How Game Creek is Using Video Streaming to Connect Live TV from a Safe Distance
Game Creek Video is a broadcast services company that has been supporting major television networks and news gathering organizations for over 25 years. One of the reasons for their longevity has been their ability to adapt to changing broadcast needs by pioneering new solutions to create and produce high-quality content for viewers.
Over the last year, Game Creek Video has certainly illustrated that it’s capable of applying the newest technologies to meet changing broadcast needs. We recently sat down with Jason Taubman and Andrew Nugent from Game Creek Video to discuss how they are using Haivision’s video streaming technology to adapt to changing broadcast circumstances, and how they see these changes evolving over time.
Like many industries, the broadcast world was sharply interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Social distancing protocols certainly meant that broadcasters could no longer have all of their production staff crowded into outside broadcast (OB) trucks.
“One of the things that became instantly clear was that we weren’t going to be able to produce television the way we did previously, and in particular, in the environment in which we normally produce.”
Jason Taubman, Game Creek Video
Moving to Remote Production Over IP
As the spring of 2020 transitioned into the summer, sports leagues and broadcasters were establishing how they would be able to move forward with providing live content in spite of social distancing guidelines and travel restrictions.
Game Creek Video took their lead from their frequent collaboration partner, Fox Sports, who had begun shifting to a remote production workflow; sending live video streams via IP from event venues back to their production team in Los Angeles. Throughout the summer, Game Creek Video also began experimenting with Haivision tools for remote production over IP.
This experimentation would prove worthwhile. As autumn neared, the NCAA approached Game Creek Video with a challenge for covering college basketball. For the duration of the sports season, the NCAA wanted to keep their production staff in New York, while an OB truck would bring broadcast equipment to game venues as needed. However, they would not only be sending the live video feed back to New York for production, they would also need to do it without dedicated fiber. They would therefore have to stream the live video feeds over the public internet.
Using a Haivision SRT Gateway and the SRT streaming protocol, Game Creek was able to send the video streams over the public internet securely and reliably. Even better, others working remotely were able to monitor the streams from their mobile devices using the Haivision Play Pro application.
This remote production over IP setup worked so well that the team at Game Creek Video would then be handed another challenge by the team at CBS for the 2020 Masters golf tournament.
Fuelling Remote Collaboration with Low Latency Video
The 2020 Masters would not only be produced remotely, but the announcers too, would be offering their services from home.
Remote production was one question, but this meant that the on-air talent was going to be working from home. Not only would the team at Game Creek need to send over the equipment needed for remote commentary, but this equipment would also need to be reliable, and easy enough to use, to be operated by the commentators.
Game Creek Video assembled and installed nine “distributed announcer kits,” which were powered by Haivision’s low latency video streaming technology and SRT. With these kits, the announcers were able to receive live video feeds, which were sent from Haivision Makito video encoders on location in Augusta to Haivision Makito decoders so that they were able to provide their commentary in real-time. Their live commentary feeds would be then sent over IP to a Haivision SRT Gateway located in the cloud and then back to the producers. These kits enabled real-time bidirectional video between the venue, talent and video producers and are now part of Game Creek Video’s GCV Anywhere solution.
How well did this work? Very well. As Jason noted, “unless you knew, you wouldn’t have known,” that the announcers at the 2020 Masters were all separate from the tournament – and each other.
By keeping latency as low as possible, using Haivision’s low latency video encoders and the SRT streaming protocol, Game Creek Video were able to not only connect the announcers, but enable interaction between them, in spite of distance.
Jason explained the key factor – low latency. “Of course, the key thing with the Haivision product is really the low latency. That’s what makes it seem so natural. Apart from SRT getting the bits from one end to the other, the latency piece is really what makes it.”
Shaping the Future of Broadcast Production
Following the success of the 2020 Masters, Game Creek Video has continued to help broadcast events with their distributed production kits. For the 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, they adapted their announcing kits to allow a variety of the production staff – not only announcers, but graphics teams, and others – to work safely and remotely operate equipment from home in Los Angeles, while the parade carried on in New York City.
For many involved with the production of large broadcast events like the Masters and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, it’s hard not to notice that producing these broadcasts remotely is not only possible – but also has a significant number of advantages. Broadcasters are seeing that, thanks to new video streaming technologies and integrators like Game Creek Video, they can produce high quality broadcasts without the time, expense, and complications of travel.
To learn more about Game Creek Video, please click here.
To learn more about Haivision’s solutions for remote production, please click here.