Letsee has been chosen by "France Télévision" to encode major sporting events for the next four years
Services have been provided for the Tour de France, the French Open, the 2021 Olympic Games in Japan and the forthcoming 2024 Games in France. This is very good news, insists Guillaume Allais. The LETSEE team is being rewarded for the work it’s been doing for over 10 years now. Not only do we have the technology and unique facilities such as the Media Center, but we also stand out for our high level of customer service.
During these unprecedented times and the lockdown, his teams have remained on deck to help with the programmes we provide our customers, and rightly so. More so now than ever, we need to take advantage of our remote broadcasting and production expertise. We have more than 15 years’ worth of research and development and have accumulated experience over the years. LETSEE Director, Guillaume Allais explains.
How did you keep busy during lockdown ?
AMP VISUAL TV & STUDIOS DE FRANCE were asked right from the beginning of the lockdown to continue operating and developing programmes that would accommodate social distancing measures. In addition to Quotidien and 28 Minutes which are produced at our Studios Rive Gauche, we are also working on special “lockdown” programmes. These include Maison Lumni for France Télévision, Affaire Conclue on France 2, the show Tous en Cuisine with Cyril Lignac on M6, C dans l’Air, the Quotidienne for France 5 and Qui Veut Gagner des Millions on TF1. These programmes rely primarily on live links with the hosts and speakers working from home. It was necessary, for instance, to deploy innovative solutions within a very short period of time to create multiplexes that require as few people as possible to leave their home to work. Since just relying on Skype was out of the question, we had to find a range of solutions for recording and broadcasting.
For example, on Tous en Cuisine, recordings are done directly from Cyril Lignac’s home using a single cameraperson with remote-controlled broadcast cameras. The signals are compressed and sent via IP or 4G telephony. Skype links are also used to bring viewers on the show from their own kitchen. We had up to 50 simultaneous connections. Production takes place remotely in one of our fixed-location studio control rooms or in OB vans allowing us to work remotely. The producer can choose the cameras and even send instructions via the cameraperson’s headset as if they were in the studio. With LETSEE, we have implemented a range of broadcasting solutions that we have been using for a long time that rely just as much on satellite as on fibre, IP or 4G. Our Media Center thus acts as the point of contact between these filming locations, telecommunication ground stations, control rooms and television channels. Every day, we manage around thirty streams, both incoming and outgoing.
So, this is a production method we have been using for a long time ?
Yes, this is nothing new to us. It is actually our core business year-round. Now, what is actually new for us at the moment is combining all these digital and broadcasting technologies on a large scale. We are not a tech start-up. Our philosophy has always been to introduce new web-based solutions to broadcasting, provided that they meet the necessary standard of quality. Understanding how to combine technologies from different worlds and how to integrate platforms like Skype from time to time when it is useful for editorial purposes - this is what we do.
So, you combine different solutions ?
That has been at the core of AMP Visual TV’s DNA for the past thirty years. We do not manufacture equipment, and we do not carry out rentals. We are assemblers. We play the role of a partner provider who can guarantee high-quality programmes. At the same time, we use fibre optics, satellite, 4G and IP, combining them remotely to create programmes. We can even provide facilities for post-production to RTB thanks to four dedicated rooms. All this requires expertise that can only come from long-term experience. Another example: our technicians have created code so that our remote customers can have exclusive programme feedback which they can see using simple internet links. With more than 15 years of streaming, R&D and a solid project management methodology, we have a unique position in the market.
Do you expect that production methods are going to change for good ?
Yes, definitely. Currently, we are undergoing a rapid change that we have been anticipating and pursuing for many years. This is not a radical technological breakthrough, but we are entering a new era where different worlds of technologies are learning to work together to broaden the realm of possibilities. We’re already capitalising on different initiatives such as virtual races (see opposite page). We are going to develop new practices and get used to new production methods that are simpler and more flexible, but our standard of quality will always set us apart.