LiveX. The future of OB Trucks is in saving the first mile
Interview with Corey Behnke, Producer and co-Founder of LiveX
Live X is a company specialized in producing events and broadcasting them anywhere in the world. It is based in New York City, NY, and serves the United States. The company, with more than 15 years of experience in design, production, streaming, video and live technology, was co-founded by Corey Behnke, also producer of the company. We shared a few words with him to tell us about the capabilities of his recently launched Outside Broadcast truck, the Metro One; the IP technology and remote production applications it has been designed with; and his personal views on the future of these tools, which he sees as absolutely necessary for a long time to come.
What resources does Live X have for Outside Broadcast?
LiveX has a full service broadcast production vehicle called LiveX Metro One. We launched it in December 2021. The truck is a product of the partnership our company has recently entered into with Metrovision. We were looking for a turnkey service and that is what we have achieved with Metro One.
Partnering with Metrovision allowed us to have a state-of-the-art broadcast tuck in with a very professional and valuable team. This resource allows LiveX to bring the streaming and IP capabilities necessary to assure our clients that they are getting the professional broadcast quality they expect.
We use the truck for our annual New Year’s Eve broadcast in Times Square. In the past we would have needed a full production truck. This time we were able to produce a program with over twenty cameras with IP back to our studio. We achieved very high quality and also an incredible reduction in the amount of space we needed in Times Square.
What is the latest renovation process these infrastructures have undergone?
We have designed the truck for full remote broadcast capabilities. We can do full remote production with up to 26 individual feeds.
We use the truck for our annual New Year’s Eve broadcast in Times Square. In the past we would have needed a full production truck. This time we managed to produce a program with more than twenty cameras with IP return to our studio. We achieved very high quality and also an incredible reduction in the amount of space we needed in Times Square.
From the capture to the sending of signals, what technology and what brands can we find in your most outstanding OB vehicles, such as Metro One?
LiveX Metro One is 12G-SDI capable with a mix of brands such as Clear-Com, Haivision, Blackmagic Design, Soundcraft and others.
It features a 40-input switcher, full playback, recording, live graphics, captioning and encoding. The truck is equipped with Ursa Broadcast and Ursa Mini Broadcast cameras, ATEM CCU and Fujinon and Canon lens kits. The audio setup is driven by a Soundcraft Vi1000 with 163 I/O, featuring AES, Dante and MADI. The mobile unit also houses a ClearCom Eclipse HX PiCo for expansive production communication.
Where are your units at with respect to IP technology?
By using Dante, SRT and Peplink routers between our OB truck and the main control, we can effectively manage the entire workflow remotely. LiveX Metro One allows us to send minimal equipment on-site, allowing our Green bay and New York facilities to run the shows.
As for the new ways of working that IP technology has given us, thanks to Haivision Stream Sync we can time our signals and produce the show as we normally would.
How have you approached this technology migration, what challenges have you encountered and what solutions have you deployed to overcome them?
The main challenges deal with how we network the truck to be able to bring VOD Playback content into our facility. By utilising Peplink systems throughout the facilities we can overcome much of these challenges.
I’ll tell you about it through an anecdote. For years, our Live X headquarters in New York ran on a network based on a 1G dedicated Internet service with failover provided by a 1G enterprise-grade connection. This worked well for our main control facility, but the dedicated Internet service also ran public IPs for communications, encryption and transmission equipment. During a major event, the Internet service went down. We lost our public IPs. Although failover saved the broadcast, communications went down, adding a lot of stress to production. We didn’t want to go through that again.
We partnered with Castle Point to rent Peplink devices on a per event basis. Castle Point deployed two SDX Pro routers at our venues. Castle Point also added two SDX Pro running with various ISPs in their own data center to function as a SpeedFusion hub.
Our sites now run SpeedFusion tunnels to the Castle Point hub. This has allowed us to offload public IPs to much stronger locations. With this redundancy, we have been able to not even notice if the network goes down.
This has been the main challenge we have encountered and we have already solved it thanks to our partners.
Have you adapted the truck’s capacities to the requirements imposed by COVID-19?
The LiveX Metro One was designed to produce the smallest carbon footprint and the lowest possible impact on the events we attend. These new work models, brought about by the pandemic, have streamlined our workflows. And I think they’re going to stay.
In the age of cloud and remote production, what does the future hold for these equipment?
By deploying this OB Truck we can effectively utilise the Cloud much easier and more efficiently. The abilities to park, power, drop lines and be ready to go within a few hours increases our productivity.
How will these expensive and voluminous units adapt to a future where software located in data centers with access through high-capacity networks -such as 5G or fiber- will predominate?
At the end of the day, as long as there are events located within limited infrastructure, you will need hardware to get video, audio and communications from event to cloud so that shows can be produced. The 1st mile, especially in the US will be an obstacle that these trucks overcome.
What will the OB Vehicles of the future look like and how will they be used?
I believe we will see more and more OB vehicles serving to broadcast remotely with little on-site manpower. The success of broadcasting at the highest levels will continue to trickle down to other operators as the technology matures.