzi says. “You can have your director in L.A., your TD in New York—anywhere across the globe, for everyone on your team, it’s the same. Even South Africa is 300 milliseconds, encoder to browser, for us now.”

LiveX Director helps facilitate the broad range of remote projects LiveX has been engaged in over the last few months, including live music production work with Live Nation and Warner Music, work in the healthcare field, reality-TV production, and more. Because the company was designated an essential business at the outset of the pandemic, its work in all of these areas has continued unabated throughout the ongoing crisis.

“We do a lot of work with news, politics, hospitals, education, a lot of stuff that’s truly essential,” Micozzi says. “Fortunately, the company was ready to hit the ground running. “All the remote contribution stuff that everyone’s doing now, we had been doing for several years using SRT, and doing it at a broadcast-quality level.”

LiveX’s biggest challenge was converting the entire operation to remote production to cover its full workload and distancing the staff as needed to prepare for various contingencies. “From mid-March to mid-April, we spent a lot of time taking our master control and REMI desk and building that out from two places we could do remotes to five and a half plus,” says Micozzi. “At the same time, we were pushing a lot of people out to make us more robust, so if something got shut down, we’d have another part of the facility open.” Out of a staff of 20, three crew members haven’t been in the office since March, while others are splitting time between home and the office. “We had a lot of people on satellites, so we have machines out in the field so that if one facility is closed, we can still do some work and a lot of complete shows from remote spaces.”

Much of the work that LiveX has been doing has combined remote contribution with high-quality, in-studio elements to elevate a show from the now-familiar limits of at-home production. “One of the models I really like is you kind of build it as a remote show, but then you have a live element and you can put that live element in a studio if it’s one host,” says Micozzi. “And so there’s a couple of clients that we’re working with that are doing that in our studio, which is great. So they can come in, use the LED wall, have lighting, and have really nice cameras, so that people have some relief from Zoom so that the Zoom fatigue doesn’t have to take over every part of everyone’s life. So if you have your keynote or your host on a really nice studio camera, that still controls for health and safety. And then the other remote contributors who are maybe only talking on a panel, or maybe only talking for 15 minutes, that can be the typical, everything from Zoom all the way up to SRT coming from home.” But he says that having even some in-studio elements helps the show “stand out above the Zoom noise.”

Micozzi says the biggest area where LiveX is working to push the technology envelope for remote production is cloud engineering and development. “We’re working on a project where we have 100-plus ingests simultaneously coming into a facility in the cloud. Being able to engineer it, route it, edit it, and record it in the cloud—all that kind of stuff is next-level. Next month, we’re doing a 16-channel ingest and we thought, we can definitely bring it into our facility, but isn’t it just easier to keep it up in the cloud? If it’s 16 ingests, or 40, or 100, where is the comfort level? What’s the break point? A lot of that is very dependent on the individual show. But cloud engineering is a really big deal for us.”

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