Cloud-based workflows, virtuality, streaming, simplicity of production, were some trends that became widespread with the pandemic and that are here to stay.
The measures adopted to be able to face the beginning of the pandemic generated by Covid 19 in 2020, caused many sectors of the economy to be paralyzed. Television and radio were declared essential services for information and entertainment, so they had to continue operating keeping strict protocols and biosecurity measures.
Despite continuing to operate, the vast majority of channels and broadcasters had to minimize their projects and investments in technology, taking these investments to what is strictly necessary to continue the operation of the medium. Although in 2021 the pandemic continues, the global commitment has been to reactivate the economy without neglecting health measures while this difficult stage is overcome.
To find out how much the broadcast industry has recovered in Latin America in 2021, TVyVideo+Radio spoke with the representatives of some manufacturers that have a presence in the region, in order to know what is their perception of the market and the trends in technology that came with the pandemic and that will continue in the coming years.
"Studios and production companies are looking to invest"
René Araúz, Panasonic
The Panasonic representative pointed out that in Latam they have noticed that the market is recovering little by little. Companies, television studios and production companies are looking to invest again, although a sense of caution remains the same since although the initial effect has passed, the pandemic and its consequences continue to affect the way of working day-by-day.
"It is important to highlight that although the interest in investment begins to resume, the products that are under consideration have also changed, seeking a greater balance between quality and price, as well as a change towards everything compatible with remote transmission and streaming," he added.
On the trends in technology, he stressed that streaming, PTZ cameras and NDI are the aspects that have had the most growth in interest as a result of the pandemic, and that is that users had to adapt to not being able to be physically in the recording studios, or having to transmit from home or similar sites.
"When you want to achieve that with good quality, that's where the combination of the three things is most clearly seen. Similarly, other cameras, particularly those that are smaller, but still with good resolution, found a boost in the wake of the pandemic as more independent people began to create content and required investment in this type of product; even television studios have looked for alternatives that provide the desired quality even with a smaller team," he said.
Finally, he pointed out that "Recently we have had success stories in different verticals such as Houses of Prayer, Television Studios and government entities, through our various markets such as Panama, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru and Honduras. These projects have focused precisely on the different solutions mentioned, including studio cameras, PTZ cameras, and small 4K production cameras."
"Latam is a diverse and expanding market"
Nieil Maycock, Grass Valley
In the past year, the critical need for flexibility has become more evident and this lays the foundation for future technological innovation. According to the Grass Valley representative, cloud-based workflows allow companies to experiment creatively while providing efficient and scalable workflows now and in the future.
He stressed that there has been an acceleration of new workflows and new business models, due to the economic pressure of the pandemic. Cloud and intellectual property are enablers of innovation and underpin the future of innovation for media.
"GVMU helps our customers implement the changing business models they need. Performance per asset is also a common and crucial challenge of today's media landscape. Content is expensive to manufacture and buy, and in today's dynamic media landscape, our customers need to bring content to more platforms and more consumers. As such, a key business consideration for media companies is making sure they get adequate performance from content, and that's a challenge that brings everyone together."
On the market in Latin America, he noted that it is diverse and expanding, and is very important for Grass Valley, which has built strong long-term relationships in the region for more than 25 years.
"Earlier this year, we announced our partnership with Unitecnic, mediapro Group's systems and engineering integrator. The Grass Valley kit ensures seamless integration with Unitecnic's existing workflows and marks the launch of the system integrator's IP roadmap for future-proof operations in sports and live entertainment productions around the world."
Pandemic increased radio audience
Fabian Zamaron, Xperi
"The health emergency caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus has affected us all to different extents, but fortunately in the radio sector we are already recovering. In Latin America, radio remains one of the media with the greatest reach," said the Xperi representative.
He added that in Mexico, according to the publication made by Nielsen IBOPE on February 13 of this year entitled "World Radio Day", the exposure of the population to radio in the metropolitan area of Mexico City increased during 2020 as follows:
The contingency period (March to May) presented an increase in the hearing of 4.7% compared to the previous 12 months.
