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Re: How's business right now? (Also, what and where?) How you feeling about that?

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Mark Suszko
Re: How's business right now? (Also, what and where?) How you feeling about that?
on Mar 18, 2020 at 12:31:55 am

Man, whatever they are paying the server jockeys at Netflix and Prime, it ain't enough! The growth to keep up with the increasing demand for streaming services is today's gold rush.

My work these days is largely ENG production, with webinar training production thrown in.

This week I put up a poster at work; a picture of our remote camera in the Chicago press room, 200 miles from where I wiggle the stick and push a button in a control room in Springfield. The caption: "2020 MVP Nominee".

"Kilroy" as I call the robo-cam, took years to get installed. Every time I proposed it, the answer from every single person was: "it will take away our jobs". I answered that it was a "force multiplier", enabling our crews to do other, more demanding field work at the same time as we covered press conferences. And that it could cover when a distant field operator took sick or was otherwise unavailable, say, stuck in traffic. Nobody in the shop envisioned what has happened, not even myself, but we're all very glad the camera is there now. The thing has paid for itself several times over in just the last three weeks, obviating the need to dispatch me and others on a 400-mile, eight-hour round trip to cover a 15-minute spray, or try and hire a local stringer of unknown quality and reliability. We're doing daily Covid updates to the networks with it, feeding uplinks and Facebook, and a web stream and a number of stations take that feed and turn it around for their own use. "Origato", Kilroy!

What happens after? Who knows. I don't make policy, and I'm not a soothsayer. But I know I can't edit from home without having a home based RAID to work from. I maybe could get authorized remote access to the office's archive server to pull down files to then work from locally... but that transfer speed is deadly slow and my home internet is a soda straw. Everything would have to be very tiny proxy files. I could even access the Adobe account from home if it came to it. But the security angle has already been mentioned, never mind others. Also, I'm not excited about doing work stuff on my own home machine. They'd probably need to issue me a laptop to keep things ethical. My luck is that before the curtain came down I had 99 percent of my projects done thru May. My biggest luck is, unlike some friends who will really be hurting soon, I still get paid thru all of this (Unions FTW!) I have no idea how my family'd survive without that.

I think my shopping list of things of interest for next year's NAB would include NAS solutions customized for work from home. And fly-packs of quick-setup remote stand-alone PTZ cams with reliable bonded cellular and ethernet to control the cam and get the shots back. I can imagine the fresh Newtek spam hitting my in-box in 3...2..1...:-)

Long term I think webinars are going to get a bigger focus for my customers as a way to spread information and education without spreading infection. But there are two things to consider there: the tech, certainly, but also improving production value and really using instructional design to a higher level in the planning and execution of this stuff, something I've been advocating for years. I look at "training" videos on YouTube and a large number of them are cringe-worthy, not just in production value, but in HOW they try to teach what they are teaching. The tech is the easiest part. There is still work for English Majors here, I'm sure of it.

On-the-fly captioning needs to improve and get easier and cheaper to do. AI is helping but it's not fully there yet.

One other thing: I play in a couple of hobby bands, and all our gigs and even practices have fallen thru for the season so far. The bandmates were all excited by the idea of virtual band practice using Google Hangouts, or even virtual concerts using something like Skype. I had to be the buzzkill and explain how latency and variable levels of service and bandwidth made it impractical for eleven scattered people to jam together in time, without spending a lot of money. I wish there would be an affordable answer to that, because it would help not just our stupid little ukulele band, but have massive applications across many disciplines. Including our productions.

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