Live From Rio 2016: Bexel’s Craig Schiller on the Future of Big-Event Production
The Bexel team is in Brazil supporting a number of clients with an equipment complement comprising nine production flypacks, 50 camera chains, approximately 100 ENG camera packages (with plenty of lenses as well), graphics systems, RF gear, fiber connectivity kit, and camera-support gear. To Craig Schiller, SVP, global sales and technical services, Bexel Global Broadcast Solutions, it all illustrates the key trends driving large-event production.“There is definitely more IP and a huge increase in the deployment of fiber technology to move video, audio, and data, and now camera signals, since studios are getting farther away from the mobile units and/or the broadcast center,” he says. “How broadcasters are moving signals is changing dramatically as people are looking to find efficiencies and keep as many people as possible in their native environments.”
There are hot new trends in the marketplace, most notably 4K and VR, and Schiller notes that Bexel’s success hinges on responding to actual client needs and developing solutions for them rather than investing in equipment and hoping a market develops. “The use of 4K for zooming applications within an HD sports production is still hot, and we are starting to see a number of new shows go to 4K for production,” he says, adding, “Actual 4K production is more on the music side, reality/competition game shows, and a little bit of reality.”
One key factor holding back 4K sports production is the lack of specialty cameras. For instance, 4K RF cameras for events like marathons or cycling need to be developed and widely available before 4K production can take off for large sports events. “Until that technology develops,” he says, “it will be like the HD transition, where specialty and RF camera systems were upconverted.”
Bexel has moved beyond its role as just an equipment-rental provider, offering specialized system solutions along with engineering and dedicated maintenance personnel onsite to deal with component failures and adapt to situations on the fly.
“The large events always amaze me,” Schiller says. “All the vendors from around the world come together, collaborate, and integrate systems while also innovating new solutions to present fantastic content to a global sports audience. The level of collaboration is unreal.”
And while, yes, much of an event can be about the technology, it is ultimately about the people who keep the gear running so that others can create top-quality content.
“The unsung heroes in our business are the technical, operational, and logistics folks, who work tireless hours under huge pressure to deliver mission-critical productions, all while being away from home and family for months at a time,” says Schiller. “I cannot say enough about that group of experts: without them, these large events would not look as good as they do technically or go off as well as they do.”