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FutureSPORT 2019: Remote Production in the Real World

04/12/2019

FutureSPORT 2019: Remote production in the real world By David Fox

Monday, December 2, 2019 - 17:21

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The remote production panel: Robin Broomfield, Jo Finon, Warren Jones and Narinder Ball

Last week's FutureSPORT 2019 Summit was another record-breaking event for SVG Europe, with over 350 delegates in attendance at Chelsea Football Club in London. A highlight session in a packed day of content was More than just Technology: Remote Production in the Real World', which was sponsored by Eurovision Services.

Remote production is becoming almost routine for many broadcasters, as the production of some major events or seasonal leagues moves from the outside broadcast compound at the venue to a comfortable gallery back at base. At the FutureSPORT session, speakers from the BBC, Sky and SailGP revealed how at home' workflows can improve work/life balance, affect carbon footprints and offer creative benefits.

For conference host, presenter Natalie Quirk, who works on remote productions with the FA Women's Super League, and other football coverage, BT Sport: the biggest complement that I can give it as a reporter or presenter is my job doesn't really change. My communication with the gallery back at Stratford is exactly the same as it would be if we were in an OB truck in the compound, she said.

It's not just a tick box exercise in the contract. We're also making sure that responsible business targets are included in the contract, keeping sustainability on the agenda at annual reviews.

We can also be more creative with camera work, because cameras aren't tied to cables. We can be at more games. On the National League we can turn around a highlights programme (from all of the games that afternoon) an hour-and-a-half after the final whistle.

Obvious benefits of remote production can be lower costs (due to sending fewer crew to an event) and increased sustainability, but the greatest advantage [ ] is enhancing the value of your content, said Michele Gosetti, head of sales and marketing at Eurovision Services, who introduced the session.

Once you've extracted yourself from the boundaries of an OB van at the venue, there's no limit in your ability to customise, repurpose and reformat your content and making the most out of it.

A remote decade

The BBC did remote production for the Winter Olympics, Commonwealth Games and European Championships in 2018. Indeed, it has done the Winter Olympics as some form of remote production for ten years.

If you've got a small budget, you can get more for your money. You're not paying for hotels or flights. However, some people feel that the editorial offer may be impacted, said Narinder Ball, BBC Sport, outside broadcast operations executive. All three events it did in 2018 followed a similar model, with presentation and commentary on site, coming back to its galleries in Salford.

She believes that good communication links are the key to good remote production, although it can be complicated by time differences.

SailGP has just completed its first year, all as remote productions from venues across the world. It helped greatly that there were no legacy contracts or systems to deal with. Trying to future proof ourselves for the next three, four, five years, we thought remote production was the way forward, said Warren Jones, SailGP's technical director.

Its first venue was Sydney, with its gallery in London, so we made it as hard as possible for ourselves, he said, with latency of about 160 milliseconds. It also held races in San Francisco, New York, Cowes (Isle of Wight) and Marseille, all sending 35 streams or more back to London.

Panel chair Robin Broomfield with Sky Sports' Jo Finon

For Sky Sports it's all about sustainability. Sky has introduced a lot of environmentally-friendly changes recently, including introducing cleaner-burning GTL (gas to liquid) fuel for generators and removing single-use plastics and coffee cups from its host productions. Remote production is the natural next step, reducing the amount of travel. So, whenever we have new rights or an opportunity to look at whether remote production is possible - if the connectivity is there and we have the right facilities back at Sky - then it's a no brainer to not make that move, said Jo Finon, Sky Sports, contracts manager and albert ambassador.

Whether remote production is right for an event has to be judged for each particular case, added Ball. One of the considerations for us and, I guess, one of the stumbling blocks, is connectivity at venues. It's also our back-end infrastructure. You can remote things back, but we only have a certain amount of galleries and control rooms. If you have a busy summer you may not have the space, which is where she believes the availability of centralised production facilities, such as from NEP, could come in.

SailGP has no production on site - everything goes back to London. It did start its season with on-screen presentation at the venue, but later decided to do that in London too. For the upcoming season, starting in February, we want to cut about 20-30% of people that are on site, back to London, and we think that is achievable, said Jones.

He doesn't think remote production necessarily saves costs. At the start I think it is on par with a traditional broadcast, but he anticipates that when they return to Sydney, and use the same infrastructure, it will be cheaper.

Sky has found that connectivity is giving us the option to be on site at events we might not have been at before, added Finon. It is also more sustainable. On Formula One we reduced our crew travel by 20% and freight by 25%, so that side is massive. Flying all that around the world, next year for 22 races, has a huge impact on reducing our carbon footprint, she said.
LINK: https://www.svgeurope.org/blog/headlines/futuresport-2019-remote-produ...
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