Will Macklemore & Ryan Lewis win their first Moonman? Will *NSYNC perform? And what will Lady Gaga wear? As MTV viewers anxiously await Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, this inherently tech-savvy demographic has been able to check out live behind-the-scenes footage throughout the week leading up to Sunday’s show at Barclays Center, thanks to MTV’s VMA All-Access and NewTek TriCasters.
Available on desktops and mobile devices, VMA All-Access — active 24 hours a day — includes live programming from 4 p.m. to midnight ET every day as well as highlights from nominated music videos and rotating live camera feeds from around Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
“This is brand new,” says Philip Nelson, chief relationship officer, NewTek. “Instead of the VMAs being a single-night event, it’s putting it to the level of Super Bowl Week, where there’s a week of content building up and creating excitement around the big event.”
At the heart of VMA All-Access workflow is a TriCaster 855, which serves as primary production unit for the 24-hour broadcast feed. A second TriCaster 855 ingests content while the first TriCaster is broadcasting from 4 p.m. to midnight, so the first TriCaster can focus on the live show. A third TriCaster 855 is on-site as a backup but has yet to be needed. A fourth TriCaster (a 455 model) is set up at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, switching, editing, and recording live performances that will be uploaded to MTV.com.
NewTek has been a vital part of MTV’s VMA workflow for years, but 2013 marks the first for such an extensive TriCaster deployment.
“The neat thing about the TriCaster and what it does for MTV is, it allows them to try new things that they would never budget a test with a traditional broadcast infrastructure,” says Nelson. “With the TriCaster, they can really — at a very low cost — build new workflows [and] try new ideas.
“When MTV started doing the [VMA] Red Carpet Show, it was all done out of a TriCaster, and, for years, it was done out of a TriCaster,” he continues, “but the VMA Red Carpet Show has become so big that it’s now a 26-camera truck show. TriCaster is the testing ground that allowed them to make sure that that was a great concept that fans wanted to watch.”
Once the VMAs are under way on Sunday night at 9 p.m., NewTek will deploy a TriCaster to the pressroom. Members of the press who are unable to attend the show in Brooklyn can get a virtual credential, which gains them access to the press room and allows them to participate via the TriCaster feed.
For now, though, the primary TriCaster 855 is stationed in an office trailer behind Barclays, with Nelson serving as a one-man NewTek support squad.
“The great thing about TriCaster — and the reason it’s changing business models in broadcast sports, entertainment, and Webcasting — is that it’s very simple to set up and simple to use and it allows you to do broadcast-quality content,” says Nelson. “Content for the Web has to look like broadcast content. It’s what people expect.
“When you start dealing with the types of fans that watch MTV — that demographic — they go to the iPad first,” he continues. “They just want the content when and where they want it, whether it’s a mobile device, tablet, computer, or traditional television.”