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.
Will AI and ML make TV engineers obsolete? Or will it give engineers more time to focus on crucial live production details and new revenue opportunities?
Sitting at home watching the Olympics 400m Women’s hurdles final live on NBC’s 4K HDR channel, home audiences were captivated by the sweat and effort displayed on screen with immersive sound of the runners’ feet hitting the track. Viewers thousands of miles away could be excused for thinking they had the best seat in the Japan National Stadium. The live 4K HDR broadcast of NBC’s primetime show throughout the Games were an extrasensory experience unlike any previous Olympics telecasts.
Aside from being the first Summer Olympics to be delayed a year due to a pandemic—shifting technical plans and causing strict work-arounds to comply with health restrictions—this year’s live coverage by NBCUniversal (NBCU) is noteworthy for its move to all-IP operations within the International Broadcast Center (IBC) onsite in Tokyo and for its use of the network’s extensive and disparately located resources to make the Games a success.
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.
A recent Lawo remote activities case study notes, “It should be obvious by now that remote operation has been seriously underrated. For some, it allows to save substantial amounts of money, while others will appreciate the time gained from not having to travel.”