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5G Poised to Transform Media Workflows

AVIWEST
5G’s low latency and speed are accelerating a move to the cloud for sports production. (Image credit: AVIWEST)

The continued rollout of 5G is already beginning to touch the media and entertainment industry in ways ranging from contribution to distribution, but these transformations simply look to be among the first and most apparent changes fifth-generation mobile networks will make on how TV and movies are produced and consumed by the public. 

This isn’t just hype, something that’s dominated media coverage of 5G, said John Wastcoat, senior vice president of alliances and marketing at Zixi.

“We hear so often about new products being revolutionary that the term has lost its meaning, and certainly the hype surrounding 5G peaked early at a point where the networks and the use cases were not able to deliver on the promise,” said Wastcoat. “But we can now point to a long list of benefits that [5G] brings.”

Among the most significant for the M&E industry are the lowest latency possible and faster data delivery speeds, greater accessibility, the ability to deliver higher-quality content to consumers, cost savings made manifest by reduced fixed infrastructure investment and enhanced cloud integration, he said.

CLOUD-BASED REMI AND MEC

On a development track parallel to 5G is the deployment of real-time edge computing that moves the data and processing typically done in the cloud closer to the end user. 

Known as MEC, or Multi-Access Edge Computing, the concept is to locate cloud resources to local sites connected to cell phone towers rather than concentrate them in datacenters hundreds or even thousands of miles away from where those resources are needed.

“This helps critical, performance-impacting applications respond faster and more efficiently,” said Josh Arensberg, managing partner of global solutions for media and entertainment at Verizon Business Group. Verizon and AWS are making MEC available today through Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength.

REMI, or remote integration model production, in the cloud, real-time camera coordination and control, advanced ad opportunities and real-time rendering are prime candidates for the transformative effect of this powerful combination of technologies. Artificial intelligence and machine learning figure to play bigger roles in cloud-based REMI thanks to 5G and MEC, as well. 

“With telcos adding multi-access edge computing (MEC) to the edge of the 5G networks, low-latency connectivity provides the opportunity for more AI and machine learning to optimize productions — for example with data for virtual cameras,” said Mo Goyal, senior director, international business development at Evertz.

5G and MEC will be “a disruptive force,” heavily “influenc[ing] the movement of existing workflows to the cloud,” said Jim Jachetta, executive vice president and CTO of VidOvation, which distributes AVIWEST contribution solutions in the United States.

“All aspects of content creation and distribution will benefit from this new architecture,” he said, adding that news production, live sports, live reality TV, scripted television and cinema are already enjoying the benefits of this new architecture and workflow.

OFF-SITE PRODUCTION

The arrival of 5G, especially at large sports venues, is helping broadcasters and producers respond to the challenge of producing high-profile events with fewer production people on site. For example, Verizon has deployed its 5G Ultra Wideband service specifically at NFL football stadiums and other large venues to — among other things — provide greater bandwidth for television production. The network’s speed and low latency makes it practical to take some production workflows off site, a particularly welcomed benefit during the pandemic.

“Production teams are trying to do more with fewer people on site, and while this was a trend that was already happening, it was certainly accelerated by the pandemic,” said Jon Finegold, chief marketing officer at Signiant. 

“With the new deal announced between NEP and Signiant, live production teams of all sizes can quickly and easily move content to and from the trucks, producing highlights more quickly during the game, pre-loading segments before the game and shutting down the trucks more quickly after. While this isn’t specific to 5G, the availability of 5G at more venues will further enable these types of remote workflows for any size production,” he said. 

5 KEY TAKAWAYS

  • 5G with Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) is a disruptive technology combination.
  • Together, 5G and MEC will accelerate movement of existing production workflows to the cloud.
  • 5G’s low latency and high data speeds together with the proximity of MEC servers will make cloud-based REMI (remote integration model) production more appealing to sports producers.
  • Companies such as Verizon have deployed ultra-wideband 5G service at NFL stadiums and other venues.
  • Beyond sports production, 5G and MEC will affect news production, live reality TV and scripted TV production.

© NAB 2021