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The benefits of moving to remote production

TVBEurope asks Signiant CSO Rick Clarkson about remote production challenges

What do you see as an interesting trend in broadcasting going into 2019?

For live events, particularly sports, the evolution from on-site production teams to remote integration (REMI) or ‘at home production’ is in full swing and will continue in 2019. We’re seeing particular interest in the use of cloud-based production infrastructure, which allows the production team to operate virtually from anywhere in the world. This provides a lot of flexibility and efficiency, but there are challenges too.

What are the biggest challenges in moving to remote production?

Connectivity is one major obstacle in moving live productions away from the venue. Think about a live sporting event that may have dozens of cameras shooting in high-resolution video formats. Broadcast quality mezzanine content must be streamed live from each camera in the venue to the cloud-based production environment.

This isn’t any easy task. Not only is a lot of bandwidth required, but the robustness of the network is very important in the delivery of high-quality content. Dedicated networks engineered specifically for video are often used, but the downside is that these networks can be very expensive and may not be available for all productions in all venues.

Are there new solutions to the connectivity problem?

Yes. With Signiant’s latest transport technology, it’s now practical to use the public internet for live contribution feeds. Our patented technology effectively eliminates the impact of latency and jitter to achieve maximum network utilisation – and those benefits apply to both files and streams.

What is the difference between a file and a stream?

Good question! The distinction is really in how the data is stored. A file is data that is stored on persistent storage (e.g. a hard disk or solid state drive). With streaming, a system receives many small portions of the overall data set, with each part cached on non-persistent storage. Watching Netflix is an example of streaming; the data on the receiving end is never stored on a drive.

So how does Signiant work for live streams?

Installing Signiant software in the streaming path from the venue to the production facility can provide a secure ‘engineered network experience’ over the public internet without the cost of a dedicated network. Signiant’s network optimisation software eliminates the impact of network jitter, latency and loss to support a more consistent bit rate. A more consistent bit rate enables the encoder(s) to operate at a much higher bit rate – delivering the highest quality end-to-end stream ultimately benefiting the consumer. Streaming over IP networks traditionally equated to lower quality, but this is no longer true.

Are there other applications where the optimisation of streams is useful?

Yes, there are growing use cases that involve B-to-B delivery of unique video streams. For example, distribution of content for localisation is sometimes achieved via Signiant-powered streams. This makes the content harder to pirate and provides an extra level of security, and with our technology a standard internet connection is sufficient.