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BROADCAST ENGINEERS: ARE YOU ABLE TO ADAPT TO SEISMIC SHIFTS IN THE MEDIA TECH LANDSCAPE?

by Digital Bull
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In important growth areas like IP-based production and cybersecurity, engineers are faced with new challenges as IT-based broadcasting continues to evolve. In order to help broadcast engineers remain at the top of their game, John Maxwell Hobbs breaks down the resources available.

Broadcast engineering has been developing into a more IT-centric field since the introduction of the first non-linear computer-based editing systems in the late 1990s. The nature of a broadcast engineer’s work is drastically shifting as IP protocol quickly permeates the entire signal chain, from glass to glass. The ability of engineers to adjust to new technologies and methods will be essential to their success and the success of their organizations as the industry continues to change.

In terms of how the competencies needed to become a broadcast engineer have changed over time, historically, they have required a strong grasp of:

Foundations of electrical and electronic systems: The ability to troubleshoot hardware issues, comprehend electronic circuits, and have knowledge of analog signal processing. The ability to use a multimeter, a soldering iron, and radio frequency (RF), and Ohm’s law were essential.

Electromechanical systems: Expertise in dealing with physical broadcast systems, such as tape decks, film cameras, transmitters, antennas, and signal routing equipment. Often the judicial application of a hammer or spanner was all that was needed to ensure a program made it to air.

Upkeep and Fixing: capacity for fixing and maintaining broadcast equipment to guarantee continuous operation. To make sure that every piece of equipment was kept in operational condition, maintenance engineers required a thorough understanding of electronics, mechanics, and analog signal flow.

Mixed race colorist talking by smartphone and writing notes in the modern production studio. In the background – skyscrapers.

Traditional broadcast engineering skills are still necessary in light of the shift to digital media, but they now also include:

IT infrastructure and networking: It’s now crucial to have a thorough understanding of network architectures, protocols, and standards (like TCP/IP, DNS, and DHCP). For audio and video streaming to be supported, networked systems need to be designed, managed, and troubleshooted by broadcast engineers. It is the modern era where Wi-Fi and IP addresses are assigned to cameras, microphones, and lighting equipment as well.

Level of software proficiency: familiarity with automation platforms, content management systems, and software-based production tools. Automation and system integration can benefit from knowledge of scripting and programming languages like Python and Bash.

Technologies in the cloud: Recognizing software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, cloud processing, storage, and other cloud-based broadcasting options. The production chain is increasingly migrating to on-premises or off-premises cloud environments. Managing virtualized resources and services, which are more common in contemporary broadcasting environments, is one aspect of this.

The broadcasting industry driven by information technology is a young one that is changing and evolving quickly. To stay competitive, it is critical for people to actively participate in their own professional development. Continuous learning and professional development are essential for engineers making the move from a traditional to an IT-based role. Among them are:

Credentials and instruction: Aiming for certifications in cloud technologies (AWS Certified Solutions Architect), cybersecurity (CompTIA Security+), networking (CCNA), and other IT domains.

Practical experience: Getting hands-on experience through projects or working with IT departments within already-existing organizations can give you important insights into the IT side of broadcasting.

In order to become proficient in the new digital media environment and move away from more traditional methods, broadcast engineers can investigate a range of tactics and tools to adjust to the changing environment. The industry is starting to realize that in addition to their traditional RF expertise, professionals today need to update their skill sets to include digital and IT capabilities.

Digital mixer in a recording Studio, with a computer for recording music. In the background of the sound engineer at work. The concept of creativity and show business.

In order to stay up to date with emerging technologies like cloud computing, cybersecurity, and IP-based infrastructure, broadcasters and engineers must make a commitment to lifelong learning. Education institutions and professional associations can offer valuable knowledge and skills through online courses, workshops, and seminars.

Make use of industry training initiatives: Numerous industry associations provide educational initiatives designed to furnish novices and seasoned practitioners with cutting-edge broadcast technology competencies. These consist of the EBU Academy, the IABM, and the Society of Broadcast Engineers. They provide courses in-person and online, many of which lead to certification.

Look for a mentor: A mentor can provide technical expertise, career development advice, and useful guidance for navigating the digital shift. The mentor program offered by the Society of Broadcast Engineers is a great means for broadcast engineers to get advice and insights from seasoned industry professionals. A mentorship program is also available through the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET). Rise provides a free mentorship program for women in the media technology industry who are looking for guidance.

Obtain the necessary certifications: IT and digital media skills can be verified by employers with certifications. Examine certifications in cybersecurity, cloud computing, network administration, and other pertinent fields.

Attend conferences and forums for the industry: Insights into market trends, cutting-edge technology, and best practices can be gained by interacting with the larger broadcast engineering community through forums, conferences, and workshops. Collaborating and learning opportunities can also arise through networking with peers.

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