Watch the full NAB Show 2023 session “Virtual Live Remote Production and Video Distribution” above.
- As part of its Intelligent Content Experiential Zone, the 2023 NAB Show assembled a panel of NFL, NHL, and ESPN technology leaders to discuss the future of live remote production.
- The session was moderated by AWS head of sports, global professional services, Julie Souza; panelists included NFL Media senior director of asset management & post production Brad Boim, NHL SVP of technology Grant Nodine, and ESPN director of specialist operations Chris Strong.
- The panelists shared their experiences and goals, providing a glimpse into the future of broadcasting that is not only more efficient and flexible, but also ripe with opportunities for innovative content creation.
In an era where cloud technology is revolutionizing the Media & Entertainment industry, the 2023 NAB Show brought together executives from the NFL, the NHL and ESPN to discuss the future of live remote production. The panelists shared their experiences and goals, providing a glimpse into the future of broadcasting that is not only more efficient and flexible, but also ripe with opportunities for innovative content creation.
The Q&A session, entitled “Virtual Live Remote Production and Video Distribution,” was moderated by Julie Souza, Head of Sports, Global Professional Services, AWS, and featured NFL Media senior director of asset management & post production Brad Boim, NHL SVP of technology Grant Nodine, and ESPN director of specialist operations Chris Strong. Watch the full session in the video at the top of the page.
The session focused on the transition from terrestrial production to virtualized live production, which is touted as being more efficient, flexible, and scalable. The panelists discussed their experiences with proofs of concept (POCs) in cloud production and the groundwork that needs to be laid before moving production to the cloud. They also discussed the challenges they faced, including the need for resilience, confidence in the technology, and the cost of maintaining equipment in a data center.
To prepare to move to live remote production, the most important thing, Nodine said, “is just building your orchestration and ability to get video into the cloud on a repeatable basis, and really be able to drive automation in setting that up so that you can really start to think about new ways to spin up occasional compute, to be able to really hone in on, on what you want to do with that video, and make it more multipurpose and make it so that you can really adapt it to any audience, and on any device at any time.”
POCs provide opportunities to demonstrate the efficiencies of remote production to leadership, the panelists agreed. “If you just keep working at it and establishing whether they’re POCs or actually being able to execute things live, you start to break the glass ceiling a little bit more because a lot of the folks up above in the senior management leadership roles are not maybe looking at it from the same lens that we are as technologists,” Boim commented.
“We can’t go off the air, we have to keep going all the time,” said Strong. “We actually did a previous POC in October where we shadowed a regular production that was already live so we could make sure that we had everything set up, that we were ready to go,” he recalled. “Then, at the second go-round, we knew we could do it, so we flipped that around and backed up our cloud instance with live.”
The panelists also discussed the potential of cloud technology to provide more flexibility and scalability, allowing for more unique experiences for viewers. They talked about the potential for creating different versions of broadcasts for different markets and the ability to adapt and try new things more easily with cloud technology.
Scalability, elasticity and, efficiency are the primary benefits of producing in the cloud, Strong said.
“Software vendors are becoming more cloud-first in their approach to developing new tools,” Boim added, noting that software updates are usually made available on a cloud-first basis. “Sometimes it’s easier to get access to [the latest tools] if you’re just spinning something up and you want to be able to try to use something without making a huge capital investment in your facility. So I think that is going to be a real benefit because you’re gonna be able to touch new things quicker because they’re much more accessible.”
However, they also highlighted the challenges that need to be overcome for wider adoption of virtualized live remote production, including cultural and training issues, the need for further development in the ecosystem, and concerns about resilience and reliability. They emphasized the need for a gradual, methodical approach to adopting this technology, with the industry working together with manufacturers and networks to ensure it is done properly.
“One of the biggest challenges is really convincing the organization that this is the direction that we should be taking, and that this is worth the effort that we’re going to make to build the orchestration and automation tools that allow us to be able to have all of these resources available in the cloud,” Nodine commented, noting that the industry is already very close to the point of “one feed to rule them all,” where orgs send one feed to the cloud that will satisfy all outputs. “We’re starting to see that unification happen,” he said, adding, “It’s really the cloud turning into a fog, right? Which is that basically the content gets closer and closer and closer to the end users to the point where it’s ubiquitous and available everywhere all the time. And we’re getting close to that.”