Graphics in remote production: Singular.Live

How was Singular.live born?

Singular was built from a vision to create a new graphics platform that could revolutionise live graphic overlays. Traditional systems are very powerful but their underlying technology pre-dates the internet and smartphones. Content creators need different tools that take advantage of digital technologies to help them offer more flexible, scalable and cost-effective solutions for enhancing their content and viewer engagement.

 

What is Singular.live’s approach to remote production and how does it contribute to streamlining the broadcasting workflow?

Singular is a browser-based platform, so there are no dedicated graphics hardware or downloads required. Since everything in Singular can be done via a web browser including the creation, preparation and operation of graphics, the platform can be used by anyone from anywhere with a basic computer or tablet and an internet connection. As a result we are able to support remote production natively. We also have fully documented APIs and SDKs so that clients can easily integrate Singular into their own control interfaces or systems giving maximum flexibility. Additionally, we are  already integrated with the leading production platforms giving clients the widest choice of workflows without compromise.

 

How does Singular.live’s platform facilitate real-time graphics and overlays in remote production scenarios?

Singular’s web-based nature allows full operation from anywhere in the world, in real time. Not only does this enable graphic designers, operators and producers to work remotely from anywhere in the world, it also offers exceptional redundancy. If operators face issues either with their connectivity or computer, anyone else on the team can login and pick up operations from wherever they may be. It also makes it simple to share work and collaborate in the building phase and preparation of graphics. For example, a show producer can easily prepare their graphics from their home, hotel or even while travelling to the venue making it an incredibly flexible solution.

 

Can you share some examples of successful remote production projects where Singular.live’s technology played a key role?

One of the most ambitious remote production projects that we have helped deliver was with our partners Reality Check Solutions for their client Red Bull Media. This was for a Red Bull surfing event that was happening off the extremely remote southern coast of Tazmania. In order to minimise the environmental impact of their production, Red Bull Media wanted to send only a skeleton crew. As a result, the video signals were sent from Tazmania back to their production hub in Santa Monica where the Singular graphics were added before distribution.

More recently, Singular has been used in remote productions for the SPFL with partners QTV who do the matchday productions including Singular graphics from their remote hub in Glasgow.

We have also just launched a new project with partners Photron in Japan that delivers live Singular graphics, with data integration, for a major domestic Sport league from a central production hub in Tokyo.

 

What are the key features of Singular.live’s platform that make it a preferred choice for remote production teams?

One of the main features is accessibility; the fact that Singular is all browser-based makes it quick and simple to access all features of the platform. Secondly, the SaaS and cloud-native nature means that clients can scale up and down as they require ensuring they are not left with redundant hardware after they have had to upscale for a specific event. For example, football leagues will often have a week or two (typically at the end of the season) when all matches are concurrent. With Singular, you can simply scale up for those match days and then down again for the regular schedule.

Finally, Singular is the only live graphics platform that has Albert certification for sustainability. In very simple terms, using Singular can help any live production reduce its environmental impact through reducing both the required hardware and the shipping and transportation for the project. Unlike virtualised cloud graphic solutions, Singular is cloud native meaning we use elastic compute resources rather than dedicated hardware, which is a far more environmentally friendly approach.

 

How does Singular.live ensure a seamless integration with existing production setups and equipment?

Our partner network has over 50 technology partners and continues to grow as we integrate with more partners. In addition, since the output from Singular is a URL, any production equipment that can take a browser as a source is automatically compatible with us. We also provide solutions for Singular to fit seamlessly into SDI and NDI workflows. With our decades of experience working in live production and specifically graphics we know the importance of frictionless compatibility which is why we continue to focus on our growing partner network. We have also released a new updated version of our API with full documentation and a dedicated developer portal to help anyone looking to integrate with Singular.

 

What are the benefits of using cloud-based solutions for remote production, and how does Singular.live leverage this technology?

Cloud-based solutions enable remote production that in turn helps reduce costs and the environmental impact of live productions. Cloud-native solutions go a significant step further by removing the need (and sometimes logistical challenge) of having to provision dedicated hardware.

As a cloud native platform, Singular offers the best option for remote production whilst also delivering the best solution for scalability, accessibility and sustainability. It does this without any compromise and while offering next-gen features like localisation, personalisation and enhanced engagement through interactivity.

 

How does Singular.live address the challenges of latency and bandwidth limitations in remote production environments?

