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ADVANCING THE CREATION, PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION OF SPORTS CONTENT

AUTUMN 2021

AN

A summer of sport unlike any other Tokyo 2020 leads the way in technical innovation Also inside: UEFA Euro 2020 • Champions League Final • Super Cup The Open Championship • The Hundred • Formula 1 PLUS: SVG Europe Sponsor Update for 2021

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svgeuropeupdate

Contents

CONTENTS IN THIS ISSUE

06 From the Chairman

With major events returning and major challenges remaining it’s been a busy year for sports production

08 Opening Comment

36 Nuno Duarte, OBS

Creating a sonic landscape for the Olympics

38 Discovery

Step inside the new-look Cube studio

The industry shows its flexibility and agility as it manages ever-changing variables

12 Back in the Game

SVG Europe’s first in-person event for 18 months celebrates the summer of sport

LIVE FROM TOKYO OLYMPICS 14 Images from Tokyo

A selection of striking photos from Tokyo 2020

38

16 UHD/HDR, Cloud, AI and 5G

Exploring the many innovations on show in Japan

22 Sotiris Salamouris, OBS

Realising an ambitious vision for the games

44 BBC Sport

Public service broadcaster undertakes first remote production of a Summer Games

46 ZDF and ARD

Production split between Tokyo and new National Broadcast Centre in Mainz

48 RTÉ

50 RAI and France Télévisions

22

Delivering digital fan engagement in unique circumstances

32 Isidoro Moreno, OBS

RAI relies fully on Tokyo IBC setup; France TV in virtual studio first

52 Channel One and YLE

28 Matt Millington, OBS

Irish broadcaster delivers extensive programming and first live remote production

The head of engineering discusses the latest tech developments in Tokyo

EVS IPD-VIA makes Olympic debut with Channel One; YLE expands remote production efforts

54 Paralympic Games

Whisper delivers extensive coverage for Channel 4 viewers

SportTech Journal is produced & published by Sports Video Group Europe SportTech Journal © 2021 Sports Video Group 2

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


svgeuropeupdate

Contents

AUTUMN 2021

EURO 2020 60 Host Broadcast Facts and Figures

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL 90 MediaPro Manages Last-Minute Changes

64 Maurice Tollenaar, UEFA

94 BT Sport

The detail behind this extensive broadcast operation Chief of media rights and production services and deputy marketing director discusses the challenges of the host broadcast

70 Jamie Oakford

Match director shares how he tells the story of the games from Wembley Stadium

74 ITV Sport

Virtual studio forms the centrepiece of coverage

78 BBC Sport

84 Behind the Sound

UEFA offers everything from stereo to fully immersive 9.1 to broadcast partners

88 IMG Supports Host Broadcast Operations

From technical services to ENG crews, IMG was on hand to ensure a smooth event

Remote production comes to the fore with fewer crew on site than ever UEFA trials central HDR production

100 Open Championship

BBC remains fully onsite as rights holders switch to remote production

104 The Hundred

New format means new look as player avatars enhance broadcast graphics for Sky Sports

104 108 Formula 1

New real-time racing Insights released for 2021 season

114 SVG Europe Sponsor Update

SVG Europe sponsors share their recent highlights and the latest tech developments. Compiled by Michael Burns

180 Sponsor Index and Sponsor Thank You 184 Closing Comment

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

Location change adds extra challenge to this highly anticipated event

96 Super Cup Final

Last-minute changes make for challenging preparations, but virtual studio a big hit

78

Looking back on Tokyo and a job well done

3


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svgeuropeupdate FROM THE CHAIRMAN

Through adversity comes opportunity BY ALESSANDRO REITANO SVG Europe, chairman; Sky Deutschland, vice president, sports production

I

n last year’s opening comment, I expressed the hope that 2021 would be a better year for all of us. Even though the situation is still not easy and it remains sensitive, a certain recovery can be seen in many areas (social and economic). In terms of live sports production and handling, despite the challenge of COVID-19 and the resulting adjustments in workflows, security and logistics, a good way has been found to sustain the high production volume. It has been an incredibly busy year, because in addition to the classic ‘business as usual’, many of us were involved with the two delayed major events, Euro 2020 and the Olympics. These were produced excellently despite the difficult conditions, with a high technical effort and the implementation of very successful innovations such as HDR, AR, IP workflows, new camera perspectives, etc. This year doesn’t allow for a real break, but let’s be honest, we should consider ourselves lucky to work in an industry that has not been hit nearly as hard by the crisis as many other sectors. And it shows too: every crisis also has something good. The necessary adjustments have led to a much faster transformation towards IP, remote operations and cloud-based workflows, without which scalability would not be possible in many production environments. Hybrid working environments, the expansion of data automation driven workflows (and storytelling) and the redefinition of many processes are thus no longer imaginable without them. They also form the basis for stronger development in the area of sustainability. Here we must not tire of continuing to work on how productivity and sustainability can be reconciled. Other trends such as AI,personalised content, AR/VR and the further expansion of OTT platforms clearly show that the transformation phase is far from over. It’s here to stay — content continues to be king and technology serves as an enabler for better storytelling and an improved 6

ADVISORY BOARD CHAIRMAN

Alessandro Reitano Sky Deutschland,

SVP of Sports Production

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EDITORIAL

Ken Kerschbaumer

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS

Tim Achberger

Sportcast, Head of Innovation & Technology Management

Jennifer Angell

customer experience. The diversity in the sports rights market among customers, and the resulting change in viewer behaviour, continues to demand a new look at content generation. It is clear that, due to the crisis,‘appointment to view’ TV has increased, especially for live events across all platforms, but also for products outside the live environment. Scalability, speed in the design of targetspecific content, fan engagement and the light-footed handling of smaller leagues and events are necessary in addition to the ‘classic handling’ to increase the attractiveness of the content portfolio. With 5G, we have an exciting distribution medium in the starting blocks that will greatly change content generation and distribution and positively contribute to the changes in the market. Here in particular, there will be an exciting need for discussion in the coming months about the extent to which 5G can help us in sports production to further advance topics such as production in the cloud, in-stadium fan experience and signal transport in addition to the existing technical solutions. It remains exciting and, as every year, new challenges but also opportunities are on our agenda. On behalf of the SVG Europe Advisory Board, I would like to thank all our sponsors for their loyalty. In a visibly difficult environment, sustainable partnerships are emerging. Personally, I would like to thank the entire SVG team for the good co-operation again this year and I do not give up hope that we can all meet again in person in the near future. The range of virtual events and occasional in-person events, as well as coverage on social platforms, was unique and through a change in storytelling, the variety of topics could be further increased. The first foundation stone was laid with the Back into Game event in London in July. Many will hopefully follow soon. Stay well, everyone.

Jamie Hindhaugh

BT Sport, Chief Operating Officer

Duncan Humphreys SeeCubic, SVP Media & Value Creation

Consultant

Peter Angell

Steve Jenkins

Manuela Baraschi

Barry Johnstone

President, NEP UK & Ireland

D2C, Director

Sky Italia, Head of Business Partners & Program Mgmt

CTV Outside Broadcasts, Chairman

Konrad Bartelski

TV Skyline, Chief Executive Officer

Robert Kis

Jens Cornelius Knudsen

OTL, Consultant

Daragh Bass

TV 2 Norway, VP Production News and Sports

NEP Media Solutions UK, Head of Sales

Timo Koch

Andy Beale

EMG, Director of Operations

Michael Koegler

BT Sport, Chief Engineer

Julia Boettger

ORF Sport, Head of Directors

Sky Deutschland, Head of Operations, Sky Sports

Riccardo Botta

Sky Italia, Director – Production & Creative Hub

Jonny Bramley

BBC Sport, Executive Producer Major Events

Bridget Bremner

Sky Sports, Production Executive

Dean Locke

Formula One Management, Executive Director, TV Production

Róisín McKeniry

Timeline Television, Head of Production Technology

Dan Miodownik

Host Broadcast Services, Chief Executive Officer

Florin Mitu, FIFA

Robin Broomfield

Head of Host Broadcast Production

Alan Burns

Premier League Productions, Managing Director

Nick Morgan

Consultant

OBS TV, NEP Broadcasting Services UK, Managing Director

Eric Orengo

Gordon Castle

UEFA, Broadcast Engineer Manager

Brian Clark

NEP Europe, VP Sales

James Clement

ITV Sport, Technical Director

Charlie Cope

DAZN, Head of Global Engineering

Christer Pålsson

Eurosport, SVP of Technology

Roger Pearce

NEP Group, Director of Sales Sky Sports, Director of Operations BBC Sport, Head of Operations

Lise Cosimi Consultant

James Pearce Emili Planas

Mediapro, CTO and Operations Manager

Inga Ruehl

Malcolm Cowan

Sky Production Services, Director

NEP Media Solutions UK, Head of Technology

Sotiris Salamouris

David Crawford

Ravensbourne, Education Initiative

Michael Crimp

Olympic Broadcasting Services, Chief Technology Officer

Marcin Serafin

Ekstraklasa Live Park, Head of Operations

IBC, Chief Executive Officer

Paul Davies

David Shield

Claire Da Silva

Geert-Paul Slee

Nicolas Deal

David Tippett

All England Lawn Tennis Club, Head of Broadcast & Production DAZN, VP Production Operations

IMG Media, SVP, Global Director of Engineering & Technology Broadcast Rental, Owner

Orange Sports & Media, Chief Technology Officer

Sunset+Vine, Managing Director

James Dean

Fox Sports NL, Director, Producer, Consultant

Henk van Meerkerk

ESL UK, Managing Director

John Dollin

Anna Ward

Ronan Donagher

Shane Warden

Arsenal Football Club, Senior Product and Engineering Manager

Premier League Productions, Head of Production

World Rugby, IT & Broadcast Technology Manager

ATP Media, Chief Technology Officer

Angela Gibbons

DAZN, SVP of Broadcast Technology

CTV Outside Broadcasts, Commercial Manager

Bevan Gibson EMG, CTO

Hamish Greig

CTV Outside Broadcasts, Chief Executive Officer

Dom Wedgwood Joachim Wildt

Red Bull Media House, Global Head of Content Distribution

John Williams

Gravity Media, Head of Projects

Tom Woods

Woods Communications, President

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


svgeuropeupdate OPENING COMMENT

Flexible and agile: How sports broadcasting pivoted its way through 2021 BY WILL STRAUSS Editor, SVG Europe

I

n preparing to write this leader column I spent a significant amount of time trying to think of a suitable Olympics analogy to start things off. It is an Olympic year after all. I asked myself: if the sports broadcasting and production sector in 2020-21 was an Olympic sport, what sport would it be? Would it be weightlifting? Mighty but with a huge weight (of expectation and responsibility) hanging over it. Possibly. How about rowing? Working in unison but very much pushing against the tide. Perhaps. Or what about the high jump? Bending over backwards to achieve ever-higher standards. It’s possible that it could be a bit of all three. But, perhaps most appropriately, to my mind at least, European sports broadcasting over these past 12 months can be best compared to gymnastics: something that requires balance, strength, co-ordination and endurance, and no little artistry — but most of all flexibility and agility. Those last two are absolutely crucial. I doubt any sports producer, broadcaster, federation or service supplier has ever gone into a sporting spring and summer with so many variables to consider. As 2020 became 2021, with sport returning but no fans in stadiums, COVID rampant throughout the world, and health and travel guidelines changing almost by the hour, there was no longer just a need for a Plan A and a Plan B. But also a Plan C, D, E and in some cases F and G. Such were the unknowns. 8

Just ask Jonny Bramley, Richard Morgan and the rest of the BBC Sport team (or read about it on page 44). Their plan for Tokyo was ripped up when it became clear that, with staff safety in mind, they couldn’t do what they wanted to do on-site. They needed a Plan B. Which included round-the-clock remote production, significant amounts of off-tube commentary, virtual sets and more. But even that Plan B had to be flexible and agile. With just weeks to go before the Games started, the local rules and regulations were still changing. As another member of the BBC Sport team said to me sagely via email in the lead-up to the Olympics, having seemingly changed production plans three times in three days, Tokyo is the gift that keeps on giving. The fact that we got a Summer Olympics at all, let alone TV coverage of it, is remarkable. But we did. And the latter is very much thanks to the agility (and ingenuity) of the people within our community. Within these pages, you can read many stories like this about how sports professionals (and the productions they worked on) have pivoted and pirouetted, often at the last minute, in order to ensure TV coverage of sporting events, big and small, went to air. Live is what we do, yes. We have always been adaptable. But never have preparations been so uncertain. As such, the Journal is a glossy doffing of the cap to everyone who achieved remarkable things over the past 12 months in the face of such adversity. Or, to put it another way, if 2020-21 was to be judged, in gymnastic terms, taking into account the degree of difficulty, what score would it get? You’d have to say a perfect 10.

The certainty of uncertainty

People like certainty. In all walks of life. It makes them feel comfortable. Even the people who like adventure and danger, they are keen to know that certain things are going to pan out

in a particular way. The guy who jumps out of aeroplanes for fun is a daredevil, for sure. But he likes to know that his parachute will open. If 2020 was the year that necessity truly became the mother of invention — with fake crowds, remote production and bio-secure bubbles — then the constant changes, and subsequent lack of certainty, means 2021 was the year many of us had to double-check our own parachutes. Uncertainty can leave people feeling stressed, anxious and powerless, both at home and at work. It’s an environment that can lead to mental health problems. Something that has been increasingly prevalent in 2021 thanks to the uncertainty caused by COVID. After the 18 months we’ve just had, the mental wellbeing of staff and freelancers working within sports production has never been more important than it is right now. I talk to management all the time. They know it and their companies know it. And the best ones do something about it. But not everyone has the luxury of an understanding company, boss or colleague. That is why, earlier this year, SVG Europe launched the Wellbeing Fund, a new initiative that provides financial aid for people working in European sports broadcasting and production who have required mental health support, therapy or counselling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund, underwritten by Sony Professional Solutions Europe, provides up to €400 per person towards the cost of psychological wellbeing services. I tell you this not only to promote and highlight its existence, but also to make a point. We have to continue to look after our people long after COVID has gone. We are not machines. If a digibeta VTR got tired and rundown, we’d just clean or change the tape heads. Camera and replay operators, vision mixers, APs, editors, sound supervisors. They need more than a new or clean set of tape heads. As we push forward with sports broadcasting through 2021 and into 2022, and we come up with ever more technical, operational and on-screen innovations, and ingenious ways of coping with the new normal, my plea to everyone is this: never forget that this is a people business. Continue to be kind and considerate after the pandemic has gone. No one can do any of this by themselves. We need each other now, and in the future, more than ever. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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svgeuropeupdate

Back in the Game

Andy Beale shares his experience of making sports productions more accessible

Jamie Oakford explains to the audience how he tries to tell the story of each football match

Bringing the industry back together at Back in the Game BY JO RUDDOCK

O

n the afternoon of 28 July 2021, SVG Europe was thrilled to put on its first in-person event for 18 months. Back in the Game, sponsored by MediaKind, took place at Kings Place in London and featured a series of fireside chats focused on the Summer of Sport as well as giving attendees the opportunity to network. Sessions started with Sunset+Vine match director Jamie Oakford sharing his experiences of being UEFA World Feed host broadcast director during Euro 2020, including at the final at Wembley. “My philosophy is to try to give the viewer the best seat

Paul Davies takes us behind the scenes of Wimbledon 2021 12

CTV’s Hamish Grieg deep in conversation with SVG Europe’s Will Strauss

in the house to hope they enjoy the viewing experience,” he told attendees as he discussed COVID challenges, camera angles and preparing for penalties. Next up Paul Davies, head of broadcast, production and media rights at the AELTC, talked about managing the Wimbledon Championships in the most unique of years and how the club continued to innovate despite restrictions. “It was just about giving all our partners everything they could possibly need to deliver the Wimbledon experience in a way that their viewers, listeners, readers, writers would not notice the difference,” he said. Other speakers included CTV Outside Broadcasts chief executive Hamish Greig, who talked about the challenges that the industry has faced working through the pandemic and Brexit, and BT Sport chief engineer Andy Beale, who discussed coverage of the Disability Cup, the most accessible live football broadcast seen in the UK.

Attendees enjoyed some much-missed networking after the event SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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svgeuropeupdate

Tokyo Olympics

Live from the Tokyo Olympics Delayed by a year and delivered under challenging conditions, the Tokyo Olympics still managed to innovate and capture the attention of viewers. Here we share a few of the striking images from the Games.

14

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


svgeuropeupdate

Tokyo Olympics

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

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svgeuropeupdate

Tokyo Olympics

Photo credit: 2021 Olympic Broadcasting Services OBS in the IBC

OBS takes UHD/HDR, cloud, AI and 5G to new heights at Tokyo Games BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER

T

he pandemic may have caused the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) team to pause its efforts but it didn’t pause a focus on innovation as the Tokyo Olympics will long be remembered as the launching point of some major technological efforts. Top industry trends like UHD, HDR, spatial audio, cloud services, AI, and 5G will all drive a new level of content creation, distribution and viewer experiences. For example, UHD and HDR have been a part of the past two Olympics via tests at Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018. But OBS is adopting a new production standard across the board that will see all outputs in UHD, combined with HDR and immersive audio (5.1.4 channels) from the 42 Olympic competition venues (only the production for the seven outside tennis courts will remain in HD). OBS says setting up a broadcast environment of this scale and complexity is a significant undertaking. Delivering UHD HDR content requires customised 16

production units and workflows. Overall, OBS will utilise a total of 31 outside broadcast vans and 22 fly-away systems that have been specifically designed and fitted-out to meet the new production and distribution requirements. OBS has created a single HDR/SDR production workflow model that will allow the trucks to generate an HD 1080i SDR output via high-quality conversion from the primary UHD HDR signal. Isidoro Moreno, OBS head of engineering, says OBS has been focused on a single HDR/SDR workflow. “That has been done together with adding IP capability to our OB fleet, always making sure that we don’t sacrifice any quality in the delivery of the SDR signal,” he says. “That’s quite a challenging and complex task for an event of the scale of the Olympic Games.” The full IP infrastructure has been built to support the transport of the UHD HDR signals for the contribution network. OBS Venue Technical Operations (VTO) team has developed a set of look-up tables (LUT) in-house SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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svgeuropeupdate

Tokyo Olympics

UHD, HDR, spatial audio, cloud services, AI, and 5G will all drive a new level of content creation, distribution and viewer experiences

“5G’s nearly realtime wireless connectivity means that cameras can be untethered, allowing for more creative camera positions and angles, and reducing the set-up time and size of onsite operations” MARK WALLACE, OBS

18

to maximise the quality between all cross-conversions (from/to UHD-HD and HDR-SDR). As for technical specs, all rightsholding broadcasters will receive the international signal in HD, based on the host city’s HD standards. For Tokyo, the SMPTE 292 standard is used to allow for bit rates of 1.485Gbps for the production of the 1080i/59.94 HD-SDI signal (OBS will follow the 59.94Hz specification). UHD takers will receive the international signal in UHD HDR, with 5.1.4 audio configuration. The UHD production will adhere to the SMPTE 2036-1 standard and follow the 59.94Hz specification. The HDR standard will be Hybrid-Log Gamma (HLG). OBS says that by having natively captured the content in UHD HDR or up-converted to UHD HDR, then downconverted again, the final HD 1080i signal delivered to the Rights Holding Broadcasters (RHBs) will offer higher quality across all platforms than if produced in a standard HD production. Almost all of the content captured will be produced natively in UHD HDR; however, OBS will also rely on several speciality cameras that at this time can only operate in HD 1080p SDR. The video source of these cameras will need to be up-converted to UHD HDR to be seamlessly integrated into the main production. OBS will deliver the UHD HDR feeds to the RHBs participating in the project, while simultaneously ensuring the content delivery also in HD 1080i SDR to all broadcasters. OBS will also capture the sounds of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics through an immersive 5.1.4 audio configuration that enables viewers to have a more realistic audio experience, with sound appearing to

come from every direction — even from above. OBS will expand upon 5.1 surround sound by adding an overhead, and thus third dimension, with the addition of four hanging ceiling microphones with heights that will be adjustable. Two new microphones were specifically designed for this immersive sound production. In total, OBS will use 3,600 microphones (28 different models). Three immersive audio quality control rooms will support the venue production and guarantee quality consistency across all sports.

