I have always been easily distracted by the promise of new technology and change. Indeed,  one of the main reasons for deciding to leave the BBC and join Red Bee over 15 years ago was to be part of a vanguard of technology teams whose focus was to break new ground in delivering amazing media experiences to people. I wasn’t disappointed.

Within days of joining the newly formed Project Management team, I was assigned to my first project to deliver the first HD playout chain for the BBC, the first of its kind in the UK. I can admit now, I felt completely out of my comfort zone when it came to delivering a new premium service, to a leading broadcaster, with unproven technology, with an unmovable date. But the excitement and rush I felt when we broadcast live for the first time, watching David Attenborough’s Blue Planet premiere in HD (with Dolby E) together with leaders from BBC Vision and R&D, proved to be highly addictive.

Kris Langbridge

Since that first project, the level of innovation and change I have experienced at Red Bee has been a continuous part of my career, a rollercoaster that you sometimes want to get off but always find yourself buying another ticket for. Even early on it was clear to me that Red Bee had the right stuff to take on these challenges.

Firstly, we had a great team, a group of highly committed and experienced individuals who worked together, ready to compromise, to make it happen. Secondly, we had a culture of success, we believed and trusted in ourselves and we knew that whatever happened, we would get to air on time. Lastly, we were ready to take calculated risks to ensure progress did not fall prey to defensive thinking.

These qualities go to the heart of the Red Bee I have grown with since the beginning and have served us well throughout the many groundbreaking projects that we have been a part of. After my first project, I was asked to manage Red Bee’s part of the BBC iPlayer project, (at the time, MyBBC Player), where our scope was to build a media management and transcoding platform to supply the player with VOD content and metadata. Once more, this was new territory for all of those involved including the BBC, BBC Technology, Siemens and the broadcast industry. We had to adopt a new software-defined workflow tooling (JBOSS) plus build a new infrastructure capable of hosting the demands of highly available digital storage, transcoding and publishing solutions. This was a very difficult project and significantly tested our resolve.

We weathered many storms, many false starts and countless late nights as we struggled to hit deadlines for our customer, but these pains came with being part of something new and revolutionary, moreover, the outcome and eventual success of the platform was well worth the cost. At the time, I remember trying to explain what I was working on to family and friends only to get blank stares and comments like: “why would I want to watch TV after it has broadcast and… wait… on my computer?”! To see now how OTT dominates our media habits today and to know we were part of this revolution in digital publishing makes me extremely proud.

Later Red Bee projects that I had the opportunity to work with would continue to deliver new innovative platforms and processes to enable the outsourcing of complex services to Red Bee. Channel 4, UKTV and BBC World News were all migrated from legacy platforms to the next step in the evolution of broadcast solutions, be it workflow orchestration and automation, or playout-in-a-box or multi-tenant media management systems. All required a culture of forward-thinking to deliver value to customers, through greater processing efficiency or speed. Of course, many went through periods of failure and of success as we found our way through these unchartered waters, those qualities of teamwork, self-belief and courage allowed us to continuously deliver forward-thinking services and grow our reputation as a thought leader in our space.

Our acquisition by Ericsson and merger with Technicolor significantly increased the size and complexity of our company and ultimately the impact we have in our industry. Since that acquisition, we have embarked on our greatest challenge yet, the transformation towards a product and platform led business, and with our focus turned towards this major challenge we have delivered even greater innovation across our service lines in Access, Creative and our Content Discovery teams working together to develop new features that incorporate best of breed technology solutions and our in-house solutions. From automatic speech recognition, to live to VOD video encoding, from OTT to live UHD distribution, I have witnessed our teams continuously work with the future in mind.

Looking back, I can see that in order to deliver value to our customers we have always had to dig deep and introduce new technologies, take risks and re-imagine processes to survive. Our market demands this of us and has done so the past 15 years. But we continuously rise to this challenge and I have no doubt we will continue to do so for the next 15 years as well.

Forward-thinking has always been part of our DNA and will keep us at the cutting edge of media services, delivering new and exciting services that will be enjoyed and loved by people all over the world. Once you are on the rollercoaster, you never want to get off.

Kris Langbridge, Head of Transformation & Live Video Distribution