The global COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted sports production. We asked Peter Hattan, general manager for FOR-A UK, to share his observations on the state of the industry.
Q: Is remote production just a fad?
A: Remote production is clearly here to stay in Europe and across the globe, pandemic or no. Our viewing habits and broadcast expectations have been forever altered by the wrath that was 2020. Traditional sports like football and tennis found themselves in the same position as niche sports, and all reaped the same technological benefits of product timelines and applications accelerated in ways no one could have predicted. Technology vendors will continue to focus on IP within their product development throughout 2021. Live streaming technology that will be well poised for our needs in 2021 and beyond must be able to handle many formats, provide unprecedented bandwidth, and require little to no training.
Q: Why should sports embrace IP-based production?
A: IP technologies provide reliable control of production equipment from remote sites, as well as content delivery to and from the venues. With IP transmission technologies, video of varying formats and resolutions can be delivered – even over public internet connections – for collaborative working in many locales. As we continue to address the current public health crisis, the advantages of IP-based production and transmission tools are great. They enable enhanced remote sports production and simultaneously assure the health and safety of their customers and their production teams.
Q: Does this mean the end of SDI?
A: We believe we’ll continue to see a hybrid mix of 12G-SDI and IP workflows. Production equipment that provides both 12G and SMPTE 2110 capability will be well suited to handle the format flexibility and bandwidth required to carry multiple 4K signals from many locations from acquisition to delivery.
Of course, FOR-A offers a number of solutions for IP-based workflows. Our MV-1640IP multi viewer lets you monitor up to 16 IP sources in a familiar, flexible interface. For the Universal System Frame, our USF-10IP Series of modules converts video and audio signals between IP formats or between IP and SDI formats for hybrid systems. And our HVS-6000 video switcher allows IP interfaces to be mounted on all I/O slots.
Q: How has IP technology impacted sports viewership?
A: The technology available to stream national and international football games is also available to a parent watching their college student participate in fencing. This type of remote viewing and production via IP is creating new opportunities for any sport with fans. Imagine parents virtually present at their child’s golf match in another country, or the ability to follow and engage with a long-distance runner across multiple terrains. Not that either athlete would want to engage at that particular time, but a level of fan interaction has arrived that signals the end of the passive fan.
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