LiveArena Broadcast Room: the virtual director

A huge amount has changed in broadcasting over the last 20 years. Pontus Eklöf believes that, thanks to the proliferation of artificial intelligence and machine learning, there’s lots more exciting things to come

Pontus Eklöf
By Pontus Eklöf on 08 August 2019
LiveArena Broadcast Room: the virtual director

This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox. 

Almost 20 years ago we, a group of Swedish broadcast veterans, got excited about the shift from analogue to digital TV. The switchover promised an increased channel space, greater opportunity for niche channels and interactivity.

But the new technology didn’t meet our expectations; it wasn’t a game changer. Instead we started looking at the internet’s possibilities for broadcasting. It turned out that low res, stamp sized clips –with little support for live broadcasting – wasn’t too impressive either. 

However, true on-demand and live broadcasting was on the horizon – the internet could empower anyone to create media content. A bit of technology, teamed with a bit of creativity, and global TV channels were within reach.

As it turned out, it took a lot more than a bit of technology and a bit of creativity. A whole bunch of unfamiliar things were needed to replace what previously had just been fixed by a production crew and a broadcast tower.

A huge leap forward came with the introduction of cloud computing. As a long-term partner of Microsoft, we became an early adopter of Azure cloud and Azure Media Services. These technologies aligned perfectly with our vision.

Now, online broadcasting is not just about infrastructure and content management. It’s mainly about producing content. We’ve worked hard on this. Mixing broadcast technology with consumer products enabled us to create easy-to-use, yet professional, production solutions. And they’ve worked well. We had our customers producing more than 20,000 live events annually some 10 years after we had embarked on this journey. 

Still, we were not content. We wanted to simplify broadcasting even further – and artificial intelligence (AI) presented an opportunity. What if AI could automate production, replacing the camera crew and the technical producer?

In collaboration with Dutch research institute TNO, we have created the LiveArena Broadcast Room, a fully automated, unmanned, live video production solution – HD video, crisp audio and smooth video mixing turned into a professional production without any human interaction.  

By combining the two – automated production replacing the camera crew and a global cloud platform replacing the broadcasting tower – we have enabled and exceeded what we envisioned almost 20 years ago: anyone can have a TV channel.

So, are we done now? Far from it. We have come a long way from where we started but, with AI and machine learning, the next 20 years of online broadcasting will be even more game changing. 

Pontus Eklöf is chief operating officer at LiveArena

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