Verizon Media, the telco’s content subsidiary formerly known as Oath, has been busy building out its network of video production facilities around the world: In the first few months of this year, Verizon Media opened or upgraded studios in New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brazil and Australia. In addition, it also launched a 5G studio in Los Angeles that is meant to pioneer new production technologies and media formats enabled by 5G connectivity.
The studios are being used by all of Verizon Media’s brands, including Yahoo, HuffPost, TechCrunch and AOL. A special focus of the Los Angeles studio space, which is being led by Verizon Media’s immersive content unit Ryot, is the evaluation of cutting-edge technologies, said head of Ryot Zeda Stone. “We have a full motion capture stage here,” he said, adding that the space was also equipped with a volumetric capture stage.
Motion capture at the Verizon Media studio in Los Angeles.
After first testing these technologies in Los Angeles, Verizon Media is then looking to customize them for the needs of its other studio spaces. For instance, it brought a simplified motion capture system to an existing studio space in Taiwan, where it is now used to produce content for one of Verizon Media’s YouTube channels.
In addition to equipment for motion and 3-D capture, the Verizon Media studio in Los Angeles is now also equipped with a full-blown 5G node, which enables Ryot to experiment with ultra-fast, low-latency wireless data transfers. “It is the only 5G studio in the world,” said Verizon Media general manager of news, entertainment & studios Alex Wallace. “No one knows where 5G is gonna take us, but we want to be at the forefront of it.”
The volumetric capture stage at Verizon Media’s Los Angeles studio.
One are of focus will be to evaluate 5G’s role in making productions more nimble, and possibly replace the satellite truck still commonly used for TV coverage with a much smaller set-up, explained Stone. “How do we break down that production pipeline?” Ryot will also be doing real-time animation and motion capture with 5G, and envisioning a future when audiences with 5G phones can directly interact with that type of content.
Verizon Media’s new New York studio.
All of this is happening as telcos are slowly starting to build up their network infrastructure to bring 5G to their consumers. Verizon announced earlier this year that it would bring 5G to 30 cities this year, but thus far only serves small sections of Chicago and Minneapolis with the technology.
“We are nowhere near where it’s going to be,” acknowledged Wallace. This also means that no one really knows which apps and services will ultimately be successful on the service, which she argued was another reason for experimenting with the technology early on. “I don’t think anyone predicted Facebook when 4G came around,” Wallace said.