The new year is a time to ponder the past and muse about the future. In the past, nearly each technical device needed to produce broadcast TV cost more than building a new house, was as huge as it was heavy, and made pictures nobody would accept today. About 20 years ago, many analog TV stations were launching their DTV stations. Today, US TV stations are launching ATSC 3.0. Can you imagine what TV broadcasters will be doing in 2042?
A new year means a new look at how your operations are handling (producing and delivering) content and which new technologies might make things better.
If 2020 was considered a disruptive one for the television production community, 2021 was a year where trial and error and the lessons learned became real-world REMI deployments to keep live sports and entertainment content on the air. Production studios too learned to adapt with fewer crew allowed inside and social distancing becoming the new normal.
In the action-packed and frenetic world of motorsports operations, crew communications at the track can be as important to success as the actual performance of the car itself. Monitoring telemetry from the cars and managing and distributing hundreds of audio channels has also become vital. It’s hard work configuring the required technology infrastructures on a weekly basis during the 11-month Formula 1 (F1) racing season, but well worth it.
Planning for any kind of live TV broadcasting starts with a ‘what-if?’ list. What if the power source fails? What if a key production person gets sick or hurt? What if broadband internet access becomes unstable? What are the chances for each ‘what-if?’ and what back-up alternatives fit the budget? The list should be as lengthy as it is easy to edit.
Most live remote outside broadcasts are thoroughly planned by producers and directors who are often too busy to consider potential equipment problems. Technology is an engineering responsibility. Engineers must be ready for any circumstances that threaten to take the show off-script or off-air, from dead wireless mic batteries to unexpected foul weather. In live TV, anything can happen and probably will, usually at the worst possible time.
Live TV production may not be the best fit for perfectionists who can’t recognize ‘good enough’ and move on. Live TV has no patience, no second chances and can never be late. Every live shot is a first impression.
Despite Zoom fatigue, one thing that can be said for some of the more recent online industry gatherings is that they are bringing people together in a highly focused and some say more productive way. After nearly two years of such virtual conferences, organizers have learned what works for attendees and what does not. Attendees themselves have also learned what programs work best for them and what don’t.