As we’ve all been living (and navigating) these difficult past few months thanks to COVID-19, we wanted to reach out to our incredible featured profiles to find out what they’ve been up to, their thoughts on the industry and how they’ve actively shifted their business during this time.
This week we talked with Bryce Button, Director of Product Marketing, AJA Video Systems to learn more about how AJA is continuing to serve clients during this time.
PH: Can you tell us a little about the work you do with AJA Video Systems?
Bryce Button: AJA Video Systems manufactures high-quality, cost-effective technology solutions for professionals in broadcast, production, post, streaming and ProAV – all designed and assembled in Grass Valley, California. AJA was founded by engineer John Abt in 1993 and employs over 250 people worldwide. We are committed to leading the way in technological innovation, including solutions for emerging trends, such as Broadcast and ProAV IP, HDR, 8K/UltraHD2/4K/UltraHD, multi-channel HD, streaming and more. Our products have been engineered to help customers transition to new ways of working, while integrating new formats with tools that fit into their existing infrastructure, ensuring simple and non-disruptive updates.
In my role as Director of Product Marketing, I communicate internally between various teams and externally with partners, end users and industry professionals on the benefits and best practices of the tools we create. I also solicit feedback on workflows and features that users would like to see, as well as their views on emerging trends and directions.
PH: Are you continuing to work on any projects? What are they?
Bryce Button: We’ve recently launched the Ki Pro Ultra 12G, a new single-channel 4K/UltraHD recorder and player or four-channel HD recorder, featuring 12G-SDI connectivity with single-cable simplicity for large rasters. We are preparing to launch an exciting new lineup of products this summer that leverage the latest technologies and production formats to further streamline workflows across a range of areas. Additionally, we’ll be releasing new feature upgrades for our production-proven portfolio of tools. For our users across video industries who are adjusting to working from home, we’ve continued to communicate best practices with our KONA and Io I/O devices for remote workflows and streaming, alongside our dedicated streaming tools. With the recent crisis, we’ve also been emphasizing the importance of Fiber and 12G-SDI ecosystems for on-set production with social distancing in mind. Although we’ve adjusted our working environment, AJA is continuing to manufacture products and provide support and after sales service and furthering development on our roadmap for new tools coming to market.
PH: How has your day to day changed?
Bryce Button: I’ve worked remotely for almost 15 years with a fair amount of travel to various shows, events and partner meetings worldwide; although my day-to-day operations have not changed radically, I’ve missed traveling to headquarters for regular meetings and off-site for in-person conversations with colleagues and partners. Like many, I have simply added more tools to my remote workforce toolbox, using tools like Zoom and more heavily integrating Microsoft Teams applications within our internal communications.
PH: How does live streaming take on new meaning during this time?
Bryce Button: We’ve witnessed a surge in demand for flexible streaming solutions across industries, with an uptick in markets like education, medical fields, community planning and infrastructure. We help assist students and educational entities work remotely, and we provide video tools for medical education and surgeries. We are even seeing streaming tools being utilized for surveying and construction projects. To support remote workflows across industries, AJA produces a versatile range of streaming solutions, including HELO, U-TAP and I/O devices, like KONA 5 and Io 4K Plus for powering more demanding workflows with multiple sources. Internally, amongst staff we’ve found that replacing phone calls with video meetings has been an important psychological element in helping the team feel better connected.
PH: What new trends have you seen emerging?
Bryce Button: Remote workflows are rapidly evolving, and as productions begin to ramp up in areas around the world, protecting personnel and keeping teams socially distant on set is critical. Using 12G-SDI single-cable technology to simplify high raster, 4K/UltraHD production reduces the overall cost in cabling, alongside Fiber solutions – like AJA’s growing lineup of 12G Fiber converters – enables people to socially distance during the production process. Streaming and IP technologies allow broader remote teams to also be involved in the production from their home office.
PH: How have you been actively supporting the community and industry during this time?
Bryce Button: We’ve had many conversations with leading partners, event organizers and media outlets throughout this challenging period, in order to proactively develop and implement strategies to deal with lockdowns from the pandemic and emerge from it as an industry with stronger remote tools and video transport mechanisms in place. In our local community of Grass Valley, we’ve taken responsibility to protect our team by implementing strict social distancing and health protection measures at headquarters, with smaller crews and staggered shifts to limit personnel on-site at any given time. We are continuing to reexamine our policy every few weeks to ensure we’re supporting our staff, alongside the whole community in our small mountain town, and enabling all team members who can work remotely to continue to do so.
PH: In your opinion, what will the future of the industry look like? How will it evolve?
Bryce Button: Our industry has always embraced and planned for change. Workflow evolutions are being accelerated, including remote production environments and OTT delivery with security, lack of latency and image quality as key elements to be considered. We can also expect to see the continual evolution and expansion of video communication, effectively transforming broadcast television into just one component of a larger entertainment experience. We’ve witnessed this with sports prior to the crisis, where viewers are being offered broadcasts of the game alongside a range of visual experiences that cater to an individual’s interests. We’re in the midst of both a challenging period and an opportunity for growth that requires flexibility to evolve, change and innovate.
PH: Where can we find you on social?