Gautam Jaggi, General Manager-Technical, AGIV India Pvt. Ltd.

Nothing is more compelling than covering live - sports events, national events, entertainment shows, news, and the like. Live content is valuable with its unique capacity to draw in viewers and advertisers.{mosimage}

Live events are expensive to cover when they take place away from the studio. Consider election coverage or natural disaster response where multiple cameras may be capturing and recording at several locations, which must then be integrated with interview footage and graphics.

During multi-sports events like Olympic Games, where many individual events happen in parallel, only one sport might be broadcast live - with highlights, packages, and other added values of media feeds. Ever-increasing production values create more complex on-site production.

The traditional solution has been to transport all the functionality needed for multiple cameras and OB vans with DSNG, which means moving expensive and often bulky equipment and re-installing it at each location and a longer return on investment required due to the equipment's low utilization.

Remote live production is now a practical, deliverable, and proven proposition, enabled by the ability to transport multiple signals, either uncompressed or with compression, at very low latencies.

Dark fiber is suited for point-to-point connection of carrying large numbers of uncompressed HD signals between regularly used venues and broadcast centers. Camera and microphone outputs are multiplexed together onto a single dark fiber circuit, and the segment is cut live in a studio room. Where dark fiber is not available or practical, signals can be sent over IP circuits. IP networks, with the benefits of new monitoring and management techniques, are gaining a lot of traction in remote production because of their ubiquity and cost effectiveness.

Depending on the bandwidth available and the number of circuits required, IP streaming networks can deliver uncompressed signals or use low-impact, low-latency, and MPEG-4 and JPEG2000 compression.

The technology has given attachments on camera to transmit compressed video using the mobile signal available saving the cost of live events; in this way migrating to as many operations as possible away from the venue and back to the home base. Editors, working in the rooms, have to set up the way they want to work, which will make their work more efficient.

Sochi Olympics and the Brazil World Cup have seen a dramatic rise in hybrid production, where some facilities were at the remote location and some in the broadcaster's base facilities. Remote production, using digital connectivity over fiber or IP, is a revolution in the live event workflow.

4K live production becomes more challenging. Even after the 4K streams have been optimized at the source, they will still require at least two to three times the bandwidth you need today to watch a 1080-HD feed. This problem can be solved by the industry only after reorganizing its infrastructure - something that requires not only a significant capital investment, but also a lot of time.

There are also costly 4K upgrades for broadcasters to consider for handling live broadcasts in 4K - encoding, switching, and other hardware. Many of them may be waiting for 8K (the next big leap in picture resolution, which quadruples the pixel count) to make those kinds of expensive upgrades. They do not want to have to do it twice, back-to-back.

Pulling in a 4K signal over the air should also be possible, but it will take years. The most promising of those is ATSC 3.0, a proposed standard for television tuners that would not only allow over-the-air 4K broadcasts, but could also broadcast directly to mobile devices.

The challenge is to find a way of migrating to as many operations as possible away from the venue and back to the home base. In short, remote production delivers better quality, faster, and at lower cost - vital capabilities in today's budget-restrictive and speed-conscious environment.