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Video conferencing within a new virtual and hybrid world

The importance of using professional solutions for your productions. Do not compromise by using consumer conferencing solutions that fall short of broadcast industry standards.

By Richard Rees, CEO of Quicklink

The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed how people live and work across the world. The restrictions that have been put in place has affected all industries. Due to these restrictions, there has been an accelerated shift to virtual and hybrid environments across many industries.
This sudden accelerated shift has resulted in organisations using consumer conference calling solutions within professional broadcast workflows, trying to make the best of what they have available, but at severe risk.

A perfect example of this scenario was at the Golden Globes event in February, which was watched by 6.9 million viewers and widely covered on social media and by the press worldwide. The production was entirely over-shadowed by award winner Daniel Kaluuya, who was muted during his acceptance speech. The speech, which was conducted using a consumer video conferencing platform, aired for 20 seconds with no audio. The presenter, and production team were completely thrown and panicked with no fix to unmute the award-winners audio. In what was one of the largest awards of the night, the moment was instantly criticised online and started trending across social media.

The mishap was also covered by media outlets worldwide, with Vulture’s headline being: “Some Golden Globes Producer is getting fired”. As a result, this embarrassing moment led to many other global Award shows instantly re-evaluating their contribution solutions for their productions.

The Golden Globes example is just one of many examples where contributions have gone wrong due to using consumer conferencing solutions for professional broadcast. These mishaps happen on a daily occurrence, often seeing bad connections, out-of-sync audio and compromised video quality.

These occurrences during professional broadcast productions can be extremely embarrassing for both the organisation and the interviewee. Embarrassing moments can take the focus away from the main topic of the production and flip to negative exposure. A great example of this is the infamous BBC News incident in 2017, where during an interview, an interviewee’s children snuck into an office and interrupted his interview live on BBC. This incident instantly went viral, and has since gained more than 43 million views, but can anyone remember what was actually being discussed during the interview? To conclude, what seems like a little mishap at the time, can cause severe long-term damage to a brand.

So, the key question is how do we stop these moments from happening?

The answer is very straight forward, invest in professional solutions that are fit for broadcast. Do not risk your broadcast on makeshift solutions that are not fit for purpose.

This is where Quicklink’s speciality comes into play. Quicklink provide professional-grade audio and video contribution solutions, which have been designed with virtual and hybrid events at the forefront. The Quicklink Studio ST55, enables you to gather video and audio-conferencing contributions from any desktop or mobile device, with no apps or software installs required.

With HD full-spectrum audio, and high-quality full-frame video with fixed real-time latency, the Quicklink solutions bring immediate beneficial impact to your productions. The Quicklink solutions are based on Quicklink’s signature QRST (Quicklink Reliable Secure Transport) protocol, ensuring secure, reliable, real-time transmission for high-quality video and audio over the public internet. The Safe Mode option helps you to optimise the quality received from a contributor on a poor or unstable network. In addition, through Quicklink’s global backbone of multiple backup servers on all time zones, redundancy and resilience is ensured.

Designed with professional workflows and productions in mind, Quicklink gives producers full control over the remote contributor’s device settings, including video/audio device selection, mute/unmute of microphone, and complete adjustment of audio levels and gain. As a result, in the Golden Globes example given previously, award winner Daniel Kaluuya could have instantly been unmuted centrally by the producers with a single button click, resulting in a professional and successful production.

In addition to the automatically returned mix-minus audio, Quicklink allows you to pull discrete audio and independent high -quality video from each conferencing participant, offering complete flexibility in both live productions and post-production environments where any distractions can be easily isolated and removed.Any unexpected distractions, such as pet noise or interruption from your participants child can be easily removed, without affecting the audio from other participants. Using Quicklink’s Assisted Invite feature, you can ensure your guests are pre-screened and ready-to-go before placing them into a live environment.

To achieve this, your guest automatically runs through a series of guided steps to assist in the selection of camera, microphone and speaker devices, and run a quick test call to check network status and upload speed. This test identifies any potential issues with network connections and gives recommendations on how to achieve a better connection.

This pre-screening exercise is done prior to going live, leaving nothing up to chance during your live productions. Quicklink also offers an all-in-one, compact and portable unit for achieving a professional studio-quality remote production with the ST500 and ST500e. This solution incorporates an inbuilt professional PTZ camera, audio device, lighting and 7” LED touchscreen, ideal for ensuring the maximum quality is achieved. All aspects of the solution, including camera, lights, and audio can be controlled completely remotely using the web based Quicklink Manager portal.

Until recently the industry has very much had to compromise by using makeshift workflows in this new virtual and hybrid world which is here to stay. However, with the longer-term effects, and a shift towards remote working, many are investing in professional, robust and scalable solutions tailored to meet their longer-term strategic plans.

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