Advanced Systems Group (ASG), a solutions provider for media creatives and content owners, announced the application of its VPCR (Virtual Production Control Room) for live streaming of the annual Global Leadership Summit: Special Edition, a leadership conference produced by the Global Leadership Network (GLN), held earlier this year. Powered by Google Cloud and using the integrated Grass Valley’s AMPP (Agile Media Processing Platform) software, the VPCR remote production service provided real-time, broadcast-quality coverage of the live event, without any on-premises equipment. ASG provided remote managed services support and configured AMPP so that all necessary production tools were accessible within one, easy-to-use HTML interface.
Use of AMPP for the half-day GLS: Special Edition event was a warmup to run the same workflow for the organization’s flagship, two-day Global Leadership Summit in August. AMPP is a flexible, cloud-based playout solution that allows users to spin up or down channels as they require.
The GLS: Special Edition producers streamed a portion of the show live to the organization’s Facebook channel. Five feeds, including the broadcast audio and a simultaneous Spanish translation, were sent to AMPP then streamed to Facebook. Because it was a ticketed event, Global Leadership Network producers used a feature within AMPP that allowed them to broadcast a selected portion of the live event.
“The testing really was for our benefit to show us how we’ll need to tweak the way we do things to fit in with AMPP so that we can reach more people and do bigger and greater things,” said Kyle Healy, director of broadcast, Global Leadership Network. For this broadcast, Healy and crew also tested a two-hour delay feature in AMPP so viewers on the West Coast can see the event with a 9 a.m. local start time, instead of its actual 9 a.m. Central start.
“AMPP and ASG really saved our bacon,” Healy added. “ASG was able to pull a solution together quickly without added physical infrastructure on site. As we start broadcasting out to multiple audiences, AMPP and ASG will help us target those audiences in a much more precise way. We’ll be able to tailor our different streams to different people and add in translation so that we can simultaneously interpret content into many different languages.”
The flexibility of the multi-vendor VPCR platform means as production requirements increase, tools can be added to VPCR within the same, intuitive interface. For the Special Edition Summit, AMPP provided the full production workflow required. “AMPP and Google Cloud both shined during this event,” said Jorge Dighero, director of cloud production solutions engineering, ASG. Dighero acted as an engineer-on-call, ensuring connections were made and the signal flow was correct, with Healy running the controls as technical director.
“There were a number of slight changes on the fly that were accomplished easily thanks to the flexibility AMPP offers,” said Dighero. “For example, adding new streaming destinations at the last minute was done in a matter of minutes. And Google Cloud provided truly rock-solid performance throughout the entire event.”
ASG delivered a complete front-end solution and trained the GLN production crew. “We set up the entire environment for the customer,” said Dighero. “They didn’t need to worry about any of the back-end configuration of any of the infrastructure. They received a simple and clean HTML interface from which to run their production.”
Even though this was the first time GLN used cloud-based live production, they are making plans to re-engage ASG’s managed service expertise for the more complex live stream in August. The Global Leadership Summit in August brings in close to 70,000 people, is translated into 60-plus languages and rebroadcast to thousands of people globally. For that event, there are two main audiences—groups gathered at host locations throughout the world and individuals watching alone or with colleagues online. Host sites can have from 100-1000 in attendance.
The GLN discovered during last year’s Summit that interactive online content geared to viewers online at host sites wasn’t always relevant to those watching at host sites. They wanted to create different broadcasts dependent upon where and how the viewer watches, with a separate stream for host sites and individuals streaming at home.
Healy believes they can use the capabilities of AMPP and the virtual production control room platform to increase The Global Leadership Summit’s international audience with culturally relevant programming and in-country hosts as well as potentially bringing the Summit’s message into prisons with a formerly incarcerated person discussing what the organization has meant to him/her. “My eyes were opened to a world of possibilities and how we can innovate what we do on our end and how we can reach more people and tweak our event for different audiences,” Healy explained.
Previous live events were produced on site with satellite trucks. The cost of renting the trucks, satellite time, and installation of satellite equipment at host sites nationwide was becoming prohibitively expensive. “The way technology has progressed within the last two years is incredible," Healy said of streaming. "I think that’s been out of necessity, but it’s brought in a lot more options to how we can do things.”
The lack of a physical infrastructure has opened up unlimited, video creation possibilities for the organization. “The really big thing for us with AMPP and virtual control rooms is the flexibility,” said Healy. “We no longer have to rely on the physical hardware in a control room. As we look at to the future at different venues, this is very exciting.”