With the quality of video-on-demand (VOD) content continuing to rise across popular streaming platforms, modern audiences have come to expect the same caliber quality in live streams, which introduces new challenges for live event and streaming production companies like PRLX Creative Production. To meet client quality standards without breaking budgets, Director Ashley Blenkinsop and team have established a workflow that enables smooth, high-quality live video delivery for clients in live events, sports and business located across Darwin and Melbourne, Australia. Alongside an explosion of the hybrid events space in the last year, PRLX has continued to evolve the workflow, including the addition of tools like the AJA HELO H.264 encoding, streaming, and recording device, and the AJA KUMO 1616-12G router.
As more of its client-base has increased the frequency and quality of live video streams, PRLX has seen audience numbers trend upward.
“The move toward more hybrid events with a live stream component throughout the pandemic has helped to broaden many of our clients’ audiences, attracting attendees from around the world who otherwise wouldn’t have attended. It’s been incredible to watch and support them in these endeavors,” Blenkinsop said.
One such client is live dirt motorsports venue Northline Speedway, who worked with Blenkinsop as a freelancer before PRLX was formed. Blenkinsop also helped produce the Virtual iRacing Competition iCOT, a live stream motorsports series that followed remote drivers across Australia and the US during the 2020 lockdown. It drew in 47,000 viewers across five nights on Facebook and Vimeo.
“Pulling off live streams like these requires reliable gear that we can trust to deliver a quality stream,” Blenkinsop noted. “We need to be confident that our equipment won’t suddenly fail or that the audience feed doesn’t buffer, and both HELO and KUMO have proven rock solid.”
A 14RU fly pack travels with the crew to every event and includes a range of cameras, a switcher, an AJA HELO, and an AJA KUMO 1616-12G. AJA KUMO 1616-12G forms the routing backbone for every PRLX production. On-site, camera signals are first sent via patch panel before moving through PRLX’s switcher. The switched output is then sent back through KUMO to feed on-site control room multi-viewers and split-off multi-viewers for on-site event commentators. Using HELO’s loop out function, the PRLX team hard patches the main switcher output to HELO and into Vimeo, where it is split off to Facebook Live, YouTube or the final delivery platform. Content is also recorded in AJA HELO for archiving.
The KUMO 1616-12G has helped PRLX streamline setup for productions like these, with an intuitive web interface for quick and simple adjustments whether working on-site or remotely.
“Prep with our KUMO router is so easy, which allows me to focus more on making the production as awesome as possible,” Blenkinsop expressed. “If I’m not on-site, I can also easily remote in and adjust parameters, and the salvos provide convenient ‘set and forget’ style operation. With KUMO’s 12G-SDI connectivity, we’re also 4K-ready.”
“When it comes to making equipment decisions, gear is a long-term investment for PRLX and we don’t mess around,” added Blenkinsop. “Garbage in, garbage out, and there’s a lot of subpar technology floating around. AJA gear is almost always at the top of our list because it’s affordable and intuitive, delivers high-quality video, and continuously proves a steady workhorse in the field.”
Blenkinsop’s vision for the company moving forward includes expanding its client base, for which he believes remote production tools like AJA BRIDGE LIVE could prove invaluable.
He concluded, “I’m closely following all remote production developments and IP technologies that support SMPTE 2110 and NDI, including tools like AJA BRIDGE LIVE. It could streamline our work and make it easier to service more clients outside the region remotely from our office, which would be a gamechanger.”