While most video production shut down during the pandemic, live TV (for the most part) kept going. The news still needs to be reported. With people unable to attend concerts and seminars, many live events turned to remote production teams who could live stream their content to their audience, who safely sheltered in place.
However, this didn’t come without some changes. Remote production crews still had to socially distance as best as they could, and with more people than ever watching remote streams, technology had to advance to handle the increased demand.
If you’re looking to step into the fast-paced world of remote production, we’ve covered some of the common challenges you may face and some of the newest technologies developed in recent years that will help you tackle them.
What is remote production?
Remote production, also known as “outside broadcast,” is any multi-camera production that happens outside of a production studio. These are typically things like live sporting events, concerts, or seminars.
Four common challenges of remote production (and how to overcome them)
If you have a team working on an audio or video project and they’re not co-located and able to collaborate in person, you’re likely going to face at least one of these common challenges when you’re all trying to produce from your own remote location.
Challenge #1: Latency
Okay, we’re tackling this one right out of the gate because it’s been a constant challenge for remote production teams even before the digital age.
With remote production teams, you often have several different chains of connections linked together, and each can present a latency issue, especially if you’re depending on internet connections with low bandwidth. So, you want the lowest latency possible to reduce overall latency at each link in the chain.
There really isn’t one solution to fixing latency issues. The best way to reduce overall latency in remote production is to use the following approaches:
- Hardwire as many devices as possible.
This is the first step to reducing overall latency. You want to keep the number of devices relying on wireless connections to a minimum. A good example of this is to hardwire your audio equipment into your video equipment instead of using wireless mics. You’ll also want to ensure that at the control center end, your control device is connected to ethernet instead of WiFi.
- Ensure you’re using transmission software with ultra-low latency that’s designed for remote production.
This is a big one. Thankfully advances in technology mean that broadcast software is only getting faster, and with the integration of AI, latencies are getting lower and lower. This is where you want to splurge to ensure that you’re using the fastest possible software to minimize delays.
- Minimize the number of connections.
The fewer links in the chain, the fewer opportunities for delays. If you’re able to transmit your signal directly to the control center, who can transmit live content directly to the viewers, that’s ideal. We’ll get into how to reduce the number of independent connections as possible later on.
Create together remotely, in real time
Challenge #2: Communication
Just because a live production team is remote, it doesn’t mean they’re producing alone. In most cases, remote production teams need to be in constant communication with producers who are working either at home or in a studio and managing the broadcast.
Keeping in communication with these important stakeholders is a critical part of the workflow process. Still, it can often interfere with the broadcast itself if not done with the right technology and planning.
You want to use a communication system that allows you to watch the action while communicating with stakeholders. A great solution for this is Evercast.
Evercast allows you to stream live video feeds in full HD while also video chatting with all of your team. This is great for live remote production teams because it allows everyone to stay in sync with what is happening up to that very moment and clarifies communication because let’s face it, there’s no better way to express ideas than face-to-face.
Evercast can stream directly from the camera, or if you’re a remote producer who’s using a multi-camera management platform, you can stream the entire workspace and give all your other remote collaborators a full view of what’s happening in the virtual control room.
Challenge #3: Security and encryption
Broadcasting remotely also means opening up your live broadcast to potential interruptions and other threats. This means that remote production teams need to be mindful of not only keeping their broadcast secure but encrypting it in a way that doesn’t further disrupt the connection.
Whatever broadcast software you’re using, make sure it has end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication built-in while still boasting low latency. A super-fast connection is not necessarily a better connection if it can’t offer security for your live feeds.
Challenge #4: Bandwidth
This one is a challenge that doesn’t always have an immediate solution, but it’s one of the most common facing remote production teams. It’s becoming more and more common to have remote production producers stationed at home.
Unfortunately, many consumer internet packages don’t include the kind of bandwidth necessary to handle the demands of a multi-camera remote control center.
While the most obvious solution is to maximize your allowed bandwidth with your internet provider, it may not suffice if you’re doing things like controlling remote cameras.
The solution to bandwidth issues is very similar to latency issues. Essentially, you want to minimize demand while maximizing control. This, of course, starts with hardwiring as many things as possible, especially at the control end. It also means investing in high-end routers that can squeeze every bit of bandwidth out of your connection.
A big one we recommend is using as few software programs as possible, so you’re not splitting your bandwidth between too many different platforms. That’s why we love programs like Evercast that allow communication and control all within one program.
Remote production companies are still in the midst of keeping up with the boom in demand for live event streams, but with huge leaps forward in latency and bandwidth availability, it’s becoming more accessible than ever to get remote production up and running.