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Live Production Gets New Life

With live production for sports and news becoming an even bigger factor in the ratings and financial success of networks and stations, vendors will be bringing myriad new technologies to Las Vegas and the 2015 NAB Show, all designed to improve the quality of those productions while cutting or controlling costs.

“Live production and making more efficient and better-looking production will be a major focus,” says Jeff Moore, executive VP and chief marketing officer at Ross Video, who notes that they will be showing complete systems for news production, sports and live entertainment at the show.

Here are a few highlights to be on the lookout for:

Live Production Workflows

In the live production arena, Avid, Grass Valley, Dalet and several other vendors will be showing software systems built to better process and manage live productions for sports and news that will speed up the creation of replays and clips for online and mobile platforms.

“It isn’t a new topic, but the creation of workflows that provide companies with a payback either in reduced costs or speeding up the time to air continues to be a central topic,” says Isaac Hersly, president of Vizrt Americas.

During NAB, for example, Ben Davenport, director of marketing for Dalet, says they will be showing a number of improvements to their Galaxy platform and also mentions that they have added a Dalet On-the-Go app to simplify the process of sharing content. “We have tools that allow users to quickly build packages in a very automated way and then distribute them any way they want to,” he says.

With the rapidly expanding amount of live production, vendors such as EVS will also show tools to help clients get more use out of the content that doesn’t make the live broadcast.

James Stellpflug, VP product marketing at EVS, notes that they will be showing improvements to their C-Cast system that helps deliver over-the-top content to a plethora of screens using any live EVS multicamera production infrastructure. “Live sports has a short shelf-life,” he says. “These technologies can bring that content to over-the-top platforms without adding a lot of additional people.”

A number of new cameras for live sports production will also be on display. One of the most important recent developments has been models such as Grass Valley’s XtremeSpeed cameras that can be used for both slow-motion and regular HD work. “It gives broadcasters a lot more flexibility in storytelling,” particularly at events where spaces for cameras are limited, says Mike Cronk, senior VP of strategic marketing, Grass Valley.

A host of new storage technologies will be shown at the market as well, to help companies handle the growing volume of live production. These include the launch of the VSky A-series from Promise Technology, which notes that 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. “The VSky A-Series is an all-inone storage solution that enables users to manage huge amounts of data with greater cost savings, scalability, flexibility and simplicity,” says Victor Pacheco, director of field applications and support at Promise Technology.

In addition, major vendors in the monitoring space are working to help clients make the transition to 4K and IP technologies. Paul Robinson, CTO of the video business at Tektronix, notes that they have added 4K support to their wave-form monitors while working to provide hybrid technologies to move to IP. During the market, Tektronix will be showing several new products, including additions to its file-based video and audio QC solutions.

Graphics and VR

“One of the big live production trends is the use of virtual and augmented reality,” says Moore, who notes that the Ross Xpression graphics system was in play during the most recent Super Bowl to capture a large image of the Vince Lombardi Trophy. “We are seeing a lot more high-end immersive graphics on the field.”

Jesper Gawell, CMO of ChyronHego, agrees. “Quite a lot of customers tested virtual studios 10 years ago but the technology wasn’t ready,” he says. “But in the last 12- 18 months, there has been a lot of discussion about using virtual graphics in sports and of course in news for things like elections.” Gawell also notes that there is growing interest in adding data-intensive graphics and virtual elements. “Live sports is all about data,” he says. “So we’ve done a lot of work to help users dig into the massive amount of data and simplify the process of putting it on-air.”

Gawell and other major vendors of graphics systems stress the importance of streamlined workflows for these products.

Hersly at Vizrt adds customers are increasingly looking for graphics systems that can handle the process of producing graphics for many different devices and screen sizes. “We will be showing a complete workflow on the newsroom computer system that allows editing on the desktop and the insertion of graphics, which don’t have to be burned in,” he says. That approach will make it easier to change graphics for different newscasts or for digital platforms.

The Virtual Newsroom

For many years, one of the biggest trends in broadcast news has been the deployment of new technologies so that journalists can produce and create stories in the field without having to return to the studio.

That has made cellular bonding and wireless technologies from companies such as LiveU, Dejero, TVU Networks and Teradek increasingly popular, and has prompted camera manufacturers to develop camcorders with built-in connectivity.

“The trend for years has been towards mobility,” says Steve Cooperman, senior product manager, VariCam, P2, Pro Video at Panasonic. To help with that, Panasonic has developed a distributed production system called P2 Cast, which makes it easier to pull feeds back from the cameras and even control its operation from studios.

Several other companies have also launched cloud-based systems that help manage and share this content. These include Aframe, Adobe Anywhere, Sony, JVC, Panasonic and a number of cellular bonding backpack vendors, such as LiveU.

Alec Shapiro, president of Professional Solutions Americas, Sony North America, notes that they’ve integrated their media cloud production system and services offering Ci closely into their cameras so that stations can more easily share and produce news content.

JVC, the first company to offer built-in IP connectivity on a camcorder, is now building on the widespread use of those camcorders to further improve the quality of their feeds.

Larry Librach, senior VP, JVC Professional Video, notes that during NAB they will be showing a new version of their cloud-based production system that uses technologies from Zixi; they’ve also partnered with Silvus Technologies to offer “military grade WiFi technologies” that will allow broadcasters to build out private networks for better quality video streaming. “We ran a test in San Diego and believe this is a promising technology,” Librach says.


Even though closed-captioning regulations have been in place for some time, “a lot of people are still struggling with closed-captioning,” says Ralph Bachofen, VP of sales and marketing at Triveni Digital, which will be showing technologies for handling closed-captioning on live production. During this year’s NAB, the company will be introducing new closed-caption monitoring and auditing capabilities to its StreamScope RM-40 transport stream monitoring systems to help broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors comply with the regulations.

In the online arena, Hiren Hindocha, cofounder, president and CEO of Digital Nirvana, notes that captions in live programming typically lag behind the audio, which creates problems when half-hour shows are cut into clips. “We are announcing an integration with Nexidia to synchronize the captions before they are published to the Web,” he says.

In addition, they will be showing their Media Management Platform 2.0, which will incorporate a number of new features, including expanded social media publishing. They will also be offering a complete suite of technology and services so that clients can use them to expand their social media presence. “Social media can require more time and resources,” he says. “With the new service we can do that and complement their teams.”