Why Cloud-based Production Makes Sense in BroadcastingThe mantra in television production for at least the past two decades has been “optimize workflow efficiency.”
Whether in TV news, sports production or entertainment, broadcasters have exploited a series of newly developed technologies in pursuit of greater workflow efficiency, lower costs, a better end product and greater flexibility in how production staff are used.
However, when it came to cloud-based video production, which promised still higher efficiencies, there was hesitancy.
For some broadcasters, the reluctance boiled down to human nature. Clichés like “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “Don’t rock the boat” come to mind.
In other words, cloud-based production was seen as a radical departure from the comfortable path many broadcasters and video producers were on when it came to their workflows. Concerns over too many things that could go wrong or the interruption of workflows that drove revenues stalled widespread cloud adoption.
Others simply rejected the cloud out of fear they would lose control of valuable media assets, potentially exposing them to bad actors who might steal or hold hostage the content upon which their businesses relied.
Then came March 2020 and the World Health Organization declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overnight, those fears and that reluctance evaporated. They were replaced with a sense of urgency to find a way to maintain production schedules during a time when editors, graphic artists, technical directors, replay operators and others production personnel were required to vacate studios—whether they happened to be on concrete foundations or tires.
Rather than shunning cloud production, many broadcasters and video producers embraced the cloud as the solution to their pandemic-created problem of protecting the health and safety of workers by enabling them to work from home or an office where social distancing recommendations could be followed.
Why Cloud Video Production
Economics: Cloud-based video production transforms the production workflows from a capital-intensive endeavor to an operational expense-based proposition. That is, a change from a CapEx to OpEx-based model.
Rather than buying and amortizing expensive video production hardware, such as production switchers, audio consoles and video playout and slow-motion servers, adopting a cloud-based production strategy means those functions are performed virtually, running on CPUs and GPUs in the cloud.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not a million or more, once allocated for capital investment is no longer necessary and can be redirected towards other, more productive, business and production objectives when video production move to the cloud.
The cloud also insulates broadcasters and video producers from the danger that their substantial investment in a particular piece of production hardware will become obsolete before it’s fully amortized as the result of newly available, high-demand production requirements, such as 4K UHD, HDR and WCG.
Staffing & Collaboration: Television production is a collaborative endeavor. It’s fortunate for broadcasters and others who rely on these collaborative workflows, that the internet, the cloud and laptop computers make it possible to create a collaborative workflow that delivers the same level of interaction production personnel typically have when working side-by-side.
During the pandemic, however, virtualizing production collaboration in the cloud has ensured staff are properly distanced thereby addressing health concerns.
Further, virtualizing production also gives broadcast and video production management far greater scheduling flexibility when it comes to personnel. No longer must the manager responsible for staffing a production of a sporting event, for example, worry about the travel schedules of key production staff nor the inevitable illness or family matter that prevents a crew member from working as planned.
Collaborating on productions in the cloud removes travel concerns from the equation, and the fact that anyone with the right talent and a laptop can join in a production on a moment’s notice ends many potential staffing headaches.
Extensibility: Until the cloud came along as a viable option for television production, broadcasters and producers had to be ready to meet peak production requirements either by buying or renting technology.
Buying for the peak, meant some hardware resources would regularly sit idle or have to be reassigned for use elsewhere. Renting overcame that problem but came with its own set of logistical and business challenges.
However, in the cloud there are enough CPUs, GPUs and storage resources to scale up and down to accommodate the ebbs and flows of television production without paying for resources to sit idle.
Portal to AI: A whole new set of production tools are available in the cloud that have never been part of the traditional production landscape.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning enable new functions, such as automatic caption and subtitle generation with speech-to-text algorithms and facial and object recognition to generate rich metadata that can make it easier to find content.
Not only can these tools enhance live production, but they also make it less labor-intensive and faster to correct errors and version the same content for other markets once the event.
Taken together, these benefits of the cloud mean broadcasters and video producers can realize far greater productivity by leveraging the cloud than they could otherwise have achieved with a traditional studio setup.
TVU Networks Enable Cloud Production
In REMI-type (remote production model) applications, pairing the TVU RPS (Remote Production Solution) with TVU Producer makes possible multicamera live production from a sports venue, theater or even a news studio.
Specific live production tasks like switching and mixing audio can be assigned to different members of the production staff and their work brought together before being output to an encoder for broadcast or social media sites for distribution.
TVU Networks has also solved the problem of communications among production staff, talent and guests working remotely with its cloud-based TVU Partyline. Part virtual intercom, part virtual IFB and part cloud-based multi-guest contribution solution, TVU Partyline is frequently used for virtual awards shows, news interviews, press conferences and many other video applications in which being in close physical proximity is not possible.
TVU Remote Commentator is another TVU Networks cloud-based production solution. It solves the problem of sportscasters and color commentators not being together in the announcer booth during the pandemic. Regardless of their locations, TVU Remote Commentator allows announcers to call a game in perfect sync with one another and game action using a simple setup in their home or office.
TVU MediaMind brings advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning into the production mix. Speech-to-text, facial and object recognition and other advanced TVU MediaMind algorithms running in the cloud open up possibilities new ways to enhance quality and workflow efficiencies.
Of course, with a massive video production infrastructure in place at broadcast and production studios, on-premise, special-purpose video production hardware and software will continue to play an important role in the industry.
But as time passes and broadcasters and video producers look to enhance their workflows and save money, turning to cloud-based alternatives will become far more prevalent and point the way to a future in which cloud-based video production is the rule, not the exception.