Singular graphics can be time stamped to ensure that they trigger at the desired time. This is essential in live production and sport in particular since nobody wants to see a score graphic update while their video is buffering and they are yet to see the goal. Embedding a timestamp for the graphics into the video makes sure that, if a viewer’s video is delayed or buffering, the graphic will not display until the correct point in the video.

In addition, our output is in HTML which has a very small footprint and so requires a stable but very small operational bandwidth. This helps ensure that we do not add any additional delays into the workflow. We have also recently successfully completed a new integration with our partners Videon on their cloud encode stack, which means clients can now add Singular graphics at the point of encode, further reducing any potential delays in their production workflow.

 

What role does automation play in remote production, and how does Singular.live’s platform support automated workflows?

Many remote productions harness some form of automation either through data or pre-prepared playlists. Singular has robust and varied data integration solutions, and our fully documented APIs can also integrate with automation solutions. We have several technology partners who provide automation services that are integrated with Singular making it easy to automate workflows.

TV2 in Norway has a great hybrid example where they created a bespoke workflow for their Ice Hockey production. The Singular graphics are all integrated with data and the operator can choose which graphics they want to automatically play out on air (goals and penalty graphics for example) and then which graphics they want their system to prompt them with so that the operator can then decide if they wish to take the graphic on air. It makes for a really efficient workflow for graphics operation on a very fast moving sport with a lot of possible graphics.

 

Can you discuss the scalability and flexibility of Singular.live’s platform when it comes to managing multiple remote productions simultaneously?

In 2022, we had 10 million hours of output with Singular graphics. We have clients and partners producing literally thousands of hours of live productions and outputs every month. This is growing as we work with more FAST channel providers. Scalability is one of the key benefits of Singular being a cloud-native platform rather than hardware-based or virtualised. We use elastic compute resources so there is never an issue finding resources, unlike systems that need to provision dedicated hardware in the cloud.

As a SaaS platform, clients can increase their outputs on demand and drop down when not needed. With Singular, when a production is finished, the operator simply shuts their browser and walks away. There’s no de-rigging or closing down server instances.

 

How does Singular.live ensure data security and protect against potential cyber threats in remote production workflows?

In addition to offering industry best practice solutions like SSO, we also conduct regular external cyber threat reviews. The most recent of these found no susceptibilities. However our team continually works to manage and improve our security. We fully understand the importance of security for our clients, many of whom have made significant investments for the rights to the content that they are producing.

 

In terms of user experience, what kind of training and support does Singular.live provide to production teams adopting their platform for remote production?

For anyone who signs up to Singular, we have a comprehensive set of video tutorials and previous webinars all available on our YouTube channel. These cover basic guides on how to get started all the way through to more technical and expert videos. We also offer monthly live webinars on specific topics that are available to anyone to join, with each session including a Q&A section. We also have a dedicated support portal that is monitored 24/7 and accessible either from within Singular or directly from the support website. This provides a highly effective way for people to get answers to any questions they may have or help with any challenges they encounter.

For our Enterprise customers, we also offer dedicated support that includes free training workshops for both designers and developers and a dedicated Slack channel for any specific questions. We also have a customer Slack channel where people post questions and our community and our support team answer. Our certified partners can get direct access to our development team to help them with their integrations. This has proven very helpful especially with sharing some of our knowledge gained through our own experiences of integration video players and updating CEF versions for example.

 

What do you see as the future trends and advancements in remote production, and how is Singular.live prepared to adapt and innovate in this evolving landscape?

Singular was purpose-built for remote production by virtue of not requiring any dedicated hardware. As a platform we are built using standard web protocols which helps both us, as web technologies continue to evolve, but also helps our customers. Finding developers and staff with experience in web technologies is much easier than trying to find and recruit specialist, experienced graphic systems developers and designers.

As technologies like 5G and NDI continue to mature and evolve, and more broadcast technology moves to cloud native solutions, remote production will become even easier and more prevalent. This will also allow more customers to take advantage of some of the more advanced features of Singular such as adaptive overlays and interactivity through the use of our Intelligent Overlays. Production technology has evolved very quickly and a lot of what we can do fairly easily now would not have been possible even 5 years ago. As demand increases for personalisation and wider use of tools like AI and automation, so will the opportunity for more remote production will grow. The technology to deliver robust, scalable and professional live productions remotely already exists. There are already tier 1 productions being produced remotely so there is no technological obstacle to doing it. The delay in wider roll out is down to operational decision making and people’s readiness to adopt it rather than any issue with the technology itself.

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