Clear skies for cloud-based future

In collaboration with Worldwide TOP Partner Alibaba Group, OBS has created a suite of cloud services specifically designed for data-heavy broadcast workflows. This can allow broadcasters to carry out a virtualisation of a great part of their broadcast systems and network platforms in their own private cloud installation, integrated with Alibaba Cloud technology. With the increasing demand for more content in more formats, cloud-enabled services are becoming a key partner for broadcast organisations as they can better address media management workflows from processing to editing to distribution operations. OBS says if most broadcast organisations were still in the early stages of deployment and integration of cloud-based systems at the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly accelerated the adoption of such solutions. Most organisations have been forced to carry out production and distribution workflows from home and, during the crisis, rely on cloud services to support their newly remote production. In that sense, workflows have dramatically changed over the course of the past 18 months. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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svgeuropeupdate

Mark Wallace, OBS chief content officer

“We are committed to implementing more efficient processes of creating, producing, delivering and managing recorded video material” GUILLERMO JIMENÉZ, OBS

20

With the launch of OBS Cloud, OBS says it can accommodate tailored, fully fledged cloud-based front- and back-end solutions for the RHBs to help them more easily set up all or part of their processes in the cloud. For broadcasters, this is a dramatic inflection point in the cost structure of their on-site production as they reduce up-front investments. Also, they can significantly keep their set-up time to the minimum and have their equipment all prepared for their Olympic coverage before even setting foot in the host city. Ilario Corna, chief information technology officer at International Olympic Committee, says Alibaba Cloud services will serve as a key element of OBS efforts to drive the digital transformation of the Games. “It creates a more efficient and enjoyable experience for all Olympic stakeholders and fans,” he says. “The innovation scope includes digitalisation in areas, such as operation, planning, fan experience and broadcasting.”

5G moves beyond test mode

Current 4G/LTE technology is simply unable to support the transmission of UHD broadcast-quality video. 5G, on the other hand, is designed to handle these demanding requirements. 5G will offer a wireless contribution solution with enough bandwidth to carry UHD signals,enabling IP video from broadcast cameras to be transported with ultra-low latency in a reliable way. For broadcasters, 5G connectivity will play a pivotal role by providing the large amount of bandwidth needed for contribution of high-resolution video sources with the ultra-low latency required. 5G will also offer alternatives to traditional wireless equipment and require less frequency co-ordination. Mark Wallace, OBS chief content officer, says the capability of 5G to deliver high-speed, low-latency communications will enable high-quality, real-time video with fewer wires around the field of play.” “The first trials showed the potential for remote production teams to be located almost anywhere,” he says. “5G’s nearly real-time wireless connectivity also means that cameras can be untethered, allowing for more creative camera positions and angles, and reducing the set-up time and size of onsite operations.” OBS conducted its first field tests of network performance and quality from the end-user perspective on a 5G network at PyeongChang 2018 and will carry out real-condition trials of 5G technology again in Tokyo. At the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, OBS will broadcast content from ENG cameras using a 5G network and send it back to the IBC where the speed will be measured and the overall network performance monitored.

Tokyo Olympics

OBS is set to adopt 5G’s wireless technology further for the broadcast of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 where all the competition venues are expected to have 5G network coverage.

AI in the spotlight

AI technology will make it easier to create new content and viewing experiences at the Olympics. At a time when there is an increasing appetite for more content and faster delivery through multiple platforms in different formats, automation is proving its mettle as a key driver in helping broadcasters optimise their content production and delivery workflows and enhance efficiencies. OBS says AI will be a big part of it as it will leverage AI-led solutions in some of its broadcast workflows, as a way of testing how it will evolve to be included in future operations. “We are committed to implementing more efficient processes of creating, producing, delivering and managing recorded video material,” says Guillermo Jimenéz, OBS, director of broadcast engineering. “Using AI capabilities can help us not only streamline labour and time-intensive processes, resulting in faster turnaround, but also deliver more personalised user experiences.” OBS will run an Automatic Media Description (AMD) pilot project based on athlete recognition and this pilot will be conducted on a select number of specifically chosen sports. OBS will combine existing metadata such as the Broadcast Data Feed (BDF) and video logs with image recognition based on athlete bibs. “We could customise the automatic content offering based on user preferences, whether by national Olympic committee, athlete, or sport. It means that instead of RHBs searching for content, content will be automatically pushed to them,” says Jimenéz. “AI-driven technology is making the process of content discovery faster and more accurate, adding tremendous value across the content lifecycle.” Additionally, OBS will use speech-to-text technology to complement and improve the tagging of media assets. Such applications will allow a faster and more efficient turnaround of workflows such as image selection, automatic searching and clipping. By Beijing 2022, OBS is aiming to expand this process to as many sports as possible, make the most of AI-driven tools in its internal workflows and open the service to RHBs. Ultimately, OBS is trying to develop applications that can use this enriched data to create automatic summaries and create pattern detections. Data generated through AI-based solutions can be used post-Games to analyse production to help improve the predicted content for each user. Combined with the IOC’s Sports Data Project, AI can provide insights into the expected performance of athletes and comparisons with previous Games and other major events. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Tolyo Olympics

OBS’s Sotiris Salamouris inside the OBS Tech Area at the IBC

OBS CTO Sotiris Salamouris on the move to UHD, HDR, IP, and immersive audio BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER

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hen the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games ended, OBS CTO Sotiris Salamouris and his team laid out an ambitious vision for the 2020 Tokyo Games. Not only did they want to transition from SDI to IP, but they also wanted to go all UHD and HDR. It was an ambitious plan, but the team has pulled it off, despite a pandemic-mandated delay that may have allowed more time for testing and development but also meant less time to get ready for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. Even with multiple years to plan, there is little in the way of wiggle room because there is always another Olympics to plan for, new technology to embrace and new projects to launch to better meet the needs of rightsholders. “When the postponement happened,” says Salamouris, “we already had about 150 people here in Tokyo. It was a project in and of itself just to figure out how to freeze things and then get people back home. We needed to deal

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with the situation here, co-ordinate with Beijing and then also deal with new requirements from broadcasters, who were all concerned with how they would work remotely and their space inside the IBC.” When the Games were delayed by a year, he notes, it gave the team a bit more time to do testing with broadcasters. But the team tried hard not to change the scope of what they were looking to accomplish as it dealt with other issues, including logistical challenges and, of course, the pandemic. “It was difficult,” says Salamouris, “because, in order to be ready for the event, we have a very well-coordinated plan.We had two areas of difficulty. One was international logistics, which were also affected by the pandemic with frequent flight changes and cancellations. In addition, as though one bad option was not already enough, sea transports were experiencing challenges due to the overall backlog created by the Suez Canal blockage some time ago.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Tolyo Olympics

And then there were pandemic issues, he adds. Because OBS brings thousands of international staff in to work the Games, the Japanese authorities and the Organising Committee established a thorough regime to safeguard the health and safety of the international personnel and, of course, the local population. This famous “playbook” mandated rigorous testing and other measures to minimise infection in the Games environment. Salamouris notes that there were some disruptions in OBS operations. Contact tracing on the plane to Tokyo, for example, required some personnel to quarantine, making them unavailable to work. “We had Plan Bs to address such eventualities,” he says.“It is totally impossible to fully predict what kind of impact you may have if someone from your personnel, who have very varying and sometimes unique skillsets, may need to quarantine.” “We have the playbook,” he continues,“and people were tested and tested. The reality was that the percentage of positives found was extremely low. However, there were cases where people may have been in the vicinity of suspicious cases or even positives and then had to quarantine. Suddenly, you have people who are essential to your team disappearing, sometimes for two weeks.” Despite the travails, dozens of rightsholders, thousands of production professionals and thousands of athletes and volunteers are onsite for the second week of the Tokyo Games.And, although technical innovation may be taking a backseat to the ongoing concerns around COVID-19, it’s important to look at some of the innovations that make these Games arguably the single most impressive technical achievement in the history of sports production.

Embracing the cloud

As rightsholders reshaped their plans for the Tokyo Games, the OBS efforts around cloud-based services started to become more important. “They became a priority,” says Salamouris,“as they would allow rightsholders to do more remotely and operate from wherever they are located.” OBS cloud-based services are built on the Alibaba Cloud platform, and Salamouris says it would not be easy to do without their support.“You need specialised support to do this, and we are able to get Alibaba’s attention.” The more popular cloud services include Content+, Content+ Extra and Live Cloud, although there are several others that OBS had developed over Alibaba’s public cloud for either its internal consumption or delivery to the RHBs. All three have become increasingly important because of the pandemic. “We’ll produce more than 9,000 hours of content, 5,500 hours of which is live competitions, ceremonies and other scenes and content from the venues,” says Salamouris. “The rest is post-produced. The point is, how do we make that accessible to broadcasters?” The two main ways for rightsholders to access all that content is Content+ and Content+ Extra, which are basically the same service but with different access rights. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

OBS will produce more than 9,000 hours of content, 5,500 hours of which is live

Content+ gives access to all the post-produced content, such as features, interviews and highlights. A file-based system, it gives the user the ability to download an entire clip or part of it or even do some editing in the cloud. “Content+ Extra is the same things but with access to growing files for competitions as they are happening,” explains Salamouris.“You can browse it and clip whatever you want and download it while the session is still on.You can’t feed it to distribution, but you can build your own highlights once you select what high-resolution file [is] sent to you.” For rightsholders looking to do cloud-based distribution, there is Live Cloud, which makes all the video and audio signals available via IP packets streamed over the public internet. The whole process is controlled by cloud-based applications built and made available by OBS. “They can select whatever they want from our available 75 HD and 46 UHD distribution channels,” Salamouris explains, “and they can get it wherever they are in the world over the public internet. The amazing thing is that we have confirmed that we have four broadcasters that are using this to transmit UHD.” The signals are available at 100Mbps per UHD feed, exceeding even the compression specs for UHD, which are common via satellite. “It goes from one part of the world to another with no packet loss, no breaks and with latency that is similar to satellite transmission,” he points out. “That is great news, because one of the big things about UHD is the cost of getting the signals back home. This is a very cost-effective way of getting as much UHD as you want.”

Why IP matters for UHD

The move to IP has been intense, interesting, but ultimately very successful, Salamouris says, because OBS was able to combine the move to IP with the move to UHD. Native coverage is UHD with HDR and wide colour gamut (WCG), and an HD SDR version is derived from that UHD HDR production. 23


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“We’re very, very happy to establish ST-2110 and PTP as our basic technology”

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“We wanted to move to UHD,” he notes, “and we knew that we could not scale with a standard quad SDI workflow for the volume of content we wanted. Since we are using a substantially large fleet of existing OB units but also fly-away systems (31 OB vans and 22 fly-away systems, quite often with multi-feed outputs), it was impractical and unnecessary to impose the exact type of internal technology that these systems could use. Many of those had migrated to IP, but the majority were still based on quad SDI,‘legacy broadcast’ technologies for their internal signal routing. “We had no issue with that,” he continues, “as long as they were engineered to support our UHD workflow, including, of course, our expectations for capacity and resilience. Each production unit, however, had to deliver a double UHD HDR version and a double HD SDR signal in parallel paths. From this demarcation onwards, HD and UHD followed independent paths and were based on totally independent technology stacks. We used our legacy contribution and distribution systems for HD, but, for UHD, we moved fully to IP.” The UHD contribution, hence what it takes to move UHD content from the venues to the IBC, is a combination of technologies based on SMPTE ST-2022, which Salamouris says has several advantages over ST-2110 at this stage. “Within the IBC,” he notes, “all the signal routing and distribution is based on an SDN infrastructure carrying ST-2110, as is all the signal monitoring. We also have PTP timing that has worked very well, and we’re surprised at how robust the whole thing has been when it comes to networking. We’re very, very happy to establish ST-2110 and PTP as our basic technology.” The production efforts for the Tokyo Olympics are massive, deploying more than 1,050 cameras. About 70% of those cameras are broadcast, CCU/BPU-supported native UHD; the remainder are SDI-output cameras, mostly in native UHD but a few also in 1080p (there are no 1080i camera sources). “An important innovation from our side,” he says, “was the combined/common live workflow for UHD HDR and HD SDR. We very soon realised that we had only one option for introducing UHD in the Olympics: to build a unified workflow that will be delivering both UHD and HD from the same higher-quality format, which of course could only be UHD in BT.2020, with HLG HDR and WCG. Of course, such a single workflow will always need to guarantee a premium quality in HD, since this is the format that the great majority of the world broadcasters still use. UHD had also to be visually implacable; otherwise, its introduction would not make sense at all.” “To achieve all these quite aggressive and challenging goals,” he continues, “we had to develop a unique workflow that had to deviate substantially from what had been so for the more common approaches of producing

Tolyo Olympics

UHD with HD for live sports. We ended up developing three types of our own HDR look-up tables. We realised that, because our own needs are very specific, we had to create our own conversion tables.” Each of the look-up tables (LUTs) has a specific purpose. One takes existing SDR sources, such as archival material or specialty cameras, and places them into the HDR domain. A second table is specifically designed for graphics needs. And then a final table helps convert UHD to HD. “We incorporated those LUTs in converters in the trucks, or the trucks themselves have their own ability to program the LUTs into equipment like the vision mixer,” says Salamouris. “But it was a very long process with very extensive testing and a rigorous certification phase every time that we were deciding to use existing truck resources.” The result is a single workflow for all 50+ production units. “They all have exactly the same workflows regardless of which sport they are doing or what venue,” he explains. “That has proved to be nice, as we have had zero issues with our UHD HDR output and our HD SDR output. It’s the same picture but enhanced in resolution due to 4K, brightness highlights wherever they exist (this is due to HDR) and colour fullness wherever it exists (and this is due to WCG), which is what it should be.” Each truck also has a visual expert who works with the shading team and is also in contact with a centralised VQC in the IBC, where experts make sure that the results across all the sports are dialled in similarly.

Inside 5.1.4

Along with improvements on the video side has been the move to 5.1.4 discrete immersive sound, which adds four channels above the listener to provide a sense of height. According to Salamouris, 5.1 surround sound, despite being available for some time now, has not caught on with viewers because it requires placing dedicated speakers around a room. He believes soundbars could change the equation, especially with 5.1.4. “The technology in soundbars has developed so much and they are so sophisticated that they are close in quality to a dedicated surround-sound system,”he explains.“We think it is now worthwhile to enhance audio production. It makes a difference with the sound space on top of you, especially in sports, where you want to feel like you are there.” Distributing as many as 4,000 microphones across the venues, he notes, enables the audio mixers to get sounds from close to the action but also makes things more complicated. “The sound engineer has to really be able to follow a live event,” he says.“At any moment, there could be something that would give the audio some punch. And, with fewer people in the stands, there is more-dramatic sound reproduction.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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The Tokyo Olympics IBC was located in the Tokyo Big Sight convention centre

“We ended up developing three types of our own HDR look-up tables. We realised that, because our own needs are very specific, we had to create our own conversion tables”

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Coming into the Games, OBS and the production teams at the venues were armed with audio recordings of specific crowds to fill the empty spaces. But there has been a presence, whether it is the production teams or fellow teammates, coaches and media. “Clearly,” says Salamouris, “it’s a different experience in the venue. But there is a presence, and you can hear the more nuanced sounds of the sport itself. Although there were a lot of preparations to use virtual fan sounds, it hasn’t been necessary. We had it all prepared, but, in the end, we’ve had a good environment in terms of the existing sound.”

A smaller, greener IBC

For more than a decade, OBS has been working hard to figure out how to make it easier for rightsholders to have a smaller onsite presence. The pandemic caused that to happen in terms of personnel, but the physical space is also smaller, around 40,000sqm versus 50,000+sqm in Rio in 2016. “It has been engineered to make that happen,” Salamouris explains. “One important way is the consolidation of all the technical spaces in our CTA, or Centralised Technical Areas. It has helped a lot with the overall efficiency of space needed but is even more important in providing efficiency in the cooling and the power system.” Before development of the CTA, each broadcaster’s space within the IBC would include not only a production area but also a machine room. The machine rooms tended to be as small as possible, so that the production team had as much space as possible. But tightly confined racks of equipment require plenty of air-conditioning to keep the gear cool. And, with machine rooms located throughout the IBC, that meant powerful air-conditioning throughout the facility. “IBCs were often very cold inside, and people would be forced to wear a jacket,” says Salamouris.“But here the conditions are far better because we essentially have data centres with very robust and specialised cooling, along

Tolyo Olympics

with very specialised power distribution. Everybody is sharing the same space, and each broadcaster has their own cage.” The CTAs and all the efforts by OBS to create cloud and other services are also designed to shorten the setup time for an IBC that is creating more content than ever and in more-complex ways. Over the past 20 years, the time to set up the IBC has remained static. Salamouris and OBS hope to change that. “We are always given just some weeks or some days to set up and do our job,” he says. “That is why the cloud is important to us: you can set up a workflow at any time and test it for months before the [event]. You can commission it, switch it down and then switch it up before the Games. That is a concept that works for us.”

Beijing beckons

The Tokyo Games still have a few days left (and then there are the Paralympics), but upwards of 80 OBS team members are already in Beijing, working on the 2022 Winter Games, which are six months away. “They have already started building the IBC in Beijing,” says Salamouris,“and the size of the team is going to grow during the next week.” Winter Games typically have two IBCs: one in the mountain cluster and one near the indoor venues. The Beijing Games, he says, will feature the largest mountain cluster IBC. “It will be more than 5,000sqm because many broadcasters have decided to be there because the snow sports happen to be more popular with their audiences,” he says. “We will also have a big number of studios up there with some very nice views of the ski jump.”

Reflections on Tokyo

“Of course,” says Salamouris, “it is still very early to celebrate or even congratulate ourselves [on the Tokyo Games]. Every single moment of live broadcast under the pressure of a major event represents a big challenge; many things can go wrong and you always need a good portion of luck to get through unscathed, regardless of all the best preparations and plans.” He notes there is never an inappropriate moment to express gratitude to the OBS engineering and technical team that has worked so hard and for so long to make this big, complex technical project a reality.“The pandemic has imposed another layer of difficulty, quite unprecedented, which proved incapable to bend the determination and moral of our fantastic people, even if some of them had to quarantine when we returned to Tokyo to begin again our technical install in March.” “As always,” he continues, “it is a people’s achievement. We are constantly indebted for their love to the Olympics and their determination to always deliver the best, despite any adversities.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Tokyo Olympics

Millington and the OBS digital team have worked hard to connect athletes with family and friends

OBS director of digital content production Matt Millington on widgets, athlete moments and VR BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER

O

BS puts a lot of energy and time into digital fan engagement offerings so what happens when the fans aren’t in the stands supporting their nation and cheering on their friends and family? For OBS it meant filling the gap with a new type of digital experience, one that not only can get virtual fans into the venues but also connect athletes with their friends and families immediately following a competition. Oh, and OBS had to do it quickly. “It was a very late project that we basically started working on about four months ago when the announcement was made that international fans would not be allowed into the venues,” says Matt Millington, OBS director of digital content production. “So, we started working on three products, two of them are geared towards the fans and one is geared towards the athletes.” The two fan experiences are the Cheer Map and the Fan Video Wall. “They are widgets that can be integrated on any rights holder’s page or any other partner like federations and national Olympic committees,” says Millington. “Cheer 28

Map is a widget that allows fans to cheer for their country of choice and while it does default to where the IP address is based, they can choose another country.” Once in the widget, fans can virtually clap for their favourite nation’s athletes. “We have a heat map of the world where you can see bubbles of support for different nations,” says Millington.“Interestingly, we’re getting a lot of traffic from India, a lot from Japan, obviously a lot from Australia and we credit that to the time zone. But we have 205 countries or national Olympic committees and all of them have had cheers.” As of 30 July, more than 120 million fans had cheered and some also uploaded a selfie video from their phone or their laptop. Those videos are being placed into a video matrix with 45 fans and are then played out on the big screens at all the venues and made available to rights holders. “It allows fans to virtually be there and the sports presentation teams who control the video scoreboards can utilise both the map and the video,” adds Millington.

Athlete moments

The big addition, however, is the Athlete Moment as it connects athletes with family and friends via video immediately after their competition. “It’s been my favourite part of the project,” says Millington.“We’ve set up Athlete Moment viewing stations in selected venues and we positioned it in a good place right before the mixed zone so it’s right in their path.” Millington says there have been some fantastic moments, with the best usually involving a family gathered in a room having a watch party. “It’s not the first time that this has been done but definitely the first time at this scale,” he says.“We have an operations centre in Belgium, with a large team who are connecting with families prior to and during the event. And then we link them to the athlete.” Key is making it simple for families at home to use. An athlete signs up to be part of the progamme and gets a link that they then share with family and friends. “The family and friends click on that link and are connected to the team in Belgium who tells them what is going to happen and about things like delay,” he says. It also appears to be one of those things born of the pandemic that will stick around. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Tokyo Olympics

Canoe slalom is one of the sports being covered in VR in Tokyo

“When you see 8K in VR, it’s distinctly different and you don’t need to be a visual expert to see a massive improvement, so we’ll be doing that in Beijing”

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“We think it’s here to stay. We haven’t been able to cover every venue and every sport but, in the future, that would be our real goal: to cover every sport. There are some challenges like team sports with 11 or more members. How do you manage that with the time allowed? But we’ve learned a lot in the last two weeks about how to make the workflow better and what technology works best.” Even the virtual fans could be a keeper. “Clearly the audience within a venue is tiny compared to the worldwide audiences watching on television,” says Millington. “We’d like to see the technology progress to allow people to not only upload a video, but for us to be able to point to that video so they can get a link some minutes later to the video they are in.”

