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Ross Video Team Jun 22, 2020 11:40:37 AM

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Living Live Podcast: The Innovations Driving Remote Production Forward


On this episode of Living Live with Ross Video, host Tyler Kern was joined by Ross Video President and Executive Producer, Ross Mobile Productions Mitch Rubenstein and Stephen Repass, General Manager, Ross Mobile Productions.

The trio dove into the explosion of remote production, examining the journey of the industry to its current height and providing insights about where it might be headed.

“Over the course of the last several years, anyone who follows the industry and it a sports fan realizes that the advent of new networks has really increased the appetite that viewers have had for our type of product,” Rubenstein said. “Whether it’s an OTT platform, a new cable network, anything coming from a school-based production – you’re seeing more and more content on the air, which means more and more need for companies like ours.”

Specifically, Repass said, the boom in digital-only platforms has created a need for lean, efficient workflows and productions that can avoid spending resources in the way the traditional broadcast giants do.

“You can’t do a 53-foot truck and come in and spend $60,000-$70,000 on a show that’s going to air on a digital platform,” he said.

Even the mobile nature of the audience and a lack of traditional “timeslots” plays a role, Rubenstein said – instead of producing content for a certain window, there are now unlimited possibilities for content to air and be seen.

To meet these needs, Ross Mobile Productions offers powerful, consistent and cost-effective solutions in the form of full-service production packages and rental services involving much smaller vehicles and operations.

AUTHOR: Tyler Kern
CONTRIBUTOR: Mitch Rubenstein and Stephen Repass

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Podcast Transcript

Tyler Kern:

The remote production industry has seen a tremendous amount of growth over the last several years as the market and the appetite for it in the public has continued to grow. And joining me today to talk a little bit more about that are two guests from Ross Mobile. We have Mitch Rubinstein. He is the president and executive director of Ross Mobile. Mitch, thank you so much for being here.

Mitch Rubenstein:

Thanks for having me.

Tyler Kern:

And then we also have Stephen Repass. He is the general manager for Ross Mobile. Stephen, thank you so much for being here as well.

Stephen Repass:

Thanks for having me.

Tyler Kern:

Absolutely. Well, guys, it's an exciting time to be part of this industry as it's continued to grow, as it's continued to move forward. Mitch, I was wondering if you could speak to some of the elements and some of the factors that are really driving the public's interest in live production and in remote production these days.

Mitch Rubenstein:

Sure. Well, over the course of the last several years, anyone who follows the industry, anyone who's a sports fan realizes that the advent of new networks have really increased the appetite that viewers have had for our type of product. So whether it's a OTT platform, whether it's a new cable network, whether it's anything coming from a school-based production, you're seeing more and more content on the air, which means more and more need for companies like ours and more and more need for companies like Ross to provide equipment and services.

Tyler Kern:

Stephen, is there anything you'd like to add onto to what Mitch was talking about, just as far as what's driving this forward?

Stephen Repass:

Sure. Yeah, the digital platform, I think, has grown huge. Five years ago, it was all linear. You had ESPN, Fox, CBS. Now you have ESPN Plus, you have Facebook, Twitter, you have DAZN. The digital platform has blossomed and groomed, and they need people to produce and put content on television at a low cost. And you can't do a 53-foot truck and come in and spend $60,000, $70,000 on a show that it's going to air on digital platform.

Mitch Rubenstein:

Yeah. I mean, I'm first and foremost a sports fan, and I love to watch things. And my 10-year-old son's a huge, huge sports fan. And you talk about just traditional sports, you talk about e-sports. Especially right now with what's going on in the world, you're realizing how much you're actually missing sports and how much of your time you actually spend viewing sports, so I think also the advent of watching sports on your phone has really changed the dynamic a lot of our business, because certainly now there's no time slots. So with the creation of the ESPN Plus platform, any of those types of platforms where you don't need to have a broadcast window means that anything could be on anytime, anywhere, any place.

