Real-Time Interactivity Sets The Mark For Professional Comms In Age Of Remote Video Production

By Paul Shen, TVU Networks
July 16th, 2020

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Television production is a collaborative endeavor, and a big part of that collaboration is talking to various production staff, talent and guests.

Products like intercom switching matrices, wireless transmitters and receivers, beltpacks, headsets and IFB systems have served video producers well over the years. They make it possible to convey all of the directions, cues and comments needed to make a production successful.

But then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and production requirements changed. Many of the tools used to communicate in studio went unused, or at least underused, as talent, guests and even some members of production crews began working from home.

Despite this change, one thing has remained constant: the need to collaborate, communicate and interact in real-time –both on and off camera—to ensure a successful production.

Real-time Interactivity
Video producers have scrambled to find ways to maintain the flow of segments with multiple guests joining remotely via the internet. Some have turned to video conferencing tools like Zoom.

However, anyone who has tried to use these sorts of solutions in professional video production soon learns their limitations.

For instance, the thrust and parry of live interview segments that viewers have come to expect falls apart when these teleconferencing apps freeze and can’t keep up with all of the back and forth.

Moreover, real-time interactivity is an essential ingredient in the behind-the-camera communications mix for producers, production staff, guests and talent. Teleconferencing apps leave a lot to be desired in this role as well.

One could only imagine the complexity of using multiple instances of such an app at the same time to cue and direct the various individuals involved with a production as well as another instance to communicate with everyone at the same time.

Complicating matters further with teleconferencing apps in video production is the unpredictable video and audio quality they deliver.

Professional Communications
Of course, there are a variety of production communications functions that are commonplace features in professional intercom systems and IFBs, that have no analog in teleconferencing apps.

For instance, at times a director may wish to speak to everyone involved in a production and at other times to address an individual camera operator or anchor without everyone else in the production being privy to that communication.

Similarly, a director may wish to direct different types of communications to the left (L) or right (R) channel of an earpiece –perhaps reserving the left channel of the anchor’s coms for timing information and technical direction and the right channel for editorial suggestions, such as conveying a question to ask a guest.

Yet another example is mix-minus, or the practice of feeding program audio to anchors and guests sans their own voices to prevent feedback, echoes and a good degree of confusion.

TVU Networks Partyline
When COVID-19 struck and broadcasters adopted remote workflows with anchors and some production staff working from their homes while skeleton crews continued to work from their studios, TVU Networks put development of Partyline, our cloud-based, real-time interactive communications solution, into high gear.

Leveraging our Inverse StatMux technology and patented IS+ transmission protocol to deliver resilient broadcast-quality audio and video, TVU Partyline offers a real-time interactive layer to transport synced AV signals without detectable audio and video delay.

Offered as a feature for several of our solutions, including TVU Producer, TVU Anywhere and TVU One, TVU Partyline allows guests and anchors to see each other as well as program output, hear each other with mix-minus functionality and listen to the director of a show.

Easily integrated into existing production ecosystems, TVU Partyline also can support a show’s coms environment enabling off-site production staff to interact in real-time with their in-studio colleagues.

Easy to setup, TVU Partyline offers all of the features needed to support professional video production while remaining simple enough for guests and other non-technical staff to use.

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