Improvements to the Olympic Video Player

Since the PyeongChang Games in 2018 the Olympic Video Player (OVP) has undergone a redesign to not only make it cleaner but to also make the full app available as widgets and modules. Widgets include live sports results, the medals table, the schedule, athlete profiles and video highlights or interviews. Live video is also available. “We decided to split the OVP into widgets and we’ve seen huge uptake in those widgets or modules,” says Millington. “Rights holders can take the live results, the medal count table or schedule as individual widgets. In fact, those three are the most popular as it is an easy way to integrate all the data. For a single rights holder to try and take on the onus of stats is very impractical.” On top of that OBS also offers a simpler version in the I-frame that is slightly less customisable and is in use by more than 80 national Olympic committees and international federations.

VR offers production assist for rights holders

VR also continues to be a part of the OBS deliverables, and the sports covered in VR for these games include beach volleyball, basketball, athletics, gymnastics, boxing, and the ceremonies. “We went for sports where we could get pretty close to the action,” says Millington. “VR doesn’t really work very well on some of the larger venues like football where you’re a bit too far away from the actual field for a large amount of time. And then we have crews doing short pieces for all the other sports and that’s where we do a lot of the POVs with things like cameras on BMX, mountain bike, canoeing or rowing.” The biggest news on the VR front has less to do with the consumer experience and more with leveraging it to help solve a problem for broadcasters: getting a great venue image for a virtual studio backdrop. The images from the high VR cameras that provide an overall view of the venue are solving that issue. “Rights holders can bring that back to their home base and make it look as if their announcers are in a VIP box,” says Millington.“It’s actually very good and really effective and that will be seeing more progress in the Beijing Games [next February] where it will be in all venues. It’s not a difficult thing to do as it’s just a single fixed camera feed straight from the venue.” VR will also make the move to 8K acquisition in Beijing, something Millington says will make the viewing experience much better. “When you see 8K in VR, it’s distinctly different and you don’t need to be a visual expert to see a massive improvement,” says Millington. “So, we’ll be doing that in Beijing.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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svgeuropeupdate

Tokyo Olympics

Isidoro Moreno, OBS director of engineering, says OBS has worked closely with broadcasters on HDR

OBS head of engineering Isidoro Moreno discusses the latest tech developments in Tokyo s head of engineering for OBS, Isidoro Moreno knows his tech. And at the 2020 Tokyo Games he is drawing on all his skills as well as those of his team. Why? Because not only are the Tokyo Olympics the first ever to be all IP but it is also all UHD, all HDR and all immersive audio with 5.1.4 channels. Moreno discussed the new developments and more with SVG at the IBC.

I was speaking with Dave Mazza, SVP and chief technical officer, NBC Sports Group and NBC Olympics, and he said it is amazing that you were able to find enough UHD trucks and facilities to go all UHD. How did you do that? It was one of the bigger challenges and how to find enough trucks to do UHD was one of the first studies that we did. We wanted to figure out if we could do 100%, 50%, or whatever and at the beginning it did not seem possible to cover 100%. But we had contracts with companies that were about to build trucks and we were counting on them being built for UHD. At the Opening Ceremony we used a UHD flyaway system that was designed specifically to do the opening ceremonies and it was based on ST-2110 IP. There is an opportunity to develop new systems that can be used for future games.

Transitioning to UHD, HDR and IP all at once is a pretty big lift. How has it been going and what have you learned? We are learning a lot and it’s an opportunity for us to streamline our workflows. Here in Tokyo the number of new projects we have started is huge and the number of services we offer to rights holders has increased by about 50% since the Rio Olympics in 2016. And those new services can be only achieved by applying new technologies. For instance, in the IP world we have increased the

Did the one-year delay give you a chance to change anything? We went to the market looking to see what could help us fulfil our needs. In UHD we saw a mature market that offered us what we were looking for. We had to offer services like splits in the cameras, replays, super slo mos, and RF systems so we were investigating how to upgrade those to UHD. So, out of the 1,049 cameras we are using, very few are natively 1080p. One thing we have learned [in tests] is that using native 1080i equipment and upconverting to UHD

BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER

“Here in Tokyo the number of new projects we have started is huge and the number of services we offer to rights holders has increased by about 50% since the Rio Olympics in 2016” 32

capacity between the venues and the IBC. In London there was just one video feed per fibre and things were extremely big because you needed a lot of lines. But now with IP we can create trunks and aggregate services on a single fibre. We also have redundancies we didn’t have in the past as we can have two services and have a guarantee against failure. Also, the transition from HD to UHD is gradual [for rights holders]. We have to separate the UHD signal from the HD signal in order to stay consistent with the service level we had in the past. We cannot force everyone to change to a new format, so IP is useful in offering both HD and UHD services. At the same time, we also upgraded our internet services so that, for example, athletes in the mixed zones can reach their own country using the internet.

A

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Tokyo Olympics

It’s been a complex process and we are collaborating with broadcasters to better understand their needs. We have worked with NBC, BBC, NHK and the rest and we are really happy that we are working in the same direction. At the end of the day that is our mission: not what OBS wants but to help the broadcasters.

The improvements made this year have had the added benefit of streamlining workflows

did not create content at the level we wanted. But when you start with 1080p and then go up to UHD and then down to 1080i there is a much better result. One important decision we made, which was risky, was that in the past experiments were done in parallel. For example,in 1992 in Barcelona the Olympics HD production was a completely parallel production as we didn’t want to interact or interfere with the main production. But here we are doing a single production with maximum UHD quality. All the elements are fully native UHD or [upconvert] at a good level. But we wanted to have full athletic coverage with the same number of cameras we had in the past and that has been super helpful to broadcasters. How about working in HDR? Once you understand HDR it’s a big improvement. When we were talking about UHD SDR it was more pixels, bigger resolution, but we didn’t explore the whole world of colorimetry and wide colour gamut. We studied how to make HDR compatible with up and down conversion as our main product is 1080i SDR. So, we have three transforms that keep the colour spectrum of UHD as much as possible within the 709 colour space used for SDR. With things like country flags in graphics the colorimetry is important.We want to maximise the quality and user experience in HDR without compromising 1080i with things like shifting colours that are not correct. So, we created our own set of Look Up Tables (LUTs) that broadcasters can use free of charge. We want to make our pictures compatible with the personalised pictures they create with their own cameras. 34

The past year has seen a lot of interest in live production in the cloud. What is your take on the cloud and what it means to the future of production here at OBS? We need remote production from broadcasters for many reasons. The IBC cannot keep growing and now they can receive content back home that in the past was limited or, if something was produced at the Olympics, it could not be transferred back home. And broadcasters demanded it even more with the pandemic as it was critical for people to stay home as with social distancing a space that once had 500 people could not hold 500 people. That forced us to start thinking ahead to solve issues of remote working, and the cloud system from Alibaba allowed us to have a platform from where we could make services available to broadcasters. We have new services like archive, where we ingest 9,000 hours of content and make it available to broadcasters. In the past to get access to content was kind of difficult because you had to have a machine that was remotely connected with our video server, had to use your own pipe, etc. But now we are uploading low-resolution proxies in mezzanine format which is perfect for digital platforms. And we opened the archive worldwide via a web browser so users could search for content in our Content+ platform. In the past we only hosted clips we produced but now it hosts the whole archive: live sessions, feature clips, musical clips, it’s all available on the cloud. We are also doing a test for a cloud-based VandA where rights holders can load an application, switch between streams, and then receive a UHD stream through the internet at 90Mbps. It’s been quite stable and it’s very interesting. The Beijing Games are only six months away. I am assuming you won’t be looking to make any major changes? We want to keep things the same in Beijing as much as possible but obviously we will refine something if we need to. But it’s a special situation as usually we have a year and a half and now, we have only months. We do have some things in our road map, but we can’t apply them in Beijing as it would be too risky. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Big shotgun mics are being replaced by smaller mics that can be mounted on a hurdle or other equipment

Taking the roof off sound design with OBS’ Nuno Duarte BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER

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uno Duarte, Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) sound design and audio manager, has one of those jobs that most audiophiles dream of. Yes, it may be at a scale that could turn the dream into a nightmare, but being able to create a sonic landscape for Olympic events that folds the listener not only into the venue, but the field of play, is something every sound designer would love to tackle. The big news this year was the rollout of 5.1.4, or what also may be known as 9.1. The big difference from 5.1 surround sound is the addition of four channels that OBS sound design and audio manager, Nuno Duarte are heard from above. 36

“Day one after the Opening Ceremonies we had all venues in production with 5.1.4 and no issues,” Duarte says. “All the A1s quickly got the point of what it was we wanted, and we had 36 venues up with guys doing it for the first time. The results have been fantastic and both experts and non-experts can tell it is more immersive.”

Sound design and how to listen

At first blush, adding in four more channels to a mix may sound like a daunting task, but Duarte says the goal was to make it easy for the mixers. More equipment not only makes things more complicated, but also introduces new points of failure. “We don’t add more people, and the only additional equipment is a specific microphone and four speakers [in the mixing area],” he says. “And now manufacturers have to start working on the details like the proper metres. But it’s not a huge investment: it’s about the sound design and how to listen.” Duarte says one or two mics is all that is needed to give the perception of height. “We have the same surround mics, same crowd mics, we just add one more block: something coming from above,” he says.“One microphone can cover the sound field.” The difference when listening to an event in surround sound and then flipping to 5.1.4 is immediately noticeable. While surround sound tends to put the emphasis on hearing an instrument or effect in a corner of the room, the 5.1.4 experience seems to expand the size of the room. It sounds as if the roof has been raised (or taken off for SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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an outdoor event,) and effects that were once stuck in the corner are much more present. That, says Duarte, creates the auditory space to do even more. “You have to get to the details,” he explains.“Ambience is the background and then you can start building the sound of the sport on top of the crowd. The more immersive and the more you feel like you are inside the venue, the more space you have to add the details.”

Moving forward with discrete mics

Duarte says federations are important partners in the effort and their co-operation is crucial. “We had fantastic results in sailing as we have mics on the athletes and the quality of the production increased a lot as you can hear what is happening on the boats and hear the athletes talk,” he says. Like the sailing proved, an important step forward will require more microphones that are smaller and more discrete. Big shotgun mics for a track and field event are being replaced by smaller mics that can be mounted on a hurdle or apparatus and deliver the same effect. “It lets you get closer to the athlete and the sound source, but it is also less intrusive on the picture,” he says. The OBS 5.1.4 audio effort is agnostic with respect to encoding formats like Dolby or MPEG-H.

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

“We want to give the material a longer legacy,” says Duarte. “Rights holders can choose to encode in Dolby or MPEG-H and add in commentators and additional objects. But our base is there for the immersive needs.” Anyone who watched the Games saw the lack of fans in the stands and Duarte says that sound banks were prepared for worst case scenarios that didn’t occur as fellow athletes, coaches and officials often provided enough audio ambience. “There is nothing like the human sound source as we react better than any machine,” he says of fake crowd noises. “Our audio plan changed very little as we would just adjust the microphones away from the empty stands and towards the stands that had people.” It is also worth noting that the empty stands allowed for more audio details to be heard from the field of play. Simply put, viewers will want to keep hearing those details even when the fans return so look for OBS to work with the federations to continue to deliver those details. The next big challenge, and it will be on the to-do list for the Winter Games in Beijing next February, is how to add effects from above to outdoor events like road races. “There is sound there, like the noise of the people or the city,” he says. “To figure that out you need to leave the audio gallery, go out and listen.”

“The results have been fantastic and both experts and non-experts can tell it is more immersive”

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On-screen talent Reshmin Chowdhury speaks with senior Discovery executives Andrew Georgiou and Scott Young at the launch of the new-look Cube

An extraordinary piece of kit: Discovery unveils new look Cube with enhanced analytics capabilities for Tokyo Olympics BY HEATHER MCLEAN FIRST PUBLISHED 15 JULY 2021

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iscovery has unveiled an enhanced threestorey, multiple ‘room’ Cube for the Tokyo Olympics that includes cutting-edge analytical capabilities and a more gamified viewing experience for sports fans. The new extended reality Cube studio will be the centrepiece of Discovery’s coverage of Tokyo 2020, showcasing new software and motion graphics that will push the Cube’s analytical capabilities to a whole new level, while giving viewers the chance to deep dive into the details of why an athlete won gold – or did not. The multi-location Cube studio features seven different immersive real-time video environment locations, or ‘rooms’, which will be used for different shows, bespoke 360-degree beauty shots of Tokyo as backdrops, newlyreleased 3D Zoom software to allow viewers to see wider panoramic views of Cube locations, and a virtual set 38

extension with cameras able to roam around the digital environment, taking the gamification of this presentation studio to new heights.

Extraordinary piece of kit

On the new enhanced Cube, Scott Young, Discovery’s senior vice president of content and production, says from Tokyo: “Well, this is an extraordinary piece of kit. Virtual studios are not new in the world, but what Alex Dinnin [Discovery Sports’ head of graphics and innovation] and his team have created is extraordinary. It’s world-class.” Adds Young: “This is virtual studios’ next level. It’s quite extraordinary.” The Cube has been designed to create a virtual environment that will bring Japan to the viewer at home. This includes the atmosphere in the country as well, so if the weather is bad, the Cube will reflect that. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Explains Young:“We had a cracking thunderstorm here the other day that nearly tore the place apart, so how we react to weather in this environment is a key piece. You can see the trees and the plants behind you [and] we can start to make them sway in the background to get the environment going. If it’s getting a little stuffy [in Japan] we can open the doors, we can get a bit of breeze in there for you; a few more keystrokes and the Cube comes to life.” Coverage within the Cube will follow the Japanese clock, creating night and day effects, and the presentation will move around the virtual three-storey building to different ‘rooms’ to suit each show style, from informal to formal. Andrew Georgiou, president of sports at Discovery, comments on the night-to-day and multiple room aspects of the new Cube: “Certainly providing a different setting for the talent at different points in the day to create a different feel and a different outlook for the audience [is key]. I think if you’ve got two to three weeks of continuous coverage with the same setting it can get quite monotonous, I suspect. If we’re doing something relaxed you’ve got a soft area, if you’re doing analysis it’s the formal area. You’ve got different ways of creating a different atmosphere that I think makes it a little bit more authentic for the viewer to be able to experience the Games.”

Expanded virtual environment

On why Discovery has chosen to expand on its virtual environment in the Cube far beyond what has been bought to screens up until now, Young says: “The art of the Cube is if you’re sitting at home watching our content, after a while you sort of forget that it’s not real. [This is] a broadcast for two weeks with an enormous number of sports and athletes and stories to tell, and we want to keep the environment in which we’re telling that story as fresh as possible. The reason that we’ve created a broader environment [within the Cube] is so we can have different locations to move around, and the reason we go from night to day is to be there and experience the environment as if we were here.” “That’s why we’re playing around with the wind [moving] the trees, and the doors [that] can open up,” continues Young. “You want it to be an interactive experience that when you’re sitting at home; it’s not just a passive set.And when you start to work with suppliers like Unreal Engine, you realise there is a lot that they can do. I think the gaming world is very adept at understanding how you create a life-like as possible environment for people who spend a great deal of time in those environments.” As for the new analytical capabilities of the Cube, which

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Athlete and on-screen talent Greg Rutherford demonstrates some of the new capabilities of the Cube

“Our production teams now across Europe are starting to realise the power of this Cube. It’s really only bounded by our creative thinking process”

are being developed using Unreal Engine, Discovery’s developers are still working to enable more sports to be put under the microscope within the Cube in Tokyo. By the time the Opening Ceremony takes place the company will have developed immersive explanations for six to seven specific sports. Says Young: “We’re working with developers very quickly to push the software as fast as we can get it to go across the new sports and emerging sports that are coming up. It’s a mixture between our creative ingenuity and the software developers and how we can start to understand how to bring those sports to life in the Cube. It’s not just an analysis tool like you would see in other sports; this needs to have a very different piece of software, a background so that we can bring that sport to life. It takes time as the technology is developing as fast as our appetite is; supply and demand is probably our biggest challenge.” This issue of supply and demand means Discovery is looking for technology partners that can keep up with and enhance its ambitious and creative ideas. Explains Young: “We’re getting to boundaries now – where are we going to need to find technology providers that can create and develop at the rate of which we can now think. Our production teams across Europe are starting to realise the power of this Cube. It’s really only bounded by our creative thinking process.We now need to start with suppliers that are traditionally in that gaming world, and Unreal has been fantastic in a lot of the development [of the Cube].”

Genius behind the Cube

Discovery is working with NEP as its technical equipment provider on the ground and Globecast as its connectivity provider, with OBS’ Alibaba Cloud as a backup path for its content. Young says: “We operate with NEP who supply our technical equipment, and Globecast as part of our connectivity team here. Those two suppliers work very closely with us across our other sports productions and distribution [and] are well aware of what’s required for the Cube. Physically here [in Japan the Cube consists of] a room that has been painted green, with cameras and 40

Tokyo Olympics

the monitors. The actual cube component at this end is quite simple. In fact, it’s a green screen studio that is still very native to its original green screen elements that were introduced many, many years ago.” “The genius behind the Cube is actually sitting in the machine software at Stockley Park, which is taking the physical device that’s sitting on the floor and then the Unreal Engine platforms, the graphic platforms, that sit in behind it,” continues Young. “It’s the complexity that’s back in our set up in London that makes it come to life.” There is zero latency on the Cube, which uses uncompressed bandwidth, says Young. “It’s quite extraordinary,” he states. “I can tell you from walking in [to the Cube] and putting an earpiece in, you can have a conversation as if you were standing there [with the other person]. There is no latency like you would traditionally see if you were sending a news reporter out into the field on a mobile view kit.” “That’s done through very large pipes that we have here, but that’s part of the package of the 164 feeds that we’re sending back, and 44 of those are UHD feeds, which require an enormous amount of bandwidth. The bandwidth package that we send back here and through the three different diverse paths give us the opportunity to send back full resolution for the full video from the Cube,” Young explains. “It’s not compressed in any way, which is where you would start to get into the necessity of latency.”

Proximity versus remote production

On the remote production aspects of the Cube, Young states: “Remote production is a really key part of international sports production these days, where we’re absolutely focused on our content.We want our content to be as rich as possible. We want to be able to connect with those that are actually competing; it’s their story to tell, and we want to make sure that we’re as close to them as possible. So we need to have the technology where those athletes can be with us as quickly as possible. The Cube doesn’t replace our proximity; we still have teams here [in Japan] on the ground with our journalists, with live cameras at the mix zones, at the venues. What we don’t need to do is start to bring hundreds of people, to be able to interact with different markets across networks.” Young adds: “Remote production was well in hand before the pandemic started. I think the pandemic has accelerated the ability for where remote production can really help, but I think it would be remiss to say that we’re doing all this because of COVID. I mean, remote production, it creates a far better opportunity for us to create more content and more sports across more platforms.” The Cube’s host presenter for the Olympics, Reshmin Chowdhury, will be based at NEP’s facilities in Stockley Park, London, throughout the Games. As a linguist, she will be able to interview athletes on the ground in SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Former professional tennis player Àlex Corretja and athlete/presenter Greg Rutherford in the Cube

“The genius behind the Cube is actually sitting in the machine software at Stockley Park, which is taking the physical device that’s sitting on the floor and then the Unreal Engine platforms, the graphic platforms, that sit in behind it. It’s the complexity that’s back in our set up in London that makes it come to life” 42

Tokyo within in the Cube in multiple languages where appropriate, which will be sent as segments to other studio programmes in specific Discovery markets to be used for locally focused content, “which in effect has saved us a great deal of effort really about just the uplift of sending people around the world”, notes Young.