Mitch Rubenstein:

And the mentioning of DAZN. DAZN has been a great partner for us with Golden Boy, and there's unlimited content. We produce content for Facebook for Golden Boy as well. So, again, the lack of the time slot. We grew up with the time slot. Everything had to be on a certain time, and if you didn't have a window, you didn't make air. So now there's really unlimited possibilities for your content to air, which is great for our business.

Tyler Kern:

Yeah, that absolutely makes sense, and amen on missing sports right now, just given the current climate of things. But you're absolutely right. The viewing habits and the way that people consume sports, especially in live events, has really changed and shifted quite a bit over the last several years just with the introduction of those platforms like you're saying, and then also with other platforms being able to stream and to provide content really has made this so much more robust. So, Mitch, when it comes to Ross and what Ross Mobile does, what are some of the key differentiators as far as what you're able to provide for these settings?

Mitch Rubenstein:

Sure. Well, if you like Ross, you'll love Ross Mobile Productions. We offer everything that's the best that Ross has to offer. I mean, I'll be perfectly honest. I came out of the big truck network environment growing up in this industry, and I didn't really know a lot about Ross. Ross was foreign to me. Ross didn't come into my head space until I was looking to start my own small truck company about eight years ago, and the recommendation came to me that companies were looking at Ross to do school productions. They were looking at Ross to do smaller productions. And I actually Googled Ross. I didn't know what they were, and I thought, "Oh, okay. This is something I should probably look at." And I saw that they made a production switcher. I'm like, "Okay, that's cool." I saw they had a graphics platform called XPression. Back in those days, everything was on Duet. It was Chyron, it was Lyric.

Mitch Rubenstein:

And I was getting exposed to Ross for the first time. So, for me, Ross presented an opportunity to help not only grow a brand but help change an industry. So when we came up with a concept eight years ago of building a small mobile unit and then when I eventually joined forces with Ross and David, bought my little company, we thought that the small Sprinter Van or what we call the FIN truck, which is Future is Now, would be a way to produce a lot of content on a daily basis in a situation where the truck sets up fast, it's nimble, it can go in small spaces, doesn't require a lot of power, a lot of crew. But, at the same time, it was going to showcase all the best that Ross could do and prove that Ross could do, meaning Ross and Ross equipment, could do anything that any of the other companies could do as well, and I think we've done a really good job proving that.

Tyler Kern:

Absolutely. Now, I know that that Ross Mobile Productions has been involved with lots of different productions, especially when it comes to the world of sports and entertainment and that sort of thing. Stephen, can you just walk through some of the highlights as far as large productions that you guys have had the opportunity to be a part of?

Stephen Repass:

Yeah. I think a couple of things is Ross Mobile Production has produced stuff on 30 different platforms. You don't need your 53-foot truck. You can pull up a Sprinter. We can do everything you can do in a big truck in a Sprinter. And we combine rolls, and it's all Ross gear. In remote television, you don't see a lot of Ross in trucks, and so Ross Mobile Productions proves that you can do that in a Sprinter Van or even in a truck.

Stephen Repass:

And we do everything from world championships with these sports to conference championships to regional championships for different networks. So we're not just your digital or your linear. We can do anything. We can do your 12, 14 cameras. We can do your four cameras. We own eight trucks. We really have seven. We're building our eighth right now. But we have the equipment from Ross and the support of Ross to produce anything that you would need on a linear or digital platform.

Mitch Rubenstein:

Yeah. I'll add that I think what's exciting, too, about Ross as a company in relationship to mobile production is it's grassroots now. So if you go in schools across America and you see Ross equipment, you see XPression, you see a Carbonite, there was always the worry in our industry of where the next generation of operators was going to come from. Now everyone grows up, and they want to be in the industry. Like, "I want to be a producer, I want to be a director." But, well, who's going to be that graphics operator? Who's going to be your TD? Who's going to be all these different things? I always thought to myself, "Wow, wouldn't it have been great if way back when I could have had all this experience working on equipment? That would have catapulted me in this industry." We didn't have that back then.

