By Ellen Camloh
Celebro Media can stake a claim as one of the first independent studios in the UK to be both fully 4K-ready and fully capable of IP live production. And while it’s clear the London-based production services provider stands squarely at the cutting edge of technology, don’t be fooled into thinking they do it merely for the bragging rights.
The company’s tech-forward approach is strictly about maximizing what it does best: running bespoke broadcast operations reliably around the clock, and serving clients with an international presence any time they need it.
Transforming the Industry
Celebro’s unique business model was conceived by CEO and former BBC journalist Wesley Dodd in 2014 as a way to hire out mid-sized, multi-camera facilities to broadcasters.
“We wanted to offer medium-sized studios where a client could run a daily news program, a current affairs show, or a talk show,” Dodd said. “Something between the very small, single-camera studios specialized in news, and at the other end of the scale, the enormous studios you could drive a car into.”
That had been his original, if modest, vision. Then his career-long interest in emerging technologies led him down a different path: multi-location, international presence.
“Increasingly, towards the end of my period working for the BBC, so much of my time was invested in technology and how we would get a story back to the location,” Dodd said.
It’s a headache that has plagued broadcasters for decades, whether their journalists are across town or across the globe. So the moment Dodd saw NDI ® and NewTek’s IP ecosystem in action, he says, “I knew it was going to transform not only Celebro’s business, but also the industry.”
NewTek's VMC1 is now the backbone of Celebro's 4K IP studio production in London and using NDI means all the connections can be made over the network. Dodd says this transformed their processes instantly.
“We don’t have to run new cables,” he said. “We can channel different video to different parts of the building much more easily and much more intuitively. We don’t have to go and ask our technical staff to plug in and reroute a signal. Everything’s already there for us.”
Using NDI to send any real-time video source to any connected PC means Celebro’s clients can sit in the newsroom and look at any of their sources coming from any part of the building, whether it’s an outgoing source or an incoming source.
It also gives Celebro a very fast “pop-up” ability. If a client suddenly needs to build a small workstation for a special event, NDI allows staff to set up within seconds using a laptop and a single Ethernet cable.
“We’re getting the cost advantage of an inexpensive monitoring setup,” Dodd said. “Our clients are getting
the advantage of a very, very rapid deployment.”
Less Risky, More Connected
Celebro’s master control room (MCR) can receive any kind of feed, from any camera, studio, location, assignment, event or breaking news story anywhere it’s happening around the globe.
Today, Celebro operates three fully robotic, multi-camera TV studios in its London location; seven studios in Washington, DC and Los Angeles (also fully automated); and a studio in Moscow with ten standup positions overlooking Red Square.
In the absence of a provider such as Celebro, the expenses—and the stakes—are high for broadcasters building a studio in any new market.
“Our clients are typically international broadcasters who need a presence in a big city like London or Washington, but don’t want to go to the expense of opening their own facility,” Dodd said.
Among its various locations, the company offers ingest and playout facilities, tapeless content delivery, a crewed outside broadcast fleet and portable flypacks for hire, and multiple galleries for fully-staffed, live studio production.
What’s more, it’s linked up over fiber for transmission via BT Tower, Reuters, and EBU, as well as both KA-Band satellite and 4G cellular from its OB vehicles—all in addition to its in-house LAN and a dozen external internet connectivity options.
That means Celebro’s master control room (MCR) can receive any kind of feed 24/7 from any camera, studio, location, assignment, event or breaking news story anywhere it’s happening around the globe. And that’s when NDI delivers another dose of pain relief.
“I can take in any feed from around the world,” Dodd said. “It just works. NDI automatically recognizes the type of video it is, and converts or conforms it to whatever project I have in the TriCaster. It’s completely revolutionized the encoding process.”
Any Source, Anywhere
Ryan Deans, Lead Director at Celebro’s London location, says “we have one goal, and that’s to meet our clients’ production needs.”
And that involves using video feeds and files clients provide, no matter which formats they send.
“Being a worldwide TV studio and production facility, we get clients from all around the world, and that would pose a new challenge with every project,” Deans said. “Is the video feed NTSC? Is it PAL? Is it I (interlaced) or is it p (progressive), and is it 50 frames or 25 frames per second? Is the file HD or 4K?”
With NDI Deans can take in any feed from around the world.
“It doesn’t matter what format or source it is, it just works,” Deans said. “NDI automatically recognizes the type of video it is, and converts or conforms it to whatever project I have in the TriCaster. It’s completely revolutionized the encoding process.”
Each of Celebro’s [five] London studios is paired with a control room, or gallery, for live production switching (as are the studios in Washington and Los Angeles). Each of them uses a software-driven NewTek multicamera production system—a TriCaster 460, a TriCaster 8000, and the most recent, the 44-input VMC1. The latter enables Celebro to provide its clients with 4K UHD live production capabilities for mega-large hybrid SDI and IP programs, including up to 44 real-time sources over IP.
In addition to the wide variety of external feeds and sources sent globally, a typical workflow for a news or talk program can rely on in-studio camera sources, cameras from other studios or standups, and as many over-the network sources as the client wants in production.
Celebro’s hundreds of NDI sources include broadcast graphics from Vizrt graphics systems; Skype calls from around the world, captured in a number of NewTek TalkShow video interview systems; files stored in other TriCaster systems; and even cameras coming in from its other global studios.
“Having NDI tie everything in our productions together allows us to connect to other sources outside of the building as well, just via a simple ethernet connection,” Deans said. “And NewTek’s software interface makes everything easy.”