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Best Practices for AMPP Adoption

This article was originally published in InBroadcast magazine

With Dennis Breckenridge, CEO of Elevate Broadcast.

A leading System Integrator in Asia, Elevate Broadcast Pte Ltd., was one of the earlier adopters of AMPP from Grass Valley and has used it for global productions. Since adopting AMPP three years ago, they’ve moved from small projects like remote monitoring, to remote commentary, eventually using AMPP to do a full virtual production of the Asian Academy Awards. Dennis Breckenridge, CEO of Elevate Broadcast pictured below, shared what he has learned along the adoption path for AMPP.

"You have to be willing to quickly adapt,” said Breckenridge. “People are accustomed to getting a system up and working and then never change it. AMPP is much more fluid. The fact that AMPP is developing, and updates are coming out every day is very exciting. If you need a feature, you just install and use the latest update.”

That said, Breckenridge recommends small strides. “In terms of both system architecture and customer acceptance of our proposals, we were more successful when we could present the different applications as components rather than trying to jump all the way to a complete replacement of a system.”

For example, during the pandemic Elevate used AMPP for monitoring signals between Australia, parts of Asia, and the US. AMPP was able to provide secure, low-latency, access to video that was being produced halfway around the world.

These monitoring experiences progressed into remote commentary. “The audio and video control allowed us to offer a standard use case for localizing feeds with unique audio and graphics that was quite strong,” said Breckenridge. AMPP would capture the audio and match it with the video. The production team could then do audio shuffling to arrange it with a mix-minus while getting commentary back from all over the world.

As the team at Elevate Broadcast became familiar with switching on AMPP using K-Frame CS X, the Audio Mixer, and other production tools, they built up the confidence to take on a major event. Breckenridge noted “With the Asian Academy Awards we went whole hog. We had no backup plan. We counted on AMPP fully and we pushed the boundaries.”

Because of the pandemic, the entire production had to be virtual.  The producer was in Singapore. The director and TD with the switcher were side-by-side in Sydney, Australia. The main cameras were all in green screen studios with virtual sets, live Zoom feeds, and included contribution from Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand.

Initially, there was concern AMPP could work reliably over such a dispersed system. “But once the system was put together,” explained Breckenridge, “the concerns from the production team went away. They forgot about the technology and just moved on. That was the end of it. They felt like they were in two different control spaces within the same facility instead of different continents.”

Today, Elevate Broadcast has integrated AMPP into its SMPTE ST 2110 IP production facility. In addition to playing a major role in centralizing remote production, AMPP is used for whatever additional feature is needed at the moment: transport links to other facilities, transcoding, audio shuffling or multiplexing and many other functions.

Breckenridge explains that for actions that are done regularly, running AMPP locally makes a lot of sense. “AMPP doesn't mean AWS. If there's certain actions that you do all the time, there’s no reason why you don't put a Dell blade running the AMPP application in your own racks to do that.”

This season Elevate Broadcast is using AMPP’s Framelight X media asset management solution to do real-time post-production. The editors use AMPP to record multiple simultaneous feeds in high-res files rather than using a racks of standard recorders on-prem. Editors can access those feeds and begin production as soon as the recording starts.

Breckenridge continues to explore new capabilities for Elevate. “That's the beauty of AMPP,” he said. “We can be much more dynamic with it. We want AMPP not just because it continues to add new workflows, but because it can do more than what a single product can do. We can scale it in different ways, we can add more inputs and outputs, we can use whatever type of IP format, we can put these different production and distribution apps on it. Our ability to be more of a Swiss Army knife becomes stronger and stronger.”