Discovery Inc. has become the first broadcaster in the world to implement BRAVO, the newest addition to Evertz’ DreamCatcher suite of live production tools.
By adopting this uniquely collaborative system as the production backbone for its high profile, direct-to-consumer streaming service, Food Network Kitchen, Discovery can deliver numerous, complex live shows from many different locations with minimal staff. This has brought a new dimension to Discovery’s approach to live programming.
Offering a complete food and cooking digital experience, Food Network Kitchen features thousands of live and on-demand cooking classes hosted by top Food Network chefs, as well as on-demand instructional videos, thousands of recipes, culinary-related original programming and select shows from Food Network’s library. The service is integrated with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, providing hands-free navigation to subscribers as they prep their dishes. Subscribers can also order ingredients via Amazon, Peapod and Instacart.
Rob Goldheim, Discovery’s Group Vice President of Production Engineering, and his team spotted the potential of Evertz DreamCatcher BRAVO soon after its launch at NAB 2019. The application’s ability to create top tier live content at lower cost, and for multiple platforms, perfectly suited the demands of the Food Network Kitchen, which was launched in October 2019.
“Our main production challenge was delivering a large number of live events without dramatically increasing staffing level,” Goldheim explains. “By adding DreamCatcher and BRAVO functionality, we are able to manage any number of live events with very small crews – usually just one TV producer and an engineer. The system is reliable, cost effective and collaborative, and also meets the stringent quality requirements that Discovery demands of all its programme content.”
DreamCatcher BRAVO delivered additional benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic because its flexibility, ease of use and scalability enabled Discovery to continue streaming live programming on the Food Network Kitchen app, despite its talent and production teams being in lockdown.
Christian Jacobs, Director of Engineering at Discovery’s New York office, says: “During lockdown we filmed live segments remotely from the chefs’ home kitchens using a basic kit incorporating a couple of iPhones, a tripod and some simple production equipment. The combination of BRAVO and DreamCatcher allowed us to make production tools accessible remotely and, as a result, we were able to produce new, live content on the Food Network Kitchen app, which was something many other apps and networks struggled with.”
Evertz DreamCatcher BRAVO provides all the features required for a multi-camera production including video/audio mixing, dynamic graphics, support for external graphic engines, replays, and highlights. By acting as a software client on the DreamCatcher Playout node and leveraging DreamCatcher’s patented network architecture, BRAVO has access to all inputs and can be used on any production, regardless of its size or scale. Its intuitive, touch surface interface uses Evertz’ VUE technology and can be customised for one, two, or more operators, giving them the controls they require to tackle a wide range of production tasks.
Discovery included DreamCatcher and BRAVO solutions to their deployment of SMPTE ST 2110 in their facility, based on Evertz’ Software Defined Video Networking (SDVN) solutions. This includes MAGNUM (SDVN Orchestration and Control), Evertz IPX128 10G/25G switch fabrics, IP Multiviewers, evEDGE conversion where required and 570ITXE’s that allow for multiple formats for distribution that including baseband, IPTV H.264, and JPEG XS for hand off to distribution via the Discovery WAN.
Vince Silvestri, Vice President of Software Systems at Evertz, says: “Working with Discovery on the Food Network Kitchen project has been a great experience, as the application was a perfect fit for BRAVO. The goal for BRAVO has always been to allow media companies like Discovery tell great stories and create high quality content across multiple platforms. We are excited to be adding more advanced features to the BRAVO workflow to enhance the user experience on the streaming service. These features include intelligent automatic framing for 9×16 pan and scan as well as insertion of advanced metadata to allow user step through the content using Alexa.”