The pandemic forced broadcasters across India to reimagine how live programming, whether sports, news or entertainment, was being produced and distributed. It accelerated the shift towards remote production (REMI) workflows, which, supported by critical technologies, such as IP bonding, now offer broadcasters and production companies more flexibility, efficiency, and scalability.
Now that in-person events are back, many are finding that remote production is still the most effective way to operate. As the production industry in India, and around the world, continues to adopt more and more remote production tools, many of which are hosted in the cloud, we too are increasingly seeing the benefits.
Bringing fans closer to the action to drive reach and engagement for live sports
Live sports broadcasting across the globe continues to be a major beneficiary of remote production.
One of Thailand’s top production companies, V6 Production, has adopted LiveU’s live streaming and remote production solution to provide innovative live coverage from a series of live sports events. These include the “Thailand Super Series” (supercar racing), Thai Boxing, Buriram Marathon, and Midnight Marathon. On-site support and equipment are provided by LiveU’s local partner, DSC Thailand.
V6 Production looked for a live video solution, which could ensure transmission signal reliability over a large area and optimize its production costs via a simple remote production setup. After testing different solutions, V6 selected LiveU’s remote production solution, combining LiveU’s LU800 multi-cam 5G production-level units, with its compact LU300 units, as part of a seamless production workflow. Production is handled centrally at V6’s Bangkok production studio with only minimal people required on-site.
Vichit Yodburee, Managing Director, V6 Production Company Limited, said, “We can capture the action from multiple angles, getting up close to the athletes and drivers – even inside the cars – generating video views from anywhere for a unique viewing experience. This enables us to offer greater value to our customers, providing a more creative and professional live production, while saving costs, using the REMI workflow.”
In a similar case, Japanese broadcaster J SPORTS, together with its production partner Express, wanted to enhance the live viewing experience for matches of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars’ baseball team shown on J SPORTS’ OTT service (J SPORTS On Demand). To achieve this, they decided to use a multi-camera, remote production solution for all home matches of the 2021 season.
2021 was the first year that J SPORTS offered this live OTT service. The broadcaster initially planned to use only the clean broadcast feed, adding commentary and graphics. However, working closely with Express, expanding the amount of content and increasing viewer engagement became a priority. Moving to remote production was also a long-held Express and J SPORTS ambition.
Kanji Kato, Technical Director, Express, said, “We really wanted to transmit multiple camera signals via mobile networks and, of course, it had to be extremely reliable. Originally, we were planning to send multiple camera feeds via Ethernet, but demonstrations from LiveU proved to us that our original ambition was completely possible. They showed us the next level of remote production, with reliable tally light and additional audio functionality via the multi-camera LU800, facilitating bi-directional communications between the field staff and control room.”
The on-air clean feed (switched between multiple cameras) was sent from an OB unit at the ground via an LU800 along with two additional feeds – a wide shot of the ground and the scoreboard. Commentary for this service was then added remotely at J SPORTS’ studio, while graphics and audio mixing was carried out by Express at its Tokyo studio, called Avenir-Hub. Additionally, a video return feed with graphics was sent back to the commentators so that they could see the ball, strike and out counts and check the slow-motion effects.
From studio to field –: delivering remote multi-camera production from outside the studio
Broadcasters and production companies have felt a sense of confidence and familiarity with the existing studio-based workflows as the critical element of a multi-camera production. We are paving the way towards a new future of remote multi-camera production, leveraging our multi-camera field units (and other 5G-enabled field units connected to the cloud).
For example, India Today, India’s leading news network, has increased its deployment of LiveU’s LU800 multi-cam solution across the country for its TV channels’ live coverage, complementing its existing fleet of LiveU live broadcast solutions. The LU800 offers mission-critical reliability and enhanced flexibility for the broadcaster’s daily news, sports, and entertainment coverage, with its simultaneous field switching capabilities. The network is deploying LU800 5G units, ready for the 5G network launch in India scheduled for later this year. Round-the-clock service and support are provided by LiveU’s local partner Lamhas Satellite Services Ltd.
Mrityunjoy Pal, Asst. Vice President – Broadcast at India Today, said, “We’re really happy with the LU800’s robustness and video performance, especially with its multi-camera capabilities and switcher feature. For example, at a recent event, we were interviewing a leading politician in the run-up to the election. Using the LU800, we had two feeds coming into the station from one unit and our English and Hindi channels had the flexibility to pick different frames instead of the same frame playing on each channel. The LU800 played a key role in providing engaging coverage of the recent election as well as other daily news and events.”
India Today is a longstanding LiveU customer, using a wide range of solutions in the LiveU ecosystem. This includes tens of LU800s and LU600 field units, over 50 LU-Smart mobile apps, as well as IFB intercom production tools. Live content is broadcast direct to India Today’s broadcast channels and online media outlets via the Delhi and Bombay news bureaus, often using remote production (REMI) workflows.
