The force majeure to work outside the traditional studio prompted broadcasters of all kinds to quickly improvise and adapt in order to stay on the air, and they rose to the occasion impressively quickly. Could this be the beginning of a new broadcasting era—especially since the technology exists to support it?
Homemade videos vs. video from home
When the Corona crisis began, two types of broadcasting from home quickly emerged:
The casual, homemade approach, like NBC’s The Tonight Show: At Home Edition that featured crayon signage and Jimmy Fallon having fun on his balcony or trying to deliver a monologue as his kids goofed around for the camera.
And the more business as usual approach that HBO’s Last Week Tonight is taking with John Oliver broadcasting in his traditional format, in his typical suit, but from home—or as he refers to it, “from the great white void.”
Broadcasting from home provides a peek behind the curtain
The homemade, “Hey, let’s put on a show!” approach was very popular in the first days of the pandemic. Everyone was a bit shell-shocked getting used to the new normal of home confinement and figuring out how to produce a show at all. Plus, it projected a sense of camaraderie with the audience and, as we’re hearing so often these days, that “we’re all in this together.”
Judging by social media, viewers also seemed to enjoy the rare glimpse into their favorite hosts’ and home lives, as well as seeing what they look like without professional stage makeup and stylist-curated wardrobes. There’s been a lot of social chatter about what you could see in the background during broadcasts and several articles about what broadcasters’ home decor says about them.
Then there’s Room Rater, the Twitter page that’s dedicated to rating interviewee’s Zoom/Skype backgrounds. It launched in April 2020 and already has over 196k followers.
The next stage of broadcasting outside the studio
Now that we’ve gotten through several months of remote work, those early, anything goes broadcasts look a bit more like a gimmick. Now, productions are increasingly looking for a way to broadcast their shows as professionally as possible under the current restrictions.
In fact, “broadcasting from home” doesn’t necessarily mean broadcasting from your actual house or apartment. It can be from the talent’s home, but the term means anywhere that’s not the regular broadcasting studio. It can be from the street, from your office, etc. It’s broadcasting with the minimum necessary facilities, the minimum number of people, and sometimes, just the talent with a remote assistant.
When the CFO of HBO looks at Last WeekTonight, she probably can’t help thinking, ”Hey, John is doing a pretty good show with a fraction of the budget…” It doesn’t mean that the advantages of a professional studio have vanished, but there’s no doubt that challenging times sometimes bring innovative and fresh ideas.
The challenges of broadcasting remotely
Still, broadcasting outside the typical studio environment presents some serious challenges, as Norah O’Donnell, host of CBS Evening News explained to viewers after a technical failure kept the show from airing on the East Coast: “Like so many of you, for more than two months, we’ve been figuring out how to work from home with limited access to our offices and our usual technology.”
From technical issues to content dilemmas, broadcasting from home requires that broadcasters address some fundamental questions, such as:
- How to maintain a professional HD or 4K broadcast with zero glitches
- How to make the show rich and entertaining without all the benefits of modern graphics and advanced video editing solutions
- How can the host interact with guests in an engaging way without being with them in person?
- How do you break the inevitable monotony of one person talking to a camera. Alone.
Some genres are more challenging than others. Okay, you can have a witty monologue about politics, but what do you do if you’re a sports reporter and all major sports are on hold (professional cornhole, anyone?), or a weather reporter that can’t deliver tomorrow’s forecast without all the maps, AR, and graphics that people are used to seeing every night?
Cloud solutions enable remote production
As Adrian Pennington, Contributing Editor of The Broadcast Bridge noted in “WFH: Tech Choices From Edit To Approval”, when suddenly required to work from home, one immediate choice broadcasters faced was how to continue using the vital tech they needed: cloud or remote via VPN?
Some studio standbys were no longer an option, as they didn’t support either model, but with more production technology moving to the cloud, broadcasting from home becomes easier and more cost effective.
An increasing number of cloud-based solutions, including Arti’s no-hardware, cloud-based AR platform, enable creative editors and resourceful producers to deliver a great TV experience for their viewers, even in challenging times like today. What seemed to be impossible just a few years ago is readily available today. For that reason, we believe that broadcasting from home, in the loose sense, will become increasingly more prevalent across the industry.
For examples of the kinds of AR video that can be delivered outside the studio with Arti’s no-hardware, cloud-based platform, please check out our YouTube Channel.