IP technology and why Australia is leading the way

We’re all aware of how consumption in the broadcast industry is changing, with viewers wanting to consume ‘on demand’ and budgets requiring more efficiency than ever. Internet Protocol (IP) systems that three years ago seemed the way of the future are now fast becoming the standard, in no small part due to this need for efficiency and flexibility.

With IP, broadcasters can air content from anywhere in the world without leaving home, using their preferred crew, while reducing the financial and time restraints associated with travel.

In Australia we are well familiar with the limitations of location—we have large distances to cover, with few or no venues in some of the vast spaces between—so it should come as no surprise that Australia is leading the way in implementing IP technology to help close the remoteness gap.

Just look at NEP’s Andrews Hub in Sydney and Melbourne – a world-leading all-IP environment that, in May this year, successfully aired a live, remote production of the IAAF World Relays being held in Yokohama, Japan.

The facility was conceived to respond to the concept of ‘anyone, anywhere’. Stephen Edwards, Head of Technology, Fox Sports Australia, explains this as:

“People want everything, anywhere, all the time. In order to keep pace with that, you can’t be siloed operations limited by who can be where and when they can do it.[1]”

The benefit of IP solutions, other than the obvious financial efficiency, is that broadcasters have access to the best crew on more jobs, as they’re not caught up in travel, which means greater familiarity and consistency in quality.

Winplus-IP (Autoscript) and CueiT (CueScript) software networks directly to prompting devices like monitors and scroll-controls—from wireless hand and foot controls, to the desktop scroll control, to multiple monitors, these prompting accessories can be controlled by an operator from their laptop.

Just imagine—prompting from home or the office for a speaker on the other side of the world; controlling the brightness of a monitor in Melbourne from your desk in Sydney; switching to a second monitor immediately if vision is lost to the main; or taking control of the script for a speaker using a hand-remote when they’ve lost their place and become confused. All without having to leave your desk.

Aside from the remote capabilities, there are many other great features of IP software—like the live backup. For the first time, with two PCs running on a network, IP allows a true-to-live backup where there is no need for a second operator to scroll simultaneously, or dead air-time while a backup is synched and manually prompted. Instead the backup PC mirrors the main, meaning a transition so seamless it’s near-invisible to the talent.

The software for both Winplus-IP and CueiT has also been designed with the operator in mind, meaning lots of handy tools for editing on the fly. A great example is the bookmark function, where an operator can create a list of points in the script to jump to—perfect for gameshows with multiple script scenarios.

There are wonderful applications for studios using more analogue technology too. Much of what we do at WordBirds is ‘stand-alone’, meaning we set up for a day or a week in a temporary space, rather than a static control room. But even in this situation, we’ll have the ability to run our own mini-network—allowing our operator to set fonts and monitor brightness for specific cameras, like a baby cue on a jib, then save these settings for the next series; or switch individual monitors off to clear a wide shot; or perhaps invite the talent to browse script changes on their phone, via an app.

While our environment is changing, we see this as a great opportunity to strengthen what we offer our clients. Adapting to new ways of doing and tailoring services to meet needs is something we love to do—and we’re very excited about where IP technology can take us.

References:

[1] https://www.nepgroup.co.uk/project/ip-solutions-part-2-andrews-hubs

WinPlus-IP

https://www.cuescript.tv/cueiT-software.php

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