Over the years, sci-fi films and TV have offered glimpses of a future fuelled by innovation. While much of it remains fiction, next-gen 5G technology is very real, creating opportunities for Hollywood to deliver cutting-edge content and experiences while driving operational efficiencies and cost-savings.
Entertainment and broadcast leaders are only now beginning to understand how much of a disruptive force 5G will be to the industry. Exploring its potential to reduce costs of expensive productions and create more engaging content and experiences for audiences, the industry is utilizing technology to create solutions like fully virtual production studios and 360-degree streaming. And at Verizon, we’re experiencing this transformation first-hand with our partners.
Moreover, today’s COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge the industry to lean into emerging tech to achieve their goals and still produce the level of quality content audiences expect. We all know that the 5G network has come to the devices in our pockets, but what can the entertainment industry expect from 5G?
FASTER, NIMBLER OPERATIONS
5G is the promise of a tetherless world. The miles of cable, expensive satellite trucks and even the satellites themselves can be simplified in the content delivery process because a 5G wireless network has the capacity and processing power to manage live video feeds; for instance, using 5G and mobile edge computing,
Zixi, a company providing live broadcast-quality video over IP networks, is testing how a 4K live broadcast news feed can be delivered over 5G to affiliate broadcasters. The endgame is to simulate how content providers can distribute feeds in local markets without the need for satellites, creating a truly wireless broadcast operation that is both flexible and cost-effective.
Even in a post-pandemic world, producers will be asking for these nimbler solutions powered by terrestrial wireless technology such as 5G.
MULTIDIMENSIONAL, IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES
Amid the pandemic, gathering in large venues like stadiums, theaters or concert halls is no longer an option. With the processing power of 5G, fans can still be front row, or they can put themselves right in the middle of the show through shared real-time experiences live and on-demand.
Companies like YBVR are using 5G and mobile edge computing to stream live 8K video to sports fans and concert-goers, allowing simultaneous users to choose various camera views with super-low latency. They are also working with events and entertainment platforms to use 5G to create 360-degree streaming of spectator-less virtual events, an application that could gain increasing use until the pandemic has subsided.
REMOTE, GLOBAL COLLABORATION
Approximately 92% of broadcasters are planning to adopt 5G in the next two years, as they seek to increase coverage capabilities through better remote management of multiple events from a central facility.
An example of this is when Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Josh Haner attended the 2019 Oscars in Los Angeles and used a 5G connection with his camera to send his massive photo files to his editors in New York City, enabling almost instant publishing. Traditionally, photographers are either stationary and connected to a wire to enable fast photo uploads or they swap out memory cards to a colleague for upload.
With the 5G network and software developed by The New York Times’ R&D team, Haner was able to roam the red carpet, and he sent eight times more photos than the photographer from the previous year, with an average upload time of 2.1 seconds.
AI-POWERED DIGITAL ACTORS
Together, AI and 5G are helping to create realistic human representations that can interact with audiences in real-time. One day soon, virtual actors—which are gaining traction—will be able to read and respond to viewers’ reactions. 5G is critical to provide the high speed and low latency required to process data so that the AI actors of the future can interpret emotions, respond with little delay and repeat lines in a natural fashion.
5G can bring fundamental change to the entertainment broadcasting industry—from watching live immersive video streaming from the comforts of home in various screen formats such as high resolution screens or VR glasses, to production teams managing live, high-def and near real-time content streams across multiple territories. And as a catalyst for collaboration, 5G powered technology will create a more efficient production process with the added benefit of reaching teammates in remote locations.
With some television and movie productions paused—or even halted due to COVID-19—the entertainment broadcasting industry has had to make quick pivots, embracing what technology has to offer to overcome new challenges. The broadcasting tech revolution, while out of necessity today, will serve to accelerate the early examples of how 5G can transform the business of broadcasting and new audience experiences in the post-pandemic world of tomorrow.
Sanyogita Shamsunder is the vice president of 5G Labs and Innovation at Verizon.
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