With the roots of wireless radio invention recorded somewhere around the late 1800’s, many scientists and developers were involved in the invention of radio. Over many years of radio’s development since, the fundamental technology involving transmission and reception of electromagnetic waves is still at the very core of radio today. However, with modern times, digital radio, the internet, availability of new technology and social media come new possibilities and expectations are amongst a diverse and changing radio media landscape. Now radio stations, like other forms of mass media, seek new ways to add value to audience experience. Radio visualisation has become an exciting recent development and a method for radio broadcasters to continuously engage radio station followers.
With radio, traditionally an audio experience, broadcasters face new technological challenges outside of audio. Smart software producer VidiGo has empowered a Swedish Radio station to start transforming its listener’s experiences with new visual content. Swedish Radio’s P3 programme listeners today have a new and exciting way to engage and enjoy their favourite shows. VidiGo Visual Radio is a smart solution for radio production that makes it easy for radio broadcasters to cost effectively capture and share visual content, simultaneously with radio broadcasts for distribution via the internet directly to PCs, tablets, smartphones and other devices used by the audience.
For Ranil Kralendonk, Business Development Manager at VidiGo, the completion of the installation of VidiGo Visual Radio at Swedish Radio marks a fantastic achievement in the companies’ milestones since initial applications at Australia’s ABC Radio National. He explained “Radio stations are more and more present via the internet with the transistor radio becoming a technology item of the past. Listeners expect to receive a greater amount of live information direct from the radio studio; through the radio stations’ Twitter, Facebook and website. With 90% of media consumption being screen based there is such a demand for video and images streamed from the studio, stations are limited as they do not want to become TV stations or channels. What they require is a system with a small, high quality camera that is fully automated.”
Working in conjunction with VidiGo, Panasonic has developed integrated camera solutions for Panasonic remote broadcast cameras and VidiGo Visual Radio. VidiGo is a world-leading company for radio station software and systems. Just like Panasonic, they have a global client base and can offer clever system solutions which will allow Panasonic to expand its high quality Professional Camera Solutions for Broadcast.
With a background in radio, VidiGo also clearly understands the culture and needs of a radio station. As Hans Krouwels, CEO of VidiGo explained, VidiGo Visual Radio was designed with radio professionals in mind: “We realised from the start that we shouldn’t concern radio professionals with creating video. Therefore we have developed a highly automated software based workflow that can be fully integrated with existing workflows”.
Using their highly motivated development team in Amsterdam, VidiGo was able to consider how camera features and control possibilities should be implemented as the software was developed. This consideration resulted in a finely tuned next generation Visual Radio solution featuring ‘Sync. Video Clip Starter’, full tablet control, MADI support for up to 64 audio channels and an Audio Director which manages endless scripting possibilities for automated camera switching and an open API for full integration with existing radio automation.
VidiGo Visual Radio is a combination of VidiGo Live and VidiGo Audio Director. VidiGo Audio Director functions as a ‘real director’ during the Visual Radio show. The Audio Director makes decisions by analysing audio signals with its advanced algorithms. Besides audio levels, it also analyses several timing parameters and relations between different audio signals. Using all these different parameters it is possible to mimic the actions of a real director. The Audio Director gives commands to the VidiGo Live system, which takes care of camera switching, graphics and DVEs. On top of that there are two graphics engines inside VidiGo Live that can provide now/next info, social media updates, news updates and so on.
Since adopting VidiGo’s solution, Panasonic has completed a number of installations internationally demonstrating that the Panasonic and VidiGo solution is tailored to radio professionals and is the correct solution for this market segment. Ranil Kralendonk explains “We wanted a fully IP based remote camera solution capable of advanced pan tilt and zoom and total integration with VidiGo software. Panasonic cameras have this, plus they have controls such as white balance, focus and basically more than other competitor models could offer. This ensures we can add a lot of value with direct communication with the camera and that’s why today Swedish Radio is using the Panasonic 3 AC-120’s”.
Swedish Radio is one of the most popular radio shows in the morning, presented by 3 hosts in a full improvised show. “They wanted a fully automated solution that enabled them to concentrate on the show, so we programmed macro rules and the cameras will switch independently autonomously depending on the audio inputs”. The ‘Audio Director’ is also smart enough to take an audio queue to zoom out to capture a wide shot based on which microphones are outputting. Embedding this all in one ‘VidiGo Visual Radio’ solution, our software solution required a lot of R&D. Fine tuning of audio trigger thresholds have been set so that the live feed will switch to the most relevant camera. “The beauty of the system is that it’s automatic, low cost and essentially hassle free, you don’t have to think about it as it’s fully automated.”
Whilst live streaming is a growing expectation that is now highly achievable through VidiGo and Panasonic, many radio stations are seeking to drive different profit areas across multiple platforms around their business. There are for example increasing uses of ‘live lounge’ where artists will come into the studio to play live. With VidiGo Visual Radio this content can be captured and used to build a greater online presence, by posting it on the radio station’s website and Social Media.
Ranil Kralendonk: “Other radio stations are moving fast to take on what is now becoming much more achievable. In fact one of the biggest European radio groups called Energie is currently trialling the system in France, Belgium and Russia and stations in Switzerland are also commencing with VidiGo and Panasonic cameras”. VidiGo’s other clients include National Public Radio 1 (Netherlands), National Public Radio 2 (Netherlands), Radio 538, the #1 commercial radio station (Netherlands), Clouds FM (Tanzania), SVT National Public Radio (Sweden) and Radio National (Australia).