Azzurro HD Reduces Lag in Remote Sports Broadcasting
Meeting the needs of your largest clients is paramount to business growth. When Azzurro HD found themselves blocked by an important client request, they turned to Red5 Pro for help with a solution.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Chris Puzzio, VP of Development at Azzurro HD, about his use of the Red5 Pro platform and how it fills a specific need within their company.
Tell us about Azzurro HD – What do you do?
Puzzio: Azzurro HD started as one of the first all high-definition video switching centers in New York City. From there we spawned off several products, or fly kits, for remote broadcast production, most commonly known as the AzzurroCam. These are used for remote video production and transmission over the public and private internet. Some of our major customers are sports networks and they use our kits at team sites, analyst homes, or remote locations to stream back broadcast quality video to their operation centers or control rooms. And with all of that, our “glue” is our control software that’s used to remotely control all these systems in the field from a centralized location.
We were one of the first in the industry to have a real broadcast quality product out in the field to do this remote production. We utilize higher quality encoders. It’s not Zoom quality, it’s like you’re in the studio.
What drew you to Red5 Pro?
Our legacy software is Windows-based, but there’s a demand for a browser-based option for controlling our systems in the field.. I saw this as a great opportunity to modernize our product line and align with industry demands and trends. I’m not a software developer, I’m an engineer, but I know a little bit about writing code so I put my head down and tried to figure it out. What drew me to Red5 was the video component of having a real-time video inside a browser.
I realized that if we’re trying to control camera movement, adjust lighting, and things like that, I need my video to be as low latency as possible. The traditional video streaming methods for browsers weren’t working so I started poking around and eventually found my way to Red5 Pro.
Tell us a bit more about the exact problem you were trying to solve.
Say you’re trying to control a camera or frame someone up but the camera is in LA and you’re in New York. You move a joystick and it’s not moving and so you move it again and then you overshoot. That’s the challenge; you can’t really have that interactive experience unless your video delay is as low as possible. So the project probably would have been dead in the water if I didn’t have a way to get real-time video into the browser.
There is web conferencing software that can do it but I needed something that was compatible with the streaming formats that we have in the field. That was what stood out about Red5 Pro, it was able to ingest the different formats that we have or different protocols that we stream at, like SRT and UDP.
SRT was a big plus because it saved me an extra hop to get into the server. That is the flexibility of Red5 Pro. The documentation available allowed me to fine-tune the server to how I needed it to be. The support is also really good in terms of the Slack channel. I never really had to wait to get a reply there or on support trouble tickets as well.
Was the project customer driven or did you come up with this yourself? Did you manage to solve the problem?
We had an RFP with a sports network, and it was a big one. They were already using our systems and they wanted a browser-based controller.. Pretty much everything in this industry uses browser-based interfaces – controlling routers, mixers, etc. – so it’s not as common to have a standalone program that you run on Windows. So part of it was customer driven but part of it was seeing a necessity to make things more modern.
The single camera control shot is definitely working… latencies are under half a second or better depending on whether it’s on the West Coast or East Coast. It’s doing exactly what I had hoped for. And the other people who have played with it certainly commented on how responsive it is and how this allows them to produce high quality video through all the controls available.
What are some other opportunities you can see coming from this solution?
One possible example is having cameras all around stadiums. So there would be live, real-time feeds from any games for the networks, or for coaches who can’t travel for whatever reason. That could really bring the coaching experience back to their home base.
There’s also a financial benefit. Right now networks will actually have satellite trucks at a commentator’s house and it’s a full production. They could have eight screens in front of them which require satellite uplinks, downlinks, all the costs associated with that. But if it’s done using internet streaming and equivalent quality, equivalent delay or much less, they would save a lot of money. Those satellite fees are certainly a lot more expensive than streaming over the internet. It’s just a lot of money for something that can be done cheaper.
About Azzurro HD
Azzurro HD is an integrated media services company that delivers the engineering and transmission services needed to keep your operations at the leading edge. Customers come to Azzurro for the integration of broadcast systems, all-digital transmission, content hosting and management, and advanced cost-effective solutions for connecting remote talent to the broadcast studio at full HD.
For more information, visit azzurrohd.com.