IP, bandwidth and format flexibility will continue to make the sports world go round in 2021
By Peter Hattan, general manager, FOR-A UK
It may not sit at the bleeding edge it once did, but IP is our selection as this year’s most important technology for the production and delivery of live sports programming. Remote production is clearly here to stay in Europe and across the globe, pandemic or no. Our viewing habits and broadcast expectations have been forever altered by the wrath that was 2020.
Traditional sports like football and tennis found themselves in the same position as niche sports, and all reaped the same technological benefits of product timelines and applications accelerated in ways no one could have predicted. The technology available to stream national and international football games is also available to a parent watching their college student participate in fencing.
This type of remote viewing and production via IP is creating new opportunities for any sport with fans. Imagine parents virtually present at their child’s golf match in another country, or the ability to follow and engage with a long-distance runner across multiple terrains. Not that either athlete would want to engage at that particular time, but a level of fan interaction has arrived that signals the end of the passive fan.
Advantages of IP
Technology vendors will continue to focus on IP within their product development throughout 2021. As we continue to address the current public health crisis, the advantages of IP-based production and transmission tools are great. They enable enhanced remote sports production and simultaneously assure the health and safety of their customers and their production teams.
IP technologies provide reliable control of production equipment from remote sites, as well as content delivery to and from the venues. With IP transmission technologies, video of varying formats and resolutions can be delivered – even over public internet connections – for collaborative working in many locales.
Trends for 2021
We believe we’ll continue to see a hybrid mix of 12G-SDI and IP workflows. Production equipment that provides both 12G and SMPTE ST 2110 capability will be well suited to handle the format flexibility and bandwidth required to carry multiple 4K signals from many locations from acquisition to delivery.
We’ve been assisting with the Japanese television broadcaster’s workflow in 8K for the past two years and will be doing so with the broadcast of the Summer Games rescheduled for 2021. From those Games alone, there will be a lot of 8K content created.
Live streaming technology that will be well poised for our needs in 2021 and beyond must be able to handle many formats, provide unprecedented bandwidth, and require little to no training.
The appeal of automation
On the flipside of this progress, I believe, is the amount we’re often asking of one individual, such as a technical director, to perform. Because of evolving technology, it would be beneficial to consider the automation of some typical TD tasks. Features that provide more automation would mean a reduced workload for the often-overworked TD. The more complex the production, the less time a TD has to operate the vision mixer. Mixers have evolved into powerful systems, but at some point a TD can only do what one person can do. By adding so many features are we helping make their job easier or just giving one person more to do?
At FOR-A we’re enthusiastic about the myriad changes to come in 2021. It will be an exciting year for sports and for the video production industry as a whole. We’re eager to share it all with our customers and friends.