NEP Australia, the provider of outside broadcast and studio solutions and a division of NEP Group, and Telstra Broadcast Services, a leading global broadcast services business, have achieved a milestone in broadcast television, delivering the world’s first remote production across the Pacific.
The successful trial was conducted over four days this week between NEP’s centralised, IP (internet protocol) and multi-format production facility at the Sydney Andrews Hub and Telstra’s Los Angeles datacentre – more than 7500 miles (12,000+ km) apart – using ultralow-latency compression technology and Telstra’s Distributed Production Network (DPN).
30 HD camera feeds in LA were linked via diverse and hitless 10 gigabyte-per-second circuits on the Telstra DPN, which has recently been extended to Los Angeles, with the production taking place in Sydney, overcoming what until now was considered an insurmountable distance.
The tests confirm that the Andrews Hub control rooms in Sydney can efficiently produce broadcast events held in Los Angeles and, arguably, beyond.
NEP Australia’s Director of Technology, Marc Segar, said: “This is a game-changer for broadcast television, proving anyone can work from anywhere while connected to our network, whether in Australia or on the other side of the planet.
“Our crew at the Sydney Andrews Hub perceived no appreciable difference between covering the trial event in LA and the remote broadcast of a live A-League match from Perth last month.”
Trevor Boal, Head of Telstra Broadcast Services, said, “From the moment NEP approached us about building the Telstra Distributed Production Network to support the Andrews Hubs, we shared their excitement about the enormous possibilities of broadcasting over IP.
“NEP had a clear vision of how distributed production could deliver an optimal commercial and practical outcome, and we wanted to be part of it. As our network capacity and reach continues to grow, it’s conceivable we could traverse global distances uncompressed in just a few years.”
Segar continued: “It’s exciting to think of the options and flexibility our technology offers to the industry.
“We chose to trial HD, however, we could just as easily have trialled 4K or HDR. Our IP and multi-format hub environment is agnostic to format or compression technologies.”
The 60 HD feeds (30 in both Sydney and Los Angeles) encompassed all the automation and control signals.
Resources, including replay, were fully shared between the two sites, with the replay operator in Los Angeles controlling servers at the Sydney Hub, where production took place.
Telstra provided the redundant 10 Gb +10 Gb trans-Pacific circuit as a natural extension of its Australia-wide Telstra Distributed Production Network (DPN).
VC-2 was used as the lightweight and ultra-low-latency compression technology because it adds no delay.
This makes high definition or UHD/4K over distance viable cost-wise, as there is no appreciable difference in delay compared to uncompressed video.
Round trip latency was only 136 milliseconds, less than 2 frames in each direction.
NEP says the trans-Pacific trial is just the start of an extensive program to trial other locations around the world, including Japan and the UK.
The Andrews Hubs are touted as the most technically advanced facilities of their scale in the world. Using an internet protocol (IP) backbone and multi-format production capabilities, the Sydney and Melbourne Hubs enable multiple concurrent outside broadcasts. Remote production allows cameras and microphones to be located at the venue, with the majority of the production team based at the Hubs. There, central control facilities can accomodate up to six simultaneous events, connecting with 29 sporting venues via the Telstra Distributed Production Network. This creates considerable savings in crew travel time, as well as efficiencies arising from centralised and inter-Hub resource sharing for everything from equipment through to disaster recovery capabilities.