CP Communications, service provider for live event productions, has been working with sports and documentary producers Greenlight Television to set up remote production models for sports and live events. Greenlight produced and live-streamed the USA-based muscle car racing championship, the Trans Am Series, in 2020 for its worldwide fan base using IP and bonded cellular systems from CP Communications. Their goal was to reduce local costs and limit infrastructure while keeping a small crew safe and healthy.
Greenlight Television has taken an innovative approach to live sports production over many years. They were one of the first companies to use a helicopter to cover the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy motorcycle races in 1996, and among the first to produce live HD coverage of the Royal Automobile Club’s Tourist Trophy from Silverstone in 2008.
In late 2019, Greenlight successfully delivered a quality live stream from the Trans Am Series without investing in an OB truck, designing and building a system that controlled costs without sacrificing the viewing experience. As 2020 progressed and the pandemic began to rapidly change the live sports production model, Greenlight Television chose CP as a partner with the appropriate remote production knowledge, infrastructure and experience to help them continue serving clients.
“We produce a lot of live streamed events for clients with a range of budgets, and simply cabling further cameras into the system for redundancy can quickly escalate costs, let alone using a full production truck,” said Lauren Roberts, Director, Greenlight Television. “Once we had decided to invest in bonded cell systems, CP Communications helped us implement the new equipment, especially in developing live on-board camera systems.”
CP Communications established its Red House Streaming (RHS) brand in 2018, a cost-effective method for capturing live action and streaming it in real time to YouTube, Facebook and other websites. It supports live content acquisition through adoption of Remote Integration Model (REMI) production techniques. The RHS unit houses CP’s own acquisition systems, plus third-party products including Mobile Viewpoint (MVP) live encoding, bonding and streaming systems.
Small Local Crew
Albeit with a disrupted schedule owing to corona virus restrictions, the Trans Am Series events were held through most of 2020 although the finale, scheduled for early December at Laguna Seca raceway, has had to be postponed. Using 12 MVP Agile Airlink encoders for six in-car systems, four fixed camera positions, a roaming pit and podium camera and a drone, the small local crew captured the fast-paced action live in HD.
All content was delivered to Greenlight’s remote production studio on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, which is their head office, while CP Communications supplied real-time production support from its network operations centre (NOC) distributed between several locations. The live cut feed was sent back to the commentators at the track, and then streamed back to the Isle of Man. Voice and graphics were then added to the final live stream, all with a latency of only 1.6 seconds.
From its Isle of Man production studio, Greenlight live-streamed the race, driver interviews and other content direct to consumers over multiple platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, using Vimeo’s Livestream Studio 6 switching and encoding software. Greenlight used a Unity intercom system to communicate with on-location crew and engineers at CP’s Canadian NOC, where the Airlink servers were controlled using the MVP LinkMatrix management portal.
“From Nova Scotia in Canada we consistently optimised all Airlink encoding and multiplexing settings based on local conditions, assisted with stream routing, and carried out continuity checks as Airlinks came online for each race,” said Allen Harris, Lead IP and Bonded Cellular Technologist for CP Communications. “The NOC reduced the workload in Greenlight’s control room, removing concerns about backhauling signals so that they could concentrate on producing the content itself.”
Lauren Roberts commented that the production workflow and technical infrastructure helped them substantially reduce headcount compared to the traditional way they produce events. “We would typically send a large crew for these kinds of events, but reduced that number to 10 for the Trans Am Series,” she said. “That’s a massive reduction in labour costs, and a far more efficient process for setup and breakdown. We admit to being nervous about the implementation of our idea, but CP have supported us at all times. We’re now excited about the future.” cpcomms.com