Interviews with athletes

Athletes are on a strict arrival and departure turnaround for the Games, landing a couple of days before they need to perform and flying out within 48 hours afterwards. Despite their tight schedules, Discovery and other broadcasters are able to bring them into the Cube at the IBC via a designated carpark, secure walkway and lift especially for athletes to interview them. Young refers to the Cube as a great way to maintain social distancing: “One of the great ways to ensure that you’re COVID safe is to ensure [that you’re] the only person standing in a green screen studio talking to [someone else] on the other side of the world. I think our main asset [in this situation] is to make sure that we have the best storytellers that we can find, and we’ve gathered those people, to remain distant from the athletes so they are safe, and to ensure that when we all leave that Japan remains in a safe state — and that’s been something that’s very much on the mind of the local media — but still be able to operate and attend the venues and access the sports that we want.” For key interviews in Japan, athletes will be bought into Discovery’s green screen studio at the IBC in Japan

where they will stand on their mark and see the person they are talking to on screens around them. Anyone can be bought into the virtual Cube world from anywhere using a large green screen, a broadcast-quality camera and good lighting, and that system can also be used to bring in people on a Zoom call. However for the full VR ‘teleportation’ aspect, a green screen studio is required. Says Young: “That’s what we’re rolling out across all of our key markets in Europe, which is why we can have Àlex Corretja when he’s in Madrid interviewing Rafael Nadal while he’s at Roland Garros, and neither of them are in the Cube, but when you’re at home watching it they’re standing there talking to each other. That’s starting to push the boundaries of what people consider to be normal.” Looking forward, Discovery is already focused on its production plans for Beijing 2022, where Young states it will have, “two significant locations for our production teams in Beijing because of the distance that we need to travel between multiple venues in Beijing”. He adds: “The Cube is a really key part of that storytelling, to take people off the mountain, into the Cube and then back into Europe. In fact, this morning [14 June] we started with the team for Paris 2024, because we’re already into discussions; there’s only three years between Summer Games, so we’re on the countdown to that one already and the Cube again will be there. “We’ll be at [Cube] 6.0 by then! It’ll be able to take off out of its environment and teleport itself somewhere by the time we get going! We’re looking forward to what the Cube looks like in 2024.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Jonny Bramley (left) and Richard Morgan inside the BBC production centre at the IBC

being done in the UK. “We realised it was going to be physically impossible for us to replicate what we had planned to do with on-set crews, so we established the studio back in Salford,” says Bramley. “And the commentary positions here didn’t meet with our socially distanced guidelines, so we’ve pretty much moved all of our commentary home and the comment off screen.” As for the virtual studio, Bramley says it’s been working out great and gives the effect of the BBC team being on top of a skyscraper in Tokyo. “It’s really effective and as a virtual studio has been a success,” he says.“We’re very happy with that.” Ron Chakraborty, BBC Sport’s lead executive for major events, adds: “If [viewers were able to come] to dock10 and see the setup, the way we’re doing commentary, and obviously the studio itself being just a green box, they’d be surprised. So many viewers think we’re in Tokyo, I think it’s a really great compliment for the technical teams and production management that have made this work and made the viewers think that this is a normal BBC Olympics production.” He adds: “It was almost a relief actually when we changed plans and moved the studio and the presenters, the commentators, back from Japan to the UK back in November.We already had the plan for that studio in place so it meant we didn’t have to come up with something from scratch with a few months to go. “To be honest, I think the delay for a year meant that the guys from Lightwell and Moov, who installed the studio, had time to fiddle with it and enhance it and make sure everything was as detailed as it can be. It’s been one of the big successes of the production without doubt.” Bramley says the massive changes to the operations

BBC Sport on rallying the Japanese Olympic spirit with its first remote Summer Games production BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER AND HEATHER MCLEAN

“It’s a really great compliment for the technical teams and production management that have made this work and made the viewers think that this is a normal BBC Olympics production” RON CHAKRABORTY, BBC SPORT

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BC Sport’s onsite presence for the Tokyo Olympics may be smaller than originally planned, but the socially distanced crew is hard at work using two 10Gbps circuits to transport Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) content feeds back to Salford in Greater Manchester, where the production team are keeping fans engaged with what has been a very successful games to date for Team GB.And it’s resonating with viewers. “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the UK and we’re very pleased with the audience who are taking to it like this is a regular games,” says Jonny Bramley, executive producer of major events for the BBC. Bramley says the BBC has pretty much taken over the networks back home:“We come on the air with live sports as early as 22:00 UK time and can go all the way through to 15:00 the following afternoon. Then we have a catchup programme at peak time with highlights from 19:0021:30.” Of course, this is ultimately not a regular games and like all the broadcasters at the IBC the BBC had to make some big adjustments. A key feature back home is a completely virtual studio as all commentators, hosts and analysis is

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in Tokyo included reduced numbers for both radio and video. The original plan was to have a production presence like that in London and Rio. “Once we saw the playbook and could see what the measures were we had to make a very quick decision about how to adapt our model,” says Bramley. For example, what was planned to be a post-production area has been transformed into an ingest and turnaround area. “We are streamlining all the incoming host feeds and unilateral feeds and sending them back to our production centre in Salford and editing is done there,” he adds. There are 32 international circuits to Salford and the BBC is also taking the host MDS commentary package. Ten commentary booths back home are also in use and one of the ongoing themes in discussions with any sports broadcaster over the past 16 months has been what is lost when commentators are not on site. “It’s never going to be as good when you’re calling off tube but it’s also about not being able to interact with the coaches, other journalists, or actually living and experiencing the city,” adds Bramley. “But fundamentally for these games safety was the priority. And we want to make sure that everybody involved in the production is going to be safe.”

The results have still been impressive, as Chakraborty explains: “If you listened to our swimming commentary, you’d think they were there in the arena. We’ve got an amazing little set up in the basement [in Salford] called the Multipurpose Audio Studio, so literally you walk in there and you can hear all sorts of guys shouting everywhere. Obviously, they can’t hear each other, but they’ve created a really nice atmosphere down there; there’s flags everywhere, there’s commentary quotes written on the wall, that sort of thing.” BBC Sport chief engineer Richard Morgan says that a total of 46 HD circuits (the 32 international plus 14 news) are outbound and five are inbound and that technically things are going well. “The idea of remote is nothing new to us whatsoever so that’s not an issue,” says Morgan. “And I’m sure we’ll be doing more remote because of sustainability as the challenge is a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030. But COVID did push us slightly further [into remote].” Bramley adds that the idea of back of house production being back home seems to be the way to go while talent and other production personnel remain on site. “The sheer scale of the Olympics means it is always going to necessitate establishing a completely different sort of production hub in the first place,” he explains.

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Audio signals from eight voice over booths are passed on by the IBC

ZDF and ARD have studio presence but production shifts home to Mainz BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER AND HEATHER MCLEAN

Z

Evertz baseband router, as well as an IP router controlled by Nevion iPath, are used with the latter for multi-viewer and online streams. The temporary NBC is located opposite ZDF’s HQ in an extensive building. While half the office-based area is reserved for editorial, a former TV-studio was converted into a chipboard-constructed classic IBC copy over two floors containing 22 editing suites, four production control rooms and a master control room. The build finished in March 2020, just before Germany hit its first lockdown. Florian Rathgeber, co-head of engineering at ZDF, says Riedel is being used for communications (with “massive trunking technology” that connected the Riedel mainframes in Tokyo with Riedel mainframes in the NBC. “We have no big difference compared to [what we’d have if we connected] to mainframes in an OB van; there is no major delay talking to each other,” he says. Gunnar Darge, ZDF co-head of engineering, says the 10 online streams makes it the biggest production the German public broadcaster has ever done and much of the work is being carried out back in Mainz at a National Broadcast Centre.

DF and ARD produced 17 hours of live programming per day on its main feed for the Olympics, plus 10 online streams that are being shown on the ARD and ZDF MediaTek over the top (OTT) platform, making this the biggest production so far in ZDF’s history. It also was heavily split between Tokyo and a National Broadcast Centre (NBC) in Mainz, Germany. ZDF decided to start the build of its NBC in 2019 when it realised that the 12-day gap between the end of Euro 2020 and the start of the Olympics would make it impossible to get equipment from Europe to Tokyo in time (even without a pandemic). The team at the NBC receives all signals using NetInsight Nimbra technology Meanwhile, in Tokyo for long-distance media networking. Once there an When ARD and ZDF originally made its Tokyo Olympics 46

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plans, they included a studio with a view to Rainbow Bridge and a control room for the studio as well as edit facilities and more. The studio location, which is shared with Austria’s ORF and Switzerland’s SRG (each has their own studio), is still located along the water and still has a dramatic view and gives talent a chance to interview athletes in person. Many of the other facilities, however, are not. Vito Zoiro, ZDF technical manager, special projects, says the studio is connected directly to production control in Mainz. “We don’t even see the signals here in Tokyo,” he says. “We also have our own cameras from athletics and aquatics going directly to Mainz where there is a sub control room for each.” Four 10Gbps circuits from Telstra help transport signals to the NBC. LiveU systems are also in use, sending ENG signals directly from mixed zones to home. The IBC facility basically passes on the OBS signals as well as audio signals from eight voice over booths (an additional 18 are back home in Mainz). Other tools making a difference are the LiveU gear as well as the roonect kit which has a USB audio interface and commentary headset that can connect to a computer. “After this we’ll sort out what we did and then take the

many ways of doing things and reduce that to the useful ones as not all of these workflows are really useful,” he adds. In December last year ZDF began furnishing the NBC with equipment from its recently upgraded technical subsidiary shared by both ZDF and ARD, Mobile Produktions Einheit (MPE), which translates to Mobile Production Unit. The equipment in the master control room and one big Sony vision mixer is owned by the broadcasters via MPE, and all the other equipment is rented for major events, including monitors, Riedel panels and EVS systems. Adds Rathgeber: “When it comes to Euro Championship football or the Olympics, we need to hire a lot of equipment because of the size of those events.”

Understanding the workflow

On working with the majority of crew in Germany and the rest in Tokyo, Darge says the challenge is to get a good workflow in place that everyone understands. It took some time, but everyone caught on quickly. Rathgeber adds: “I think technology is two steps ahead of the editorial plans and workflows and we can do more [technically today] than the editors can actually anticipate. But it is essential for us to have centralised production, either back home or on site.”

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Tokyo Olympics

presentation studio in Tokyo from the BBC and they gave us space, power and fibre connectivity. We also had a two-way with David Gillick, Olympian, who worked as our resident expert across all sports and he was our reporter on the athletics as well.”

Challenging rights deal

Presenter Jacqui Hurley interviews the Irish hockey team at their first Olympics

Ireland’s RTÉ celebrates extensive coverage success and first live remote production BY HEATHER MCLEAN

I

rish broadcaster RTÉ has just completed work on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, producing over 270 hours of coverage on TV channel RTÉ2, and 408 hours of live coverage across the RTÉ Sport website and the RTE News app, to help celebrate the achievements of the largest Irish Olympic contingent of athletes in the country’s history. In addition, the Irish broadcaster carried out its first remote production for a live event. “We had a remote presentation position for a live show for the first time ever, for the overnight programme,” says Cliona O’Leary, deputy head of TV sport at RTÉ. Speaking to SVG Europe from Dublin, she continues: “The workflow to have a remote presentation in Tokyo and control room in Dublin is a big innovation for us. This was conceived by our execs Mark McKenna [TV producer] and Kevin Corcoran [executive producer], and facilitated by Tom Nugent, RTÉ’s technical lead in Tokyo, and others in RTÉ.” “Our remote production was a first for us and it was very successful,” continues O’Leary. “We sub-let our 48

This year, much like BBC Sport, RTÉ has been more limited in what it can show due to Discovery’s rights deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). O’Leary comments: “We bought linear rights to the Olympics through Discovery. We are taking all of the feeds from OBS through the multi offering and we have DX feeds coming into our office in the IBC in Tokyo, which we switch to on occasion over there when we have an Irish athlete competing who is not on the multis.” O’Leary goes on: “In the past we had far more extensive rights than we have currently, so we’ve no digital rights this year. That has made it challenging because we’ve got the biggest Irish [athlete] team ever; we had 116 athletes across, I think, 19 sports and to try and cover all of that with clashes [between events running simultaneously], has been difficult. But to be fair to Discovery they did give us an allowance to go for 10 hours on Player when there was a clash, so we could show the Irish in action live on our digital channel when we were on linear, because you can only go on one linear channel with coverage. “However, our linear coverage hasn’t reduced; our linear coverage is up from 220 to 270 hours.”

Broad coverage

RTÉ Online provided 24-hour-a-day coverage over the course of the Games. The results and reactions from all the Irish athletes on each day were published as they happened, while live blogs were published on all the action from the Games through the night. There were athlete profiles, exclusive video interviews and analysis from RTÉ’s team of pundits, as well as the breaking news from Japan. The RTÉ Sport Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts also had exclusive content and video, including interviews with Irish athletes. Continues O’Leary: “RTÉ2 was our channel for our coverage, and it was simulcast on RTÉ Player. We started each day from just before or after midnight, with Jacqui Hurley or Clare McNamara presenting Tokyo 2020: SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


svgeuropeupdate

Tokyo Olympics

Through the Night, live from Tokyo. From 09:00 each day, Peter Collins presented coverage from the day’s live action during the Tokyo 2020: Daytime programme. From 19:00, Darragh Maloney then took over to present the key highlights programme following the day’s live action on Tokyo 2020: Today at the Games.” RTÉ Radio 1 also had updates and reports throughout the day, as well as the live event action reporting in real time from Tokyo. The RTÉ team reported into various programmes throughout the day on radio for all medal events and Irish in action. Additionally, its weekday radio sports programme, Game On, wraps up the day’s news.

Challenging times

RTÉ’s crew in Tokyo was reduced significantly because of the pandemic. This meant the broadcaster had to keep the production team for its overnight programme in Dublin. “So our control room for that Through the Night programme was based in Dublin. The rigging which Tom [Nugent] and the team did with the BBC enabled our presenters in Tokyo to see our RTÉ2 live output, and enabled them to be cued by our directors, Jamil Abubakar and Tom Kearns in Dublin,” says O’Leary. “Tom, with the technical team of Tom Norton, Ciaran Cullen and Darren Keogh, also set up a remote interview

position in the athletes’ village for the first time. We had a LiveU fixed in there which offered a permanent link. We used that three to four times with athletes interviewed by our presenter in Dublin.” For all other content RTÉ hired a fibre link which enabled it to send two live feeds from the IBC to Dublin as outgoing circuits.Adds O’Leary:“We had return vision and audio to Tokyo with our Olympics output. The talkback for our presenter also came on that circuit and we had some off tube commentaries and commentaries from the venues in Tokyo which went back on the fibre. We could also connect to RTÉ’s phone system and the RTÉ intranet so our Tokyo office was connected to RTÉ systems.” In its Dublin-based studio, RTÉ used AR with stats and pictures on the floor to enhance coverage for viewers. On the challenges the broadcaster faced in producing the Games, O’Leary comments: “We nearly got caught a few times with the multis going late to events featuring Irish competitors, but thankfully having the office in Tokyo where Paula and the team were monitoring, and with Sinead Hernon and team monitoring and co-ordinating feeds at this end [in Dublin], we switched feeds from the multi to a DX which was available in the IBC, so the audience didn’t miss out. That is the value of having a fully kitted out office in the IBC.”

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SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

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Tolyo Olympics

RAI production team calls IBC home for complete coverage BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER

T

he first of August is a day that will go down in Italian sports history as Lamont Jacobs won gold in the men’s 100 metres only minutes after fellow countryman Gianmarco Tamberi captured gold in the men’s high jump. And Italian national broadcaster RAI was on site in force as more than 240 staffers are in Tokyo to fully produce the coverage which is seen back home. “We have 25 people from radio and then on TV 125 production and technical personnel and then the rest are journalists and commentators,” says RAI’s Daniele Gotti, Olympics project manager. Two full production galleries are at the IBC with one for the Olympics coverage and one for news coverage. With 40 channels of EVS and a separate audio area it is ready to take on the task of producing a full day of coverage every day of the games. Three signals are sent back to Italy, one each for the Olympics coverage and news plus a third for a late-night ‘best of’ programme. While most broadcasters have leaned heavily into remote production back home RAI has gone the other way, producing everything from Tokyo. “We didn’t change our plan from last year and just a couple of people decided at the end not to come,” says Gotti. “But, basically, this is the same production plan as last year.” For the first time RAI has rented an external studio from OBS

RAI’s Daniele Gotti in the RAI sports production gallery at the IBC

and it’s located in the OBS studio tower in Odaiba that overlooks the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Bay. Six ENG crews are also part of the plan, using bonded cellular packs to get signals back from mixed zones in athletics, swimming and fencing. The team also makes use of the OBS Content+ system. “It’s the first time we’ve used it and it’s absolutely a good system. We take a lot of stuff from it,” says Gotti.

France TV’s Frederic Gaillard on a French virtual studio first BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER

F

rance Télévisions has 190 people, 10 ENG crews, seven edit suites and a unique studio set-up where it has a prime location overlooking Tokyo Bay. What makes it unique? All the talent is back in Paris and green-screened into the set, which is located at the France House, about a mile from the IBC. “This is the first time we do a virtual studio from 10,000km away so it’s a new experience for us,” says Frederic Gaillard, head of production for sports at France TV.“We have seven cameras in the studio and they all go back to Paris where the studio show is produced.” About 100 people are back home in Paris finalising coverage which is seen on France 2, 3 and 4. Master control in Tokyo pulls in the 76 OBS feed and routes 34 of those to the control rooms in Paris. There are also four return paths. “We also have a digital service where all the sports are available so everyone in France can see anything,” adds Gaillard. Frederic Gaillard in the master control at the Tokyo IBC Athletics has the biggest France TV presence with four unilateral cameras. Those signals are sent to Paris to be cut with commentary Up next? Getting ready for the Beijing Games, a process that begins which is done live from the stadium. with sending the equipment back to Paris as rental equipment needs As for UHD HDR, normally France TV would carry it but the cost of to be returned. But expect the France TV team to pretty much have the getting those signals back home was cost prohibitive. same workflow in place. 50

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Tokyo Olympics

Russia’s Channel One embraces EVS IPD-VIA

BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER

C

hannel One Russia is delivering 12 hours of live sports content to viewers back home, and its production philosophy is unique this year: a production gallery that is integrating commercials and other elements here in Tokyo and sending a complete show back home. It is also the first Olympic broadcaster to use EVS IPD-VIA. EVS IPD-VIA is an asset-management system using web-based HTML5 applications and virtualised machines to allow the Channel One team to collaborate and produce from any device anywhere. “They have four NLE stations, three off-tube studios, graphics and then ingest, contribution, and playout,” says Olivier Dwelshauvers, EVS Channel One senior project manager. “IPDirector is being used for playout and IPD-VIA controls ingest.” Two EVS PAM suites are in use with IPD-VIA, providing the applications needed for live-media-content browsing, control, edit and playout. “The editors edit in low resolution,” Dwelshauvers explains, “and then an EVS plug-in renders in high resolution and gives the team here access, or they can send it to Moscow for contribution to news or sports.” It also provides access to the OBS Content+ system, and he notes

Olivier Dwelshauvers is overseeing EVS operations for Russia’s Channel One, including the Olympics debut of the EVS IPD-VIA

that the team has 20 record channels for recording the live paths but can also dive into Content+ for action that might have been missed. “They can send what they want to their own system,” he adds. Although many broadcasters in Tokyo adapted their plans from last year, Channel One remained steady. The EVS IPD-VIA would have been part of its plans if the Games had been held in 2020, and having the production-control room onsite allows the team at home to remain focused on local news and sports.

YLE focuses on athletics, expands remote-production efforts BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER

F

inland’s YLE was planning a mostly hybrid production model, with a team here in Tokyo producing the athletics coverage for viewers back home, but the COVID pandemic required a shift in plans and an increase in signals being sent home: there are 20 lines connecting the IBC in Tokyo to the OB1 production truck and a flypack parked outside YLE headquarters in Helsinki. “We need roughly eight to 10 lines for athletics back to Helsinki, and we also have 76 EVS ports in OB1,” says Kaj Flood,YLE senior technical advisor.“It’s completely full right now.” A Lawo VSM control system in Tokyo allows the team in Finland to automatically get the source they desire.” “With automated switching,” adds Flood, “everything is fine. The VSM takes care of the switching or fast changes.” The onsite production presence includes seven ENG crews with LiveU units, two crews in mixed zones (at athletics and Olympic Stadium) and a hard camera on the main camera platform at Olympic Stadium to follow Finnish athletes. “We have commentators onsite at athletics,” Flood notes, “but the rest of the sports are called off-tube in Helsinki, where we have 25 offtube positions.” The OBS Content+ system is making a difference, allowing both the 52

Kaj Flood, YLE senior technical advisor

team in Tokyo, where there are three editing suites, and the team back home to find the content they need. “We’re IP,” Flood points out, “so we have Lawo, vMix and Arista switchers and NTT encoders and decoders.” YLE’s Olympics broadcast begins around 08:30 and continues to 23:00. It’s complemented by five live streams of content. “The ratings have been quite good,” says Flood.“Finnish people just like to watch sports.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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svgeuropeupdate

Tokyo Paralympic Games

Channel 4 has designed a studio at its headquarters in Leeds, UK, from which it will host a party-style Paralympic show

Paralympic achievement: Whisper gears up for Channel 4’s epic Paralympics coverage BY HEATHER MCLEAN FIRST PUBLISHED 19 AUGUST 2021

P

roduction company Whisper is gearing up to bring Channel 4’s Paralympic 2020 coverage to British viewers from 24 August, starting with the Opening Ceremony that is taking place in Tokyo. With over 300 hours of TV to produce for the broadcaster’s linear offering over the Channel 4 and More4 channels, and a brand-new microsite that will allow fans to view over 1,000 hours of sports coverage over 16 live streams, Whisper has its work cut out. When SVG Europe spoke to Whisper’s technical director for the Paralympics Richard Bainbridge, he was in Tokyo waiting for staff who had been working on the Olympics to vacate their studios at the IBC so the Whisper team could move in and set up. Meanwhile, Matt Roberts, Whisper’s executive producer for the Paralympics, was at the Ealing Broadcast Centre, Timeline TV’s broadcast facility situated within the iconic Ealing Studios in London, starting to ramp up operations for the production, setting up edit suits and commentary booths as equipment arrived on site. 54

Ramping up production

The production for Channel 4 is working across three locations, Tokyo, Ealing and Leeds, where the broadcaster has a studio ready to bring the celebratory atmosphere of the Games straight to fans’ living rooms. Roberts says: “We’re just working through running orders and things like that now. Over the next couple of weeks we get the [Channel 4 presentation] studio in Leeds, which is the Steph’s Packed Lunch studios. We’ll be in there putting our set in and most of our production staff will be joining us [then]. “Over the weekend of the 21 and 22 August we will do lots of tech checks, with rehearsals on Monday 23 August and then live with the Opening Ceremony on the 24th, so we’re deep in the midst of it, basically.” Timeline is supplying all the technical equipment for Whisper in the UK. Timeline TV’s unit manager for the Paralympics David Harnet is on site in Ealing helping Whisper to set up two main galleries plus an additional dedicated athletics gallery, eight edit suites and five commentary booths. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Tokyo Paralympic Games

Whisper is working across three locations for this Olympics with its set up in Tokyo shown here at the IBC, plus the UK-based galleries and more in Ealing, and Channel 4’s presentation studio in Leeds

“By doing [this production] with a central hub in the UK, there are definitely advantages. I’m sure the pandemic will have changed how these big events are done forever more, so there are a lot of advantages as well as the disadvantages” MATT ROBERTS, WHISPER

56

“It’s a big operation,” notes Roberts. “We’ve got a Channel 4 gallery, and because we’re live on More4 we’ll have a Timeline TV OB truck in the carpark, then we have a small sub mix gallery for athletics because you get a variety of feeds out of athletics, so we’ll be making our own composite feed to make sure we feature the British athletes more predominantly in that.”

