Would I recommend Virtual Production? Yes I would. It’s simple, easy to set up and it’s agile. What isn’t there to recommend?
Lead System Engineer, ViacomCBS
Like other content creators, ViacomCBS has experienced the difficulties of COVID safe production. Lead System Engineer Matt Okotie recalls the challenges his team faced while producing an event earlier this year at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens: “We had to be COVID compliant, so we needed a monitor for every desk, spaced out 4m apart. We ended up with a massive hall full of people, just to do one production.”
In response to the pandemic programme makers are actively exploring the benefits of remote production, where crew members and equipment can be situated far from the event itself. Matt’s first experience with Sony Virtual Production was during an innovative demonstration of 5G-enabled remote production, participating with other broadcasters and technology partners including Sony.
“Before Sony Virtual Production our setup was either taking a truck to the location, or taking flyaway PPU (Portable Production Unit) kits” he notes. “Then we’ve got thousands of metres of cable for video, and we’ve got data runs as well. With Sony Virtual Production you don’t have to do that. You just need the technical crew to set up the data, and then away you go.”
Virtual Production gives me costs savings – and we don’t have to drive big lorries around the country transporting stuff, so it’s really good for the environment.
“With Sony Virtual Production all these jobs can be done at home. The vision mixer, video runs, data runs, fibre runs, audio mixing – we don’t have to take all that equipment. All the vision side, the audio side and the graphics side can be set up before. All we have to worry about locally is the data connection to the camera, lighting and sound.”
As Matt observes, the reduction in on-site crewing levels offers big benefits in today’s socially distanced world: “I’d have to take a massive team, at least 27 people to do a six-camera shoot. With Virtual Production we can reduce that to two people or even one person on site. That gives me costs savings – and we don’t have to drive big lorries around the country transporting stuff so it’s really good for the environment.
“Virtual production has caused a bit of excitement inside ViacomCBS” confirms Matt.”Everybody’s talking about the possibilities of what can we do with this, like for sporting events where you can just send one camera operator down rather than a production truck. It’s cheaper to produce and we can increase our productivity a lot. Or for news: you can just roll up as long as you’ve got 5G, a network connection of WiFi and you’re all ready to go.
“Sony Virtual Production for me basically means agility” states Matt. “At the moment we have to get everything on site and start testing every single cable before we go live. With this we can test weeks in advance, rock up and load our profile for that production – and away we go. Would I recommend Virtual Production? Yes I would. It’s simple, easy to set up and it’s agile. What isn’t there to recommend?”