Enhancing Live Production

How to leverage intelligent file transfer software in the remote era

When we think about media production for global events, we generally think about the “live” video. However, a surprising volume of file-based content is generated by producers before, during, and after the live production, including highlights, segments, promo packages, studio components, and more. For fast-turnaround content during the event, producers often transfer footage to a central facility for editing, formatting, and packaging. From there, the content might flow to various digital outlets or even back to the venue for insertion into the live production.

This production model rests on the ability to transfer massive amounts of data in a fast, secure, and reliable manner, whether it’s a few large files or many smaller clips. Traditional methods present significant challenges when moving large amounts of data and can add immense risks to the tight timelines of live video productions.

While these trends were already moving forward, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote production significantly, quickly forcing producers to do more with many fewer people on site. Thanks to advances in bandwidth and intelligent file transfer software, the industry adapted quickly, and many of the new workflows look to stay for the long term.

Automated file acceleration technology at major events

Automated file acceleration software has long served as the backbone to quickly and securely deliver content to and from the event venue. Before and during the event, production elements, such as graphics and pre-produced studio segments, are often produced for the event’s live production. For some live events, a “melt file,” consisting of the most relevant content, transfers back to a production facility for content producers and long-term archiving access. More recently, as advanced software has added support for growing files, content now moves over standard IP networks and is captured in near real-time far away from the venue.

During the event, these fast-turnaround workflows generate staggering amounts of data that can only be accommodated with a highly automated, accelerated file transfer solution.

For example, just one OB truck at a six-hour sporting event might generate 2,000 – 2,500 clips, with a larger weekend-long tournament generating up to 40,000 clips from multiple OB trucks. Using automated file acceleration technology, the sports broadcaster ensures the content is steadily flowing out of the truck and back to headquarters, where it is available for use almost as immediately as it is captured.

In addition, for MRLs (Media Rights Licensees), the right clip can add tremendous value to their business model, whether showing that winning moment at an awards show, getting out news-worthy moments during a political debate, capturing the excitement of an Esports competition, or enhancing a musician’s concert on their social media presence. With more bandwidth now available at the venues— along with the right software — getting clips to licensees quickly is easier than ever, enhancing the value of a local event, ultimately leading to more revenue opportunities.

Person-initiated file acceleration for mobile teams and fly-away kits

In addition to the primary production team, producers sometimes use small, mobile teams with fly-away kits for ancillary coverage throughout large live events. These teams gather everything from interviews and participant footage to event-related news and local color stories for digital, broadcast, social, mobile platforms, and even other live productions.

To keep their gear lightweight and remove the need for onsite technical personnel, mobile teams often turn to SaaS-based file acceleration solutions like Signiant Media Shuttle for person-initiated transfers for the file-based elements of their work. Anyone on the mobile team can easily send clips and edited segments from the venue to anywhere in the world.

In fact, many producers, like news teams, will only utilize mobile teams and fly-away kits for smaller events because producers with laptops achieve enormous resource savings compared to renting traditional production trucks or vans. Mobile teams also serve as a vital secondary or backup source of content in regions where there may be uncertainty about getting sufficient satellite or terrestrial connectivity for a live feed. Mobile teams can transfer footage back to permanent facilities with only an Internet connection and a solution like Media Shuttle. Even in remote places, intelligent file acceleration solutions can make the most of poor Internet connection.

beIN Sports Media Shuttle share portal
beIN Sports Media Shuttle share portal

Pioneering use cases for file-based content

When it launched back in 2012, Media Shuttle was the first of its kind. Live event video producers were among the first to embrace its cloud-native SaaS solution for person-initiated file transfers. One of the first significant pilots of Media Shuttle was in 2012 at a high-profile sports tournament when the production team from a major broadcaster had a late-breaking requirement for extensive file-based content transfers. Media Shuttle’s intrinsic ease of use and deployment aligned perfectly with their live production’s time-sensitive, unforgiving nature.

Since then, it has become the de facto standard for person-initiated transfers of large data sets, used by all sizes of media companies for everything from sports and music events to feature film and episodic television to VFX and AR/VR. Live event producers continue to be early adopters of new features and APIs, a trend which an increase in available bandwidth will only further facilitate.

For example, the Media Shuttle System-to-Person Automation API opens up new workflow integrations applicable to video production events to help automate contribution and distribution workflows. This API allows producers to automatically receive selected content triggered by events in other systems using Media Shuttle’s accelerated transfers. Productions can create automated workflows that distribute content to people and/or request that people submit content directly into their systems, a tremendous benefit during time-strapped video production.

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