ESPN’s St Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational returned to Clearwater, Florida in February 2020, providing more than 40 games of softball across ESPN’s networks.
Each participating team played between four and six games over the course of four days, with the USA Softball Women’s National Team also competing in three exhibition games throughout the weekend.
Gravity Media provided three Simply Live ViBox all-in-one production solutions, as well as engineering to integrate with the OB provider, to provide coverage of three of the pitches at the event.
The setup included a single-user production with three cameras and one director/producer; a dual-user setup with five cameras, director/producer and dedicated replay operator; and one large three-user setup with 10 cameras, director/producer and two dedicated replay operators.
The whole ESPN team produced 40 games in four days from four fields split between two compounds a mile apart. On Friday 14th, we were live on ESPNU for over eight straight hours, which created a post-season-coverage type of atmosphere.
The streaming numbers for the tournament were impressive, and the Sunday night ESPN2 game delivered in dramatic fashion both on and off the field, with a solid rating for a softball game in February.
When The Jump returns to ESPN on Monday, the entire crew will be working from their homes – marking the first time ESPN is deploying a fully at-home workflow for one of its studio shows. The “Live at Home” remote-production workflow was developed in recent weeks by a committee that featured more than 30 ESPN staffers from the company’s Creative and Studio Direction, Production, Production Operations, Remote Production Operations and Technology departments.
“The goal of the committee was to review the best option for producing studio shows at a high-level, while allowing all of the associated staff to work from home,” Chris Calcinari, SVP, ESPN & ABC Sports Remote Production Operations, wrote on ESPN Front Row. “The ‘Live from Home’ committee reviewed several cloud-based solutions that work well to execute very basic productions, but did not allow for a large volume of video, graphics or animation. The committee quickly turned to several tools that have been deployed in the field and could be operated from afar.”
At the core of the “Live at Home” remote workflow is the Simplylive ViBox, which is based at ESPN’s Seaport Studios in Manhattan, but controlled from a staffer’s home in Los Angeles. The ViBox touchscreen production system provides us with the ability to cut/dissolve/wipe between cameras, video and animation sources. It also allows us to store and playback video and insert graphics.
Remote home studios have been built out for The Jump on-air talent with audio/video signals from each home sent over the internet (using the TVU application) to the Seaport Studios for integration into the ViBox.
A Vizrt graphics device is also based at our Seaport Studios and is controlled from Operators’ homes in Middlebury and Southington, CT.
All communications take place using a Unity Intercom app installed on the phones, tablets, or computers of everyone involved, including talent.
Production staff is also able to pull video from ESPN media servers and edit at home.
CLICK HERE to read Calcinari’s full post on ESPN Front Row and to see more behind-the-scenes photos.
By Heather McLean, Editor - Sports Video Group Europe
Euro Media Group (EMG) has launched a fully cloud-based video review solution for video assistant referee (VAR) with Simply Live. The new combined technology means that VAR match officials can work remotely from anywhere with internet access.
Spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, EMG and Simplylive have worked together to develop and deploy a cloud-based solution that combines the software development and operational deployment capabilities of both companies.
With latency at 0.5 seconds over the public internet, EMG has combined Refbox technology from Simplylive with bespoke and easy to deploy communication technology to enable the referee on the pitch to communicate easily with the video official room, wherever that might be.
Matthieu Skrzypniak, chief digital officer at EMG, told SVG Europe: “We did not wait for COVID-19 to work on remote production concepts, but COVID-19 is changing mindsets. More and more of our partners are actively looking for remote solutions to limit staff travel in order to cover an event.
“Although we have been working on technical aspects of remote production tools for a while now, we think that COVID-19 is a trigger that makes it clear for most organisations that they have to seriously consider cloud workflows.”
On how this technology development might change the way VAR is used in the future, Skrzypniak noted: “Most of the time, for example on a premium football match, there is a dedicated OB truck at the stadium with two or three people in it. There are also remote VAR rooms with expensive connectivity to be connected to the stadium. The solution we worked on is based on public internet; it will make this type of solution much cheaper [to produce] and the VAR will therefore be available to tier two and tier three federations, that can’t afford [VAR as it has been made available over the last two years] today.”
Hosted on Amazon Web Services, this solution offers flexibility of deployment and allows seamless, instant review of multiple cameras from anywhere in the world.
The solution includes a new generation of EMG’s stagebox that encodes and transfers the audio and video signals to the cloud infrastructure on the internet.
“The reactivity is the same as on a local user interface,” explained Luc Doneux, managing director at Simplylive. “Euro Media Group is a key partner for us and [these] type of remote solutions have never made more sense than during those uncertain times when movements are limited.”
Skrzypniak, added: “Simplylive technology is perfectly adapted to cloud implementation. This solution will significantly change our approach [to] VAR because it will allow for completely different workflows where the referee can work remotely from any place with an internet access. As such, it is perfectly suited to simplified VAR implementation, and medical review.”
Simplylive Ships UI Gateway
The "Gateway" is the essential link for affordable multi-camera remote production
Simplylive, the makers of the world’s most intuitive and flexible multi-camera production systems, has announced that it is now shipping their UI Gateway. The "Gateway" represents the essential link in the Simplylive ViBox platform to enable low bandwidth, flexible and optimized remote workflows for live multi-camera productions.
Producers have long been looking for solutions to reduce location production costs. Finding ways to reduce the amount of crew they take on location has been something customers have requested from equipment manufacturers for years. To date, large sports networks have utilized REMI (remote integration model) systems to feed cameras back to their “at home” production center, thus reducing the number of crew members needed at event venues. But for many producers, a REMI workflow can be prohibitively expensive.
Competitive pressure continues to increase for producers to create more niche sporting events for more niche audiences. Whether programming is delivered through traditional broadcast methods or via the internet, the need to reduce production costs, location costs, and the ability to produce programs with smaller crews located in diverse locations has never been greater. The need is compounded in the current Covid-19 environment. Producers want to work with crew people wherever they may be located.
The Simplylive Vibox platform is the world’s most intuitive and flexible multi-camera production system. With it’s easy to use touch-screen user interface, small footprint, and scalable workflow configurations, every Vibox system is natively remote production capable. By design, the ViBox I/O hardware, the cameras and the switcher or replay operator UIs can be located in entirely different locations provided they are connected to the same network.
The UI Gateway takes the remote production concept one major step further. The “Gateway” manages the bandwidth of the information being sent between the ViBox hardware and the operator UI’s. UI information data can be reduced drastically before being delivered to the operator UIs over the network. With the Gateway, data feeds are user adjustable to between 5Mbps and 50Mbps per UI. The net result is that Simplylive applications can be run remotely over standard, affordable internet connections.
“The current situation with the coronavirus has put an incredible stress on the industry,” says Greg Macchia, VP of Sales & Operations, Simplylive, Americas. “Our ViBox technology was designed at it’s core for remote productions and today, when we speak about at-home productions, we may be talking literally about producing from the operator’s home. Now with the UI Gateway, producers can create live programming over highly available, standard internet connections. The potential cost savings are significant and the “Gateway” offers the final component to make this scalable while also taking us one step closer to true cloud-based workflows.”
Unique Benefits for UI Gateway Users
The UI Gateway can be purchased directly from Simplylive. It is recommended that interested parties speak to a Simplylive product specialist to review their complete production and system needs.