Multiple options for creativity

Whisper is using some of the ways of working it developed during lockdown to aid it in the production of the Paralympics for Channel 4. Bainbridge says: “We’ll be bringing in a number of those techniques we’ve used to do remote productions [for the Paralympics], so actually I think we’re in a much better place. And I think if we tried to do [this production in this way] this time last year, it would have been a whole different story, but a lot of the newer ways of working are tried and tested now and becoming the norm. [Remote production] is where I think everyone was heading anyway, but [the pandemic has] just sped up the experience.” Roberts adds: “Having a studio in Leeds and various positions in Japan via a centre in Ealing actually gives us a whole load of other options that we wouldn’t have had in the past, you know, to be able to get friends and family in, to reflect on it in this country, but also to go instantaneously to Tokyo or to the velodrome, has opened up a whole new level of opportunities.” “There are challenges around it, like traditionally we’d all be on planes now to Japan and an awful lot of work would get done in that last couple of weeks in the IBC,” adds Roberts. “Whereas this way, a lot of people will be

coming in from home, they’ve got to take their kids to school on that Monday morning or whatever, whereas traditionally, when you’re all in one place that makes things a lot easier. Communication is going to be very important to us and remote presenters, and the time difference will be a challenge as well, but we’re able to produce a huge amount of output for Channel 4 from this remote base and by having the kind of facilities Timeline’s been able to provide.” “By doing [this production] with a central hub in the UK, there are definitely advantages. I’m sure the pandemic will have changed how these big events are done forever more, so there are a lot of advantages as well as the disadvantages,” says Roberts.

Global crewing set up

There are 80 people in total in Japan, down from the original plan to send 250. This team includes commentators, production staff, presenters, VT editors and camera people. There are 130 crew in Ealing, plus a further 45 including talent in the studio in Leeds. Continues Roberts: “The bulk of the production now gets done in Ealing, so all the producers who are putting the films together and the edits of the action will be here in our eight edit suites. All the programme gallery team will be here in Ealing, and then in Leeds we’ve still got camera people for that studio facility, we’ve still got presenters and some production management, because we’re hoping to be able to bring in family and friends into our live studio to watch their loved ones compete. That’s what our Leeds studio promises to capture; how people in the UK are watching the events.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Whisper’s set up in the IBC in Tokyo

“We’ve used the athletes to explain their own classifications. They’ve been green screened and we’ll use the latest graphics around those to tell their stories” MATT ROBERTS, WHISPER

Whisper is utilising some staff that worked with Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) during the Olympics in Japan. Roberts explains: “They don’t have to quarantine and they’re not quite as limited in where they can be because they’ve been there beyond 14 days. We’re hopeful that that will allow some additional filming opportunities. “But we’ve had to scale back our ambitions many times over the past 18 months, so we’re hopeful, we’ve got a flexible model, and our contacts at OBS have been very helpful. By being in Tokyo with some additional presenting resources, we’ll have some athletes postcompetition joining us for presentation and we’ll do our utmost to capture the atmosphere, but we’ve got the studio [in Leeds] as well which will capture how friends and family are watching in the UK so I think we’ve got both bases covered.” Roberts comments on what is happening in Japan: “Our set up is a little bit of a hybrid. We’ve got two studio positions [in Tokyo]; one in athletics where Lee McKenzie will be based.We’re hoping to be in the athletics stadium a lot to do our presentation for the evening athletics and Lee should be joined by some GB athletes post-competition, so we’re making a real feature of being in Tokyo for that. At the swimming we’ve got a presentation position where Sophie Morgan and Giles Long will be pool-side, so that should be a real benefit for us to be able to capture some of the atmosphere.And at the track cycling we’ve got another position inside the velodrome.”

Managing restrictions

Whisper is also presenting a highlights show where presenter Ade Adepitan will travel around Tokyo in a taxi, going venue to venue to give viewers a flavour of the city. The cab will be fitted with point of view cameras to enable a James Corden, Carpool Karaoke-style programme view. Adds Roberts: “There are more restrictions than you’d expect here, but we’re trying to push that filming as far as we can. Obviously we are very restricted [within Tokyo due to COVID regulations] and that’s why we brought the commentators back to the UK as other broadcasters have. When we were putting all these plans together, [the 58

Tokyo Paralympic Games

IOC] still said commentators have to wear masks. That stipulation has eased somewhat in the last few months and fortunately on screen [talent] don’t have to wear masks now, which is great news. But when we had to put our final plans together, they were saying everyone had to wear masks in the stadium. So that was quite tricky.” Some of Whisper’s plans for coverage had to change due to restrictions in Tokyo. These included having microphones on some of the wheelchair rugby athletes. However, instead the team has put more resource into prefilming with the athletes before they left for Tokyo, “and we’ve had some really, really nice in-depth films”, says Roberts. Prior to the Paralympics,Whisper has got a good deal of footage in the can, filming with athletes training in the run up to the great event. This will enable the team to present athlete back stories during the event, painting a more complete picture for viewers. During the competition, it has a remote camera set up in the athletes’ village which will provide direct contributions from the athletes pre and post competition. Adds Roberts: “We’re in a good place in that we’ve got a lot of films in the bag already. We’ll be able to update with contributions from [the athletes] when they’re [in Tokyo] as well.And I think by having some athletes join us post-competition in Tokyo we will also get a sense of what they’ve been through very quickly as well.”

Athletes front and centre

In a new move, Channel 4 has opted to use the athletes themselves describing the Paralympic classifications, rather than its previous use of graphics. Roberts says: “We tell viewers what the classifications are all about, so we’ve got green screen classifier films with lots of athletes, which you’ll see during the broadcast. We’ve used the athletes to explain their own classifications. They’ve been green screened and we’ll use the latest graphics around those to tell their stories.We’re just keen that rather than just doing one or two AR graphics, we have a whole bank of classifiers which will explain each event.” He continues: “However, we don’t want to impinge too much on the live sport, so we will be weaving in a narrative of classifiers and features and with watching friends and family as well, we’re focusing more on the human side, the emotional side, rather than just having graphical explainers.” “I think it’s just constantly finding the right place to put in the background stories and those classifiers about the events and the athletes, and just reinforcing to our commentators throughout to give us that background, because a lot of people won’t have seen para athletics for five years, potentially,” Roberts concludes. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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svgeuropeupdate

Euro 2020

The host broadcast facts and figures for TV coverage of Europe’s biggest football show BY WILL STRAUSS FIRST PUBLISHED 11 JUNE 2021

T

he 2020 UEFA European Championship (Euro 2020) kicks off today (Friday 11 June), 12 months after it was originally slated, but with an extensive match coverage set-up and vast contribution, distribution and content options for rights holders. Some 1.9 billion individuals are expected to tune in to Euro 2020 live matches via official TV and streaming platforms, with a total live event audience in the region of 4.7 billion projected for the entire competition. Available in 229 territories via 137 broadcast partners, this is one of the world’s, let alone Europe’s, biggest sporting events. As a result, the host broadcast operation is, as you would expect, extensive.

There will be 14 multilateral feeds per match: live stadium feed (HD-SDR, HD-HDR and UHD-HDR), Team A & B feeds, tactical feed, Camera 1/Helicopter, aerial camera system, stadium beauty shot, Player A and Player B, Clips Channel 1 & 2 (produced remotely at the IBC), and 180-degree camera. There will also be four ISO feeds per match: 16m camera left, 16m camera right, high behind goal left, high reverse stand. Of those 18 feeds per match, there will be selected feeds being offered in multiple formats including HD-SDR, UHD-HDR, 1080i50 and 1080p50, although not all feeds will be available in all formats.

Output

The standard configuration for all Euro 2020 matches will comprise a minimum of 36 match coverage cameras. An additional eight cameras will be used to cover other events surrounding the match, such as team arrivals and fan coverage, providing a variety of supplementary content for all feeds.

Over 3,500 hours of total content (including all feeds and additional programming) will be produced over the course of the tournament, which runs until the final at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday 11 July. HD, UHD, SDR and HDR will all be catered for. 60

Match coverage

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Euro 2020

The IBC

The IBC is in Vijfhuizen, near Amsterdam. It will be the working home for more than 1,000 people for the next four weeks and the hub for 929 feeds across the 51 matches. Inside the IBC will be an EVS-based server and media asset management system that will house content from Euro 2020 and from past tournaments that can be accessed remotely by rights holders. Dedicated host city beauty shots will be offered from each host city and made available via the IBC in 1080p HDR. All match highlights will be produced at the IBC and delivered to venues for inclusion in the multilateral feed. The IBC will be the working home for more than 1,000 people during the event

The camera line-up for each game includes: • Eight super slow-motion triple-speed cameras • Two high-speed cameras • One aerial camera system • Two in-goal cameras (one at each end) • Two camera cranes with hotheads behind the goal (one at each end) • Two Polecams (one at each end) • Two Steadicams (one in each half of the pitch) • Five handheld cameras • One RF helicopter camera There will be eight native UHD-HDR cameras at each match and UEFA will use a variety of camera suppliers, including Sony and Grass Valley. All EVS replays will be produced in 1080p50 SDR. For sound, Lawo mc²96 consoles produce the international audio while there is also a Lawo digital commentary system; Schoeps 3D ORTF mic array; and Dolby Immersive Audio on the UHD-HDR feed which will be mixed centrally in the IBC. The set-up is the same for each of the 11 stadiums being used for the tournament. A dedicated production team will be onsite at each ground, with each team responsible for a venue, and the Budapest team covering the quarterfinal in Baku. OB units will be assigned to multilateral production at each stadium across the tournament, provided by: EMG (Bucharest, Budapest, Baku, London, Rome and Glasgow); NEP (Copenhagen, Munich, Seville, Amsterdam); and TVN (Saint Petersburg). Eurovision Services are responsible for the contribution and distribution of all signals worldwide, including venue SNGs and at the IBC. Redundant fibre network, also provided by Eurovision Services, is also included plus satellite back-up at each venue and off-site in case of bad weather. 62

Graphics

All Euro 2020 graphics have been prepared and delivered by Deltatre. UEFA says that they will reflect the tournament’s “strong brand look and feel and deliver key information to fans”. The graphics are designed natively in UHD to comply with the live stadium feed LSF delivered at the IBC. There will be 11 HD graphics trucks at Euro 2020 — one at each venue. During the match, graphics data will be delivered to the live OB van at the venue, to the IBC via the technical operations centre (TOC), operated by Gravity Media, and to the on-site commentary positions. Standard graphics for goals, bookings, shots and substitutions will be included in the match feeds. These will be complemented, where editorially appropriate, by additional graphics incorporating statistics generated by the in-stadium data collection team. Graphics are always double-checked by the match director and the UEFA live producer through a preview feed. During a match, an average of 40 graphics will be broadcast.

EURO 2020 BY NUMBERS • 3,049 total host broadcast staff working in the 11 stadiums, the IBC, the Nyon Hub and in London • 36 match coverage cameras per game • 8 native UHD-HDR cameras at each game • 1,000 people at the IBC • 70,000+km of fibre; the longest single distance is from Baku to the IBC (6,500km) • 11 HD graphics trucks • 2,000 hours of production • 11 production teams SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Maurice Tollenaar, UEFA chief of media rights and production services and deputy marketing director

UEFA’s Maurice Tollenaar reflects on the host broadcast operation for “most challenging” Euros ever BY WILL STRAUSS FIRST PUBLISHED 9 JULY

I

n an exclusive interview ahead of the Euro 2020 final, UEFA chief of media rights and production services and deputy marketing director Maurice Tollenaar talks to SVG Europe about the strengths and challenges of the host broadcast operation for what was a “very difficult tournament to prepare and deliver”. Overall, how do you think the world feed coverage of Euro 2020 has gone throughout the tournament? Have you achieved everything you set out to achieve? We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our broadcast partners, which confirms that the tournament has gone well so far. However, it’s not over yet — and we still have the most important match to deliver. Viewing figures for the tournament have also been excellent and we’ve achieved a number of record audiences already. England vs Denmark [on Wednesday 7 July] saw the fourth-highest TV audience in the UK since 64

2001 — and the highest TV audience since England’s 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-final against Croatia — while in Denmark the match share was 94% of the market. We saw similar stats from the other semi-final. In Italy the match was the most-watched free-to-air broadcast since the UEFA Euro 2012 Final — again between Spain and Italy — while in Spain, it was the highest-viewed TV programme since the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This tournament is unique in the sense that it has been staged across the continent and held under extremely challenging circumstances given the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our main objective was to nonetheless deliver our originally intended technical and production plan to our broadcast partners. This has largely been achieved. Obviously, there have been numerous restrictions that have mainly impacted our ability to provide our usual range of unilateral services, though our broadcast partners have been very supportive and understanding in this regard. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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“To date, we’ve created and published over 17,800 videos via our UEFA HIVE content distribution platform”

Euro 2020

Generally, they are very happy with our coverage as a in Football Operations, which has worked smoothly. whole and with the unilateral opportunities they’ve been Another innovation we’ve been pleased to deliver is able to exploit at the venues, or remotely, in order to tailor our fully equipped dedicated upgrade service — allowing their coverage to their viewers at home. subscribing broadcaster partners to have a full — up to three camera — unilateral production from designated Euro 2020 saw the introduction of HDR, VAR and positions at the venue, with all equipment and distribution various other content and technical innovations that managed by UEFA. weren’t present at Euro 2016. Is there anything that you We’ve also placed greater emphasis on multi-platform are particularly pleased about or proud of? content with our additional programming delivery, UEFA continues to innovate each season — where it enabling our broadcast partners to effectively showcase makes sense and meets our broadcaster expectations the UEFA Euros to their increasingly digital audiences. To to do so. At UEFA Euro 2020 we’ve been able to offer a date, we’ve created and published over 17,800 videos via comprehensive parallel multi-format production, with our UEFA HIVE content distribution platform. matches available in 1080p SDR, 1080p HDR and UHDHDR, with accompanying Dolby 5.1 surround sound and With hindsight, or without the impact of COVID, Dolby Immersive Audio. is there anything you would have liked to have done We have more than 20 broadcast partners taking the differently on the world feed? Or anything that you UHD signal, 11 broadcast partners taking the UHD signal think would have made it better — or that you would via the International Broadcast Centre (IBC), which is like to introduce for Germany in 2024? situated just outside Amsterdam, and another 10 taking Obviously, with the impact of COVID-19 and the the signal over satellite. Our host city beauty shot feed, accompanying travel restrictions, there has been less showing live coverage of a landmark location for each of opportunity for visiting broadcasters to deliver their own the 11 host cities has also been well received. UEFA host productions on venue.Additional restrictions have also led broadcast has also delivered a technical VAR solution at to broadcasters reducing their space at the IBC. While, as all matches of the tournament, on behalf of our colleagues mentioned earlier, we’ve been able to offer them a number

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Euro 2020

of remote opportunities to meet their demands, we’re very much looking forward to seeing broadcasters back in the stadiums and at the IBC in full force for UEFA Euro 2024. As for UEFA Euro 2024 itself, it’s too soon to start discussing any details, but as always we’ll continue to innovate and adapt our plans to meet broadcaster demand.

decision to move the Dublin matches to Saint Petersburg and London, and for Seville to replace Bilbao. Thankfully, we were able to move many of the staff to other venues, but this required a not-inconsiderable amount of work and planning by our team in order to get all our crews into each country, through any quarantine and on-venue ready for the start of the competition.

Looking back, what was your biggest challenge? Without a doubt, delivering a tournament during the COVID-19 pandemic — including navigating travel restrictions, quarantine, testing for our teams and crews and the demands upon our host broadcast staffing plan that these requirements place — has been the biggest challenge. One good example is that we had initially planned for seven production teams: five moving between venues and two permanent teams in Glasgow and Baku. However, due to COVID-19 we had to rethink our plans, eventually ending up with a permanent team in every venue — and thereby adding an additional 500 staff to our overall staffing plan, bringing it to just over 3,000 staff in total. One other key challenge to mention is the late changes to the tournament venues. Our crews were just about to head off to the — then — 12 venues, when UEFA took the

The Euro 2020 IBC set-up saw some elements (editorial content services, quality control and broadcaster servicing teams, etc) moved to remote hubs in London and Nyon. Did this, and your other COVID precautions, work as you hoped they would? And is this hybrid IBC model something that could be used again? The host broadcast team have had to adapt throughout all stages of this unique competition, with one such adaptation being the decision to protect the IBC — which is at the heart of our technical plan — by minimising the number of personnel and teams at the facility located in the Expo Haarlemmermeer, just outside of Amsterdam, to a core engineering team. Everyone working at the IBC is required to follow strict COVID-19 restrictions, including regular testing and following a zoning concept, in order to protect everyone working at the site and to ensure the switching

“It’s certainly the most challenging UEFA Euro I have ever worked on and it’s hard to imagine a more complicated one”

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A view inside the Master Control Room of the Euro 2020 International Broadcaste Centre (© UEFA via Getty Images)

“The team have worked tirelessly to deliver this tournament and they have done an outstanding job. Every individual has stood up to the task and I think they can be extremely proud of themselves”

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and distribution of our match signals to our global audience. As part of this decision, UEFA also moved certain core IBC services — including our editorial content services, quality control and broadcaster servicing teams — to our London hub, hosted by IMG at their facilities in Stockley Park, and to our UEFA hub in Nyon, Switzerland. With our management team based in three locations — as well as being represented at the 11 venues — this provides its own challenges, but there have been many synergies with a hybrid model, and it’s certainly something we’ll consider for future tournaments.

by our editorial staff and 59 ENG crews has been very well received with regards to both volume and quality, especially since many broadcast partners have been prevented from sending their own crews to the host cities due to the applicable travel restrictions. A general tendency for the tournament has been that some broadcast partners have covered matches by using remote services, such as the newly introduced radio international sound (RIS) streaming service. This service enables radio broadcasters to conduct live commentary from their home premises, a service we’ll very likely take forward to UEFA Euro 2024.

