Distribution & Delivery Global Viewpoint – August 2020

Remembering Creativity

As production and broadcast facilities are starting to move back to face-to-face operation, albeit in a limited way, what impact are the new innovative working practices going to have on production creativity?

It’s fair to say that there has been unprecedented innovation advancing all areas of broadcast television in recent months. From remote working to transitioning to IP, we have made broadcast television work in ways many of us would have never dreamed of. As live sports events come back online, we’ve even managed to make live programming work from our homes.

IP has been a great facilitator for our new remote working methods. Without it, it would have been significantly more difficult to provide broadcast operations from our respective homes. It isn’t just the use of IP in broadcast and IT that has been the facilitator, the whole internet-home revolution has further made this possible. Imagine how we could have piped SDI to homes without broadband connectivity?

Broadcast engineers have been using control over IP for many years, so IP isn’t really new to us. But what has changed is our ability to use IP as a transport mechanism for frame accurate video, audio and metadata transfer. Ethernet switchers and COTS servers have further made possible a whole host of software enabled production services from multiviewers to production switchers.

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention and this is more appropriate now than ever. Seeing photographs of engineers and production crews building control rooms in their spare rooms and making programs from their homes is something that fills me with wonder. This simply wouldn’t have been possible even just a few years ago, but the combination of IP adoption in the broadcast industry combined with high-speed internet availability in our homes has made this achievable.

My only concern with all these new remote working practices is that crews are working in isolation. They may have intercom access or streamed video and audio conference systems to communicate, but at the end of the day, the human interaction is very limited.

Although these fantastic technological achievements may have accelerated the adoption of IP and the working practices and workflows associated with them, I still keep harboring back to the need for human social interaction and the importance we should place on this.

Colleagues working in production remind me of the creative success gained through the harmony and resonance of human synergy. After all, a product, by definition is much more than the sum of the parts.

Currently, social distancing is a demand and necessity we must all adhere to. But there will be a time in the not so distant future when these rules can be relaxed and when they do, I hope we can get back to working in studios and that human interaction will once again be lauded as we continue to celebrate our technological achievements.