In October, Codemill and Accurate Video participated in the Virtual Video Summit as an exhibitor. Besides demoing the Accurate Video Suite we were also involved in the panel discussion: “Mastering Remote Production Workflows”. The panel was moderated by Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen of Streaming Media and featured a diverse representation of media and broadcast professionals from across the media supply chain. Project Consultant Neil Anderson represented Codemill and Accurate Video on the panel. Other panelists included Daniel Maloney: Matrox, Jim Fiore: Corporate Events Online
Remote production as a concept is not new and it has been adopted by companies that saw the benefits of it. But the pandemic has seen acceleration to be remote-ready. Daniel believes that keeping costs low while using public networks and video synchronization of multiple video feeds for live continues to be a challenge and it is an area that requires significant focus for solutions especially on the network side of things.
Jim believes that translating everyday tools for communication into a broadcast specific purpose can be a challenge. Neil agreed that bandwidth is an issue because the expectation is picture and sound reproduction regardless of the network quality. Bandwidth also impacts workflows in the current reality in a different way. With everyone working from home and out of their laptops, there is an increased need to push and pull content into the cloud, and bandwidth issues affect speed and productivity.
Neil concurs with the other panelists that remote production is not a new phenomenon, especially migrating workflows to the cloud. However, despite a clear trend towards cloud workflows, there exist gaps in the technology in some areas of live and on-demand workflows in the media supply chain. He cites the example of remote workstations in the cloud, touching upon problems with color accuracy and frame accuracy as well as hardware issues, like the lack of SDI monitoring. Furthermore, for cloud workflows to succeed, some of the proprietary tech, such as Dolby Vision and HDR, have to support web browsers in a better way than is the case today.
We have seen an increasing trend with customers who want to build their own solutions from the ground up. This ties in well with the DIY, Open Source, Buy, or Managed Services question that was posed on the panel. Neil pointed out that a lot of commercial media and video technology is actually built on top of open source and this is true of many of the market-leading software and cloud applications. The strongest and weakest link of open source is its community. There is a dependency on the community’s responsiveness in getting support, maintaining the code and an updated roadmap is a lot for a commercially run business to bank on. Therefore, buying or using a commercially backed product, built on top of open source technology offers the best of both worlds.
Speed is always of the essence in Live-to-VOD workflows. Networks and platforms especially sports and music events are always racing to reduce the time from a live event to providing a full polished VOD experience. This has evolved from making the entire video footage of a live event available on-demand to generating highlights of a sporting event. While things may have slowed down due to the pandemic, the technology continues to be developed and the race to reduce the time from Live-to-VOD continues unabated. Neil pointed out that technical limitations continue to exist in terms of being able to access live streams in high broadcast quality and edit it down, by removing irrelevant content and adding other content like interviews, b-rolls, etc. From the traditional approach of recording on-premises and in an OB van, there is now a need to do live editing remotely and this has resulted in everything being sent and streamed directly to the cloud. A natural progression would be to be able to edit content in the cloud as quickly as possible. The technology exists and the pandemic is accelerating the adoption of cloud-based workflows.
Neil identified the biggest issue with post-production software is that they are still heavily desktop based. This means that until the big guns of post-production namely Apple, Adobe, Avid, and AutoDesk cloudify their applications, the need to pull down content on-premise and pushing it back into the cloud will continue. One way to circumvent this is by using virtual workstations, but these can still be constrained by Operating Systems [i.e. lack of macOS support]. Despite these workarounds there exist issues with subframe latency and especially with color grading. To be able to reliably make editing decisions and color grading, frame accuracy is important. While Neil pointed out that companies such as DaVinci Resolve are trying to build better cloud workflow integrations for color grading there is still a heavy reliance on hardware. Unless there is a seamless integration between desktop tools, cloud storage, and virtualization of cloud workflows we are going to live in a reality where different proprietary technologies interact with each other in a hacked-up, duct tape sort of solution. There is a need to develop some sort of standardization. In recent years, working remotely meant using a VPN to access content and files from work. But with better solutions existing like virtualized desktops and web apps, there this a need to move to a more cloud-native experience.
Neil also calls out the broadcast industry’s rigidity to convention. He asserts that broadcast professionals get bogged down by quality - that if the quality of the video is too low, it isn’t good enough. He believes that if it is “good enough”, people will watch and consume content. He alludes to video from the dial-up days and how it was good enough then it must be good enough now. He concludes that the pandemic has forced the hand of the entire industry and there is a need to innovate, offer choice and flexibility on how consumers access and view content. The pandemic, while unfortunate, has provided the industry with the impetus and the proverbial kick up the backside to shape up or ship out.
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Codemill: an APN select technology partner, a Swedish based professional services company that is specialized in building workflows around video, AI, cloud, and UX. Codemill has successfully deployed custom video solutions to global brands like The Guardian, ProSieben.Sat1, ITV amongst others. Codemill has satisfied clients globally in the US, UK, and Europe for over a decade.
Accurate Video a media supply chain product suite from Codemill purpose-built for QC/QA, post-production and content operations teams. Built with a cloud-native approach it is lightweight and can be deployed both in the cloud and on-prem. Accurate Video is a product of choice for several leading broadcasters, media companies, and studios.