New Grass Valley chief executive hails cloud-based “revolution”

Andrew Cross points to niche sports as beneficiaries of the shift to cloud-based production

Niche and lower league sports have been highlighted as potential areas of growth and opportunity for Grass Valley by new chief executive Andrew Cross, who describes the shift to cloud-based production as potentially one of the biggest changes to the way content is created.

Cross, who was unveiled as Grass Valley chief executive earlier this month, joined the Montreal-headquartered manufacturer from Vizrt Group where he was president of global R&D following the company’s acquisition of NewTek.

Andrew Cross was unveiled as Grass Valley chief executive on 9 March

“My goal and the reason I came [to Grass Valley] is that I believe we have the best opportunity to be the company that really disrupts and makes the move to the cloud real for people,” Cross says.

“That ultimately was why I left the only job I have ever had to come and work here. I had been at NewTek since the beginning of my career, and I left that to come and do this and that is the reason why. I want to be involved in that next big step.”

Speaking with SVG Europe, Cross says there had been three “revolutions” in content creation over the past 15 years, including the move to non-linear editing and the interconnection of computers that has enabled collaboration and faster movement of media.

“The next and possibly final revolution will be the flexibility that will be afforded by moving to the cloud; that allows you to scale up productions, create more content and cover more media and just as importantly conduct more experiments. The flexibility that moving to the cloud is going to give us is going to be huge.

“I was part of the revolution of moving to real-time software on computers and I was part of the revolution of moving to IP and to me, this is the next exciting step and Grass Valley is absolutely the place where this is going to happen.”

“Cloud is so important because it allows you to scale up remote productions and that allows a lot more sports to go on air, often with smaller audiences and smaller budgets. And we are very well positioned to start playing in those areas”

While at NewTek, Cross led the company to pioneer the use of software-based video technologies and was instrumental in the creation of NDI, a widely adopted IP video standard for live video production. Cross will now lead the Grass Valley team’s development of its GV Media Universe (GVMU), which the company describes as a digitally connected community that enables media companies to combine on-premise, hybrid and public cloud technologies to build live production environments while adapting to future demands.

Cross says that Grass Valley has spent the last three years building, “a truly amazing, cloud-based, fully end-to-end solution that integrates with on prem kit, which is something that nobody else has really done.” He adds that one of his priorities was to position Grass Valley as an enabler for the whole industry.

“We want to bring everybody along with us. That is very important to us. That is what I did with NDI at NewTek where I believed that lifting all boats was better than lifting just NewTek’s boat… we are looking to be more than a company that just has cloud solutions. We want to be able to integrate and work with everybody else to do that…our customers can’t change everything overnight and we need to be able to give them a path to get [to the cloud] at the speed they want. We have done an amazing job that solved their future needs but integrates with everything they have today.”

Niche sports

Cross describes live content creation as a “huge” market for Grass Valley and says that while it will focus on “tier 1” customers, the firm will also explore out how its solutions can be applied to other markets.

He says: “We work with almost every broadcaster, and increasingly they need to produce media not only for broadcast but also a range of online destinations and that represents a great opportunity for us. We are also used in pretty much every major sporting engagement out there, but increasingly people want to watch niche sports and it’s just not always economical to take a production truck, which is why cloud is so important because it allows you to scale up remote productions and that allows a lot more sports to go on air often with smaller audiences and smaller budgets. And we are very well positioned to start playing in those areas.”

Cross describes Grass Valley’s implementation of IP video production technology NDI as “top notch”. NDI can be used to encode, transmit and receive streams of high quality, low latency, frame-accurate video and audio in real time and is used in devices such as cameras, converters, vision mixers and graphics systems. NDI is supported by Grass Valley products including its PTZ cameras and its Saas platform AMPP.

“Obviously I know the NDI team quite well and will ensure we work closely with them, so that they understand what we need as a large broadcast company and we want to integrate well with them.

“We want to work with everything and we’re going to work with NDI because the thing that is special about NDI is it’s very good for software based, cloud-type workflows which are very important to us. But the magic part is that we in the industry have all agreed to use IP, and the protocol is great and important, but the big decision was that move to IP. Grass Valley is the leader of SMPTE 2110, but we also support Rist, SRT, NDI; we want to support whatever our customers want to use, and we want to be close to all these protocols.”

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