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The Future of the OB Truck

The Future of the OB Truck

Are OB trucks too expensive to survive in a world that is moving toward digital news delivery and mobile, small-screen news consumption? As Broadcasters shift to 4K UHD live broadcasting and adopt IP for experimenting with more immersive consumer-facing formats, does this pronounce the death of the OB trucks?

With the live production scenario evolving every day, many believe IP production and broadcast will phase out OB trucks in the future. Adam Cox[1] lists the cost of cabling, equipment, and production, scalability, and emergence of the 4K camera as some reasons why IP will overpower OB trucks.

But are these challenges so empowering? Let’s explore.

Outside broadcasting is broadcasting live from the event using make-shift studio equipment like a camera linked to a van to transmit the signals back to the network center. Typically, broadcasters station huge OB trucks spanning more than 10 meters on-site, having production, engineering, and sound units to cover events live from the place of occurrence.

However, with broadcasters experimenting on formats and tools, as reporting live on social media like Facebook and Instagram gains popularity, will OB trucks cease to exist? While we look for the answer, let us explore the challenges that the OB trucks face in present times and the alternatives:

The changing face of content consumption

As social media, IPTV, and OTT have evolved as a primary means of content consumption, the definition of experience has changed. Now better experience does not mean a bigger TV on the wall, but a connected device which enables users to watch their preferred content across devices as per their convenience.

This new connected world has blurred the need of having a separate facility and technology for a new form of content – be it a studio, OB truck, or a broadcast center. As a mobile camera replaces high-end cameras and live TV replaces broadcast, the technology, and facilities that primarily defined the boundaries of SDI are blurred.

Result? On-the-go/live content creation is no longer solely dependent on having OB trucks on site.

Remote production

The way broadcasters consume content has changed drastically. Multiple onsite cameras capture events and feed into the central hub of assets, from which the stakeholders can pick and choose content to suit their requirement. Content is a shared asset, and no longer has a definite start and end.

While OB trucks remain at the front line of covering live events, connectivity-focused tools promote collaboration between broadcasters. Hence, although remote productions become more popular, mobile units (or OB trucks) will be broadcaster-specific than event-specific.

New content formats

With the popularity of IP TV, content providers are now focusing on providing an immersive experience. As VR content and 360-degree videos gain popularity, OB trucks need to evolve to facilitate the production of these formats.

Moreover, with contents being consumed across platforms, OB trucks (or any production units) need to cater to the demand of content in varied formats. As production units use artificial intelligence for post-production, OB trucks need to rise from being a mere technical production facility to producing OTT and IPTV-native content.

Will mobile journalism sunset OB trucks?

Legacy broadcasters like BBC and CNN are experimenting with online video news to reach younger audiences in this changing environment. Digital players like NowThis and BuzzFeed are focusing on building an audience for platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Recently, NDTV 24X7 shot their stories on a Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone.

Newscasters have started reporting live from the venue using applications like Skype, Hangout, Google’s Duo, etc. Mobile phone cameras are replacing DSLRs to capture superior quality images and videos to be telecasted directly.

The future

While many might argue that mobile journalism essentially does the job of OB tasks – report live from ground zero, OB trucks has much more to offer than what mobile will ever do. With its advanced facilities allowing for editing on-the-go, switch between multiple cameras, and advanced graphics among others, OB trucks have the potential to deliver high-quality broadcast live.

OB trucks are here to stay. However, to be future-ready, broadcasters need to ramp up the technology to support 4K and 8K broadcast across multiple platforms. With the Internet of Things, OB trucks need to be more integrated and advanced to deliver a world-class experience to the viewers, irrespective of the platform they choose to watch.

[1] http://hometownnetworks.tv/future-of-outside-broadcasting-ob-vans/

News in the Digital Era: Tips for Broadcasters

News in the Digital Era: Tips for Broadcasters

Do you prefer reading news on social media? If your answer is yes, you belong among 51%[1]  of the population who prefer so. Research by Reuters Institute reveals that 64% of the population between the age group of 18-24 rely on online media for information.

Which makes us wonder – is digitization transforming the way viewers consume content? As the F.O.M.O. and the favor of personalization over objectivity give rise to social media and aggregators like ‘In Shorts,’ ‘Feedly,’ and ‘Digg Reader,’ do traditional media need to change their broadcast/distribution strategy to retain the audience?

In an age where what goes ‘viral’ sells, here are some tips to utilize the power of digital media to capture the audience.

Intriguing Storytelling: While the information remains the same, how the broadcaster presents it is what pulls and retains the audience in the ‘mobile first’ world. With the same story available across multiple platforms, readers look for a unique perspective, and perhaps, an intriguing way to share the same news. To retain the audience, storytelling has to change – it has to be short, visual, timely, and hyper-relevant.

‘Snackable’ Content: According to Forbes[2], adding infographic is a sure shot way to boost news traffic, as 90 percent of what we remember is based on visual impact. Short-form videos play a vital role in capturing the viewer’s attention for a longer time, thereby driving user engagement and revenue.

Explainer Videos: With the information overload that comes with the Internet, an average person is attacked by the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data a day. Explainer videos are a great way to cut through the information overload. Focusing on the facts, explainer videos often have only subtitles without any sound highlighting the crux, which usually works well for breaking news.

Focus on Soft News: Humans are primarily driven by emotions. Therefore, viewers tend to connect more with the soft news that has a strong emotional element. A simple story presented objectively with an emotional perspective works better for news broadcasters.

