Sony Creates New Remote, Virtual, Distributed Production Solutions for Broadcast Applications
Sony continues to bring to market, new offerings for every type of broadcast production. These allow producers and media companies to work effectively and safely in tight spaces or work remotely, leveraging the best of a team’s expertise and creativity.
Over the past few months, agile and more streamlined production workflows have quickly become the norm, with the media industry adapting to fewer or no on-site staff and the need to be able to produce from home settings, instead of studios. This has created an acceleration in the migration towards automated and distributed productions, which depend on connected and scalable technological solutions.
Simplifying News and program production
The last few months have seen many companies traditionally producing shows from a studio setting move to a distributed approach, with different parts of the process happening from different locations but with a centralized technological infrastructure.
Sony’s ELC is designed specifically for streamlined news production, and with, amongst others, 4 major US broadcast groups representing over 60 ELC installations have been operating during the crisis using ELC remotely. It means the production control operations can be fully distributed or in a now typical scenario, for a single home-based operator to direct the production remotely. In parallel, commentators, anchors, and floor directors can be working from different locations using ELC, which means any news can be produced by a team of experts located anywhere in the world. The content resulting from this optimized production workflows benefits from the freedom of location.
Enabling Remote, Virtual, and Distributed Operations
While summer 2020 saw only a few sports events being broadcast because of the ongoing pandemic, those events were produced with safety and social distancing in mind. Therefore, now more than ever, switching to an IP based infrastructure makes sense.
As a part of Sony’s efforts to support the media industry during the current health crisis, existing customers could remotely operate their XVS Switchers, leveraging the Virtual toolsets available such as Virtual Menu, Virtual Panel & Virtual Shotbox. During the pandemic, Sony offered these capabilities for free, on a trial basis. By using this remote operations set-up, operators and technical staff were able to work from home or a remote studio. This software has been used in major broadcasters in Europe and North America, as well as eSports program production in South Korea.
The recently announced BRC cameras update will allow output tracking data over IP, using the industry standard Free-D protocol. These cameras, with their enhanced PTZ capabilities, require a minimal number of operators, who can work on several cameras remotely at the same time.
- IP Live solutions from Sony have already been adopted by more than 100 customers worldwide. Launched in July, the HDCE-TX30 solution enables the HDC-3500 and previous generations of HDC cameras to become IP native, again opening up new possibilities for remote production. It allows for greater workflow stability and resource sharing, which is key for any customer investing in remote & fully distributed production. New licenses for HDC-3500 and HDCE-TX30 enable IP HFR and IP 4K remote solution from March 2021.
After remote production comes virtualization as the next natural step. As part of their strategic partnership, Nevion and Sony have been contributing to the 5G Virtuosa project since July. This project, in part funded by the European Union, aims to harness the rapidity of 5G connectivity and Scalable Software Defined Network architectures for cooperative live media production, by exploiting virtualized production resources. The first part of the project has been successfully delivered even during the lockdown period, thanks to the IP connectivity such system has natively.
Shifting towards fully distributed and cloud native productions.
For broadcasters already looking at the next step for their setup, a move to a fully distributed and cloud native infrastructure will ensure yet more safety and savings on resources. Between its Virtual Production Service Hive, Ci Media Cloud Services, NavigatorX, and a set of media workflow micro services that help tailor modern workflow architecture to specific needs, Sony has a full portfolio of solutions and services for future proofing production infrastructures.
News companies have been trusting Sony’s Cloud based Hive solution for the last few years: With 2,500 journalists in 200 locations spanning across the world, Reuters has partnered with Hive, Sony’s centralized production platform that allows worldwide bureaus to collaborate on stories across different time zones. Geographically scattered teams can access and share content via the cloud, reducing production bottlenecks and driving down operational costs.
The latest addition to Sony’s cloud-based offerings, the Media Analytics Portal, will be available in October 2020. As programme makers rethink their production workflow, they need tools to monitor content flows, provide rich metadata and analyse outputs. Media Analytics Portal will bring these capabilities to their fingertips and will automate processes, freeing up time and creating new efficiencies.
Media Analytics Portal complements the existing portfolio of cloud-based solutions from Sony, which empowers broadcasters and content creators to move from a non-linear to fully distributed and cloud-based solutions.
For streaming concerts, festivals, and corporate events live, Virtual Production, Sony’s cloud native live production switcher, enables multi-camera production without the need for any dedicated infrastructure. It can be used as the user requires, leveraging a pay-as-you-go model. The next release coming this October 2020 will add new capabilities, such as Screen Sharing input, Webcam input, Clip Playlist, and many more.
“In this year like no other, we’ve seen both phenomenal challenges for the whole media industry and phenomenal energy and creativity to overcome those challenges and produce great content for audiences always hungry for more,” says Anthony Kable, Content Creation Group Manager, Sony Australia. “We’re now seeing customers moving away from the “quick fixes” brought on by the rapid change of situation at the beginning of summer, towards more sustainable solutions with long term investments, powered by 5G, AI, and IP. Sony has been working side by side with them, delivering innovative technology, especially when it comes to remote and cloud-based solutions, as well as expertise and knowledge.”