After a breathless year of working through the corona pandemic, the Production Technology Seminar 2021 provided an opportunity for media technologists from a large range of organizations and vendors to talk shop, compare notes and take a fresh look at recent developments.
It was an opportunity seized by many: With over 600 participants, the first online edition of PTS went far beyond the limits of what the physical conference facilities at EBU headquarters could accommodate.
Some effort went into providing an overall experience that could match that of the physical event, and the programme team, consisting of EBU members and staff, curated a programme that revolved around the themes of the cloud, remote production, new production tools such as game engines, AI, and sustainability.
Keynote presentations by Sky’s Cristina Gomile, Grant Franklin Totten from Al-Jazeera, and DPP CEO Mark Harris set the scene for the event on day 1.
The programme then moved the focus firmly on the cloud. Cloud-based technology is now on the roadmap for most broadcasters, but questions, challenges and concerns remain: Foremost among them is the spectre of vendor lock-in, as the afternoon’s panel discussion revealed, with several panellists and questioners pointing out the continuing lack of clarity around the portability of data and services between different providers. The security aspects of cloud integration were also discussed.
Solutions to some of these challenges may come from the GAIA-X initiative to develop a set of best practices and protocols for cloud operations in Europe – and there were calls to ensure EBU Members would come together as part of a media vertical to take full advantage.
Often treated as a niche subject in the past, sustainability was one of several threads informing day 2 of the conference. One concrete piece of advice came from RTÉ's Conrad Gouws: ensure that sustainability is factored into the procurement process for new systems, including cloud-based ones. As BBC's Andy Conroy said on sustainability: "If we don't treat it seriously, we don't deserve public funding."
Interest in enabling technologies such as AI and game engines has also seen a sharp increase, as media organizations seek to find both efficiencies and ways to create new forms of valuable content. This provided the focus for day 3 of the event.
Future editions of PTS and other EBU events are likely to be held as ‘hybrid’ events, combining physical and virtual attendance, to enable better networking and to offer more tailored options for participation to all attendees.
Credits: wrap-up video editing by Andy Quested