BitFire Brings Remote Access, Control to SkyCam Systems
SkyCam has inked a partnership with BitFire that will allow, for the first time, for SkyCam’s WildCat systems to be operated and monitored in realtime via a Web browser from disparate, remote locations. Stephen Wharton, chief operating officer, SkyCam, a division of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, says the pandemic has accelerated everyone’s timetable for remote initiatives and that SkyCam found that BitFire has a mature solution and platform already in place to allow SkyCam to embrace next-gen workflows.
“We provide one of the highest levels of no fail-always on technical and operational expertise in broadcast on each of our deployments,” adds Wharton. “Having access to technology that allows us to provide an increased level of service that complements our onsite personnel, and actually increase our oversight and technical capabilities, is core to our values, vision, and technical roadmap. We needed an agile, trusted partner to not only be a technology provider, but really listen to and understand our specific needs and budget constraints.”
BitFire, a solution developed in response to new-world demand for an agile, professional-grade, live IP television transport experience, and remote production services, is deploying its technology with SkyCam for the biggest NFL and collegiate football games this fall across a multitude of broadcast networks. The new workflows allow SkyCam the ability to have executive control and troubleshooting oversight as well as the capability for remote operation if the need should arise.
“We applaud SkyCam for having the vision to tackle current challenges brought on by the pandemic by embracing new technology that will result with their business running more efficiently, and their production more streamlined,” says Bob Sullivan, president and CEO, BitFire. “There is high demand for professional-level broadcast transmission and production solutions across a wide variety of industries right now, including sports, news, and entertainment. I’m really proud of our partnership with SkyCam in delivering new solutions for live events that haven’t been done before without compromising quality.”
The video feed is encoded through BitFire Transport Network servers and then sent to browser-based FireBridge, where operators have access to two channels of intercom communications with the remote venue site, including RF audio. Feeds are overseen by BitFire’s manned Network Operations Center (NOC) in Boston, as well as multiple distributions to SkyCam’s headquarters in Fort Worth, a new Remote operations center (SkyNOC) located at KNOC/Altitude Sports in Denver, and two regional oversight locations – one by a pilot working out of his home in Oregon, and the other, an operator based in Vancouver, Canada. The goal is to make sure every SkyCam event is covered by the highest level of technical and operational services, eventually enabling SkyCam to control their systems remotely if needed.
The BitFire platform is a comprehensive, coherent solution built from a portfolio of complementary offerings including a fully managed IP transport network, either a browser-based or stackable server transport server, and production services.
“BitFire is the best end-to-end solution because we come from television,” says Jim Akimchuk, chief technology officer, BitFire. “We know our customer’s problems are always time sensitive. It’s the nature of live TV. Unlike other companies encroaching into this space, we’re not a generic technical solution for a real-world problem. We know what it is that our customer is trying to do. As a result, we are responsive, agile, and in the best possible position to help.”