NVP combines Grass Valley AMPP with traditional broadcast systems to simultaneously manage the diverse production demands of multiple Italian football league matches.
NVP, a media management and production services company in Italy, has designed and built a new IP-based facility, The Innovation Hub in Milan. Their intention was to create a live video production environment flexible and agile enough to handle all types of live events. With high-profile clients like Sky Italia, RAI TV, Mediaset, OBS and EBU, NVP needed a range of equipment making it possible to match the right live production approach to the needs of any of their projects, at an affordable cost.
The Innovation Hub is comprised of traditional UHD/4K live video production control rooms, primarily equipped with dedicated Grass Valley broadcast systems. The facility’s underlying infrastructure is based on SMPTE ST 2110, which will make the studio more flexible and efficient as the industry transitions from SDI to IP-based video signal transmission.
Recently, NVP added cloud-based control rooms to their services, based on Grass Valley’s Agile Media Processing Platform (GV AMPP). As a cloud-native Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), GV AMPP integrates all the capabilities involved in producing and distributing live video productions, end-to-end, on a single platform. This cloud environment makes live remote production scalable and more cost- effective.
NVP also wanted greater efficiency and bandwidth to take proper advantage of any new live production opportunities they might encounter. This was the case with Lega Italiana Calcio Professionistico, the Serie C (tier three) Italian national football league, known as Lega Pro.
Once The Innovation Hub was underway, Lega Pro approached NVP to undertake live production of its matches. However the Hub’s in-house production control rooms were already busy producing live matches for Italy’s top two tiers of pro football, the Serie A and Serie B leagues. Taking on tier three Lega Pro events presented a challenge for several reasons. First, the league’s schedule called for 1,100 matches over a 10-month period. As many as 30 matches might take place over a single weekend.
Furthermore, the studio would have to very quickly extend their production capabilities in order to accommodate the work in time. Finally, NVP would need to handle the very different production and distribution needs of all three leagues simultaneously.
Video Progetti, Srl was engaged to look after the design, installation and systems integration for The Innovation Hub, including the live production galleries, the OB trucks and the entire GV AMPP ecosystem. “When the Lega Pro opportunity first emerged, NVP only had two to three weeks to ramp up production capabilities before the first match. Since its high-end galleries had already been assigned to the top tier football leagues and other on-going business, NVP needed to quickly implement all of the required facilities from scratch to handle the extra work for Lega Pro,” said Frank Kerrin, Director of Technology for Video Progetti.
“NVP determined that to meet the tight schedule and volume of live matches, Lega Pro production and distribution would need to be handled entirely in the cloud. Grass Valley AMPP is one of the only live production systems on the market with all components in place to handle live broadcast quality video productions entirely in the cloud. More important, GV AMPP could be deployed and scaled very quickly, and with an achievable learning curve.”
Between Budgets and Expectations
The different production requirements and budgets for these three leagues call for completely different production strategies. Serie A and Serie B football competitions are typically covered by multiple cameras, as many as 30 depending on the expectations for the event. These higher tier events are handled with a 4K HDR OB van or, for Serie B, in the Innovation Hub’s high-end production control rooms with remote production.
In contrast, Lega Pro matches are typically only covered by two cameras and have relatively lower budgets compared to Serie A and B. GV AMPP is ideal for supporting this level of live remote production cost-effectively without sacrificing broadcast quality.
NVP has been producing live Serie A and UEFA events for Mediaset and Sky Italia for many years, including the first Championship match produced entirely in native 4K HDR HLG quality. In such cases, NVP deploys high-end OB vans equipped with, for example, Grass Valley LDX 86 4K broadcast camera systems, Kahuna FormatFusion4 video mixers and Sirius 850 routers.
Serie A and Serie B matches also have the advantage of the facility’s larger UHD/4K production galleries, equipped with Grass Valley Kahuna 9600 production switchers with 3 M/E Maverik control panels, as well as GV Kaleido multiviewers, and manned by a crew of three or four operators.
However, Serie B matches have the option of production using a hybrid approach – a combination of dedicated production hardware, including on-premises servers and switchers, with AMPP’s cloud-native video processing ecosystem. Meanwhile, the high volume of simpler, lower budget tier three Lega Pro matches can be accommodated by GV AMPP’s remote, cloud-based production configuration.
The cloud is especially useful for scaling Lega Pro production up or down. Consequently, 12 smaller Lega Pro galleries have been set up at NVP as client workstations that can directly access GV AMPP. Up to eight of these can produce simultaneous games, while the remaining four are set up for the events coming up. Camera signals flow into GV AMPP servers on the AWS cloud as SRT signals via Haivision’s remote transmission devices from various stadiums. They flow within the facility over relatively low-cost NDI networks. Then the live output is streamed to a global audience by Sky Italia and available as VoD.
Cost efficiency has been a large element of adopting cloud resources in this situation. The GV AMPP Lega Pro galleries are configured so that a single operator can control all production tasks, including the video and audio mixing, slomo and live graphics. The operators use GV Live Producer Pro software with a Streamdeck hot-keys panel for switching the incoming SRT feeds. They also have a 16-input audio mixer panel, multiviewer, the Singular.live platform for HTML5 live graphics and GV LiveTouch X (4 input/1 output) for replays.
GV AMPP customers only incur cloud costs while actively using cloud compute resources. When no events are taking place and the computers sit idle, the cloud service costs are suspended. This pay-as-you-go SaaS arrangement makes GV AMPP a cost-effective approach for Lega Pro and is vital to making the Lega Pro work worthwhile.
“GV AMPP was able to supply all the elements needed for Lega Pro on the one platform, and is fast and easy to deploy, making it possible for us to meet the tight deadlines,” Frank Kerrin said. “Other competing solutions on the market did not have all the essential building blocks in place."
The Innovation Hub, which is in Milan’s Cologno Monzese district, also gives access to NVP sister company HyWay Media, a startup specialised in streaming. After video production, HyWay Media simplifies the content lifecycle through video transcoding, digital asset management, distribution and OTT development.
HyWay Media supports NVP’s work on the Italian pro soccer accounts by using GV AMPP to playout multiple channels of their programming, and manages the OTT platform distribution. HyWay Media’s speciality is the development of new tools to give users a technical advantage in OTT streaming.
NVP now plans to replicate The Innovation Hub in additional locations, including Rome, Naples and Messina. They also plan to expand the Milan facility further with the addition of new broadcast studios. GV AMPP will continue to be a core function within each facility. www.grassvalley.com