The period of the so-called New Normal (June to December of the same year) was the one with the highest audience in the last two years.
At the beginning of the year, during the period prior to the contingency:
An average of 37,887 spots were scheduled per week; however, the contingency period impacted this number with a reduction of 28.8%. With the arrival of the New Normal, a recovery in the average weekly radio activity of 59.6% over this figure was observed.
The percentage of audience listening to radio at home was 56%, while in the New Normal it reached 72%.
Digital terrestrial radio has also experienced a positive development prior to and during the pandemic; in Mexico, for example, it already has coverage of 41% of the population and it is possible to listen to it on more than 200 digital channels.
"Having the right digital infrastructure to guarantee your listeners an enriched and comprehensive experience represents a great challenge since it involves, among other aspects, hiring qualified personnel to develop and program applications, as well as investing time and resources for the administration of the project."
In this sense, Xperi, under the AIM brand, has currently made available to RadioAPI (Application Programming Interface) radio stations an exclusive digital infrastructure for radio stations that solves their needs by allowing them to integrate diverse content (audio, video, content on demand) and connect with other digital platforms, with which they can be an important part of the current digital ecosystem.
"There are many unknowns of how to work"
Ricardo Lopez, Pinnacle
For the CEO of Pinnacle, if this pandemic left something, it is that audiovisual content was, is and will be an element of first necessity in the confined present reality and in the new one.
"They have been the refuge of many, the comfort of others and a window to normalcy for all of us. Proof of them is that the consumption of all media (free-to-air television, pay, streaming platforms, etc.) has skyrocketed to levels never seen before. And it has no intention of reversing. This runaway consumption means that, after the confinement, the hunger for new content is guaranteed."
He explained that the professional video market down had a pandemic with ups and downs but managed to adapt to the new world of streaming and knew how to adapt to this new need of companies... which although at first generated a significant fall in business, over time it resurfaced.
"As for the Broadcast market, in Latin America at least, we cannot say that it came out of the well, the opening is still very recent and there are many unknowns of how one should work. This segment is in everyone's magnifying glass, from the general ministerial criteria that make little mandatory, to the guide of good practices with general recommendations. In short, some of the most common questions all point to the care of the people: How to guarantee the integrity of the actors and at the same time ensure that they can develop their work? How can we provide this greater security to minors? What to do with the reduced filming locations? How much will these measures increase production budgets and schedules? and many other things," he added.
On the trends in technology, he concluded that "In relation to our audiovisual world, without a doubt of discussion is the Streaming or Live video, the star of the pandemic, something that is here to stay and crossed transversally all markets and items without any discrimination of social, religious, cultural or educational classes. "
"We see an increase in the commercial activity of Latam"
Keith Pelletier, Dielectric
For the Vice President and CEO of Dielectric, Latin America, like the rest of the global market, is still in recovery mode from the initial impact of Covid-19. He assured that his company remains very active and committed to the CALA region, and they are seeing an increase in commercial activity.
One of the technology trends brought by the pandemic, Keith Pelletier said, is video conferencing, which he said is here to stay in the long term.
"This will replace at least some of the traditional travel and is an effective way to see your customers and introduce more people from the team. Adding video conferencing is also a great way to troubleshoot field issues for customers and resolve them quickly. Also, where appropriate, working from home will be here for the long term. Some job functions more than others will continue to have that flexibility to work remotely," he added.
He recalled that one of the last projects in the region is with a television channel in Chile, to which they have sent numerous antennas. These systems are inexpensive and include elliptical polarization and are of agile frequency for multiple channels or future channel changes.
