ITN embraces cloud production modes relying on Amazon Web Services solutions

The Independent Television News (ITN) production company has recently implemented cloud workflows for remote production with the help of Amazon Web Services (AWS) technologies.

The company, with the aim of reducing its carbon footprint and moving off-the-shelf media equipment off-premises and into a data center, is also leveraging AWS and ITN’s GVM platform to uncover technology integrations for remote and decentralized production applications, such as cloud-based transcoding and editing.

“We can easily transport media across multiple destinations and bring it into AWS instances; produce shows while maintaining traditional production capabilities like switching, audio mixing, and monitoring; and transmit the signal to viewers using VoIP,” ITN Cloud and Software Development Manager, Nick Moores. “It’s saved us on kit and travel costs and made the production process more durable.”

Using cloud-based infrastructure, ITN has already launched several solutions for clients, including one that allows third-party clients to monitor a feed; it was created in a few weeks, versus the months and extensive network capacity creating a similar on-premises solution would have required. Making use of the AWS Marketplace, ITN’s business to-business (B2B) division also delivered a maintenance-free 24/7 video delivery service in a single day.

Following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II last year, ITN was approached by British Airways to live stream the funeral ceremony to its passengers. To execute the stream, ITN provided on-premises connectivity to the cloud via encoding hardware on the ground. AWS Elemental MediaLive received and processed the video before it was run through AWS Elemental MediaPackage and distributed via the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network (CDN). The workflow used several other AWS services, including Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to create watch folders and file systems to trigger the media processing pipeline, AWS Elemental MediaConvert for video transcoding, and AWS Lambda serverless compute functions for third-party integrations.

ITN is also experimenting with disaster recovery (DR). “The media processing power of AWS goes far beyond anything we’ve experienced, and we’re always looking for a solid backup solution. AWS gives us both, and we’re not incurring costs on an idle solution,” says James Wickes, the Lead Media Engineer at ITN.

The team is currently using AWS services for DR in the Channel 4 news department. Should a power outage take the London studio dark, the setup will allow comms, video, and audio to be redirected into a virtual production environment with the click of a button. Nearly anyone from the team could then access the broadcast from anywhere in the world.

ITN sees every project as an opportunity to evolve its AWS-backed pipeline. ITN currently edits video footage on-premises but is looking to the cloud to improve content distribution. Moores explains, “The goal is to be able to share our content as broadly as possible in terms of both platform and audience. Moving our editing systems into the cloud is a priority this year, and that ultimately means moving more of our media processing pipelines into AWS.”

Moores, Wickes, and team are also in conversations with transmission partners to implement signal delivery amidst increasing adoption of highly compressed low-latency formats like SRT. This will allow them to bring in content more easily from off-site, control it remotely, and share it more efficiently with geographically disparate team members. They’ve also begun experimenting with bonded cellular data for audio and video contribution from the field. AWS EC2 instances pick up the footage for virtual environment integration.

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