Isle of Man-based sports specialists Greenlight Television switched to remote production in 2020, allowing the company to continue working during the pandemic.
Director Rob Hurdman, who was talking to RTS Isle of Man’s Paul Moulton at an early March event, said 2020 had been a “a proper roller coaster year. We went from probably the depths of despair… [with] the first lockdown and thinking that everything we’d worked for in the past 25 years was going to fall through the floor.”
He continued: “Coming out of a very difficult year… we are starting to feel a bit more optimistic.”
Greenlight is best known for its coverage of the Isle of Man TT for ITV4, but the motorcycle road race was cancelled last year and this because of the pandemic.
“There were very strong pubic health reasons for not doing it, but it’s obviously disappointing for us, the fans and the riders. Everyone understands it had to happen,” said Greenlight director David Beynon. “Hopefully, 2022 will be all guns blazing.”
The Isle of Man company produces events worldwide, including
the Trans-Am sports car racing series in the States. Greenlight has a production office in Tampa, Florida and had already trialled a remote outside broadcast (OB) of a Trans-Am race before the first coronavirus lockdown last March.
It was “a huge stroke of luck” doing a first remote production shortly before lockdown”, recalled Hurdman. “We didn’t have a full budget to do things in a traditional sort of way.”
The race was held at Sebring, two hours from Tampa, and was covered using cameramen at the circuit, on-board cameras and a drone, with OB production in Tampa. Beynon flew to the US to oversee operations.
The pandemic confined Greenlight to the Isle of Man but the outfit continued to cover the Trans-Am Series live from its Tromode base – a distance of 4,000-plus miles.
“It massively saves money,” said Hurdman, pointing to the costs of flying crew to a race and then paying for their food and accommodation. “Will we ever go back to the traditional way of doing OBs? I really can’t see it.”
He added: “When 5G comes on stream, that will revolutionise it again.”
Covering sport internationally had meant near-constant travel, before the pandemic and advances in remote production came along, said Hurdman: “I’ve just had my first year in 30-odd years here on the Isle of Man. I can’t see myself ever getting my BA gold card back.
“With remote production, we can go anywhere that needs a live production. What gives us our USP is that we can be very, very competitive price-wise. That will be even more important after the pandemic… [when] money is going to be tight.”