Red House Streaming, a subsidiary of CP Communications, helped to transform this year’s live production model for SXSW Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas, which for the first time featured a hybrid event to support in-person and remote participants. An official 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals technology partner, Red House Streaming (RHS) designed and deployed a wide-area Layer 2 network infrastructure across multiple event locations with a supporting onsite crew to help bring inspirational sessions and panels, music showcases, comedy performances, and more to audiences worldwide.
The 10-day SXSW Conference and Festivals took place from March 11-20 at venues across the city, with CP and RHS supporting events at 10 venues including the Austin Convention Center, where many of the largest sessions and Radio Day Stage music events were held; and Brush Square Park, an outdoor venue where the International Day Stage music showcases took place. Red House Streaming connected SXSW’s master control center, located in the Austin Marriott Downtown, with the 10 remote venues and a roaming camera crew that covered other venues around Austin. RHS’ family of IP and bonded cellular technologies were used to manage all Dante audio signals and intercom communications over the network.
Red House Streaming’s network also supported redundant video transmission between master control and all connected venues, with supporting hardware provided by parent company CP Communications. That included Mobile Viewpoint Ultralink encoders to back up the primary NDI transmission network across all 10 locations, a vMix live production flypack, and a scalable RHS MulticamSTREAM infrastructure to process and stream live video and audio content acquired from Panasonic PTZ cameras. That system was installed in Room16AB of the Austin Convention Center, the home of several high-profile SXSW Featured Sessions for which RHS provided live production services.
Impressively, the expansive wide-area network and supporting technology infrastructure required only a three-man crew from CP Communications and Red House Streaming. In addition to helping build out and man the master control center, RHS technicians supported the remote camera crews on location, provided field support and maintenance services for all connected remote venues, and managed a large communications infrastructure across all sites. The master control center also doubled as a network operations center for live signal monitoring and troubleshooting.
“The technology infrastructure put into place for this year’s events proved exceptionally reliable,” said Marshall Dungan, Technical Director and Senior Producer for SXSW Conference and Festivals. “Their video and audio equipment worked very well between master control and our many remote sites, which is not an easy endeavor given the complexity of the network. The reliability of the bonded cellular video encoding equipment proved invaluable when we had to switch from the primary feed.”
CP Communications and Red House Streaming CEO Kurt Heitmann emphasized that supporting live communications between producers, technicians and other professionals is perhaps the most essential technology component for events of this magnitude. Red House Streaming has had plenty of recent experience perfecting its wide-area networking strategy for live, IP-based communications during large-scale, city-wide productions, including high-profile marathons in New York City and Chicago.
“CP Communications has long excelled at city-wide production for live content acquisition and event production, which before required a complex and often expensive analog RF infrastructure for video, audio, and communications,” he said. “The beauty of IP is that it can go anywhere and is far more affordable. For SXSW, our strategy included a Dante network to support an RVON communications system between master control and the 10 remote sites. We then extended that infrastructure city-wide by adding a Dante-enabled Unity intercom server in master control, allowing personnel to communicate from any location in the city that had cell coverage.”
As SXSW Director of Commercial Content Stephen Light notes, the level of customer service provided ultimately helped to ensure a successful production event overall. “The Red House Streaming team was consistently proactive and responsive to the needs of our crew throughout the event, and their ability to adapt to changes is essential in a live event environment,” said Light.