Who do you turn to when you are looking for something better than Zoom ?!
For over twenty years The P.A. People have based our event communications delivery on network- based solutions. Now, more than ever, the experience and expertise we have developed allows us to deliver systems, support and services to support remote production for virtual events simply and efficiently.
Recently we’ve all become accustomed to a world where meetings are held in the virtual world of Zoom, Teams or Webex. Nightly news bulletins and current affairs shows are populated with pixelated and grainy content that only a year ago no self-respecting TV network would choose to broadcast. We are all living and breathing in a virtual world, but while generic video conferencing applications are good for hosting a meeting that would otherwise be held in a boardroom or a huddle space, they do not lend themselves readily to applications that require more creative control over the format and content of the Event.
Prior to the onslaught of the current pandemic, The P.A. People and our partners were regularly supplying Communications solutions to support remote production. Picture an Annual General Meeting for a multinational company like a Bank. Whilst the main event would likely be held in a theatre or convention centre, in say Australia, there may have been satellite events in other countries that would require integration between the production teams in the two venues. Using a Clear-Com Eclipse Intercom frame located in a local Data Centre, we were able to provide simple IP based connectivity between users located worldwide. End users could be operating a traditional Key Station, a wireless intercom pack, or a mobile phone application- all with the same connectivity and level of integration as they would get as if they were in the same room.
Alongside the migration of Production Intercom systems to IP based solutions, Broadcast Video is following a similar path. Whilst the use of systems based on uncompressed standards may not transition well to internet based applications, there are a number of IP based Video workflows that are finding significant application in general media, broadcast and sports production which in turn lend themselves to Remote Production applications. For many years video playback from desktop computers would be considered the norm, and while the transition to an IP rather than a traditional SDI workflow is a relatively small step, the development of software based video processing and switching solutions has been evident in the market for quite some time.
As the COVID-19 pandemic started to shutdown all manner of live events, The P.A. People started to investigate what might be needed to expand our suite of remote production solutions by leveraging our extensive networking and communications expertise.
We trust that the following pages and case studies demonstrate a range of tools that will allow our customer’s to create, produce and host virtual events with great production values and visually interesting content . . . ‘when you are looking for something a little better than Zoom.’
Case Study 1
The hosts of the event were well aware that dishing up fifteen to twenty hours of video conference style content was unlikely to engage their youthful and tech savvy audience …
For a number of years, members of The P.A. People team have been involved with in providing production for an annual youth conference held in the week after Easter. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, they sought a solution to be able to present conference content to their target audience that would include a number of international presenters along with local hosts. The desire was to produce and stream three live daily shows over the course of the original five-day conference dates to augment a selection of downloadable and streaming workshops. The hosts of the event were well aware that dishing up fifteen to twenty hours of video conference style content was unlikely to engage their youthful and tech savvy audience – and so a solution that was able to embrace high production values like lower third (screen) overlays, watermarks, graphics and prepared content was required.
Over a very short timeframe, The P.A. People worked with the production team to create a solution where each of the event hosts was able to link in via their web browser to our central production suite. Each host, alongside video playback and a local camera, became an input to a virtual vision mixer. This mixer enabled the show to be cut and mixed just like a traditional video production and provided the capability to use wipes, fades and video overlays. Audio from each host and the VTR playback was broken out into a separate local audio mixer to provide a professional mix and individual return feeds to each presenter, before being re-embedded into the main vision output. The entre production was then recorded and streamed to both YouTube and Facebook live.
“We have enjoyed working with The P.A. People on this event for quite a few years now, and the solution they put together for our 2020 edition was fantastic. It allowed us to continue to engage with our campers in an innovative and effective way through a very unusual period. We received great feedback throughout the conference.”
Case Study 2
The system supports the display of meeting minutes to the Councillors, local cameras within the venue, along with integration for senior staff members and a public facing web stream output.
The P.A. People has a long history providing Audio, AV systems and Discussion systems to all levels of Government across Australia. In particular we have been providing an Audio AV package to a local council for some 18 months before the Pandemic, whilst they transition to a new facility.
Prior to lockdown, our services included an audio system and video display monitors to facilitate Council meetings, whilst the Council’s IT department also provided a camera and a simple web stream of the overall meeting proceedings.
