Five trends transforming the broadcast industry

From remote production becoming the new normal to the growing demand for immersive technologies, find out what's new in modern broadcasting.
A close-up of a person adjusting a Canon RF 5.2mm F2.8L Dual Fisheye lens on a Canon EOS R5 camera in a forest.

The past two years have upended traditional broadcast workflows, with TV personalities broadcasting from their homes and sets dramatically scaled down. "The technology for remote production existed years ago, but the use of it needed to be proved," says media technology journalist Adrian Pennington. And it isn't the only big development the industry is seeing, with immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) also changing the game.

From the changing habits and expectations of viewers to the rise of remote production solutions, the modern broadcast environment is dynamic and full of potential. With online viewing – be it social channels or digital on-demand services – continuing to be the lead growth area, higher quality images have become the norm, forcing the industry to move away from HD-only productions.

Thanks to the seismic changes wrought by the pandemic, broadcasters have also had to pivot towards remote deliveries. A slow-moving trend towards remote filming was rapidly accelerated as global circumstances forced broadcasters to get to grips with emergent workflows and future immersive technologies.

Here, Adrian Pennington, a media technology journalist, and Jack Adair, Canon Europe Product Marketing Specialist, discuss the top five broadcasting trends in today's industry, and how Canon's diverse imaging ecosystem meets the modern needs of broadcasters.

A Canon CR-N500 camera bathed in purple light. In the background a band can be seen on a stage.

"In a pandemic, you can't have as many people on set, so you might be limited on numbers," says Jack. "Remote workflows essentially mean you could have an operator in a different location controlling the camera. You could technically just have your talent in the space without the need for the crew to be there, apart from setting up and packing down, which is especially important if you're working in a small or confined area."

1. Remote production solutions for the new normal

"The most significant current trend in broadcasting is towards remote productions," says Adrian. "Through the pandemic, remote production had a quantum leap forward. Every broadcaster had to continue going on air, and that meant introducing tech that already existed across the board, to enable their staff to continue working remotely, effectively controlling the cameras and workflow remotely over IP, using software tools."

This includes solutions such as Canon's XC Protocol, which enables the remote operation of cameras over IP. "The benefit of that is if you've got a Canon multi-cam setup, whether that be in a studio or an outdoor shoot, you can have PTZ cameras and Cinema EOS cameras all being controlled via a Canon RC-IP100 Remote Camera Controller," says Jack. "It has essentially created a fully remote Canon imaging ecosystem."

Canon's PTZ cameras, including the flagship CR-N500 (pictured above) and Canon CR-N300, are built for remote operation, as you can pan, tilt and zoom on multiple cameras all controlled by a single operator. "In situations such as reality television, this allows you to scan the whole scene and quickly react and move the camera angle to make sure you capture the right moments," explains Jack.

Cameras such as the Canon XF605 also have a range of connectivity options such as 12G-SDI, HDMI and an 8-Pin RS422 remote, allowing for seamless integration into multicam livestreaming setups.

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Hear more of the conversation in this episode of Canon's Shutter Stories podcast:

A Canon CN-E35mm T1.5 FP X Sumire Prime lens attached to a Canon camera in an outdoor setting.

Canon's cine lenses combine superb optical performance with class-leading build quality, making them the perfect choice for the rapidly developing needs of the broadcast industry. The Canon CN-E35mm T1.5 FP X (pictured) is one of seven Sumire Prime lenses in Canon's outstanding cine lens line-up.

2. Higher resolution lens technology

Broadcasters are moving towards higher resolution capture, increasingly leaning on the optical excellence of 4K lenses. "While cinema has a lot of content being shot in 4K and 8K already, a lot of broadcast is still played out in HD," says Jack. "But 4K HD and 4K UHD are now becoming increasingly popular in live broadcasting, so people need the right lenses for this."

From class-leading ENG and EFP lenses through to Canon's xs technology seen in DIGISUPER studio and field lenses, by offering lenses which work for both HD and 4K outputs, Canon is facilitating a smooth transition to high-resolution workflows. Across the cinema range, there are also broadcast applications for full-frame cameras and lenses offering excellent image fidelity.

"Another recent trend is the introduction of cine-style lenses and capture into live broadcast," says Adrian. "This has seen broadcasters using camera and lens packages with greater control over depth of field for a blurred background, to give a more immersive and richer piece of storytelling to certain aspects of the live broadcast. Previously, the use of cine lenses was only found in the highlights reel, but now it is going live and broadcasters are having this kit in their armoury."

A man wearing headphones and warm clothes filming outside with a Canon EOS C300 Mark III on his shoulder.

The broadcast industry, traditionally outputting in SD and HD, is increasingly moving towards higher resolutions. Offering internal HDR capture and 4K images, Canon Cinema EOS cameras such as the EOS C300 Mark III (pictured), EOS C500 Mark II, EOS C700 FF and EOS C70 ensure broadcasters are equipped with the tools they need to future-proof content.

The Canon DP-V1830 monitor showing a racing car speeding along a countryside track.