You offered a comprehensive package of both content and technical services for rights-holding broadcasters. What has the feedback been from those broadcasters? Is there anything that has been particularly popular or successful that you can take forward into other competitions or tournaments? We are, of course, in touch with all of our rights-holding broadcast partners across the tournament — but we will liaise with them following the full delivery of the competition in order to collect their degree of satisfaction on UEFA’s technical and content services. What can be said already today, is that broadcast partners have made wide use of UEFA’s extended range of fully equipped services, i.e. services that enable broadcast partners to conduct unilateral activities in the venues without having to bring their own technical equipment. We have had to increase our service level in this respect, in order to compensate the impacts of the applicable COVID-19 venue mitigation measures, as well as the vast travel requirements due to UEFA Euro 2020 venues being spread all over Europe. Also, the comprehensive non-live coverage produced

Doing a multi-country tournament in normal times would have been a big challenge. Doing it during a global pandemic, made it doubly so. Is this the most challenging UEFA Euros tournament ever? And how proud are you of the team and what it has achieved? It’s certainly the most challenging UEFA Euro I have ever worked on and it’s hard to imagine a more complicated one. While everyone is already looking forward to the final at Wembley on Sunday, we’re also looking forward to concluding what has been a very difficult tournament to prepare and deliver — though the start of the new club competitions cycle, including the launch of the UEFA Europa Conference League and the recently centralised UEFA Women’s Champions League, is already upon us! The team have worked tirelessly to deliver this tournament and they have done an outstanding job. Every individual has stood up to the task and I think they can be extremely proud of themselves. I am, above all, thankful to them, grateful for all they have achieved and looking forward to taking our production and technical plans forward as we begin the planning phase for UEFA Euro 2024. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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How does directing a major tournament match differ from directing a Premier League game? It doesn’t differ that much really. You do get the fervour of the fans, but then you also get that in the Premier League. They’re just more colourful and, depending on where you are, there are [a few variations] like drumming and vuvuzelas [the South African horn]. One big difference is that as it’s a bigger event, we get more resources and more toys to play with.

Match director Jamie Oakford

Calling the shots at UEFA Euro 2020: Match director Jamie Oakford on how he will tell the story of the games from Wembley Stadium BY WILL STRAUSS FIRST PUBLISHED 18 JUNE 2021

T

he UEFA European Football Championship (Euro 2020) is well underway, with all teams having played at least one group match now. Tonight (Friday 18 June) sees another big fixture, particularly for TV viewers in the UK, as Scotland take on the ‘auld enemy’ England at Wembley in a game that the away team cannot afford to lose and home fans will expect to win. The host broadcast match director for this crunch clash is Sunset+Vine’s Jamie Oakford, one of the top directors in the business. A stalwart of Premier League matches, his CV also includes the Champions League, the FA Cup and both Euros and World Cups, where he has been at the helm of the final. At Euro 2020, Oakford is stationed at Wembley, covering all of England’s group games plus a Round of 16 game, both semi-finals and, most prestigious of all, the final. On the eve of the tournament, SVG Europe spoke to Oakford about his directing style, how he prepares for matches and how he plans to tell the story of Euro 2020 games at Wembley. 70

You’re directing all of England’s group games. As an Englishman, that must make you very proud. I’m doing all the England games, and the semi-finals and final. That’s a huge privilege but also a huge challenge. The eyes of the nation are on us. There are 11 directors and I’m really honoured to be representing our country.

You’ve been able to select your own 50-person Euro 2020 crew, which is made up of operators who have worked for both BT Sport and Sky Sports this season. When selecting your team, do you see yourself a bit like a football manager: someone who wants the right blend of skills, talent and experience? Well, you certainly can’t have a whole team of Maradonas [the late Argentinian World Cup winner]! You need a mix. You also need people who won’t get on a super slow or close up camera and be disappointed about it. I will have camera operators on the 14 key camera positions who are the same throughout. They’re used to working with each other, they know how I work and they know what I’m expecting from them. They have done it a million times before. They know what to do in every situation. I won’t have to go through every single set-play with them, for example. I’ve never really thought of myself as being like a football manager but when you’re abroad you have to manage your crew in a certain way, so it is a bit like that I guess. Most of these guys are mature individuals, they’re not kids but you do have to make sure everyone is motivated to do the job you need them to do. The great thing is that we are blessed in this country with a brilliant team of people who work on football week-in, week-out. The quality of camera, audio and replay [operators] is second to none. It’s a dream job because we’re doing all the big games at Wembley so I can tap into all the best people. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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What personal preparation do you do before each game? I will research the two teams involved. I will watch videos of [pre-tournament] games and then record every game in the tournament to watch later. I will look at team formation and the way the team plays and also research the manager: what is he like? Is he going to be sitting on the bench looking miserable — or jumping up and down? “It’s mainly just little things that you have in the back of your head so you go into each game armed with an idea of what might happen — but of course every game is different. I’ll also look at the pre-match anthems to work out what sort of shots we might need — will there be singing or crying? I will also get photographic headshots of the players and try to understand how they play. We provide headshots to the camera operators too. With COVID-19 regulations in place, how will you brief, and communicate with, the crew? Crew briefings will be done on talkback but where they need to be in person, we will adhere to social distancing guidelines. The guidelines are that we shouldn’t be in each other’s faces. If anybody in the crew goes down [with COVID], the impact could be quite serious so most of the briefings will take place in large open spaces — such as on the pitch. Then I might do something individually with the replay guys as a small group and we’ll talk to cameras, in small groups, to have some specific chats with people.” The standard configuration for all UEFA Euro 2020 matches will comprise a minimum of 36 match coverage cameras. An additional eight cameras will be used to cover other events surrounding the match (team arrivals, fan coverage, etc), providing a variety of supplementary content for all feeds. How does that differ from what you are used to, what are you looking forward to making use of and what challenges do you face? We’ve got a crane, which is very common on the continent but not so much here because of space limitations inside the stadiums. So that’ll be a nice little bonus. It’s the kind of thing you only get at major tournaments. There’s also a dedicated manager camera. And we have AR graphics that will be used before the game kicks off. If anything, the toughest challenge is getting the chance to use all the cameras. It’s so hard to squeeze them into the coverage because the game is so fast.” Are you given a brief? UEFA do issue directors guidelines to try to [standardise] the product but there’s no pressure from anybody to do anything differently. They do give us more cameras though, so I can ask certain cameras to focus on certain things. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

Wembley Stadium hosted most of England’s games, including the final

All the directors are going to do their games differently, but the principals are that we will all try to do the same things with the cameras at certain times. They are not telling us what to do but they are asking us to make all the coverage look like it comes out of the same box. We can cover everything but in a certain way. If it affects the game, we will show it. Most of it is common sense.” The Clips Channels are part of the output that UEFA is providing for rights holders that consists of 14 multilateral feeds per match: live stadium feed (in HD-SDR, HD-HDR and UHD-HDR), Team A & B feeds, tactical feed, Camera 1/Heli, aerial camera system, stadium beauty shot, Player A and Player B, Clips Channels 1 & 2, a 180-degree camera plus four ISO feeds per match: 16m camera left, 16m camera right, high behind goal left, high reverse stand. The Clips Channels are produced remotely at the IBC. Tell us more about their role? When I am doing the game, a lot of stuff that I am not using then gets passed onto rights-holding broadcasters via the Clips Channels. There are two channels, one for action shots, one for emotion. Broadcasters can use this content in their own output at half-time or full-time. It’s a multi-feed concept. I cover the game but anything that we shoot that doesn’t make it to air, they can use. We have a multi-feed producer on my crew. It’s a very comprehensive service.

“If anything, the toughest challenge is getting the chance to use all the cameras. It’s so hard to squeeze them into the coverage because the game is so fast”

That must add to the workload in the truck? When we do a Premier League match, our EVS guys are mainly concerned with the match. But during major tournaments, they’re multi-tasking — they are recording a couple of camera replays and building stuff and clipping. They are working hard which is why we need really good people. There is a massive amount going on in the trucks. 71


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In the replays, too, you’ll get little bits of gold dust where you’ll see the goal go in and you’ll see some nice other stuff as well — the reaction to the goal going in, a defender or a double shot or something that helps to tell the story.

“When you have a game between two aggressive and fast teams, you don’t have time to do what you want to do. You have to just respect the game”

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So, less is sometimes more? Tell the stories. Let the viewer trust you. When I direct a game, in the first five or 10 minutes, I try to reassure the viewer that I am not going to let him or her down and that they are going to enjoy the ball in play — and the emotion and speed of the game. And then when the ball is out of play, they will enjoy other moments. We want to use all the tools we have to enrich the coverage but when the ball is in play, I want to be the viewer in the stand. The onus is on the director to answer all the questions — that is what we can do with the big cameras, the close-ups, the replays, the Steadicams. But most people just want to see the game. You have to be careful not to interrupt that.

Let’s talk about storytelling during the game itself... My philosophy is that the viewer should have the best seat in the house. If I go to the game as a fan, I can see everything I want to see from the stands, in the wide — but I can’t see the detail. That is what broadcasters can bring — the detail. I don’t like to be overly fussy. If the ball is in play, Camera 1 doesn’t do much wrong. I only cut when I think I can add to the coverage. In some countries, directors cut Does the modern way of playing, where keepers take away while the ball is in play. That drives me mad. goal kicks short, for example, and the ball is in play so much more than it used to be, make your life harder? Football is a passionate game. How do you capture or Definitely.When I first started directing football regularly, treat emotion? when the ball went out of play for a goal kick, the crowd When I first started directing football it struck me that would mess around with the ball, the keeper might have a we only show one side of the game — the happy side. A drink. We could go to a replay and then come back to the guy scores a goal, here’s a close-up of the guy who scored live shot and the ball still hadn’t been kicked. Now, the ball it, here’s the fans going mad. But I try to tell my camera is passed quickly to the defenders and before you know guys to think about the other side — we want to see it, it is up the other end of the field. There isn’t as much the happiness but I also want to see how the team that time anymore. That is the biggest challenge. To do what I conceded are feeling: what is the manager thinking, how want to do without interrupting the flow of the game and are the fans reacting? Are they shouting at each other, ruining it for the viewer. trying to get each other going? I try to encourage those shots too. Some camera ops can even show both emotions What do you do to compensate for that speed? in the same shot. More of those shots have crept into match I have learnt not to be too reckless. I am naturally an coverage in the past few years. aggressive director in terms of close-ups and replays when the ball is out of play. I have learnt to rein that in and be Do you rehearse or pre-plan any shots or sequences? more circumspect. I do a bit of research and try to find out When the game is in progress, there’s not much you can which teams will play fast — and which teams will slow do to make it any better than it is. But once the ball goes the game down. out of play, that is the chance for a good director to show We have all these toys. UEFA have [provided] all these what he is about. cameras. We want to reflect that on the screen, of course. Penalties are a great example. You can build the drama But when you have a game between two aggressive and and the tension. Big close up of the goalkeeper. Big close-up fast teams, you don’t have time to do what you want to do. of the penalty taker. Somebody in the crowd biting their You have to just respect the game. nails. What is the manager doing? It’s more about how we treat certain elements of the game rather than camera Overall, how does it feel to be working on Euro 2020? angles. I trust the camera operators that they know what We are very privileged and lucky to be working for UEFA. I’m thinking and they’re going to try and give me what they It’s a massive event. We are very excited and we want to think I want. Sometimes you just have to let them react. do a great job. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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The pandemic inspired ITV Sport to build its studio in the UK, and in the most flexible manner possible so that it could react quickly to any changes Euro 2020 threw at it

Sprinkle of gold dust: Behind the scenes at ITV Sport’s Euro 2020 virtual studio BY ADRIAN PENNINGTON FIRST PUBLISHED 24 JUNE 2021

“In many ways it’s more like a light entertainment show than a sports programme”

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hen you don’t notice that it’s not real and the viewer has a really good experience, then we’ve done our job right,” says Paul McNamara, senior director and executive producer for major events at ITV Sport. “The trick is to make the set as real as possible and use the tech and the space appropriately.” McNamara is responsible for ITV Sport’s UEFA Euro 2020 output, of which the centrepiece is a virtual studio from which the broadcaster presents match coverage, except those it is airing live from Wembley, such as England’s group stage clashes with Scotland and the Czech Republic. McNamara, a Bafta and RTS winner, is no stranger to virtual sets nor augmented reality (AR), which reached its last zenith during the 2018 World Cup from Russia where the undoubted star was the dramatic ‘cathedral’ studio in Red Square. “When you go to Moscow and you have a studio

position right in Red Square you want to see as much as possible,” he says, “but when we got there we could only see half of St Basil’s. “When I wondered if there was a way we could see it all, our team managed to find a way (using camera tracking) to enable what was a small studio space with restricted height to look like a much larger dome and to see the full height of the cathedral. “That was a real achievement and got a lot of publicity and proved that within a small space we could create a unique look.”

Euros goes through changes

Next up was UEFA Euro 2020, the concept for which went through a few iterations. For a start, the tournament was due to be based in 12 cities (11 in eventuality) which presented an initial conundrum for a presentation that would normally be built around the sights, sounds and cultural flavour of one country. “The original plan was to base our studio in London since Wembley had the most games, including the semis and final,” McNamara says. “We planned the build in central London with a great view down the Thames.” Then COVID struck, which has becoming a familiar punctuation point for these stories.“We didn’t know what state the country, or indeed any country, would be in so when the tournament was cancelled for a year we opted to take studio space in order to be flexible with any outcome.” That space, in Maidstone Studios’ 6,000sqft Studio 2, 45 minutes outside London, is a regular host to ITV programmes (shortly to include ITV4’s Tour de France live programming made by Vsquared). SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Arena Television has supplied and installed a purpose-built gallery from cameras, edit suites and recording equipment all supported by the IP core of Arena’s OBY truck parked outside the studio. “Within the year of prep we mapped three to four different types of look and [those] three to four different projects evolved into what we have now,” he says. “Originally we wanted to be in every country. If a game is in Rome, let’s make the set ‘Rome’, but the pandemic prevented travel. We couldn’t get our team to the cities to film images that I thought would be good enough. I didn’t want to use stock shots. A lot of virtual studios look great on a wide angle but on the singles, stock shots can look pretty average.” ITV Sport is covering Euro 2020 with a brand new virtual studio in the UK They then tried to simulate cityscapes virtually by animating them in Unreal Engine, but these Filming backdrops too were not up to scratch. “It looked like a video game He tasked freelance cameraman Rob Whitworth to capture and not really what I wanted for the background of shots,” a variety of panoramic shots of the capital in 8K to be used McNamara says. as set backdrops. Whitworth specialises in time-lapse So, they reverted back to London. It still held the largest photography (he terms it flow motion) of cities including number of matches and McNamara’s thought was why Singapore, Istanbul, Shanghai and Pyongyang. hide the fact that ITV Sport was too in town. Whitworth shot in London over different days, at

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world of the physical set with a virtual world designed in Unreal by freelance creative director Kevin Cooney. “The aim is to move between the real and the unreal worlds,” says McNamara. “It meant we could use the cityscapes we’d designed in Unreal by displaying them on the virtual video walls.”

Marrying the real and the virtual

Arena Television supplied and installed a purpose-built gallery, including cameras, edit suites and recording equipment

different times, to reflect the times and weather conditions in which matches would take place. McNamara explains: “He shot when it was hot so we have shots of sunshine across London, at golden hour when the sun is going down and at night for the highlights shows where we needed a darker studio aesthetic.” Designer Paul Sudlow created the physical stage (just as he had done for Russia 2016) at Maidstone. This was Lidar scanned, translated into a digital 3D model and imported into Unreal Engine. In Unreal, virtual stage developers White Light used a disguise server to stitch (merge) the

ITV Sport’s commentary team for Euro 2020 76

Lighting directors Chris Hollier and Andy Cottey have full control over both real and unreal environments. “Kevin gave us virtual surfaces that we could light in the Unreal world to match lighting in the studio and, conversely, when we create a sky in Unreal, we can have that seem to reflect on the floor of the studio,” adds McNamara. Still concerned with ensuring that the virtual backgrounds to the singles shot of presenter Mark Pougatch and pundits including Gary Neville would stand up to scrutiny, McNamara shot singles in the studio against a background and shared those with Whitworth. “We took a lot of time on the singles of each guest. Rob was able to use those as reference when he filmed and White Light then stitched those into the model so that the singles are perfect as well. “It’s a massive project unifying the real and the unreal. The goal is to not be able to see where the joins are.” In many ways it is more like a light entertainment show than a sports programme, he says. “Vision mixing takes time to select a shot.When we go from camera one to cam two we need the background to change in sync. “We mitigate this by spending a lot of time in prep. For a show beginning at 4pm we’d begin blocking moves at midday. It takes time, it’s quite technical and very different from what we do on a weekly basis. “For example, when the jib operator zooms into the video wall or an AR graphic of Gareth Bale, they only see the full comp on a small monitor. In reality they are seeing nothing apart from the physical set, which consists of the rostrum and the physical screen behind the presenters.” “Ultimately, it’s very much the sum of its parts,” he adds. “If the jib doesn’t get to the right point, if White Light don’t open the screen at the right time, if VT don’t run the city profiles, then it won’t work. To get it right everyone has to be very focused on what they are doing.” All the AR graphics are selected from within Unreal. Graphics include player profiles, group table, country banners and hero banners and floor maps. “We can do anything we want to do. We can show the studio in a 360 and use a vistacam [the 180º 4K stadium feed from UEFA] to take the viewer into the stadium. The possibilities are endless. The trick is not to over use it. “We want to make viewers feel comfortable with where they are. My guide is to use AR at the right point, not about showing how clever we are. We will be in homes for a month, so we want to sprinkle our presentation with gold dust.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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BBC Sport has launched a new 360-degree virtual set for Euro 2020, which will also be used for all its football coverage going forward

BBC Sport on the preparations for Euro 2020 and its new-look VR studio BY HEATHER MCLEAN FIRST PUBLISHED 11 JUNE 2021

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EFA Euro 2020 is finally upon BBC Sport, one year late, and despite the action kicking off in just a few hours, many parts of the production are still a moveable feast thanks to ever-changing COVID restrictions. The broadcaster, however, is ready and is even launching a new look for all of its football programming at Euro 2020 with a new 360-degree virtual reality (VR) studio set. On how the run up to Euro 2020 has gone so far for the British incumbent, executive producer football at BBC Sport Phil Bigwood tells SVG Europe: “I think it’s probably fair to say this is the most difficult and challenging event I’ve overseen. “I’ve looked after the major football tournaments [at BBC Sport] for nearly 20 years now and done every one over that time, so I think my colleagues and I know a lot about broadcasts, but I’ve never had one quite like this, for all the obvious reasons with COVID. “There’s a lot that’s really going to the wire, last minute; even this week we’re getting announcements around what we can do in and around stadiums and what the travel plans are. The logistical planning side of it has 78

been a huge challenge and it continues to be a challenge, but we’re getting there.” Bigwood adds: “Whether it be UEFA or any of our partners, I think we all recognise it’s quite a difficult [event compared to before 2020], so everybody’s working together to try and deliver it in the best way we can.”

A strong start

England, Scotland and Wales’ opening games are exclusively live on BBC Sport. The opening game, Turkey v Italy, in Rome on Friday 11 June is the first of 25 live matches across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app. That is followed by Wales v Switzerland on 12 June, England v Croatia on 13 June and Scotland v Czech Republic and Spain v Sweden on 14 June, giving BBC Sport audiences the first opportunity to see all the home nations who qualified in action. Working with ITV Sport, the BBC will also have first and second pick of the games at the last 16 and quarterfinal stages. “We start really strong with all the three home nations,” says Bigwood.“But what comes with that SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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is all the planning. The [current] plan is to present onsite for the England game and for the Scotland game. Obviously because Wales are in Baku, that’s a whole different challenge. What we’ve decided to do is send a commentary team out to Baku, and that is our one commentary team that’s travelling. Everything else will be done back in Salford or onsite in Glasgow and Wembley.” All the core BBC Sport editorial and production team will be based in Salford, utilising the studio there at dock10.Yet even though BBC Sport is sending a minimum of crew around and outside the UK, it is still The new BBC Sport virtual set has been designed under the watchful eye of BBC Sport creative not easy. Bigwood says that with BBC Sport’s director John Murphy, with help from dock10, AE Live and set designer Ian Webber IBC for Euro 2020 in Vijfhuizen, just outside of Amsterdam, a crew from BBC Sport left the UK two facilities. I know UEFA has the same issues; they’ve now weeks ago to go through quarantine measures to get to got 11 match production teams in each of the venues, the broadcast hub for the build-up to the start of Euro whereas before they were going to pair up [with one 2020. However, it had been touch and go as to whether match production team working between two venues]. the team would even be allowed into the country. So we’re all facing similar challenges.” Bigwood comments: “A few weeks ago with everything that’s going on in the UK at the moment with COVID, Complicated unknown logistics and because of the respective rules around the different Bigwood is rotating around all the UK venues and Salford. countries, we weren’t sure whether staff would even “Obviously it’s a big question for the whole country, but be allowed into the Netherlands. But as of [Tuesday 8 depending on what happens on 21 June and whether June] we had the signal up from there into the BBC base things change or are delayed or opened up, we’ve still got in Salford. So that key component of our operation is an aspiration to present far more games on site if we can, looking good.” as the tournament builds to its conclusion. But obviously we just don’t know that yet. Location, location, location “The joy of knockout football, of course, is England On BBC Sport’s crews moving from location to location, could play their last group game at Wembley if they win plans have been made, changed and are still hanging in the group and if they come second in the group, they the balance, says Bigwood. “The other things that got would go to Copenhagen. So that’s extremely different considered were that any people we do send overseas have options if we face that. Also, if they finish second in the then got to do all of the restrictions and quarantining on group, the way that the split with ITV works is the BBC the way back. Now some countries like Germany have has got first two picks in the last 16 and the first two effectively banned all UK citizens going into the country, picks in the quarter finals. So therefore whichever home so for the likes of the games in Munich we’ve got to nations progress, we could do two of them. Obviously approach [those matches] differently. And all of that is we’re hopeful two home nations progress to the quarter happening very late in the day. So whether it’s flights or finals as then we would get both of those games, but... hotels, you know, we would typically have that sort of thing if England win and go to Copenhagen, and if they were in place many, many months before. to win that game, the quarter final would then be in St “Our OB supplier for this event is Timeline TV, so way Petersburg three or four days after. So there’s lots of that back — two years ago now — we did have aspirations to sort of thinking going on at the moment.” present a lot more on site at some of the bigger games, He continues: “Ideally, a game of that magnitude, but obviously we’ve had to change that,” he continues. you can imagine it’s going to be watched by the whole “So it’s just the uncertainty of where we can put the country. You’d like to be able to do what we’ve done facilities, as you’d appreciate with a tournament of this previously to now [by going on location], yet we have size; the number of freelancers and people we work with to be realistic and we have to be pragmatic that getting and trying to do the right thing by everybody, and at the into somewhere like Russia with only a few days’ notice same time, not really having definite confirmation of is going to be extremely challenging. I think we’d go for what we can do and where we can send people. more of a hybrid approach there. We’re just trying to have “That’s been the biggest challenge,” continues facilities in place where we can so that we can react as the Bigwood.“Only last week we were able to confirm certain results pan out.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

“We’ve built a 360-degree virtual reality (VR) studio. We’ve got a new set and a whole new set up. So whether we’re on the road or whether we’re in Salford, the aspiration is that everything will have a similar look and feel and branding” PHIL BIGWOOD, BBC SPORT

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landscape within the studio. “We built the new studio with all the social distancing guidelines [in mind]. Ian [Webber] also has responsibility to oversee all of the various outside broadcast sets as well as the set in Salford.” The new system uses Mo-Sys camera tracking in the studio, with Zero Density as the inbetween render engine platform, and Unreal Engine for the final realtime rendered delivery. Dock10 also provides a small Unreal Engine artist team to add to the studio output.

