EVS and Orange Belgium launched a project using 5G networks to bring live theatre to schools, and better understand the potential of 5G in video production, processing and distribution.

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On 5 October, EVS presented its Flex Production initiative, a project supported by the Belgian Federal Government, developed to demonstrate various possibilities for the use of 5G technology in centralised productions.

EVS and Orange Belgium, alongside La Grand Poste, Wallonie-Bruxelles Enseignement (WBE) and Playtime Films, collaborated with the Théâtre de Liège to stream a live performance of the theatrical play ‘Andromaque’, the classic French tragedy by Jean Racine, to over 70 schools in the Wallonia and Brussels regions. This captivating live film experience, watched by over 10,000 students, coincided with the theatre's 10th anniversary celebration.

5G Roll-out

In the process of renewing its 4G network, Orange is progressively rolling out 5G in order to open new business services. 5G connectivity is not only very stable and reliable, allowing high-speed exchange of data and large files and high-quality video conferencing. It also keeps latency extremely low and allows sections of the network to be ‘sliced’ - dedicated to a specific application or customer as a way to ensure a connection.

The 5G network is expected to support new emerging types of media such as VR and AR as well, and make them accessible to mobile devices. According to Orange, 5G has the potential to enable billions of objects to be connected and operate simultaneously.

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The Liège theatre set-up includes multiple Ultra HD cameras, each equipped with a LiveU field encoder for transmitting video feeds via Orange Belgium's 5G network to a central control room at La Grand Poste – an incubator organisation that supports startups and new business. Running on LiveU’s Reliable Transport protocol (LRT), the encoders are able to maintain high quality, ultra-low latency live streams over the 5G network.

In the control room, an EVS central production system orchestrates the entire live production process. EVS’ MediaHub SaaS, a content exchange platform, was put in place to support the project's cloud-based distributed production workflows. MediaHub delivers video content across the web to give the team rapid access to files as they create clips, highlights and long-form content for delivery.

Educational Opportunity – Cloud-Native Editing

Typically used to extend the reach of live events by publishing and distributing live content with rights holders online, in this case MediaHub also serves as a repository for all footage of the Andromaque performance captured on 5 October. It makes the media available for a secondary related but quite different application – a true case of re-purposing. The educational institutions selected by WBE have free access to EVS' platform, and their students can access the recorded content from any location through an integration of MediaHub with the Blackbird cloud native video editing platform.

Using Blackbird’s software, the students can create their own edits and highlights of the performance directly in the cloud. Students will be trained by EVS to navigate and control Blackbird’s dynamic platform for content editing and production, encouraging the next generation of content creators.

EVS MediaHub workflow

Centralised Potential

Renaud Falise, 5G & IoT Strategic Manager at Orange Belgium said, “The project marks a significant milestone in live video production, showing the immense potential of 5G and its practical applications.” But beyond its role as an innovative technical showcase with a significant educational component, the project also demonstrates how 5G stand alone networks enhance the flexibility of remote productions while reducing costs and environmental impact.

Nicolas Bourdon, Chief Marketing Officer at EVS, said, "5G technology is likely to significantly reduce the need for production team travel. Centralising audiovisual production tools drives resource consolidation that reduces the cost of producing live events.

“For example, you can imagine hosting diverse productions in a single day, such as morning TV debates, midday news programs, afternoon theatre plays, and regional sporting events in the evening - all produced by the same infrastructure. This opens up opportunities for smaller events to reach larger audiences through accessible, professional-grade audiovisual content distribution." www.evs.com