With the advent of COVID-19, the Council needed to transition to a virtual environment to facilitate their meetings, which they initially chose to do inhouse with a video conferencing product. After some initial teething issues, Council again approached us to see it we could provide a different solution that would enable a more traditional workflow for the Councillors.
Again, we were able to develop a system that provides remote access for each of the Councillors via their browser and full independent control of both video and audio mixing and routing. Unlike the scenario in Case Study 1, where all participants were remote, Councillors in this case are able to decide if they wish to attend the meeting physically or virtually, with a very similar user experience in either mode. The system supports the display of meeting minutes to the Councillors, local cameras within the venue, along with integration for senior staff members and the possibility of providing a public gallery.
In this case the solution is turnkey – The P.A. People provide the entire package – staging, microphones, vision monitors, PTZ cameras and control, vision mixers, networked audio mixer, streaming outputs and a significant internet connection to facilitate the entire solution.
Case Study 3
Our Clear-Com based intercom solution provides internet connectivity and capability out of the box
Our third case study involved working with one of our technology partners for the provision of a remote production Intercom solution as part of a larger virtual event.
The event involved a number of sites, each of which required an integrated production intercom solution so that the event staff could produce the event and manage the talent seamlessly. From a central facility in Sydney -and with contributors in another Australian capital city and talent in South East Asia, the event producers were able to talk with their team members as if they were in the same room. The system included one of our Clear-Com Eclipse HX IP enabled intercom frames located in a Sydney Data Centre and used internet connectivity to each of the three sites. Users were provided with a physical Clear-Com KeyStation, or an instance of Agent IC, Clear-Com’s iOS / Android mobile phone application to provide access to the Comms system. The system was also provided with remote four-wire access through the use of a Clear-Com E-Que IP interface.
“The Clear-Com Eclipse product suite is unique; it provides internet connectivity and capability out of the box in a way that no other hardware intercom manufacturer supports”, commented Paul Barrett, Event Technology Architect at Barrett Evolution.
Our toolkit to facilitate remote production for virtual events is expanding every day.
- The Clear-Com intercom portfolio is all natively IP enabled and is therefore inherently applicable to the needs of virtual events
- We have Cloud hosted intercom frames available to support short term virtual events
- Clear–Com supports a number of different audio transport standards that are appropriate for use in wide area networks from G772 and SIP, through OPUS and WavPack, and uncompressed options where appropriate
- Clear-Com endpoints connect natively to their host Intercom frame over and IP connection and generally without changes to firewall settings
- We can integrate local frames with our cloud services for specialist applications.
- Our systems include PTZ cameras and Controllers. We can deploy one or more PTZ cameras to a remote site, connect it back to a host site and retain full central control including PTZ and camera functionality
- Where deploying a camera is unwarranted or simply not an option, we can bring content in from a standard web browser, simply by proving a unique URL or web link. With this capability we can name instances, control camera resolution and a myriad of other parameters remotely.
- We can create high resolution low latency on demand video links between sites over the internet for one or multiple cameras or other video feeds.
- We have physical and virtual vision switchers/mixers to switch your event and add overlays, etc to create professional content We have output devices to display content where there are local participants or as monitors for participants.
- All of our remote production solutions have a special focus on the integration of audio
- Audio transport can be stand-alone or integrated into either our Video transport systems to ensure synchronicity, or our intercom systems for redundancy, or all three options
- We have a range of audio solutions including Conference Discussion systems, auto mixers, radio microphones, studio monitors, amplification and audience loudspeaker systems available
- Audio is generally broken out of video streams to provide the flexibility and responsiveness that only a hardware surface can provide.
- Many of our remote production solutions are based on specialised licensed software.
- In some instances, it may be appropriate to work with the client or a local production partner to provide appropriate hardware, whist we provide appropriate short term software licensing Examples would include internet based video links and the Clear-Com AgentIC intercom solution.
- We have the infrastructure and the capability to provide networking hardware and solutions to support any virtual event or remote production, including cloud-based facilities for virtual production.
- We have an extensive array of computing hardware suitable for contribution to and producing remote content, along with convertors and interfaces for most input and output formats.
Call us to discuss your next event – contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 02.87558700