The fourth season of SBS’s award-winning documentary series Go Back to Where You Came From has pushed the capabilities of traditional broadcast technology, bringing together different perspectives on the global refugee crisis to examine the issue in real time.
Over three nights, Go Back To Where You Came From Live gave Australian audiences a glimpse of the world’s greatest humanitarian disaster, through a mix of documentary elements and live crosses to participants on-the-ground in conflict hotspots to explore the complexity of mass human migration and its ripple effects in 2018.
SBS and production company, CJZ embraced the opportunities afforded by broadcast technologies by repurposing remote news gathering tools to give Australians an insight into the reality of life for refugees in some of the most remote locations in the world.
Teams relied on BGAN (Broadcast Global Area Network), TVU Networks and Bonded Cellular as well as a portable SNG (Satellite Newsgathering) unit to capture and send live footage via the internet over satellite. The use of bonded BGANs allowed teams to transmit the higher quality footage required for television broadcast, while handbrake software technology was essential to compress picture quality to enable live vision to be sent via satellite. Skype, WhatsApp and satellite phones were crucial to connect teams on the ground with Australia.
Noel Leslie, SBS’s Chief Technology Officer, said, “Go Back to Where You Came From Live is SBS’s most ambitious television event to date, using modern broadcast technologies to highlight the sheer scale of the global refugee crisis. These locations, and many like them, are both disconnected and unpredictable so our compact, portable newsgathering devices have enabled teams to go into these remote areas to give displaced individuals a voice and raise awareness of the realities of the crisis.”
Michael Cordell, CJZ Creative Director, said, “Covering the global refugee experience in a live television event is probably the most difficult project we have attempted. Teams had to contend with the remoteness and instability of locations as well lack of connectivity, while simultaneously broadcasting live from multiple locations. Despite the challenges, it’s hard to imagine a more important story to bring to Australian audiences.”
Go Back To Where You Came From Live brought together live broadcast feeds from Syria, Turkey and South Sudan, with stories evolving in real time.
The live nature of the broadcast was quickly highlighted as participants, politician, Jacqui Lambie and immigration lawyer, Marina were forced to relocate to safety from the city of Raqqa in Syria, when they were confronted with gunfire from nearby IS fighters before the first episode went to air.
Author and TV personality Gretel Killeen travelled alongside former prison guard, Steve to see the refugee crisis from the other side as Turkey and Greece struggle to support the overwhelming influx of Syrian refugees, while comedian Meshel Laurie and ex-AFL player Spida Everitt travelled to South Sudan to experience life relying on irregular aid deliveries within a tented camp of 150,000 inhabitants.
Go Back To Where You Came From Live is available to stream on SBS On Demand.