Net Insight and the growth of remote production

Per LindgrenOne of the more intriguing demonstrations at last month’s IBC involved Net Insight, whose technology was used to deliver four uncompressed feeds from Stockholm to a production team at the RAI, 1500km away. With remote production an increasingly spotted buzzword, if a slightly contentious one to OB-oriented ears, Andy Stout talked to the company’s co-founder and VP of Business Development, Per Lindgren, about the promise of the technology.

Where are we with remote production? What can be done in the here and now?

Remote production and workflows solutions are implemented as we speak and Net Insight has been involved in testing several different applications during the last year. In Sweden, remote camera control has been implemented in sports venue networks over Net Insight’s Nimbra platform.

Net Insight and TeliaSonera International Carrier demonstrated a live demo of remote production and workflow at IBC 2011. Net Insight’s Nimbra platform is working as the technical foundation of TeliaSonera International Carrier’s global broadcast fiber network. Net Insight together with TeliaSonera International Carrier delivered four uncompressed HD feeds on TeliaSonera International Carrier’s MediaConnect platform from The Royal Tennis Club in Stockholm, to a production team at IBC in Amsterdam, 1500km away.

Where does Net Insight fit in? What do you do without which the whole concept falls over?

Net Insight delivers terrestrial transport solutions (the Nimbra platform) with required real-time, low latency and with 100% quality of service which are required in production environments. The new type of workflow needs the support of a high quality real-time network to avoid degradation of feed and enable the production crew to remotely control the arena equipment: such as cameras, sound and speaker equipment without any delay. A key requirement is that the media network provides studio quality transport. Without the high quality real-time network with zero packet loss, remote production is not possible.

What are the potential financial savings?

The potential savings are huge based on that you will be able to centralize production to main facilities. This means that only the arena equipment need to be sent to the venue, which eliminates the need to send an OB truck, and its associated crew, with an uplink to the event site, resulting in cost savings. (CAPEX and OPEX = no investment in new OB vans, satellite equipment as well as cost for personnel and travel). All in all, this will reduce cost and increase efficiency in editing and production. The fiber network is a real alternative to satellite where gaining access to capacity can be a challenge.

But the benefit is not only on the cost side; the other benefit is that it will be possible to cover larger number of live sports/musical events. Since the content production is less costly thanks to the new technology we will be able to view tier two/three live events such as regional sports events and minor leagues.

What are the limitations? What needs to change before someone can happily mix a 24 camera football match without ever going near the stadium?

From a technical point of view there are no limitations to do the production remotely. The only requirements needed are to have the network capacity for 24 cameras and the network element equipped to handle 24 cameras. In summary there are no limitations – you can have as many cameras as you want. For a time being, however, production crew will most likely want to be around for the major events and camera control is still more difficult to handle remotely. Camera crews are therefore most likely needed in tier 1 events for quite some time. Production crews are more easily situated remote already today even for such big events.

Are you working with any other companies to try and create a system to overcome these problems?

We have been working together with two Swedish companies in driving the trend toward remote workflows and production, Twentyfourseven, a technical supplier in Broadcast industry, and TeliaSonera International Carrier. Through this cooperation we have been able to test and validate the new type of remote services that have been launched to the market. We have also been involved in tests in several other countries. There is a big interest in these abilities.

What is the market? Is it only for a few, discreet applications or do you see it as a potential threat to the entire established OB industry?

To start with this can be seen as a complement to the OB industry, but more mid-term and long-term it will be able to revolutionize the ways of working in the OB industry, removing the need for onsite outside broadcast infrastructure and personnel. Most probably we will see broadcasters use these type of services in conjunction to the Olympics 2012 in London.

This is relevant for all production companies as well as for post-production agencies. The remote production service is also important to service providers (telcos, media operators) being able to sell broadband connectivity for high-capacity media services.

What will we see next from you in terms of real-world applications?

Digital cinema is another example of using this type of technology. Last fall Net Insight Live was part in delivering the world’s first live 3D opera delivering uncompressed media content, to The People’s Bio Victor Film House. Net Insight ensured 100 per cent quality of transport with zero packet loss and jitter, for the live broadcast production of FolkOperan’s Faust. Providing live 3-D broadcast productions from one location to another using the a high quality Fibre network transportation of content using new remote workflow production techniques are gaining traction in the world of broadcast.

Another type of application is “virtual production office” making a WAN becoming a LAN and facilitating sharing of resources and content. One example is VCC GmbH Agency for Postproduction (VCC), one of Europe’s largest post production companies, is using Net Insight’s equipment for remote workflow production. The company installed Net Insight’s Nimbra platform to reduce both time and travel costs when producing TV spots, commercials and other video material for its customers. VCC sends uncompressed material from its headquarters in Hamburg, to its subsidiaries in Babelsberg, Berlin, Dusseldorf Frankfurt and Leipzig. Key customer executives can then watch, discuss and edit the same material in real time while working in different locations. Before, the VCC team and its customers would travel to the main production offices in Hamburg to review and edit the post-production video.

During FIFA2010, ESPN extended its national backbone based on Nimbra to South Africa by connecting a set of Nimbra nodes into their core. This allowed both the local production team to access content and material in the US as well as for post-production personnel in the US to access content in South Africa, in real-time, creating a seamless workflow over such a large distance. The same network was used to distribute the live feeds back to both US and Latin America.

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