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.
With mature, cloud-based services now prevalent across the industry, helping to process and distribute content faster and more accurately than ever before, the long sought-after promise of producing content in the cloud—reducing cost and physical barriers—prompted broadcasters and production companies to experiment with new ways to make it a common reality.
If there’s one thing the production community has learned during the pandemic, it’s that ensuring the safety of the crew on site or in the studio should always be first and foremost in people’s minds. The second takeaway is that sending less people on site and implementing more remote support is the new normal that the industry is, somewhat begrudgingly, coming to terms with.
Over the past year, as broadcasters and production companies have expended great effort to reconfigure their workflows and develop new ways of working amid strict safety protocols, so too have the manufacturers of the technology and systems they rely on.
There are many types of codecs, all used for specific purposes to reduce file sizes and make them easier to distribute down a limited bandwidth pipe. Lossy compression and Lossless compression are the two most common categories of data compression used to reduce the size of data without significant loss of information.
After years of trial and error designed to reduce operating cost and (more recently) keep crews safely distanced, remote production has found its niche in live production and will remain the de facto method for producing events over a distributed network infrastructure. However, a big hurdle left to overcome for successful deployment of such networked workflows is latency. In live production, video latency refers to the amount of time it takes for a single frame of video to transfer from the camera to a processing location (on premise or in the cloud) and back to the display—wherever that display might be.
When CBS Sports broadcasts images of the players taking the field on February 7th for Super Bowl LV to millions of viewers around the world, it will be the culmination of the most challenging season for live football sports production in the U.S.