Project IBC reveals it’s possible to green live video production


LONDON—Early results from a trial to determine if live video production workflows can achieve net carbon emissions in the future have shown that they can meet sustainability goals and reduce the environmental impact of production live.

“Improving sustainability has become a No. 1 priority for the media and entertainment production sector,” said Andy Beale, Project Manager and Chief Engineer at BT Sport. “The future of our planet depends on a collective effort to become net zero carbon. With this IBC Accelerator project, we wanted to experiment together in a tangible way to understand alternatives to traditional OB production in live sport, in order to make carbon metrics more readily available so businesses can benchmark what they are doing and motivate them to do more to reduce their own carbon footprint.

The trial, which is part of IBC’s Media Innovation Accelerator programme, involved the production of the English Premier League. The league, IMG/Premier League Production and albert, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) initiative to support more sustainable production, worked with a project team comprising staff from BBC Sport, BT Sport, Sky Sport, Premier League Productions and international rights holders NBCUniversal and SuperSport.

The effort involved experimenting with multi-vendor cloud technologies, formats and workflows, sharing camera feeds, audio and graphics and personnel to avoid duplication and reduce travel and other energy requirements, according to the program.

The trial found that cloud production reduces technical infrastructure needs for gallery production by up to 70% for some broadcasters. Cloud production also reduces the need for large on-site technical facilities, as it enables rapid distribution of signals to multiple locations, he said.

The cloud workflows were deployed alongside a traditional outside broadcast (OB) production setup to compare and contrast carbon footprints during a proof-of-concept demonstration during the Premier League match on December 16, 2021, between Liverpool and Newcastle United, he said.

The project will continue with research to identify ways to reduce the carbon footprint of live productions and the development of industry benchmarks and measurable information. Six media and technology providers provided the technology to power the effort, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Blackbird Hitomi, Microsoft, M2A Media, Singular.Live and Zixi.

“Reducing the carbon emissions attributed to the production of our sports programs is of great importance – and forms an important part of Sky’s ambitions to achieve its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2030,” said Inga Ruehl, Executive Director of Production Services and Operations at Ciel. “The promising results of the trial show that the industry’s goal of drastically reducing emissions through means, such as cloud-based production workflows, is entirely achievable. If the industry continues to working together towards this goal can make a huge difference.

Key findings from the project are available as video-on-demand content from Digital baccalaureate.


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