Continuous learning

BBC’s pitchside set gives UK viewers a better sense of what it’s like inside Wembley Stadium during Euro 2020

Other broadcasters are, of course, facing the same logistical issues as BBC Sport. Bigwood says there are a lot of conversations going on: “I’ve been reaching out to various broadcasters to say, ‘could you maybe help us out with this?’ Likewise with the event culminating at Wembley and because of the COVID situation and potentially certain people not being able to get in [to the UK], we’re talking about what can we do to help other [broadcasters out]. We’re all in the same boat so there’s been a lot of co-operation about how we can all make this work.”

Launching new BBC Sport football image

BBC Sport is changing the look of all its football programmes, with Euro 2020 being the launchpad to showcase those changes. Bigwood explains: “We’ve built a 360-degree virtual reality (VR) studio. We’ve got a new set and a whole new set up. So, whether we’re on the road or whether we’re in Salford, the aspiration is that everything will have a similar look and feel and branding. The Euros is actually the launch event for the new look for all BBC football.We will carry that on into next season with all our domestic programming.” The virtual studio has been designed under the watchful eye of BBC Sport creative director John Murphy, with help from dock10, AE Live and set designer Ian Webber. It is an evolution of work the broadcaster began two years ago when it launched its first virtual studio at dock10 for its Match of the Day coverage and other football output, using Zero Density and Unreal Engine. Bigwood goes on: “With dock10, we’re bringing in a whole new VR set. It’s something we’ve been working on for quite a few months. When the original plans were submitted the intention was that [BBC Sport would use] HQ7 [one of the studios at dock10’s facilities in Salford] for fewer matches and fewer of the higher profile matches. Now though, we’ve got a whole new design. We’re using some of the UEFA feeds to help us create the 80

On what this new studio adds to the fan experience, Murphy says: “A couple of things, I think. When we launched the Match of the Day studio [two years ago], we put ourselves into a kind of a stadium [virtual image], which at the time was great. It was a big move for Match of the Day to go into that. But I think what we learned was that we had this virtual world and we put ourselves into this big stage, and we actually made it too big.You lose that sense of closeness, if you like, by making things too big and a bit too spacious. “So with this Euro studio [we made] it circular, which brings the talent a lot closer [to the viewer] and brings it in so it’s not so cavernous. Also, with the 360 imagery [for the Euros] it’s giving the viewer just a feel of London or Rome or wherever for the match. We’re not saying that we’re actually there, but while they’re watching [the match] it gives them that sense that they’re there. I think that was the biggest thing for us, actually; just giving that viewer experience of being in the locations as we can’t be there. That was the biggest plus for us.” Says Murphy on the Match of the Day virtual studio: “That was a big move for us at the time. We learnt a lot. In terms of the design aspect of the virtual studio, we’ve been in there two years now with the Unreal Engine, so we’ve learned a lot and we’re fully behind virtual sets. We’re doing a lot of projects in this [virtual] area and we’re learning. The technology is moving on all the time, but I think we have to understand that there are limitations [to this technology] as well. It’s okay thinking, ‘oh, well, we can do whatever we want’. Well, that’s true in a sense, but actually, in terms of performance of the way [virtual studio technologies] work, there is a limit on the sort of things that you can do well.”

Obsession with glass

On those learnings, Murphy states: “Unreal Engine real-time rendering is photorealistic but you’ve got to optimise a lot because there’s only so much that the current hardware is able to deliver in real time. If we’re throwing things in like live stadium feeds and 360 windows you’ve got to kind of understand that there’s a limit to what you can do in terms of performance; the computing power behind it.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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The circular set is designed to brings the talent closer to the viewer

“Unreal Engine real-time rendering is photorealistic but you’ve got to optimise a lot because there’s only so much that the current hardware is able to deliver in real time” JOHN MURPHY, BBC SPORT

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“The other thing is I have a big obsession with glass, like having glass windows and getting the real-time reflections on the glass. But that eats up a lot of the rendering power. The designers [for the Euros studio have been] through a lot. We throw things at them and they start having kittens. It takes up a lot of optimisation.” He continues: “So I suppose overall what I’m saying is we’ve learned a lot in this field now, so we understand that yes, we can throw as many ideas as we possibly can, but we also understand that sometimes you have to kind of strip back a little bit as well.”

Moving forwards

Murphy comments on the rebrand and evolution of the studio for this year’s big football tournament: “For the Euros we’ve done a big football rebrand, which we’ve launched for this event, but we’ll take it on into the new season of Match of the Day. “The whole basis of [this rebrand] was UEFA’s idea of this Euro being in different cities with their brand all around, [providing] a bridge to the different cities across Europe. So we tried to tie into that with a 360 studio design. We brought in a new kind of physical central structure and seating and desk area to fit in with the rest of the brand, and then we built a 360 panoramic studio around that. “It’s just giving that feeling of being in that city where [whichever match is being shown] is being played, by using 360 photography, firstly [showing] a bit of the city locations, and then as we get nearer to the match action we’ve taken 180-degree stadium feeds — four piece stadium feeds from the stadium — so we change from the city into the stadium. As we get into the match, you’ve got the stadium, you go into that screen, you go

into the match, come back out at half time and you’ve got the stadium there. And then when we come back out post-match we go back into the city location.” The new virtual studio launched at the BBC base in Salford in March this year, amid various challenges. Says Murphy: “There’s been quite a lot of virtual stuff going on, but I suppose the big challenge was COVID. When you’re launching a virtual set obviously you can do a lot of the pre-design work on screen and on Zoom, but you’ve really got to see it on camera and in the studio. “The second [challenge] would be all the changes at the Euros where it all [happened] up to the last minute, including some of the cities dropping out, which changes things for us. We also had plans for doing 360 photography ourselves at the [stadium] locations, but again, because of travel restrictions and COVID, we weren’t able to do that. We were quite lucky and stumbled upon a company who provides 360 photography; we latched onto that quite late, actually. It was starting to get panicky! But we found them, it was great, and we got loads of locations from them.” Bigwood agrees: “Because of COVID and Brexit [we’ve had] challenges we never thought we’d face, like trying to source the raw materials within lockdown, whether it be Perspex or whether it be paint; that was difficult. And then we had to transport everything to the UK and obviously another dimension [to these challenges] is that because of Brexit and not being in the EU, we had those [delivery and transportation] challenges to overcome as well. But I’m pleased to say it’s all now built and I’m looking ready to go in there at Salford. “We’re doing a lot very differently. We’re configuring the gallery for example, so we can do UHD, and a lot more. We’ll get there!” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Behind the sound: How UEFA has gone large with audio for Euro 2020 BY PAUL MAC FIRST PUBLISHED 9 JULY 2021

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EFA Euro 2020 was delayed because of COVID, but the rescheduled tournament has delivered all the quality, drama, upset and elation that fans expected. The audio for the European Football Championship has also delivered, bringing something special to the broadcast. The team behind the sound has continued to push into new territories, with everything from stereo to a fully immersive 9.1 mix available to broadcast partners.

Huge operation

As host broadcaster, UEFA provides a huge number of services to its broadcast partners around the world and is constantly seeking new, engaging formats while pushing the technology envelope ever further. The current 12 primary broadcast feeds consist of an 84

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international sound mix in stereo and 5.1 — with and without commentary — selected microphone splits and stems across the multifeeds and, as part of the immersive audio package on the UHD feed, a full 9.1 mix plus an additional presentation tailored more for public viewing. English guide commentary can also be added to any of the above presentations. HBS is one of the suppliers that is helping to fulfil UEFA’s mission for the tournament by supplying broadcast services for selected venues. The company is providing audio consultancy, MCR facilities and is the company responsible for building the event IBC, situated at the Expo Haarlemmermeer, Vijfhuizen, in the Netherlands. HBS also supplies the commentary services for the event, which involves deploying over 620 commentary units (Lawo Commentary System) across all tournament venues. Since 2016, the Europe-wide infrastructure has been based on AES67 IP transport across a dedicated UEFA European network with GPS synchronisation at the network ‘edges’ via Meinberg M1000 Grand Masters, which also deliver black and burst to all consumers at the venues. Christian Gobbel, CTO at HBS, tells SVG Europe:“From 2006 we were using ATM for audio contribution.And even then, we already had a 6,000 [squared] synchronous audio SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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matrix across Germany. Now we have a 16,000 [squared] IP audio matrix across the whole of Europe.” Each of the football venues are interconnected with the IBC by a fibre-based IP network that services all source contributors and consumers. The stadium microphones have three primary consumers: the main and back-up HB OB vehicles and the IBC, which is where the immersive mix is created, among other contributions. There are two immersive studios (Lawo mc²96 consoles) as the schedule overlaps many of the games. The HB OB vehicles take care of the 5.1 and downmixed stereo feeds, while the immersive studios generate the 9.1 mix and additional objects for alternate presentations for the UHD broadcast.

Sound in close up

The IBC Immersive Audio studio takes all direct sources, including the main immersive microphone arrays and the individual feeds from the 20 pitch-side microphones which feed into the Lawo Kick close-ball mixing system. There are also additional stems for some sources, where that makes sense. “Some stems are pre-mixed at the venues, especially where they are dependent on either external sources or on the video cut,” explains Gobbel.“It wouldn’t make sense to

transmit GPIs for the camera-mounted microphones, for example, so we get the signal pre-mixed into our audiofollow-video group. Other sources include all the replays and splits of the PA announcements, including a music premix as a stereo source.” Although the Lawo Kick close-ball mix can use live tracking data from image analysis systems and provide a graphic showing the players, the ball, the microphone positions and so on, for the Euros it was decided to take a more pragmatic approach and manually operate the Kick frontend at the IBC. Each microphone is mapped to a console channel and the system produces a perfectly matching mix according to preferences and direction from the operator. This close ball feed is not only used for the 9.1 mix, but returned to the venue OBs for use in the 5.1 and stereo mixes. Felix Krückels, professor for broadcast and systems design at the University of Darmstadt, is immersive director for Euro 2020. He explains that for the 9.1 mix, the close ball sound is panned slightly to the height speakers: “It’s panned, I would say, 10% or 15% to the height speakers. It gives you a bigger impression of the ball kicks of the players, of the referee; whoever is close to these microphones. “Previously, we’d get a lot of spill from close ball

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“Our hearing doesn’t actually need any time difference information for height perception; we just need level difference” FELIX KRÜCKELS, UNIVERSITY OF DARMSTADT

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microphones with maybe 95% crowd noise and it would be rare to get the actual ball kick sound. You can get that spill down with different microphones and treatment, but still the problem is manually mixing it. Nobody mixing it could actually find the ideal crossfade point and the crowd spill would go up and down in the mix. Kick plays a huge role in a more precise close-ball mix.”

Immersive ORTF-3D microphone

Perfecting the main immersive microphone array for stadium sound has been a fascinating process for Euro 2020, and started with early experiments that added height-spaced ORTF arrays to push the 5.1 sound to 9.1. However, when Krückels approached Schoeps Mikrofone about putting this array in an ‘industrialised’ package, Schoeps’ technical director Dr Helmut Wittek came back with an innovative design based on the research by Hyunkook Lee, associate professor in music technology at the University of Huddersfield, UK, and director of the centre for audio and psychoacoustic engineering. “Our hearing doesn’t actually need any time difference information for height perception; we just need level difference,” explains Krückels.“The finished product uses supercardioid ORTF arrays very close together to achieve

Euro 2020

the levels difference required and we can clearly identify signals coming from the height layer and the main layer.” This ORTF-3D microphone was active as a prototype as early as 2014. All UEFA Euro championship venues have been equipped with the finished array since 2018. In 2019, Krückels experimented with spot microphones created from cardioid and figure of eight capsules, orientated to differentiate height rather than only left and right positions. This arrangement has again been refined by Schoeps using supercardioids for the ORTF 2+2. “By using coincident microphones and exploiting the level difference rather than a time difference in the vertical direction, we don’t have to fight comb filter effects in the 5.1 downmix,” he says.“In this case, the left and right stands are completely decorrelated for good localisation, but it’s captured like a choir, with a nice chorus effect that means we get a big crowd sound rather than lots of individuals.” One aspect of the event that both Krückels and Gobbel feel is important for the immersive mix is the PA feed from the venue, both music and announcements. Comments Gobbel: “In normal league football the PA fader is down and it’s only used when there’s an announcement or something similar from the players. In stereo or 5.1 it can SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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be difficult to find the right balance, but this is something that can feature more in the immersive experience because it doesn’t fight against the commentary. You can place the announcer in the ceiling and your own commentator in the front and these can coexist much better than in a channel-based stereo mix, for example. “Things like the opening ceremony music are all part of the drama; you can always hear the PA sounds through open mics anyway because the PA is so loud. It’s much better if people are immersed in a nice upmix of the music. However, we actually leave out the centre speaker, which is more or less exclusively for the commentator.

No artificial crowd noise

Even though attendance numbers have necessarily been lower at most venues for this tournament, there has been no artificial crowd noise added to the broadcasts. If anything, notes Krückels, a quieter stadium actually helps with the sound: “You can fill the Saint Petersburg Stadium with 60,000 people. The sound pressure level that crowd size can generate is so high that it is very difficult to capture the close-ball sound, for example. “Also, because of social distancing, the crowd are well distributed around the stadiums, which helps with the immersive mix. It feels like the stadium is completely

packed and all we’ve done is maybe increased the level a little bit. It doesn’t change the position of the microphones.” Another side-effect of the COVID pandemic has been the popularity of the new Radio International Sound (RIS) streaming service for radio broadcasters. Says Gobbel: “We offer both a WebRTC and a SRT stream for those not coming to the IBC. The Web RTC is an easy to implement web-based platform that provides a video stream and a high-quality audio stream using the Opus codec. For a more reliable delivery we have also added SRT streaming as an alternate option to receive audio and video. It means broadcasters can commentate off-tube from home. “It’s something we’ve looked at before but had limited interest. This time, with the pandemic, there has been a lot of interest and there’s a lot of confidence in the system now, so I guess this will become a common service from now on,” Gobbel concludes. International football coverage has become an epic effort to create even more thrills and realism for audiences at home. The sound team has never stood still and has been actively seeking new ideas, new technologies and new techniques to make the beautiful game come alive for every viewer. It is right they take some of the crowd noise to be applause for these efforts.

“Things like the opening ceremony music are all part of the drama; you can always hear the PA sounds though open mics anyway because the PA is so loud. It’s much better if people are immersed in a nice upmix of the music” CHRISTIAN GOBBEL, HBS

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IMG is working with UEFA on the host broadcast operation for the Euros, deploying around 300 people

Euro 2020: How IMG is supporting the host broadcast operation BY WILL STRAUSS FIRST PUBLISHED 11 JUNE 2021

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uring the European Football Championship (Euro 2020), global sports content producer and distributor IMG is working with UEFA on the host broadcast operation for the tournament, deploying as many as 300 people to provide technical services, acquire footage and create a variety of different types of content. Speaking to SVG Europe during the group stages of the tournament, IMG head of engineering Brian Leonard and IMG executive producer Nairn Salter outlined what they are doing, how they are doing it and why.

commentary for most games, with a stats position, and providing a news feed match day -1 operation that is run on IMG’s EVS servers. This started with four feeds and now may grow to 12 independent feeds. In addition, we are using 15 of IMG’s craft editing suites to remotely connect to Moovit.de Adobe Premiere Pro stations at the IBC. Next Unit of Computing (NUC) PCs and Teradici PC over IP are being used to give an ‘under the desk’ feel to the operation. We are facilitating another 25+ Adobe stations in a similar way for other areas of the UEFA production, covering digital, radio and graphics. There are also 100+ desk production positions, allowing connectivity to the UEFA production tools like HIVE via IMG’s 10Gig (redundant) internet pipe, plus two studios to facilitate original promo creations.

How does this fit into UEFA’s overall host broadcast operation and why is it set up this way? BL: We are facilitating the main production arm of the operation where 90% of the facilities are in the IBC at Amsterdam. It was set-up like this because UEFA had to What technical services are IMG providing for UEFA at prepare for various COVID scenarios in case countries were Stockley Park in London for Euro 2020 — and how has forced to lockdown. Working remotely allows them to still that set-up evolved or expanded because of the impact offer a solution no matter what COVID may throw at them. of COVID-19? Brian Leonard (BL): We are providing connectivity onto What level of connectivity do you need in order to Eurovision Services’ network which consists of two 10GB dovetail successfully with the IBC in Amsterdam? fibres into IMG Studios. On these fibres we are hosting BL: We are providing 30Gig and we could have provided a UEFA-run production Quality Control Room (QRC) more, although I don’t think we went over 20Gig with seven operators. And then there are 20 video feeds from the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in What content is IMG producing for UEFA for Euro 2020? Amsterdam. Nairn Salter (NS): UEFA and IMG are producing Throughout the tournament, we are adding the English rushes that broadcasters can repackage to meet their 88

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Euro 2020

own editorial needs, and editorialised features, news packages and statistical match previews that are ready to air. The content supplements what broadcasters film themselves. In a pandemic, travel restrictions mean that many broadcasters may not be deploying as many crews as they may have done under normal circumstances. Now more than ever, this service allows the rights-holding broadcasters to showcase all 24 teams by accessing the content filmed by the UEFA crews. The content includes: raw editorial content on all 24 teams that is delivered to broadcasters daily. We also deliver two team features ahead of every game, that is 102 in total. And then there are daily highlights dhows; headto-head stats VTs ahead of every game, host city features ahead of every game; daily team reports — 90-second team-related news packages (up to 24 each day); digital packages and radio content. IMG is also providing ENG crews — what does each ENG crew consist of? What are they capturing? NS: Each crew consists of a producer, a camera operator and media wrangler. They are capturing interviews with players and coaches, training sessions, and press conferences. Host city crews capture the atmosphere and Euro-related activities in the 11 host cities.

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

COVID and logistics provided additional challenges for the IMG team

What challenges are IMG facing during Euro 2020? NS: The biggest challenges are COVID and logistics. For the crews to be able to operate in and around the teams, regular PCR testing is required. Quarantine measures mean it’s not been possible for crews to follow teams across borders to games so we have ensured we have crews in place in all of the host countries, and elsewhere for those teams staying at home — Austria, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, etc. BL: From an IMG technical perspective this has not been too challenging. We have been working on more complex productions for years, and one game concurrency is relatively easy for us when we consider a normal football weekend when we may hit over 40+ concurrency.