Mitch Rubenstein:

So the good news for people that want to be in the industry is you can go to college. You can work on the equipment. And you have such a leg up coming out, but it's also good news for the industry because you'll have your next wave of operators who also get to college and get to produce and direct. It's amazing. Some of the shows that you'll see on some of the networks right now are being done by young men and women across the country who are still in college, so that bodes well for the future of our industry, because there's more people working on Ross, and it feeds into the ecosystem. And I think over time, you're going to see more and more productions done with Ross equipment, and it's a great boon for the industry. Going back to what we're talking about, there's so much content that needs to be produced, and Ross is a big part of making all that happen.

Tyler Kern:

Yeah, that's a great point. And these productions that you're able to do in the way that you're describing them, they also sound like they're a great selling point for Ross products, right? Because you're utilizing Ross products all throughout these productions. How have you seen that also benefit just when it comes to evangelizing your products and the benefits that they can provide?

Mitch Rubenstein:

Sure, I'll take that first. So, if you love Ross, you're going to love Ross Mobile Productions because all of us are experts on Ross equipment. Now there's a lot of people that love XPression, a lot of operators. Now, we always talk about our products first, not in relationship to others but in relationship to how great ours are, so a lot of the feedback that we get is XPression, user friendly. It can do anything that any other machine can do. It's so versatile. It has data link. It can create in-house presentation. It can create presentations on massive scoreboards and stadiums. It can do score bugs. It's unlimited possibilities but also the ease of use of it. Now, I was never a TD. I switched a week of shows on a Carbonite recently for us as part of like I guess we'd call a pseudo-vacation, working on a remote.

Mitch Rubenstein:

And, again, that would be unheard of for someone like me who didn't grow up with a background as a TD to switch on a Carbonite. So I think that the way we customize our work flows, the way everything flows together, and that's what was explained to me many years ago when I first got involved with Ross, is one product works well with the other product, which works well with the other product. Which, again, we try and do that with other people's products as well, but everything flows together, and it's the ease of use, I think, that's contributed so much to people falling in love with Ross but also realizing like, "Wow, that's a really cool switcher. Wow, that's a great graphics machine. Wow, that replay works really well as well." You don't need the "industry standard machine." You can use a Ross machine, and I think that's really benefited us greatly.

Tyler Kern:

You know, Stephen, we were mentioning earlier just the changing viewing habits of the greater public, just when it came to sports and events and that sort of thing, just with more streaming platforms, more over-the-top programming. What excites you about being in this industry moving forward and what Ross mobile productions is capable of?

Stephen Repass:

I think what excites me more than anything is there's more digital platforms out there growing. They need content. They need programming. It's endless, the amount of high school that they're adding to live television on a digital platform now. You just don't have the Power Five conferences. You can do all the conferences. You even have these bowling championships that you'd never see before, there's now on program because the more digital platforms you have, the more programming you need. So it's great for us is because we can provide all different levels of live productions. We can do everything from your world championships to your flypacks.

Stephen Repass:

Anything that you would need, we can scale it to whatever they need. We have a full-time production team. We're not just an operation team, we're a production team. We're a full production company, so we can provide all these services in house. I think what separates us more than anything is we're not just a packager, we're a production company. We own the equipment. We have full-time TD directors. We have producers. We have people that can build graphics. So we're able to keep a lot of this in house and do it ourselves, which I think really separates us from everybody else.

Tyler Kern:

Absolutely. Those are strong differentiators, and I think that in this growing market, having those differentiators is huge. And so, you guys, it's been a pleasure getting a chance to chat a little bit more and learn more about Ross Mobile Productions. So, Mitch and Stephen, thank you guys so much for joining me today.

Stephen Repass:

Thank you.

Mitch Rubenstein:

Thanks.

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