IBC 2019 Reflections: Grass Valley’s Cohen and Görner discuss remote production trends

Larissa Görner and Dave Cohen on the GV booth at IBC 2019

At IBC Grass Valley announced that Euro Media Group has standardised on the GV K-Frame X video production engine as it optimises production capability ahead of major sporting events during 2020. The switchers will be deployed across several EMG-owned companies, including Videohouse Belgium, CTV UK, United in the Netherlands and Euromedia France.

At the show Grass Valley also gave a debut to the GV Orbit unified IP configuration, control and monitoring system. The consolidated software configuration is structured for the dynamic orchestration of broadcast media networks, whether SDI, hybrid or pure IP.

SVG Europe sat down on the booth with David Cohen, VP marketing and Larissa Görner, newly-appointed director of live advanced solutions at Grass Valley, to discuss current and future directions for remote production and live IP implementation across Europe and beyond.

Larissa Görner: “We’ve been talking about remote production for a really long time, probably since 2008-2009 or earlier. But now is the time it’s really taking off.

“Why is that? Well there is more content; everybody needs to produce much more. However it’s not that there’s more money available; there is a lot of cost pressure, which means it’s about optimising the production of content.

“And the other driver – that everyone is talking about here at the show – is sustainability. Customers are telling us that they need to get trucks off the road and corporate directions mean sustainable production. They say ‘we can’t send all of these people across the planet all the time; we need to find a way to reduce that impact on the environment.’

“People know about our Direct IP initiative, [which is about] having minimum deployment on-site. Only send your cameras, and all of the rest of the infrastructure stays at home. You would have cameras, audio, but all the rest is produced from a central hub. You then also have scalability, where you can use the same infrastructure for the three o’clock match and the five o’clock match.

“That’s Direct IP: you can do it if you have really great bandwidth in your networks. Here in Europe we have big fibre network deployments so there is no problem. But when you need to do compression – what we call Direct IP Plus – there we compress our signals so that we can run with J2K or H264, bringing them through much smaller pipes, with maybe 90% savings on bandwidth. And then you can really go long distance.

“But sometimes the director wants to be on-site. They want to be able to talk to their camera guys. But you still have the signals coming back to be produced at home, with camera control and post production in the hub. We are ready for these workflows. All our products – the Kahunas, Kulas, K-Frame — everything can support these workflows. And we can distribute around Europe or the United States, no problem. If you go long distances, you need to keep some latency under control – but we are even working on some solutions to optimise these challenges.

“It does depend on the case. I think there are cases where you will always send an OB van, as it is the most efficient way to produce. But if you are able to have smaller units on-site, you don’t need all the air-conditioning that you would have if all processing is on-site – especially in hot countries.

“It’s about having less people on-site – whilst keeping up the quality of the production. I’ve worked on big events since 2000, including the Olympics. The OB compound is, sometimes, a pretty unromantic place – especially if you’re there for a long time. When you’re in your twenties it doesn’t matter so much, but when you’re in your thirties you may be building your family and you don’t want to be away from home for so long. This workflow allows you to work from home, without giving up your job, still working creatively on the content.

“My role is director of advanced live solutions, covering remote production across multiple products across the company. But this is not really ‘a product’, it’s a solution that we need to bring out to the customers.

“With Grass Valley, and the different backgrounds that are there within the company including the SAM legacy, we have the goal of building these solutions across multiple products. When you look at the replay products, switchers, cameras and infrastructure, together we have built these live production workflows within the team. But it’s important to note that there are parts we don’t do, so this is where we have partnerships across the industry with the GV Tech Alliance,” said Görner.

David Cohen: “We talk about collaboration in three different ways; collaborating with our customers, collaborating with partners in the industry and collaborating with standards bodies. Euro Media Group is a great example of collaborating with customers, as is NEP.

“It’s not about us maximising our profit; it’s about the relationship leading them to maximise their profit. The way they’re going to do that is by working closely on needs assessment.

“We have a number of these very close collaborative relationships, where we are actively involving them in our product development plans, years before things are released. Of course we developed Direct IP and Direct IP Plus with NEP.

“And here at the show we announced that ES Broadcast has just bought 151 cameras and 15 switchers, and that’s all based on relationships and the quality of our products. It’s a very exciting announcement for us.

“Another thing to mention, in terms of collaboration, is that there are two graphics companies – who compete with each other – who are both part of our Technology Alliance. We integrate their solutions into our switchers and playout in different ways, and there are applications for each.

“It’s an area where we didn’t have an offer, so we had a hole in our portfolio: and by working closely with other companies in the business we’ve been able to incorporate very high quality graphics into our production switchers. It solves a huge problem for our customers – and it makes our product better. It’s a win-win.

“With the launch of GV Orbit we have complete IP connectivity from camera to monitoring, all SMPTE 2110, now including a layer of control, monitoring and configuration. The real plus with GV Orbit is that it’s making the deployment of an IP network ultra-simple.

“You no longer have to configure your server and start typing in IP addresses, so that the switch knows where all of your devices are. Orbit recognises all of the devices on the network and automatically assigns addresses, subscribing them to the network. It takes a process that was arduous and time-consuming, and shrinks it by 90 per cent.

“It works across all devices, including third-party devices, and can also work across a hybrid network if you still have some SDI devices. It really completes ‘IP made easy’, along with our own GV Fabric COTS switch. We are now by far the leader in open standards-based IP, with over 70 installs globally – including the new NEP UK IP truck right here on the booth at the show,” said Cohen.


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