Sony ELC Live Production Control System Solves New Challenges

The Coronavirus pandemic has tremendously changed the approaches sports broadcasters and cable networks are taking towards things like newsroom operations. More than ever automation systems, like Sony’s ELC Live Production Control Automation system which manages all newsroom control functions from a dedicated operator position, are getting the call. And their use in pre- halftime, and post-game show preparation is expected to expand as team sports coverage and events ramp up in the coming weeks.

Sony’s Jason Weintraub says ELC can help sports networks operate much more efficiently.

Jason Weintraub, Sony, product manager, business development, says that ELC provides one platform that can remotely control equipment like the production switcher, audio, robotic cameras, graphics, playout servers, and even device control systems. The system is fully integrated with NRCS using an ActiveX plug-in to continuously monitor the playlist and automatically prepare assets for the next cue.

“You can have as many manual or automated processes as you want for a pre-game which is very formatted,” says Weintraub. “Post-game coverage is a little more free-flowing so there the manual operations will be attractive.”

The system helps reduce operating expenses thanks to automation, but it also opens up the ability for regional sports network control rooms across the country to be tied together and be available as an emergency back up or even collaborate. And production members could even work from home.

Sony’s John Studdert says the company continues to work hard to bring automation and cloud-based services to clients.

John Studdert, Sony’s VP, U.S. sales and marketing, media & sports, says the industry has embraced resource sharing, orchestration, and management via IP as well as Sony’s Ci cloud-based media platform during the current crisis.

“They are putting the technology in place so that they can have less people in site and remote the cameras for home and away productions,” he says. “And with our partnership with Nevion and our HDCE-TX30 box all the camera functionality can be controlled from off site.”

“Directors can work from home and work for any of the stations,” says Weintraub. “And in the event of something like a rain delay a centralized facility would allow someone in another region to pick it up or share resources. It’s about better utilization with the same high level of production at all the RSNs because any market can produce the show.”

To maintain operator familiarity, the addition of ELC does not change current processes. The newsroom system remains the master, with ELC mirroring the workflows. In simple terms, ELC sits alongside NRCS and the various devices rather than between them.

The system also can warn directors of potential conflicts of resources during the preparation of the show. And with production teams in geographically diverse facilities (or even homes) that extra level of protection can prevent last minute conflicts.

“The customer can figure out what works best for them as they can easily and seamlessly go from show to show with the press of a button,” says Weintraub. “They can change audio, cameras, and even control lighting. And because it is template and icon-based it is easy to use for the director or technical director.”