TV Digitization Continued in Pandemic
David Hopson, GatesAir
GatesAir's CALA Regional Director told TVyVideo+Radio that the pandemic continues to affect stations' purchasing decisions. Being in the streaming business, GatesAir has had a minor impact and has in fact seen an increase in buyer enthusiasm recently. "A lot of this has to do with our strong relationships with partners and customers in the region. In addition, broadcast sales are often driven by government mandates that were largely unaffected by the pandemic."
He noted that GatesAir is primarily focused on broadcasting, which means transitioning broadcasters from analogue to digital (particularly on television) and upgrading the existing FM radio and analog TV infrastructure. "The same goes for our Intraplex networking business, which continues to transition more DTT radio stations to IP audio networks. This is a trend that has been on the move for several years and continues unabated during the pandemic."
On the projects in the region, David Hopson indicated that they are in the midst of a large national deployment of ISDB-Tb in the Southern Cone and have provided hundreds of their Maxiva transmitters.
"We offer a combination of low and medium power transmitters, including very low power systems starting at 50 watts from our GatesAir Srl business, based in Europe. These systems will be very important in filling coverage gaps in regions with very challenging terrain. We are also supplying a large number of liquid-cooled Maxiva ULXTE and air-cooled UAXTE transmitters from our Quincy manufacturing center in the United States. This is a multi-phase launch that will take several years to complete," he concluded.
Productions have remained hybrid
Dan May, Blackmagic Design
"Over the past year, we've seen broadcasters incorporate more remote collaboration tools into their traditional productions, while content creators implement robust workflows that allow them to be agile to cope with rapidly changing circumstances. While some productions were back in person, others have remained hybrid or completely remote. It is impressive to see how Blackmagic Design's customers have adapted and strengthened their infrastructure with equipment that not only allows them to work today but also in the future," the president of the Australian company told TvyVideo+Radio.
He noted that DaVinci Resolve Studio continues to expand remote collaboration. Recently, for example, the 2021 HPA Tech Retreat Supersession short film "La Inquilina" was published, which included editing, rating, audio editing, and delivery. The film's director of photography and producer, Sandra De Silva De La Torre, who lives in Mexico City, collaborated with editor and colorist Diego Yhamá, based in Bogota, Colombia, and additional editing and grading took place in Los Angeles, California.
"This remote workflow was supported by DaVinci Resolve Studio's suite of collaboration tools. As De Silva De La Torre pointed out, even if there wasn't a pandemic, bringing everyone together would have added a lot of costs to production. Remote collaboration not only reduced costs, but allowed production to bring together talented people from all over the world."
On the trends that the pandemic massified, Dan May said that while new trends, such as virtual production, came to light during the pandemic, existing technology, such as remote collaboration and live streaming, became widespread and different markets learned to incorporate them into their workflows.
From schools and places of worship to news anchors and even DJs and musicians, they needed to connect with remote audiences, and live streaming was the answer. To help address these needs, they introduced the ATEM Mini line of live production switches, which enable low-cost multi-camera live production while also providing advanced streaming features.
They also introduced ATEM Streaming Bridge, a converter that decodes the live stream of any ATEM Mini Pro model and converts it back to SDI and HDMI video to send video to remote locations around a local Ethernet network or around the world over the Internet. Blackmagic Web Presenters HD and 4K allow creators to easily stream directly to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and more. All of these products are designed for customers looking to develop affordable and professional live streaming workflows, regardless of their budget or capacity.
"As we all continue to navigate this new normal, we want to make sure our clients remain active and creative. We will continue to support them with technology that allows them to pivot and adapt to any industry changes that may lie ahead, without losing affordability and quality," he explained.
On the use of Blackmagic Design technology in Latam, he highlighted that XR Tales, a Mexican immersive technology company, incorporated our Ultimatte 12 composition processor for virtual production in numerous projects.
In addition, visual effects executive producer Martin Lopez Funes of Argentine animation and visual effects studio Malditomaus used Fusion Studio VFX and motion graphics software in the new critically acclaimed horror film from Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures, "Spiral: From the Book of Saw." Fusion Studio helped the Malditomaus team create in-camera shots