As HDR capture becomes the norm, there has been a rise in HDR on-set monitoring. Canon's 18-inch portable 4K HDR DP-V1830 Professional Monitor allows directors and producers to view HDR imagery rendered in true, rich colour, without having to wait for edits to come back. "It allows people to see, on the fly, how the finished product should look," says Jack.

3. HDR and the demand for higher quality imagery

Streaming TV giants from Netflix through to Amazon Prime have changed the game when it comes to broadcast standards, thanks to high-resolution streams. Where TV has traditionally accepted 1080p deliveries, online platforms like YouTube offer up 4K and even 8K pictures and high dynamic range, providing richer and crisper images than ever before.

According to Adrian, HDR is fast becoming a must-have, rather than a nice-to-have. "When UHD was being introduced a few years ago, the question was whether you go for high resolution or other things, such as high frame rate, HDR or high-quality audio," he says. "The consensus now is that you need all of those things, with the key one being HDR. In 2020, broadcasters introduced HDR to live broadcasting, with BT Sport leading the way."

"There's been a rise in people wanting to see things in better quality," concurs Jack. "The industry has to create cameras that can deliver this quality to people's homes. That's why we've placed a very high importance on HDR capture, and it will continue to remain very important."

Cameras across the Cinema EOS range, including the Canon EOS C300 Mark III, EOS C300 Mark II, EOS C700 FF and EOS C70, all offer HDR capture internally, providing both more realistic images and colour depth. "HDR tends to give you something that's closer to what the human eye can see," says Jack. "It also means you can capture a lot more information in the lighter and darker areas of an image than with SDR."

Meanwhile Canon's 4K HDR reference display monitors, such as the new 18-inch portable DP-V1830 Professional Display, allow for on-set monitoring of true-to-life colours.

A man wearing a face mask sitting on the floor filming in a hospital.

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Filmmakers, DoPs and producers share how the pandemic has impacted their work – and how they see the future of the industry.
Cinematographer Jolade Olusanya using the touchscreen on a Canon EOS C70 as he films poet Sophia Thakur.

Today's broadcast gear needs to meet the needs of multiplatform delivery, creating a role for lightweight equipment and nimble rigs. The Canon EOS C70, the smallest camera in Canon's Cinema EOS line-up, offers 16+ stops of dynamic range and is compatible with both EF and RF lenses.

4. Mirrorless technology allowing more with less

Gone are the days of delivering a single file to be broadcast on a channel in an hour-long time slot. Today's broadcasting environment demands more from every piece of programming: each must work across TV, online streaming services and a range of diverse social platforms.

As technology develops, it has become possible to do more with less. Cameras such as the Canon EOS R5 now pack a full-frame 45MP CMOS sensor into a compact form factor, while Canon's smallest Cinema EOS camera, the EOS C70, has the same revolutionary 4K Super 35mm DGO sensor as its much larger stablemate, the EOS C300 Mark III , which offers 16+ stops of dynamic range.

"Canon's RF mirrorless cameras are a great way to capture image detail, because RF lenses are full-frame," says Jack. "The amount of information you can capture with a full-frame sensor is huge, which allows you to capture a lot more dynamic range with less noise. We wanted to bring RF technology to a video camera. The Canon EOS C70 gives people the freedom to work with the new RF glass, while the Mount Adapter EF-EOS R 0.71x means you can continue to use EF glass with the camera. It also works as a speed booster, so you get an extra stop of light when using EF lenses."

A person using a Canon EOS R5 camera with a Canon RF 5.2mm F2.8L Dual Fisheye lens.

The pandemic has changed viewing habits around the world, with immersive technologies such as virtual reality increasingly in demand. The Canon RF 5.2mm F2.8L Dual Fisheye is a groundbreaking lens that simplifies the capture and post-production of professional 180° VR content.

5. Immersive technology opening new frontiers

Immersive technologies have been an emerging trend for a number of years, with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) yet to fully realise their promise. With a growing emphasis on virtual solutions during the pandemic, and with people turning to headsets to experience the world while staying at home, broadcasters are beginning to embrace the potential of future technologies.

With the RF 5.2mm F2.8L Dual Fisheye lens, Canon is bringing immersive technology to the heraldry of its L-series range. This compact, stereoscopic RF lens allows for 180° VR capture when using compatible high-resolution, full-frame, RF-mount cameras such as the Canon EOS R5. "Because it's being used with a full-frame, 8K sensor, it gives you a lot more information in the image," says Jack. "When you're trying to capture a space for VR, quality is obviously a highly important factor. That higher resolution only adds to the realism and detail."

Immersive tech goes beyond straight VR and includes the use of virtual production – filming on stages surrounded by LED screens showing changeable locations, as well as other technologies. "One portion of immersion is UHD, surround-sound quality, HDR, higher frame rates," continues Jack. "The metaverse requires 3D content and assets that can be easily transported between web domains. To grow, immersion has to be a good experience, to look and sound fantastic with no glitches or buffering. There will be a drive to create content more easily and democratically in 3D."

Tim Coleman and Lucy Fulford

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