Amazon Prime Video Italia opted for an innovative way to promote its new fantasy series, The Wheel of Time, ahead of its release at the end of 2021. The company streamed a four-hour live action role playing (LARP) launch event on its Twitch and YouTube channels, in a bid to engage young OTT viewers.
Local Italian production company Nexting deployed Dejero technology for connectivity at Gargonza Castle in Tuscany, the theatrical backdrop for the launch event. Featuring famous streamers, gamers and commentators, the multimedia presentation was streamed live to more than 5,000 spectators.
Gargonza Castle is a 13th century fortified village, spread across 10,000 square metres in the Valdichiana valley. Connectivity was therefore limited, posing technical hurdles for producing a live broadcast with multiple links between interiors, alleyways and open spaces in the remote foothills of Tuscany.
Dealing with plotless live action
LARP is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically portray their characters. The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by real-world environments while interacting with each other in character. The outcome of player actions may be mediated by game rules or determined by consensus among players. Event arrangers called ‘gamemasters’ decide the setting, establish the rules, and facilitate play. For the Wheel of Time launch event, famous Italian YouTubers @DarioMocciaChannel, @Fraffrog, @KuroLilye, and @Kafkanya joined the broadcast, with commentary from @InnTale.
The LARP session itself provided a unique challenge compared to traditional live broadcasts, because there was neither a script nor a plot. With little opportunity to plan or rehearse camera shots, the mobile cameras on site needed to be able to roam without losing connectivity in order to capture the 100 extras as they improvised freely around the dramatic surroundings.
“The event location gave us amazing panoramic views over Valdichiana, close to the city of Arezzo,” says Antonio Palmieri, co-founder and CEO, Nexting. “A stunning place, but with really terrible connectivity! The set was potentially the entire castle, so we had to think of a way to ensure camera operators could capture the action without fear of live transmission being interrupted.”
Achieving uninterrupted connectivity
Nexting covered three different sets with 17 fixed cameras, eight wireless cameras and a drone to ensure none of the action was missed across multiple locations. The Naples-based company guaranteed reliable connectivity for the wireless cameras using Dejero EnGo mobile video transmitters. The gear was equipped with SIM cards from multiple network providers to create a stable, resilient internet connection to cover the remote site.
Powered by Dejero’s Smart Blending Technology, EnGo can simultaneously connect to multiple IP networks, including cellular, Wi-Fi and ethernet. The technology was developed for video transmission and general connectivity use cases because it offers enhanced network reliability, expanded coverage, and greater bandwidth by managing the individual connections in real time.
“We love the versatility of the EnGo because it works with different cameras and resolutions, which is really important for a video transmission,” adds Palmieri.
An SRT encoder was set up to live stream the captured video to a central master control room for remote production. To maintain an uninterrupted stream, a Dejero GateWay network aggregation device supplied high bandwidth public internet connectivity by combining multiple wired (broadband, fibre) and wireless (3G/4G/5G, Wi-Fi, satellite) IP connections from multiple networks to achieve the desired reliability through carrier diversity.
Each connection was continuously measured in real time. If a connection was lost or became congested, the data packets were automatically rerouted in real-time, across the other connection paths. This way, GateWay was able to deliver a fast, secure, and reliable connection, facilitating the delivery of low-latency video from anywhere in the village.
In addition, Nexting utilised the Dejero Control cloud-based management system ahead of the live stream. The system enabled the company to monitor the EnGo SIM cards, traffic usage and mobile coverage all from a web browser, allowing the production crew to maintain optimum cellular network configuration in the various locations.
“With Dejero Control, all the wireless cameras and feeds were monitored with ease, enabling our technicians to adjust settings and troubleshoot remotely so the camera operators could focus on getting the shot,” says Palmieri.
Nexting also used the Dejero EnGo’s internal IFB system and a radio backup for communications, which enabled real-time collaboration and feedback between the crew on set and dispersed teams across the globe.
“It was absolutely crucial that our wireless camera operators could roam freely without fear of losing connectivity. EnGo gave our crew the freedom and mobility to stream from the best possible vantage points in any of the castle locations,” explains Palmieri.
This unique broadcast was a mean feat for the launch event director, Claudio Piccolotto, as well as for the creative team, camera operators and the production company.
Nexting was able to ensure a smooth creative process for the production crew and a unique viewing experience engaged the 5,000 spectators who watched the event live across Amazon Prime Video Italia’s Twitch and YouTube social channels. The YouTube video of the LARP launch event has since had 27,000+ views.