Agile Content’s Cloud Production bridges the gap between distribution and production using a web- and cloud-datacentre-based application stack enabling remote and distributed production. API based and implemented as microservices, it can be integrated and combined with other systems. Any connected device can contribute to production over regular internet access. Broadcasters can access multiple types of content, and automation allows content to be curated into more versions and flavours for users. Low-resolution media is accessible via public cloud and standard internet protocols, and new video sources of can be added. By adopting a web-inspired approach that treats video sources as global resources, broadcasters can access and tap into a larger repository of live and on-demand content.
IP Broadcast Solutions
Agile Content Cloud Production The gap between upstream and downstream technologies creates a big barrier for the innovation of new products and concepts, as well as smarter and more efficient ways of working. This is largely due to physical connections, proprietary protocols, and an application stack that’s designed for a world before the internet. As an example, a cooking show and a news show will both have access to a specific, pre-determined set of cameras – all according to planning and preparation conducted days or weeks ahead of filming. They are all connected using broadcast proprietary interfaces to unique broadcast applications in a well-defined and rigid order.
This means that when it comes to choosing which sources to use in production and how to use them, broadcasters are limited as proprietary production infrastructures prevent flexibility and the ability to innovate. Spontaneously adding a new camera to the production pipeline during the show is very complicated, and even more so if it is a different kind of camera that isn’t designed to comply with proprietary interfaces and applications.
Then, the syncing, mixing and curation of live content is all carried out in the local, high bitrate SDI domain, meaning that the actual creative contribution must be added at a site that has access to those high bitrate feeds. This limits what and where talent can contribute to the process. The continuing reliance on legacy processes and specialist equipment as opposed to web-based technologies and today’s highly capable consumer devices – even though the internet has been well proven as a distribution channel – illustrates the disconnect that has emerged between content distribution and production.
Agile Content’s Cloud Production solution effectively bridges the gap between distribution and production in a cost-effective manner. It allows broadcasters to trade their traditional broadcast stack for a web- and cloud-/data-centre-based application stack that enables remote and distributed production using standard internet connections and devices. The Cloud Production platform allows any connected device to contribute to the production process over regular internet access. By quickly and easily connecting a wider range of devices – such as smartphones, via the internet – broadcasters can gain access to different types of content across the world, which are controlled by policies rather than by physical access. This allows roaming ‘citizen reporters’ to share live video from their smartphones on-site at events or incidents.
Not only does this enable the contribution of local insight to news reports, but it complements the feeds from professional equipment – remaining in sync to offer a broadcast grade experience to the viewer. For journalists on-the-ground sharing live video content, they can plug into a lightweight encoder on their internet-enabled device that encodes/decodes video contribution streams with flexible quality and latency settings. After configuring their quality and latency parameters, the encoder creates two copies of the same stream – a ‘split architecture’ – with one that is highly compressed and low latency (lower quality) used for production curation, and one that has a lower compression for high-quality content delivery.
For the creative production process, the lower resolution version is accessible via public cloud platforms and via standard internet protocol and connections, meaning that the staff involved in the production can operate from any place and tap into any pre-determined device connected to the internet. New sources of video can be easily added in seconds, ready to be incorporated into the production. With an array of available sources configured for production, operating in the low latency, low bitrate flow for mixing, graphics and audio – using the devices chosen for production – results in action commands sent to the high quality delivery feed in the cloud for playout. By adopting a web-inspired approach that treats video sources as global resources, broadcasters can access and tap into a larger repository of both live and on-demand content. Removing the SDI infrastructure means that content isn’t filtered out and is readily available for production. And as the distribution is unicast, significantly more content variations can be produced and delivered.
The Cloud Production platform’s automation capabilities allow content to be curated into more versions and flavours to better fit users’ interests and location. This is made possible by combining the flexibility and effectiveness of the cloud with the unicast and personalization opportunities of the internet. As the platform is API based and implemented as microservices and web concepts, it can also be integrated and combined with other systems or web solutions to ensure a seamless onboarding process. This is all just scratching the surface of what’s possible with this solution.
It overhauls the cost structure of TV production by shifting cost from a peak capacity metric to a usage-based metric, limiting resource wastage and optimising spend to be directed on value-driven activity. As well as its cost benefits, it sets the tone for the future of broadcast TV and rethinks the entire concept of remote production. With 5G usage growing, this solution capitalises on its benefits of greater connectivity, higher bandwidth and lower latency.
By moving the production stack over to the same technology as the distribution stack, and incorporating web-based technologies throughout the end-to-end content production process, Agile Content’s Cloud Production platform proves once-and-for-all that the internet can be used not only as an alternative for distributing TV, but also as the place where next-generation TV is created and re-invented.