In another example of a highly successful multi-camera remote production, RTL boosted viewer engagement of German Elections in 2021, using LiveU Matrix, combined with Blackbird’s cloud video editing platform. The project was managed by CBC, the production and technology/IT company of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and a longstanding LiveU customer.
CBC used the LiveU Matrix IP cloud-based management and distribution platform for dynamic live news content sharing, complementing its existing fleet of LiveU field units. Live feeds were shared from 12 political party venues in Berlin and Magdeburg and received directly into Matrix’s cloud channels with all the incoming feeds recorded in real-time in the cloud. Selected feeds were then distributed to multiple receivers and broadcast on the national news as well as additional German broadcasters, facilitating a collaborative effort between the broadcasters. SRT feeds were also ingested into the Matrix platform for the first time. LiveU’s network operations center (NOC) provided proactive monitoring of the feeds with dedicated alerts in real– time.
In parallel, the files were accessed in almost real –time, using Blackbird’s cloud-native editing platform. Working remotely, from safe and convenient locations, important at the time, distributed teams of editors were able to rapidly and collaboratively clip, edit, enrich, and publish highlights of the many events. Blackbird then delivered both short– and long– form high-definition digital assets to multiple digital channels simultaneously, including social and web as well as to broadcast media partners for repurposing.
In another development, we have seen the first use of LiveU Air Control, our new broadcast orchestration cloud solution for simplifying the production workflow. Dutch broadcaster Omrop Fryslân, a long-time LiveU customer via Netherlands partner Heynen, deployed Air Control to transform its election coverage cloud workflow.
Omrop Fryslân, based in the northern Netherlands, first became a LiveU customer back in 2013, gradually expanding its roster of hardware and software bonding solutions. As Martin Wijbenga, Head Program Technician with Omrop Fryslân, said, “LiveU’s IP bonding technology, and remote control capabilities, makes the company’s hardware and software perfect for us.”
Once again, faced with the complexities of bringing dynamic, invigorating coverage of an election to air, the broadcaster turned to LiveU, this time to deploy Air Control. Wijbenga said, “At the start of the project – elections for city councils – we discussed the approach of combining the best of a TV and radio show. We wanted to have an attractive TV show with the speed and dynamism of radio, covering as much of local city council elections as possible with as many interviews as possible. To be able to do that without having a reporter at every location, where there was a possible interviewee, we needed to provide a stable connection to them in a simple way. And that’s where Air Control came in.”
Previously, unless reporters in the field were suitably equipped, and had the time and access, those interviews had to be handled by phone or audio app during a show like this, which were not broadcast– quality in terms of management and interoperability as well as video caliber. Air Control made it easy for the broadcaster to have all video connections, simply, and all using a single, integrated cloud solution. They did not need to implement other hardware/software on the studio side.
5G ushers in the next phase of live broadcasting
As India’s roadmap toward 5G unfolds, we are able to observe how 5G is adding value to live broadcasting in other parts of the world and anticipate the benefits that the technology promises to bring closer to home. We are seeing amazing use cases where customers are unlocking new opportunities previously challenged by wired, bandwidth, and transmission limitations.
Sky Germany, for example, has been at the forefront of professional 5G deployment, leveraging LiveU technology for their first 5G broadcast back in 2020. To take the 5G experience to the next level, Sky Germany challenged itself to produce a handball match fully in the cloud. The goal was to bring viewers even closer to the action by mixing multiple broadcast and smartphone camera feeds in a streamlined cloud-production workflow.
Sky Germany leveraged a high-speed 5G network provided by O2, several LiveU LU800 units and smartphones with the LU-Smart streaming app and the Vizrt cloud production platform.
Alessandro Reitano, SVP Sport Production at Sky Germany, said, ““After the successful first live broadcast last year, we were once again demonstrating the potential of using 5G in live sports with another end-to-end production. With the integrated LiveU and Vizrt technology, we were able to bring the handball action very close to the TV viewer in unprecedented 5G transmission quality.”
A new dawn for live broadcasting in India
We look forward to the benefits that 5G will bring to the Indian broadcast sector as 5G begins to roll-out later this year. In the meantime, it’s great to see LiveU technologies being adopted by leaders, such as India Today, in an innovative and cost-effective way for broadcasting live to millions of viewers across the country.
LiveU will be further strengthening our its relationships with broadcasters and production companies across India and helping them to reap the benefits of our its remote production and multi-camera solutions, as well as our its latest solution LiveU Ingest. We are bringing new ways of covering live sports, news, and entertainment that drive increased cost efficiencies, flexibility, and scalability for production teams as well as greater viewer engagement and reach.