Whether on-screen or behind the scenes, the talent involved in bringing entertainment to eager audiences deserves recognition, which is why the Asian Academy Creative Awards (AACA) established its annual awards ceremony. Open to the Asia Pacific region, the event celebrates excellence in craft and technical disciplines across TV, digital, mobile, streaming and other areas. In an effort to fuel industry growth and innovation through training, AACA developed a Producers Summit and Masterclass Series last year, featuring panels and presentations by award-winning talent. To expand its audience reach and incorporate live content from remote participants for the 2020 production, it enlisted help from Singapore-based systems integrator Elevate Broadcast and the Nanyang Polytechnic University media department. With Australian-based AACA President Michael McKay guiding the project, the team built a live production workflow comprising broadcast cameras and AJA U-TAP USB 3.0 capture devices to bring audiences a high quality virtual event via the Zoom video conferencing platform.
“This year, with so many phenomenal speakers and presentations, we knew we wanted to open up the productions to the global community, which meant we’d also need to capture a high quality recording of each event for viewers in different time zones to watch at their leisure. As a number of our presenters were not able to participate on-site, we had to rethink the entire workflow,” shared McKay. “AJA gear allowed us to seamlessly combine high quality camera footage shot at a studio at Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore, with virtual presenters dialing in via Zoom and create recordings that were instantly accessible post-event.”
The Producers Summit took place over the course of one day and featured four hours of presentations from speakers, while the Masterclass Series featured more than four hours of content each day for two days. Rather than using a standard webcam as seen with most Zoom productions, the team opted to employ three broadcast grade cameras at the Nanyang Polytechnic studio to capture footage of presentations and classes shot on-site. Using an SDI switcher located in an on-site control room, the feeds were switched to create a main SDI output, which was then run through an AJA U-TAP SDI and made accessible in Zoom over U-TAP’s USB 3 connectivity as the presenter feed. Considering a number of presenters also participated remotely, U-TAP HDMIs were used for HDMI inputs into their systems for remote participation by production staff off-site. AJA T-TAP was also used alongside Adobe® Premiere® Pro to support playback for light editing, and after the event, Elevate Broadcast donated all of the gear to the university for instructional purposes.
“Given the nature of these events and their audiences, webcam-caliber video just wouldn’t cut it, and that’s where the AJA gear stood out. We were able to get a low-latency broadcast quality feed into the Zoom call, without emptying our pockets or spending hours training staff on how to use the device,” shared Dennis Breckenridge, Elevate Broadcast CEO and Asian Academy Awards Co-Founder. “U-TAP was incredibly valuable for an interactive event like this where low latency was crucial, and the fact that it’s so affordable and easy to use makes it a great entry point for students just starting to get their feet wet in production.”
In closing, Breckenridge shared, “From U-TAP to T-TAP and beyond, AJA builds professional products that provide unprecedented flexibility at an accessible price point, which is huge, especially for developing live production workflows that deliver a high-end look on a tight budget.”