League Technology Summit: Next-Gen Remote-Production Workflows Leave Team, Tapes at Home
The London Olympics revolutionized the remote-production workflow, proving that audiences are voracious for multiscreen content and fears of cannibalization are unfounded. But the Games weren’t the only remote-production success story of 2012. Stateside, Game Creek Video linked the intercom, video, and audio systems in its trucks to NEP’s trucks to broadcast the MLB All-Star Game.
At SVG’s League Technology Summit, held this week in New York, NBC Olympics’ Darryl Jefferson and Game Creek Video’s Kevin Callahan discussed how their teams transformed these ideas into reality.
NBC Olympics deployed an at-home effort of nearly 700 staffers to support the broadcast of more than 5,000 hours of content to multiple platforms. The Highlights Factory crew set up shop on the Saturday Night Live stages at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and, for 17 days, churned out a constant stream of video around the clock.
“The Highlights Factory is this big engine we use to make and deliver all the [content] to all the screens other than the television, so your cellphone, your iPad, your computer,” said Jefferson, director, postproduction operations and project manager of the Highlights Factory. “We’ve learned that distribution doesn’t cannibalize the TV viewership … actually, more people watched television on the traditional television.”
In Vancouver, Olympics content was sent back to New York via satellite and IP transmission. However, NBC still had to transport a massive tape library to the site. This year, for the first time ever, NBC shifted to an entirely file-based workflow.
“We were supplying files for archival use and for enterprise-wide use, not only back in New York from London but also Hialeah [FL] for Spanish content [on Telemundo] and Colorado for distribution [to 3D], so it kind of mandated that we had lightning-fast practices at least from London to New York, if not from London to New York and everywhere else.”
Those “lightning-fast practices” included a dual-portal Avid Interplay media-asset manager and Forbidden Technologies’ FORscene cloud-based editing platform, which allowed shot selectors to edit live and near-live raw feeds broadcast by Olympic Broadcast Services and NBC.
Next year, the NBC Sports Group will move to a 300,000-square-ft. plant in Stamford, CT. The new facility will house multiple businesses, including NBC Sports Network, NBC Olympics, and NHL Network, as well as studios, edit suites, and more than 500 staffers.
More than 4,000 miles to the west, Game Creek Video launched its remote-production workflow at the MLB All-Star Game in Kansas City, MO. Fox Sports revamped its pre- and post-game coverage, broadcasting out of MLB Network headquarters in Secaucus, NJ. To deliver the pre- and post-game coverage as well as the game itself, Game Creek Video, which handled the game broadcast for Fox Sports, linked its truck to NEP’s ND4.
“We wanted to keep everyone separated so the pregame show could do what they needed to do, the game could do what they needed to do, but everyone had access [to content],” said Callahan, engineer, Fox Trucks, for Game Creek Video. “[An EVS] IPDirector [was] able to give the pregame show an insight into the game truck to get everything that we had and also basically to send it back and forth. We had paths set up so that, if something was created in an edit bay in the game truck, it could be sent [to NEP’s ND4], transcoded in a different file format than Fox Sports.”
Much like NBC’s Highlights Factory, Game Creek Video’s remote-production workflow allows Fox Sports to leave pallets of tape in Los Angeles and transfer files to the truck as needed. In a typical NFL game, according to Callahan, approximately 175-200 clips travel between Los Angeles and the remote location.