Bell Media is a Canadian media corporation that owns and operates 35 local television stations led by CTV, and 27 specialty channels including TSN and RDS, as well as video streaming service Crave, Canada’s exclusive distributor of leading U.S. content providers such as Showtime and HBO. We’ve had a conversation with Mauro Pelo', Senior Manager for TV Transmissions, who has been using Video Transport as a solution to minimize the number of team members in the production control room.
I would describe VT as an easy way to get very high-quality video with almost no latency. It's as simple as that. And for us latency is the main enemy.
On a typical day, during a newscast or TV sports production, there are between seven and nine people working simultaneously in the control room – which is not very spacious, filled with desks and all kinds of broadcast gear. The main attraction is the video wall, which is the key resource for everyone to execute their job correctly and on time.
Along with the technical director, the audio engineer, the VTR and CG operators, and the technical producer, there are four roles that don’t actually operate any of the equipment in the control room. First, there's the producer calling the shots, deciding what’s going to be in the show. Then, there’s the director, who makes decisions about which camera goes on air at a particular time and gives instructions to the camera operators, and is responsible for the viewers’ experience. Next is the assistant director, who provides timings and orchestrates the various talent and staff during the show. Finally, the research team member who monitors the web for news updates, factual data and social media feedback.
When COVID-19 protocols required Bell Media to limit the number of people in the control room, Bell Media engineer Denis Morin and Mauro decided to test Medialooks VT and quickly agreed that this was the right tool to use to make the video wall available remotely as one large multiview feed. This process enabled the producer, director, assistant director, and the researcher to look at exactly the same feeds while outside of the control room, and continue communicating with the rest of the team via an IP intercom.
We are doing three shows over three-and-a-half (3.5) hours each day in this way right now.
Each of the remote users, located within 25 kilometres of Montréal, is receiving the feed via the Video Transport web link, which is very easy to set up and use.
We needed a feed that would go over the public Internet, and with no latency – exactly what your software is very good at! It's like being in the control room. And the fact that the same feed can go to multiple users at the same time is very important for us.
The bandwidth used to deliver the multiview feed is from 3 to 5 Mbps – which is far within the most modest capabilities of plans already deployed at team members’ homes, but still provides consistent quality, even when viewed on large TV sets.
Some of the team said they see the monitor wall better than when they were in the control room.
This change in workflow, having helped the company adapt to the environment in 2020, has also created a new opportunity, suggesting that this may be a valid option for staff who want to save time in traffic and enjoy the flexibility of working from home.