Five Broadcasting Technology Transition Factors to Consider
You may be asking yourself, what will the broadcasting industry look like a year from now or five years into the future? How do I successfully transition my broadcast technology to keep pace?
Here are five important factors to consider when reshaping your broadcasting technology in this time of rapid change. After all, the decisions made now will determine the technical environment we live with for years to come.
It Starts with the Workflow
If you’re considering broadcast technology transition, begin by asking the question, how should this workflow exist in the future? Does it make sense to keep doing what we do with no changes to operational assumptions? How long do we expect the best practices implemented today to remain best practices?
A production workflow consists of seven foundational stages: preproduction – planning and executing everything that needs to happen before capturing the raw video, content acquisition/capture, collaboration and media staging, editing (production), asset management (post-production), delivery (archiving), and broadcast (distribution).
Never add new Technology just for its own Sake
Once you establish your vision, determine your budget and timeframe and then select a technology you know works well within your existing infrastructure. Consider how you’re going to build and maintain the new workflow technology – distance, design parameters, timeframe, and human resources are all essential considerations.
Look at what your organization needs to do from a workflow standpoint, and then make your decision on the technology best suited to get you there, but also keep in mind the next factor we’ll discuss: systems integration.
Systems Integration is Key
Once you have your workflow mapped out, make sure each technology choice you make solves a specific business problem. Understanding non-technical issues, such as content flow distance or how many floors are in the building, help start the process of establishing design parameters. Time is also a factor – the faster you need to deploy, the fewer choices you may have.
Make sure your technology choice integrates well with technology in another phase of your workflow. Some of the newer technologies may be stable, but when you start gluing them together into a holistic workflow the overall system could become unstable.
Systems integrators play a critical role in ensuring the technology choices fit together in your workflow. A strong technical program manager also needs to take ownership of the relationship between your requirements and the project delivered by your Systems Integrator.
The Most Challenging Transition of all: People
Many people don’t like change, and radical change presents a steep learning curve for broadcast engineers. The part destined to evolve most slowly in broadcast system transitions isn’t the technology itself, but the people operating it. Collaboration ensures that everyone is on the same page and supports the change.
Engineering constraints of the past – such as the size of a router or length of an SDI cable – drove different roles and determined organizational boundaries. With modern intent-based IP systems, these physical limits no longer exist. Every device in a broadcast studio can easily communicate with every other device in the facility without the human oversight needed as in the past.
Because of these changes, it’s essential to redefine the roles of the people and provide training. Education is valuable, and even the most seasoned engineers can use a knowledge upgrade from time to time. Training can help overcome challenging technological barriers. Also needed is rethinking approaches that were common in the past. For example, with new technology do you actually need the production control room to be right next to the studio? Or, do the cameras need to be accessible to everyone? Technology transition creates opportunities to do things differently, which is what makes it so exciting but also so difficult.
Broadcast Transition – the User
In the early days of television, you had three channels on your TV. You would take a quick lap around the dial and pick a landing spot most satisfying among them. The next day when you turned on your TV, that channel would still be on and you would sit down and continue watching.
Today with a universe of thousands of channels and millions of videos on demand, people are far more selective about what they watch. If they can go to a thousand other channels, how do you use technology to capture the user?
You need to be confident that your technology decisions avoid risk, whether your broadcast is on the user’s television at home or the phone in their hand. System testing and phased introduction will mitigate risk. A few seconds of downtime during a sports broadcast or poor-quality movie viewing experiences can be a disaster.
Why Change in Broadcasting is a Constant
The changes you make now affect people’s lives in a myriad of positive ways. It all starts with education and rebuilding a workflow. Once you have a plan in place and have made your choices of new technology, it’s time to execute. Always remind your team that change will be constant and that continuing to have a curious culture is critical to future success. Ultimately, never forget the impact you have on people.
Reeducation is a bonus that can drive your company culture, but it’s also important not to overwhelm your staff with arbitrary or confusing change. Employee retention is one of the greatest challenges companies face, and you don’t want skilled workers walking out the door.
Interested in a deeper dive? Register for our Cisco Knowledge Network webinar: Assurance and Monitoring in Professional Video production. On this webinar, our experts will share methods and tools to effectively avoid bad on-air video.
You can also check out our media and entertainment solutions page. It has many exciting articles and ideas for transforming your broadcast technology.