Remote production? It’s time for Remote Workflows

Join us and get joined up

The term ‘remote production’ has been on everybody’s lips for some time, and perhaps never more so than now. But at VSN, we’d argue that remote production is really only a small part of the picture, a little piece of the puzzle. Yes, it’s an exciting buzzword, but in isolation it doesn’t actually add as much value as people think. 

Let us use an analogy. In the shops you see a ‘hands free cooker: no fuss, no effort – all your meals made for you’. You think how brilliant this is, how much time you will save to do other things. But this cooker still requires you to write the shopping list, go to the shops, chop up the ingredients small enough to fit in the machine, lay the table, and do the washing up afterwards. Sure, the cooking part was effortless and the product fulfilled its promises, but the process of cooking was largely the same. In the grand scheme of things, you really didn’t gain the advantages you were hoping for. 

Well the same goes for remote production. It’s all very well being able to achieve production functions off site, but if the rest of the process requires you to be in the studio or the offices, then much of what you were hoping to gain is lost; flexibility, geographical dispersion of workers, and – in the current climate – worker safety as well. 

Joined up thinking

That’s why at VSN we like to think in terms of a remote workflow, rather than just remote production. Ever since we launched our first product in 1990 – the VSNMatic, which is the predecessor to our VSNMulticom (and was when we were still called Just Edit SL!) we had the intention to bring a full suite of solutions to the market that were joined up. They all needed to speak to each other seamlessly, to provide consistency and intuitiveness across the board. 

And, importantly – as remote working gained prominence – it was vital that all of the elements could be accessed remotely, not just the ones the market was starting to expect. 

Joined up thinking has been at the heart of the VSN development process since the start, and it’s something that we think sets us apart. 

What is a remote workflow? And more importantly, what isn’t?

When people hear about the concept of remote working, remote production, or remote workflows, they often conflate the term with ‘the Cloud’. In reality, the two are not one and the same, although they are interrelated. 

This is important, because the Cloud can bring broadcast and media companies some great advantages but also concerns depending on their business goals and the nature of their operation. Cost, security and reliability are three central considerations that any company should bear in mind when considering a cloud deployment – but this does not mean that remote working cannot be achieved without it. 

Fortunately, the entire suite of VSN programs can be configured to access data that is stored on-site, in hybrid deployments or in the cloud. The decision between keeping data in-house or storing it in the Cloud is one of balancing competing concerns; initial infrastructure investment versus ongoing payment, in-house security versus external system security, the importance of maintaining a physical data store and back-up or not, etc. The investment in a data storage within a remote operation should be a choice rather than the only option being forced on you by a broadcast solution provider.

This is why it is so important for us to ensure that ‘remote workflow’ doesn’t equate to ‘cloud based computing’. We’ve worked hard to make sure that all of our systems can talk directly with the data stored on your physical premise or cloud-based data storage. VSN is fully agnostic  to one or another and can even provide clients with a hybrid setup with cloud-based and physically-based data. Ultimately, offering flexibility to the user in terms of how they structure their network is our key concern.  

That said, if you decide that you need to work remotely but the Cloud isn’t right for you – bear in mind that there’s also an on-premise solution for that. We can simply send the list of ports to be opened for remote connection to your company’s IT department, and the routing is configured accordingly from there. The benefit of this is that you can maintain a greater level of control over the nature of your operations, and can choose a network setup that works best for you. 

What does a remote workflow look like with VSN?

What do we mean when we say that the whole workflow can be achieved remotely? What processes does this actually include? With VSN, from media planning to content production to playout and distribution and archive – everything can be done remotely. 

This is a statement that bears some thinking about – because it’s really quite unusual. Remote production is of course expected, but to be able to do all of the activities that support that and facilitate eventual playout remotely is quite an astounding proposition. Imagine this perhaps.

Sarah sits at home, trying to figure out how the upcoming month will be managed. With VSNExplorer PAM, she has an intuitive and visual way to manage and track media along the full process – assigning and tracking tasks throughout the entire production phase, whilst with the VSNExplorer MAM, all of the content management processes are fully undertaken; transcoding, quality control and send-to-out, plus a whole host of others, with the system designed to allow you maximum monetization of your assets. 

Ben – the planner – is remote working from a beach in Northern Spain, and is using the intuitive VSNCrea to quickly create the schedule for the upcoming month. With its high levels of automation, mistake-avoidance and error detection features, Ben doesn’t need a manager hovering over him in an office somewhere. Monetization and advertising revenue are managed and reported on, with data that can be sent directly to accounting. 

And, most importantly, the work that Sarah and Ben have been doing will join up with each other; all elements each VSN remote systems working to populate other programs with the relevant information needed. Because all VSN systems constantly talk to each other, to make sure that the process is joined up and coherent. 

The network has also recently added its own news programme. Charlie and Linda are on site in New York ready to report on recent demonstrations. With VSN NewsConnect, they can work on a real-time basis, improving the speed at which news is generated. VSN NewsConnect holds the benefit of full interconnectivity with leading NCRS, CG, NLE, studio playout systems and video servers, which gives Charlie and Linda full creative control, optimizing the system in the way that suits the news team best. 

When Tom – based back in the UK – rings up Charlie and Linda to say he has some ideas for how this evening’s production should look, he’s able to collaborate with them and engage in remote editing over the HTML5 based VSN Wedit – with no need to switch out to a desktop-based non-linear editor. This means that multiple users can work together, in collaboration, with footage and clips located in deep archive, near-line or online storage. The process involves simply dragging and dropping content to the timeline: a quick and easy tool that is absolutely vital in helping journalists to meet deadlines whilst working from disparate places around the globe. 

Finally, all this can then move over to VSNOneTV, which takes care of ingesting and broadcasting the different signals, incorporating graphics, subtitles and the option to distribute content to web TV, social networks or YouTube. Nobody needs to be anywhere near the studio to make this happen. Or alternatively it can be placed on VSNExplorer Exchange – acting as a content hub that allows all types of content to be accessed from multiple locations, anywhere in the world. 

As you can see, there is virtually no element of the broadcast workflow that cannot be managed through a VSN solution – all with remote working capabilities. A tiny team of people, working across the globe, managing the entire process of network broadcasting. 

Most importantly, all of these systems don’t just work on a remote basis – they work with each other (as well making use of APIs to ensure seamless integration with many external systems too). All relevant data, decisions and elements are repopulated in each system when changes are made – making your broadcast life quicker, easier, and free of error, repetition or mistake. 

A secure decision

For broadcasters, their data and their media are their greatest assets, so it’s no surprise that security is a big concern – a concern that can leave some broadcasters cold at the idea of ‘going remote’. 

At VSN, security is a top priority, and we have all the protections in place that you’d expect; encryption and protection through an SSL layer with certificate-based access, with clients accessing everything through HTTPS. Then there’s the whole range of data protection and standard encryption protocols we use on top; AES-128-CFB, AES-256-CFB, Blowfish CFB, CAST5-CFB, IDEA-CFB and RC4, to name just a few. 

VSN are meticulous when it comes to data security issues; with us, your assets are safe. 

Join us and get joined up

With so many different elements of the broadcast process, and so many product offerings covering each element, it is clear that as well as considering the functionality of each program, broadcasters also need to consider how these elements will talk to each other, and how easily they can be accessed. 

At VSN, not only do we work to develop individual solutions that have exceptional functionality, are packed with features and display a high level of intuitiveness, but we also focus on making those systems talk to each other to create a seamless, remotely-accessible workflow. A one-stop, work-from-home shop for all your broadcast needs!

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