Held every December at the luxurious New York Hilton Midtown by our friends at the Sports Video Group, the SVG Summit brings together some of the top technical talent in the sports broadcasting industry. Our team of Broadcast Sales Professionals were on the scene to take in some of the discussions and workshops detailing the latest trends and technologies.
Now in its 14th year, the event drew over 1400 attendees, comprised of top-level luminaries from manufacturers, broadcast networks, remote production companies, integration firms, up-and-coming young tech talent, and much more.
DTV Audio Group - Co-Sponsored By Dale Pro Audio
One of the keystone elements of the summit is the DTV Audio Group, for which we were again a co-sponsor. DTV Group chairman Roger Charlesworth kicked things off, with opening remarks about how the industry has changed so much after nearly 20 years of stagnation. He touched on the increasing amount of virtualization and the onset of the eSports revolution as catalysts for this.
After his intro, several manufacturers presented technologies and facts/figures - Ben Davis from Waves detailed using their plugins and SoundGrid hardware in broadcast, Ben Escobedo from Shure reviewed how their MXA ceiling arrays were being used for live sports capture, and Brian Glasscock from Sennheiser revealed some great working prototypes for immersive audio mics soon to be released.
Following these was an interesting panel on how virtualization has reshaped the broadcast workflow. Thomas Carlisle from Sneaky Big spent some time discussing their coverage of the short-lived Alliance Of American Football's schedule while under strict budget constraints. Karl Malone from NBC Sports recalled how they have started virtualizing their comms and IFB for smaller-scale "fly pack" events, and how they can apply this elsewhere in upcoming workflows. Finally, Mark Stephens from Amazon Web Services closed out the segment by describing some of what they offer for such events, including their new "outpost" cloud services with incredibly low latency.
The next speaker was Brian Rio from Turner Studios, with some thoughts on Dolby Atmos. His presentation focused on how to better integrate it into live post and delivery, stating that we "aren't there yet". His other points included the handling of objects, foldability from 5.1.4 to 5.1, and the ability for a user to personalize their consumption. He reminded the attendees that they "won't always be broadcasters, but will always be content creators", and that collaboration amongst networks, not competition, will lift up the craft.
The morning's activities were concluded with NBC's Karl Malone coming back to the podium, giving the room some private sneak peeks into what's going for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. His colleague Jim Starzynski also added some extra details about next year's events, and also touched on some of his work in helping to standardize loudness for mobile devices - important as they expect this to be the biggest ever Olympics for mobile viewing.
The afternoon sessions were a series of panels, moderated by Roger Charlesworth. The first segment concentrated on next-generation audio services and their accessibility and personalization. Speakers on this panel were Tim Carroll from Dolby, Mark Francisco from Comcast, SVG's Tom Sahara, NBC's Jim Starzynski, and John Schur from the Telos Alliance. Their discussion centered on accessibility for hearing and visual impaired, and how it overlaps with the added benefit of users being able to control their own views and choice of audio commentary during live events.
The rest of the afternoon was devoted to an informative overview of "Meeting the Challenges of eSports Audio", again moderated by Charlesworth. This panel included Pete Emminger from Blizzard Entertainment, Will Taylor from Square Wave Productions, and Steve Harvey of Pro Sound News. The biggest trend in sports broadcasting, this exciting frontier is expected to have the second largest viewer base in the industry, second only to the NFL. The panelists talked about some of the challenges they've met so far in terms of audio streaming, delivery, comms for the teams, and more. We were shown some video footage of the last BlizzCon in Anaheim, followed by some hopes for the future in which we'll see some truly amazing experiences.
Dale Pro Audio Technology Development Manager Joel Guilbert weighs in on the DTV Audio Group proceedings: "The new full day DTV AG format was appreciated by the eager crowd on the concourse of the Midtown Hilton. Many items that have been discussed through the years as more conceptual topics are now a reality (such as Dolby Atmos, remote production) It’s always fascinating to hear about the staggering production undertaken by NBC for the Olympics games. eSports are building up steam and are starting to be viewed as a peer to traditional sports broadcasts."
SVG Summit Workshops and Technology Showcases
Our second day at the Summit entailed a series of panels and workshops, a few of which pertained to our markets.
One panel we found very compelling was "eSports 2020: Where Is The Industry Headed?". Moderated by SVG's Jason Dachman, it included Matt Arden from the NBA 2K League, Pete Emminger from Blizzard, and Wendy Wang from ESR 24/7 (the USA's first 24-hour network devoted solely to eSports). Leagues are now expanding to where their teams play in their own markets, requiring an immense expansion of audio/video infrastructure. This also requires new perspective in storytelling, and the panelists emphasized that it will be a joint effort by both older and younger generations' experience. With 2020 revenues expected to exceed a billion dollars, this is definitely where the action will be for some time to come.
We were also treated to a cool session with Kevin Callahan and Mike Davies of Fox Sports, with some overview as to the absolutely massive undertaking that is the Super Bowl, coming up this February in Miami. The "Big Game" is always one of the crowning achievements of sports broadcasting each year, and this one will be transmitted in 1080p HDR. Will we see it in 4K? We shall soon find out!
It was also great to see some of our valued manufacturer partners on hand, displaying broadcast-relevant products and solutions:
Dale co-owner Valerie Lager (above with SVG co-founder Marty Porter) was also in attendance: "This was such a wonderful event! It was great to see so many familiar faces on both the manufacturer and customer side, and get some genuine facetime. I'm really excited about the new developments in our industry, especially the world of eSports!"