The video game industry recognizes outstanding artistic, technical and gameplay achievements in the much-anticipated annual ceremony for The Game Awards 2016. The event, hosted in Los Angeles, was shown live on every gaming screen and in virtual reality, and for the first time in 4K. Promotional materials contend that this is a new breed of awards show, built exclusively for global digital and streaming platforms. Since the show aired live on YouTube, it has garnered more than 1.5 million views. Live viewership increased 65 percent in 2016 over the prior year.
For the live and video-on-demand broadcasts, fans streamed regular and 360-degree video in ultra-high definition at up to 60 frames per second. Viewers watched the prestigious Game of the Year honor awarded to Blizzard Entertainment for Overwatch, among others, on YouTube apps for smart TVs, desktop PCs and dedicated 4K streaming devices.
The event was filmed and produced by Gameslice under the leadership of executive producers Geoff Keighley and Hyunjoo Kim, with Michael Fellner, Technical Advisor. All Mobile Video (AMV), a full-service production company, was responsible for the video processing and delivery of the live streaming broadcast. The newest addition to the AMV fleet, a 53-foot double-expando mobile production unit named Zurich, is the company’s largest and most powerful high-dynamic range and 4K production truck. The truck was on site for the production and broadcast of The Game Awards. AMV Digital Media operations have standardized on Elemental video processing for its 4K glass-to-glass workflow, which includes Elemental Live video encoders.
MegaFon, a leading telco and mobile operator in Russia, has recently experienced a staggering 140-fold increase in users for its over-the-top (OTT) TV service MegaFon.TV. Since its launch, the service has seen users grow from approximately 10,000 to more than 1.4 million. Video solutions from Elemental have helped make that growth possible.
The second largest mobile phone and telco operator by number of subscribers in Russia, MegaFon was the first company in Russia to launch a 3G cellular service, and first in the world with a commercial LTE-Advanced (4G) service. The company has a goal to be the leading OTT video service in Russia. This was a driver behind the company’s decision to evaluate its technology platform.
MegaFon moved into the OTT market with MegaFon.TV in 2012. Since then, it has built a video infrastructure that includes encoders and transcoders from a variety of vendors, along with some ad hoc management tools and processes. To meet its goals and to serve the ever-growing number of connected devices and formats on the market, Megafon leaders recognized that they needed a more sophisticated video platform.
The company talked to a number of vendors, but only Elemental was able to address better ways of working and an integrated solution. MegaFon recognized the need to support large numbers of end-user devices, with better quality and more content. The company also needed to add catch-up TV and start-over TV services to launch its video-on-demand (VOD) offering and the ability to increase revenues through enhanced advertising.
The MegaFon.TV workflow includes a suite of Elemental video processing and delivery solutions. Elemental Delta just-in-time packaging brings content together at the point of request and ensures maximum efficiency of content servers and content delivery network. Elemental Live is gradually replacing existing transcoders as they become life-expired, resulting in improved image quality while future-proofing the MegaFon infrastructure to accommodate new formats and technological advancements, such as high-efficiency video coding (HEVC/H.265). Elemental Server efficiently transcodes VOD content to rapidly expand the MegaFon.TV video library.
The Elemental solution meets MegaFon’s goal of a single solution that is cross-platform, scalable and reliable. It also provides better functionality and a more efficient workflow than legacy solutions. During major seasonal promotions which generated a huge increase in simultaneous connections for MegaFon.TV, Elemental video processing and delivery supported a significant growth in the number of paid subscriptions, all the while providing subscribers with consistent premium quality streaming video.
An interview with Gil McIntire, Videographer
Gil has been making video professionally since 2008. In this interview, we discuss with him the creation of Elemental’s 2016 holiday video in 360-degree virtual reality and the fun and challenge in planning, filming and producing in this new medium with a cutting-edge Nokia OZO camera.
What does it take to plan, shoot, act and produce a 360-degree video?
Gil McIntire: In this medium, the sense of storytelling has changed. Directors and writers have traditionally had a very controlled means to explain a narrative to the audience with selective cuts while editing, manipulating image insertion, and by using focus. With 360-degree video, most clips are filmed in one take and the audience has control of the viewing experience from all angles. Creatives now have to work overtime to be doubly sure the experience is just as moving to the viewer despite this power shift.
Because 360-degree video offers no place to hide
, the videographer has to think: Where is the best place for me to be while I film? In this video, I chose to jump out from behind a curtain to blow the starting horn. That way I could keep an eye on the Nokia OZO in case anyone came too close. A co-worker watched the monitor to ensure we were recording without error. As the director, not standing next to the camera was unnerving.
How is creating video with a Nokia OZO different than working with a traditional camera?
GM: Capturing with the Nokia OZO is notably different because there are no camera settings on the rig to check except for the physical power switch, a record button and a signal for WiFi strength. Instead, the Nokia software monitor offers a great deal of information in an aesthetically pleasing and coherent way.
Any other considerations?
GM: Because there are eight lenses on the Nokia OZO, the camera has a few blind spots that the Nokia software has to ‘stitch’ together. I had to make sure that there wasn’t anything distracting on scene that stretched from one camera view to the next – it was difficult to mark that on set without having the camera capture the marking tape – which you can see in the final video.
How do you keep the Nokia OZO safe, especially with 25-plus people on set?
GM: When filming with the Nokia OZO, you have to trust the tripod or monopod, and even more importantly, the actors who work all around the camera. One misstep and they could knock the camera over!
What camera features are especially fun to use? Especially challenging to use?
GM: The fun – this is a whole new way to make and experience videos. The challenge – the recommended focal length for each of the eight cameras required that I shoot between eight and fifteen feet away for best results, and this meant coming up with an idea that performed well within these constraints.
Any tips or tricks for those interested in creating VR video?
GM: As with any camera, go out with your new toy and use it as much as possible. And invest in a good, self-standing monopod. There are no set workflows yet, so get creative and have fun!
Finally, a pro tip: This video is best experienced using VR gear. Regardless, if you travel to the north and south poles during the action, you’ll find Easter Eggs from the Elemental 2014 and 2015 holiday videos in this most recent installment of our season greetings series.