TNDV, a full-service provider of mobile production and audio facilities, as well as production and secondary services for broadcast television, live entertainment, and AV-related productions, continues to develop its Virtual Press Room, a specially-engineered turnkey video production and streaming solution that enables live, virtual celebrity media tours and red carpet interviews for remote journalists.
Introduced during the height of the pandemic, TNDV has added several enhancements to Virtual Press Room in its second generation, which were developed following initial trials for national events. Updates include simultaneous content distribution to multiple online entertainment streaming platforms, including People, E! Entertainment and Extra TV. TNDV has also added the ability to produce one-on-one interviews in addition to group-style interviews, and has increased the speed of raw footage distribution to studios after interviews are completed.
The Virtual Press Room positions the artist, musician, producer, or other participant of a newsworthy entertainment event in front of a broadcast-quality camera while facing a large-format Zoom-style multi-viewer that displays live remote video of participating reporters. Deployable in minutes, the Virtual Press Room extends the reach of large press conferences that were once always conducted in person.
“The initial inspiration for the Virtual Press Room was to keep reporters and artists safe during the pandemic,” said Nic Dugger, Chief Marketing Officer, Live Media Group Holdings. “The early feedback we received proves the Virtual Press Room has staying power. Entertainment news reporters worldwide find it very convenient and cost-efficient to interview celebrities associated with a newsworthy national and international entertainment event. We have taken the time-proven elements of the traditional satellite media tour, added options for broader distribution, and put them to work in the exciting environment of a live award show press room.”
According to Dugger, positive feedback to date has emphasised both safety and cost-efficiency, as well as the simple but clever technology workflow. “The artist is there on site, trophy in hand, and in a controlled environment,” said Dugger. “Instead of facing 50 journalists in a cramped meeting space, the artist walks into a room with a giant flat screen display. We find that the format invites more casual conversations, with fewer interruptions. Everyone can hear and see each other, and we have high-quality cameras to capture the visual essence. Reporters can record the conversations, file their reports as if they were live in the press room, and share with media colleagues so they can start editing their reports for news programming.”
Dugger adds that content is uploaded in HD from two angles: one facing the artist to capture a normal fixed perspective; and a reverse angle looking over the artist’s shoulder and toward the reporters on screen. He refers to the complete solution as a “portable control room” that can be deployed on a TNDV production truck or within a flypack.
“That infrastructure allows is to switch between multiple cameras, and we can mix and sweep the audio,” he said. “We can control IFB foldback with a mix/minus. But the virtual element is all about how we transmit. We can use a simple conferencing platform like Zoom, Teams or Skype, or we can go the more traditional route with an uplink truck. We recently used a Ku-band uplink option and sent satellite coordinates that allowed broadcast outlets worldwide to tune their satellites to our feed. We can deploy this in any way that the client wants.”
To date, TNDV has successfully provided the Virtual Press Room to media tours associated with such high-profile entertainment events as the ACM (Academy of Country Music) Awards, the CMA (Country Music Association) Awards, and the CMT (Country Music Television) Awards – and he sees opportunity to evolve the platform in fresh and innovative ways moving forward.
“Even as social distancing restrictions ease and travel safety improves,” he added, “We expect that this solution will continue to be an appealing virtual option enabling live remote media tours and red-carpet events for many years to come.”