How Calrec ensured that broadcasters were “always on”

By Sid Stanley, General Manager at Calrec

Although 2020 was challenging in many ways, it proved how resilient, adaptable and highly inventive the media technology industry is.

The world still faces considerable difficulties presented by the pandemic and many challenges still lie ahead.

There are a few key questions that come to mind. How did Calrec respond as a company in 2020? How have we continued to push forward with our partners and customers in the face of these challenges and how has the market been affected?

Looking After the Calrec Community

The first lockdown definitely challenged us and we had to act quickly and respond to a fast-moving and unprecedented situation.

The first thing was our duty of care to our staff, who are at the heart of what we do and who we are, and at the same time — despite the difficulties of being in lockdown — we had to continue to look after our customers around the world.

I am proud to say that throughout this year, despite its many challenges, we have continued to deliver new customer orders on time, commission systems around the world and not for one second did we reduce our efforts in our R&D team who have kept working throughout.

Looking After the Calrec Community

Innovation in a Time of Pandemic

The pandemic obviously forced an immediate change in safe working practices due to social distancing with broadcasters needing to find new ways to deliver content safely.

We knew that customers would turn to and rely on Calrec to innovate and provide them what they needed.

Remote production – and remote working more generally – naturally came to the fore. Calrec already had considerable experience of the former, including major, complex projects with BBC Sport, and our solutions already had remote working features built-in.

Pre-pandemic, most remote working was a possibility rather than a necessity, and what our customers implemented to keep shows on-air was truly remarkable, with the work that Tall Audio did with BT Sport and BBC’s The Choir standing out alongside work by A1 Marine Martignac in France.

In a remarkably short timescale, broadcasters were managing to deliver broadcast-quality audio from home with no comprise in quality.

Innovation in a Time of Pandemic

Accelerated Flexibility that Works

I expect more change will come as broadcasters look at how they work, including improving efficiency and safety as a consequence of learning to work with Covid.

Live broadcast was already evolving before the pandemic as new players like Amazon entered the market, and we saw growth in new media like eSports, which all created competition for “eyeballs”.

This was already driving broadcasters to enhance the viewing experience and look for new content to attract viewers – such as niche sports and local events.

Even before remote working became an additional factor, Calrec was already well-positioned to advise and help broadcasters implement whatever technology path suited them.

Accelerated Flexibility that Works

Supporting our Customers Remotely

Calrec also had to find a new way to remotely support customers around the world, whether they were commissioning a new system or had support requirements – such as a software upgrade – on an existing install.

I am proud of our teams who stepped up to the plate throughout this year, often supporting systems in opposite time zones, hitting on-air deadlines or solving problems that we have never had before.

We also expanded our remote support and remote technology demonstration capabilities. Keep a lookout for more news on this soon.

Supporting our Customers Remotely

Lockdown Learning

Whilst manufacturing, R&D and support remained busy, our sales and marketing teams had to find new ways to work.

With travel, exhibitions and events coming to a halt, we had to be proactive and our sales and marketing teams pulled out all the stops, not least across our digital presence.

A prime example of that was the launch of the Calrec Sound Institute, which initially provided free certified online training courses for Brio and Type-R.

The courses are comprehensive and are designed to get users up and running quickly and with confidence. Once the training is completed, users are officially certified by Calrec for Brio and/or Type R systems.

We then significantly expanded the Sound Institute to include an in-depth Audio over IP (AoIP) training course.

The number of people who have taken the course has been amazing, although with the interest in AoIP as broadcasters look for more efficiency, perhaps it’s not surprising.

Calrec has an important role as a trusted advisor to the market, especially given the complexities of AoIP, so it’s important that we help support our customers and partners.

Lockdown Learning

Guiding you Through your IP Journey

We know that the industry is going through an evolution and that broadcasters face an increasingly competitive situation for eyeballs.

Broadcasters are looking for ways to capture more, often niche, content, to enhance the viewing experience and at the same time be efficient.

AoIP networking does bring efficiency benefits and we are seeing early adopters as well as other customers who are perfectly happy with our proprietary Hydra2 system.

What is exciting is that Calrec is well positioned to advise and support whatever pathway our customers choose. Whether they stay with propriety Hydra2 networks or go fully IP – or even go for an intermediary solution – we can help.

Guiding you Through your IP Journey

Investing in our Customers’ Future

As part of our continuing commitment to AoIP and our customers, we created a new position just as the pandemic took hold.

Dave Sampson, a Calrec team member for many years, took on the role of Network Specialist to provide in-house expertise, further strengthening Calrec’s ability to support customers in their move to IP.

Understanding a broadcaster’s network infrastructure and the challenges of interoperability at the outset of a project and ensuring their IP network fundamentals are correct is vital, and therefore Dave’s experience has proved invaluable.

We also continued to increase product quality and innovation, building further on our reputation across the industry, with Helen Jones joining as Operations Manager.

Investing in our Customers’ Future

Meet General Manager, Sid Stanley

Sid Stanley, General Manager at Calrec is across all parts of the business on a day-to-day basis.

Nearly three years ago, as Calrec continued to grow, the company recognised the need for someone with Sid’s skillset, gained via years spent working – not least with Sony – across the video side of our industry.

It’s his responsibility to make sure the business is running well and continues to grow its reputation for delivering sustained innovation.

Meet General Manager, Sid Stanley

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