Choosing the Right Distribution Platform: With offsite news video consumption growing fast, broadcasters need to focus on the distribution channel to ensure maximum reach. For example, videos uploaded to Facebook or shared on Twitter get more views than those uploaded on the website. Therefore, sharing the breaking news on social media, and do a follow-up story with detailed analysis and context for the website will have more viewers than uploading a detailed video on the website.

Going Live: Thanks to the video appeal, user engagement, ‘in the moment’ value, and instant feedback, live video has become an interesting trend in the broadcast industry. With Facebook Live, Snapchat, YouTube, and Periscope allowing wider reach, media houses are competing to bring interesting and valuable live videos to their customers.

Having Defined Goals: Not all content is created with the same purpose. While the cyberspace is flooded with news and videos, each trying to carve a niche and attract the audience, a broadcaster needs to have defined goals like monetization, engagement, or brand extension before generating the content. It is important to have a strategy in place, which the broadcasters should review and refer to at regular intervals.

Creating Video Community: Media houses are increasingly turning to platforms like Talenthouse, Tongal, and Zooppa to have new video content that explains key issues simplifying business/hard language. Creating video community is a great way to crowdsource ideas in thousands, connect with the audience and empower them, and create a loyal viewers’ community.

Having Ready-made Templates: News, if not communicated as soon as it breaks, become stale. Therefore, it is important not to waste time in deciding the ideal content format or creating videos from scratch. Having templates for various kind of news across different platforms enable quick packaging and sharing of videos and news, thereby helping broadcasters share information as soon as it happens.

As broadcasters embrace the new digital world and make their presence more prominent across online platforms, it is important to have a right strategy to ensure increased engagement with the audience.

Women Who Changed the Face of Broadcast Industry

Women Who Changed the Face of Broadcast Industry

Women across the world are breaking glass ceilings. This Women’s Day, we bring you five such women of India and the Middle East who have made contribution in changing the face of broadcast industry.

1. Homai Vyarawalla – India’s First Woman Photojournalist

Born in Gujarat, India in 1913, Homai Vyarawalla (popularly known as ‘Dalda 13’) was India’s first female photojournalist. She started her career in the 1930s and was noticed nationally when she moved to Mumbai in 1942. Over the next 30 years, Vyarawalla worked as a press photographer, capturing the last days of the British Empire and many national leaders, including Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, and Indira Gandhi.

Vyarawalla was one of the key visual chroniclers of the post-independence era, tracing the euphoria and disillusionments of a new nation. During World War II, she worked with The Illustrated Weekly of India magazine, which published many of her iconic black and white images. Vyarawalla was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2011, which is the second highest civilian award of the Republic of India.

2. R. Vijayalakshmi – Asia’s First Woman Cinematographer

Daughter of the legendary actor, director, and producer B.R. Panthulu. B.R. Vijayalakshmi, who started her career as an assistant to cinematographer Ashok Kumar, is Asia’s first woman cinematographer. She made her feature film debut with the Tamil film ‘Chinna Veeduin’ in 1985.

After working in over 22 films, Vijayalakshmi took a break from the cinema after the birth of her son, only to return as a known face in television. “Paatu Padavaa” – the last film scripted, directed and cinematographed by Vijayalakshmi in 1995 made it to the International Film Festival of India 1996.

3. Hessa Al Ossaily – Mother of UAE Media

Hessa Al Ossaily, born in Sharjah in 1950, is the first TV announcer of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and has donned many hats as a female pioneer in the broadcasting industry. She was Director of the Ministry of Information and Culture’s Exhibition Department for more than 30 years and is now one of the UAE’s most successful businesswomen.

In 1965, at the age of 15, Al Ossaily became the first Emirati woman to become a presenter at Sawt Al Sahil Radio, which was launched in Sharjah by the British. In 1969, after graduating from Ain Shams University in Egypt, she joined Kuwaiti TV as a presenter.

Known as the Mother of UAE Media, Al Ossaily was assigned general commissioner for the UAE’s involvement in expos in 1992. In 2000, she became the first Arab female member of the country’s steering committee for that year’s expo in Hanover, Germany.

4. Nayla Al Khaja – UAE’s First Woman Filmmaker

Dubbed UAE’s first female filmmaker, Nayla Al Khaja graduated from Dubai Women’s College with a degree in Mass Communication in 1999 and hosted her travel show with Arabian Radio Network. In 2005, she graduated in Image Studies – Film from Ryerson University in Canada, a college well-known for its film-making programs.

Soon after graduation, Nayla founded a full-service production company ‘D-SEVEN Motion Pictures,’ which specialized in the production corporate videos, documentaries, short films, and TV commercials. The production house had an impressive list of clientele, which includes industry giants like Vogue, BMW, Gucci, Mercedes, Nike, Cannon, Nivea, LG, and Discovery Studios to name a few.

In 2006, Nayla made her first short film “Arabana”- which dealt with the subject of child abuse. The film premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2007 where she won the title for ‘Best Emirati Filmmaker.’

5. Alia Al Shamsi – UAE’s First Professional Female Photographer

Born and raised in Dubai from an Italian mother and a UAE father, Alia Al Shamshi studied photography, and photojournalism in Australia and is a full-time photojournalist for El Emarat El Youm and Emirates – two newspapers of Dubai. She is also working as curator, photographer, and archivist on many independent projects and has been involved with food and fashion photography. Her photographs featured in international magazines like National Geographic and are exhibited in many countries, including USA, Australia, Germany, Italy, and UAE.

We wish more power to women of today! Happy International Women’s Day!