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Champions League

Mediapro switched its entire production from Istanbul to Porto with only moments to spare on behalf of UEFA

Mediapro manages UEFA Champions League Final last-minute location change in just 15 days BY HEATHER MCLEAN FIRST PUBLISHED 8 JUNE 2021

“We were eight days to Istanbul, when we were told let’s go to Porto, and in that eight days we changed all the logistic plans” 90

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Rodrigo de Araujo, plus Marc Caeymaex, EMEA sales director for broadcast and media services division, in collaboration with the company’s head of global sales and operation, Francisco de la Fuente. Speaking to SVG Europe, Araujo says: “For me the biggest challenge was to move all the facilities from Istanbul to Porto, the other side of Europe, eight days before starting with the setup installation. We were eight days to Istanbul, when we were told let’s go to Porto, and in that eight days we changed all the logistic plans. “UEFA had big concerns, but the trust we had from UEFA in us was very good as we have already been working on several UCL finals with them. The UEFA team has great experience of such an event and we worked like partners, not client and supplier.” When the venue was changed to Portugal, with no rights holder for the final in Porto, UEFA took responsibility for producing the final, with Mediapro taking responsibility for the whole broadcast. Araujo adds: “It was very easy for UEFA to say, ‘let’s change the country [for the final] but let’s keep what we have planned [for the broadcast]’.”

ediapro turned around the last-minute location change for the UEFA Champions League Final between Chelsea FC and Manchester City FC from Turkey to Portugal only 15 days before the match, providing a seamless and successful broadcast for the highly anticipated event. Mediapro, the host broadcaster and technical facilities provider contracted by BeIN Sports, the rights holder for the UEFA Champions League final in Turkey, switched its entire production from Istanbul to Porto with only moments to spare on behalf of the federation. Achieving the impossible Managing this feat of logistics and organisation were For UEFA, being able to keep the same services provider project manager for the event, Mediapro Turkey CEO for the final rather than trying to switch to another that

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Champions League

Just one day before Mediapro’s three OB trucks were due to leave Spain to travel to Istanbul for the final, they were rerouted as part of the new plans to Porto

was not already geared up for it not only made sense but saved the day. Caeymaex adds: “The UEFA event team was really happy that in the end the final moved to Porto as they were able to keep the same services provider [Mediapro] and team as was appointed for Turkey, as [we were able] to provide exactly the same service in Portugal.” Just one day before Mediapro’s three OB trucks were due to leave Spain to travel to Istanbul for the final, they

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

The Mediapro team ready for kick off in Porto

were rerouted as part of the new plans and went to Porto instead. Notes Caeymaex: “It was just in time. All the equipment was not yet installed in Istanbul, so we just had time to send them West [instead of East].” The trucks sent from Spain for the event were Mediapro’s OB 89, “the biggest and newest, the most advanced that we have in our fleet”, says Araujo. OB 69 was sent as the main backup truck for OB 89, and OB 52 went for UEFA’s services, including world camera services

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When the UEFA Champions League Final switched location from Turkey to Portugal, Mediapro had to source a total of 200 crew members quickly from Portugal and Spain

and multilateral positions for visiting broadcasters; in Porto, Mediapro had to take on the commentary positions and unilateral feed facilities for four broadcasters — RMC Sport from France, Eleven Sports Portugal, Movistar from Spain and TNT WarnerMedia, Brazil — on top of the international production for UEFA. “It was very challenging with these [extra responsibilities], but it was a challenge that we met at the end,” notes Araujo.

The Champions League final was played in Portugal at FC Porto’s Estadio do Dragao 92

Switching plans

The original plan made by Mediapro would have seen part of its team on the ground in Istanbul coming from the wider European team, and around 50 people from Turkey. When plans were suddenly changed, the company had to source a total of 200 crew members quickly from Portugal and Spain. Luckily it has extensive trusted contact lists in both countries so was able to source people and sort out travel arrangements very quickly. Says de la Fuente: “This kind of switchover in just a few days, thanks to our own travel and logistics agencies inside Mediapro, was smooth.” Mediapro was able to fulfil all the requirements for the event internally, with special cameras coming in from Spain and Portugal, plus those two countries also providing all assets and crew. The entire production was carried out on site according to UEFA’s requirements, using strict social distancing rules. Adds Araujo: “Everyone from the team was tested beforehand, as required by both UEFA and the Portuguese authorities, to avoid any kind of contamination in the TV compound.” De la Fuente concludes on the broadcast of the final: “I believe it was very good! UEFA gave us feedback that everyone was very happy with the final result, because of the original plan and also the resulting preparation for the fast response that Mediapro delivered to UEFA; it’s not easy to produce a final, but it’s not easy to produce a final in 15 days. “Our capacity to adapt and react is, with no doubt, one of the reasons that Mediapro is one of biggest players in the market with capacity to provide any solutions in difficult situations. I’m very happy!” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Fewer than 50 people will be on site for this year’s final, compared with around 200 for the event in 2019

Champions League final: BT Sport slims down for beefed-up remote coverage BY WILL STRAUSS FIRST PUBLISHED 26 MAY 2021

“If fans hadn’t been able to travel, then our presentation wouldn’t have gone because it’s really important that you’re able to reflect and be part of the fans’ journey”

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hen Chelsea take on Manchester City in this weekend’s all-English UEFA Champions League final, the UK’s broadcast rights holder BT Sport will be there, providing unilateral coverage of the game with a beefed-up remote production operation that has multiple redundancy and fewer crew and staff on-site than in previous years. Augmenting the Mediapro-produced world feed, the broadcaster will do its own presentation from the ground as well as capturing its own shots, with a particular focus on the fans inside the Estádio do Dragão in Porto, with pictures switched back to Stratford. Multiple feeds will be sent back to London to cover all eventualities.And, unlike the last all-Premier League final in 2019, when Liverpool took on Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid and BT Sport had 200 people present, this year, far fewer will be involved and ‘at home’ is very much the watchword. “We’re doing it all remote,” says Jamie Hindhaugh, BT Sport chief operating officer, speaking to SVG Europe in the week leading up to the final. “The presentation director will be sat in Stratford.We’re

taking additional cameras to do our presentation and we also added some to give us that unilateral coverage, enabling us to pick out those fans that are travelling and allow us to tell our own story.” The big headline, however, is that in 2019, we took about 200 people. This year it’s under 50.”

Following the fans

The decision to do on-site presentation was only made once Hindhaugh and the team were sure that Chelsea and City fans could attend the game. “I’ll be really clear here,” he says. “If fans hadn’t been able to travel, then our presentation wouldn’t have gone because it’s really important that you’re able to reflect and be part of the fans journey, and I think people would understand that.” The fans will be very much the focus for BT Sport, he adds. “We will showcase their journey; the whole atmosphere, the fan camps and everything and, of course, this time it’s not going to be quite the same [because of COVID] so we’re having to look at much more creative ways of ensuring that we bring fans into our coverage.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Champions League

Mediapro is producing a dual HDR 4K feed and HD SDR feed which BT Sport is augmenting with camera positions of its own. Three cameras will be used for presentation, two will be mounted on the gantries for fan close-ups, two reporter cameras will follow players and do interviews and two will be positioned near the goals for beauty shots. A Timeline Television truck will handle connectivity and contribution feeds from Porto. “With the connectivity that we have in place, with so many different paths, we will deliver great coverage regardless of any challenges that come our way. I think it will be a fantastic event.” The fans will be the focus for BT Sport Multiple outputs will be made available for viewers, including a 4K HDR Dolby Atmos version, an even with trucks on site, let alone in this new world [of HD SDR version and a 60p high-frame-rate version that remote].” will be available on YouTube. BT Sport is covering all bases when it comes to disaster “You can only begin to imagine the schematics for all recovery too with dual fibre plus a satellite feed. this,” jokes Hindhaugh.“It’s very, very complex.” “With the connectivity that we have in place, with “The thing I am most proud of with our remote journey, so many different paths, we will deliver great coverage however, is that we’ve managed to maintain quality,” regardless of any challenges that come our way. I think it he adds. “With 4K HDR, a lot of people aren’t doing it will be a fantastic event.”

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UEFA Super Cup

As Windsor Park doesn’t hold regular first-class soccer fixtures, a lot of fibre had to be run and a cable gantry had to be built for this game

BT Sport proves central HDR production to UEFA during Super Cup final BY ADRIAN PENNINGTON FIRST PUBLISHED 16 AUGUST 2021

“We could prove that we’d been doing very successful single stream HDR on all domestic CL games since 2019 so we proposed doing the same for the Super Cup”

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helsea got its 2021/22 campaign up and running by facing Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday 11 August. The showpiece was also a chance for UEFA to trial a central HDR production for the first time. Champions League holders Chelsea beat Europa League winners Villarreal 6-5 on penalties in the match held at Windsor Park, Belfast. This was the first game of the new rights cycle for UEFA rights holders including BT Sport which was host broadcaster for the occasion. “This is one of the events that UEFA takes a special interest in since it’s part of the Finals Suite of events alongside the Europa League and Champions League finals,” explains Andy Beale, chief engineer, BT Sport.“For CL and Europa League matches it is regional broadcasters who are responsible for the host broadcast of each home game, but UEFA takes a much greater responsibility for the finals.” Normally the host broadcaster would be required to produce the OB in a traditional way — with separate HDR

and HD SDR workflows, separate buses and paths and SDR replays with everybody on site and in lots of trucks. But when BT Sport sat down (virtually) with UEFA in February it indicated that as Belfast was a plane ride away from London they’d like to avoid sending the usual complement of crew both for COVID-safe and sustainability reasons. “UEFA were really onboard with that idea. We could prove that we’d been doing very successful single stream HDR on all domestic CL games since 2019 so we proposed doing the same for the Super Cup,” he says. “It was really good to have their trust and their blessing to do that.” In essence this means that from a single UHD HDR 4K layer all the feeds are derived including HD HDR (which UEFA terms ‘X’ and ‘Y’ for main and reserve feeds) plus 4K SDR and 4K HDR. BT still sent three trucks to Belfast (these are Telegenic T21, T23 and T25) but with substantially fewer crew. The trucks include the main host broadcaster truck, a SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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services truck to service those multilateral broadcasters who are not on site (it doubles as a backup to the host vehicle) and a presentation truck. “The trucks are really populated by roles we consider to be critical,” adds Beale. In the main match truck there was matchday director Rob Levi, the vision mixer and producer. The services truck was crewed by just half a dozen engineers to guarantee production. The prez truck had no-one in it at all. All the VT crew were back in London. The entire BT Sport BT sent just three trucks to Belfast with substantially fewer crew; the BT Sport production crew were in galleries at BT’s ROC in High Wycombe production crew were in galleries at BT’s ROC in High Wycombe including director Single stream HDR specifics (Gemma Knight), VM, replay operators, producer, PA, BT Sport’s obligation to UEFA is to deliver an HLG variant analysis and Piero op working remotely. — pretty much the standard for live — while also offering BT Sport talent were on site presenting from a platform rights holders the chance to take SR Live (SLog3). in a corner overlooking the pitch supplemented by “We are able to cut variants from the SLog3, including pitch-side reporters so there would be no difference in what UEFA call a Z2 HDR HLG feed distributed by the production value from any major final. EBU, a 4K SDR and all the HD variants that come out

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30 match positions including an aerial batcam (there’s no helicopter). BT Sport deployed nine additional presentation and ENG cameras for production of shoulder programming (a behind the scenes story will be aired following the event). Windsor Park itself is a bit of a greenfield for UEFA. As it doesn’t hold regular firstclass soccer fixtures, a lot of fibre had to be run and a cable gantry had to be built for this game. BT Sport’s crew began the build nine days out, with the trucks arriving a week before and matchday crew five days ahead of kick-off. BT’s own feed was returned to London over dual redundant 10Gig fibre plumbed for the occasion by BT Media and Broadcast. BT Sport Host Broadcaster services is returning straight to Stratford and on to BT Sport’s playout partners as well as supporting the EBU with multilateral services.

A new standard?

It’s likely that the Super Cup workflow will become standard for all UEFA Champions League content. “I think this will be the start of a big transition for them,” Beale says.“They’ve had good reasons to be fairly conservative. They Thirty cameras were deployed for the match with nine additional presentation and ENG cameras for shoulder programming have valuable rights to protect but we’ve been of that. There are rights holders on site taking the SLog working with their engineering team and everyone is natively and others taking HLG.” really excited to be pushing things forward.” “I think this will The workflow employs BT’s standard ‘closed loop UEFA also has an ambition to use more remote be the start of shading’ technique in which all racks engineers shade on technologies and methods to attain sustainability targets a big transition the SDR output from the camera. There’s consistency in and simply to be more efficient in production. It’s also a for them. They that all the cameras are Sony. Camera 1 is the F55, which marked difference from the recent Euros which was a Beale says gives the best noise performance due to its hybrid of traditional matchday OB with presentation have valuable large sensor, combined with multiple 2/3in Sony 4300 elements remoted. rights to protect system cameras. “As a rights holder with competitions internationally, but we’ve “The shaders have that as the SDR as their main feed, going remote is a huge opportunity,” Beale says. but they are touching down on the HDR camera shading Other notable BT-specific innovations at the Super been working panel — that way we know the SDR is as good as it can Cup include 8K virtual reality. This curated feed is being with their ever be. They also see the programme output coming produced from five 8K VR camera rigs and represents the engineering back in, which is the down-mapped HDR to SDR. So, they first time BT has produced 8K VR from a CL match. BT are always comparing native SDR with the roundtripped plans to transmit at least one 8K VR package per round of team and closed looped HDR to SDR pictures to make sure they CL matches this season. everyone is look exactly the same.” Another first for UEFA is the use of virtual perimeter really excited This is a technique that BT Sport has deployed board replacement with at least two rights holders in successfully for hundreds of Premier League games over international territories (one of them China) airing live to be pushing the past three seasons. feeds showing different pitch-side advertising. things forward” “It gives us the opportunity to be really efficient and Beale is also excited about the debut of BT Sport’s new assurance about picture quality that will completely production hub in Stratford. Outfitted with an ST-2110 protect SDR deliverables. Of course, 95% of the audience IP core, the facility will enable what Beale calls “full fat” worldwide are still watching HD SDR.” remote production and has been dubbed Purple Rock to The camera inventory is as you’d expect for a final: fit in with the broadcaster’s branding. 98

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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The Open

The world feed is produced out of a main production gallery, a main sub mix area and a super-ISO/replay room

Open Championship returns: CTV and ETP at the centre of production as Sky Sports and NBC work remotely BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER FIRST PUBLISHED 14 JULY 2021

“Everyone’s so happy that it is back. It is great to see all the stands and the flags up”

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he 149th Open Championship has been in pause mode since last July, but the world’s best golfers will finally take to the tee boxes at Royal St George’s in Kent, England on 15 July. And for Hamish Greig, CTV OB chief executive, and the rest of the team from CTV, European Tour Productions (ETP) and the Royal St George’s, it’s great to be back on site. “Everyone’s so happy that it is back,” says Greig. “I was just driving around last night past the 16th hole which is such an impressive killer par three and it was great to see all the stands and the flags up.” While there will be 32,000 fans a day coming out to the course, there are fewer rights holders on site due to COVID-19 protocols, the Olympics (NBC is producing the golf world feed for the Games) and simply new ways of working (Sky and TV Asahi are producing it remotely). “The compound has a smaller footprint but there’s still a fair number of staff here from NBC Sports and the Golf Channel,” he says. This year’s camera count is around 145 (typically that number is between 175 and 190) including roughly 27 wireless cameras which include three wireless Xmos

super slo-mo cameras and a plane for aerial coverage. With respect to speciality cameras, ACS will once again provide 10 bunker cameras and several rail cams and robo cameras. Broadcast RF and CTV’s Golf RF inventory is handling wireless needs with 27 radio cameras, 90 radio mics, 64 Duplex and IFB channels, and around 600 walkie talkies. CTV, as part of EMG, is using all the power of the group, with six CTV scanners plus two flypacks, two Telegenic scanners, speciality cameras from ACS, and BRF looking after 21 of the 27 RF cameras. “Communications-wise all the trucks are connected via RVON to make a huge master frame but giving the ability for any production stream to easily communicate with any other, irrespective of whichever truck they’re working from,” says Greig. As for new technology, this is the first Open Championship that will use Hawk-Eye for the super ISO needs. “Super ISO ensures every hole is covered and makes sure we don’t miss a thing,” says Greig. “We have 70 channels of record and two onsite stations with four SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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CTV’s fleet of European Tour Production scanners are on-site at Royal St George’s

operators to supplement our Red, Blue, Brown and Gold Live sub mix area and then 12 Hawk-Eye operators are working remotely from Basingstoke, and one station for NBC operating from the US.” The super ISO efforts this year echo what the PGA Tour has done for The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in the US. Those efforts were the backbone of every shot live service that was produced primarily out of Basingstoke.

The production hub

At the core of the production facilities is a broadcast centre that is home to just the world feed this year. The world feed is produced out of a main production gallery, a main sub mix area and a super-ISO/replay room. OSCAR (Outside

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

The compound has a s smaller footprint than in previous years

Source Central Apparatus Room) and QC are the heart of the technical operation. Next door to the super-ISO/replay area is the main replay-sub mix area, where two directors and four EVS operators create features and additional replay packages via four EVS replay servers. The teams in both ISO-replay areas work hard to ensure that all the storylines on the course are covered properly. The third component in the broadcast centre, the main production gallery, features a Grass Valley Kayenne production switcher with 5M/E and 10 DPMs. The freed-up NBC space has been populated by MST with six channels of GFX for World, plus two channels each for marquee groups 1 and 2, and three-hole UHD GDR coverage, plus a large onsite Top Tracer operation

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flow tests are held every 48 hours and for those arriving from out of the UK a PCR test is administered. “If you have had a double vaccine then you don’t have to take the test every 48 hours,” says Greig.“That’s the only relaxing of protocols we have had.” One of the challenges from a production standpoint is that the crew can find it challenging to get near the players. “If you’re not in the player’s bubble you cannot be near them,” he says. There is also backup crew on call to give the team the flexibility to deal with someone testing positive.

The rights-holders CTV’s IP-based golf trucks OB12 A and B are being employed this year

supplemented by a remote TT service from Sweden. “CTV OB has more trucks on hand this year as OB 12 A and B, our new fully IP-based golf trucks, will be on hand alongside the other trucks and the production cabin,” says Greig.“That gives us a new triple and double expando that we didn’t have in previous years.” Some of the production team will be working remotely, including ARL which handles augmented reality graphics out of New Zealand, and TopTracer which will be operated out of Sweden. “It’s still a major show with 12 different production streams,” says Greig.“And the course is a links course so it will be a challenge to get anywhere with all the people. On top of that, there are the different bubbles: the spectators coming in, our bubble and then the players’ and officials’ bubble.” COVID protocols are still very much in place with social distancing, plexiglass screens and masks required inside and outside unless social distancing is more than two metres, and a plexiglass screen is in place. COVID

Trucks are connected via RVON for ease of communication between production streams 102

Historically rights-holders like the BBC, Sky Sports, NBC Sports and TV Asahi have had a robust on-site presence but this year only the BBC is on site fully and working as they normally do. “We have OB9, one of our triple expando scanners, looking after NBC Sports and the Golf Channel elements as we have 16 outgoing lines to NBC in Stamford and five outgoing lines to ‘Live From’ for the Golf Channel,” he explains. “That is over and above the clean and dirty feeds, marquee groups and three-hole feeds. We have eight router panels remote from Stamford so they can access any of the 103 host cameras and associated audio.” Multi-viewer feeds are also sent across the pond so that NBC can see every camera on every hole. “NBC also has its own dedicated RF minis, some cabled cameras and a couple of ENG units,” he adds.“They don’t have any on-site commentary or studios, but they do have on-site reporters at the interview positions and on-course reporters.” TV Asahi is completely remote this year and Greig says that “a flypack in a cabin will give the team in Japan access to all the cameras and programme feeds, which gives them a customised streamlined operation”, he explains. Sky Sports is also remote with 60 feeds going back and forth between Sky in London and the compound. Helping in those efforts are 10Gbps circuits and then the streaming and data control services have their own dedicated 1Gbps circuit. CTV and ETP teams will shift into high gear on Sunday night following the event. Next week there are three simultaneous golf events: the Women’s Evian Championship France; the Senior Open at Sunningdale Golf Club; and the European Tour Cazoo Open from Celtic Manor in Wales. “It’s a triple golf week so it will be chaos on Sunday night, especially as we have the issue of going across international borders,” he adds. “Four trucks will be off to France and then the main golf fleet of 14 trucks will go to Celtic Manor. And then there are another six trucks off to do the Seniors Open. So, it’s just a very quiet week for all associated with the golf.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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The Hundred

Sky Sports on-screen talent and pundits present around the avatars

Sky Sports and the ECB turn to gamification as cricket is ‘freshened up’ for a new audience BY WILL STRAUSS FIRST PUBLISHED 19 JULY 2021

“It’s been a challenge but when is innovation not a challenge? We’ve gone into the unknown — we do believe it is a broadcast world first” JASON LANDAU, SKY CREATIVE

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layer avatars for presenter analysis and a new way of displaying on-screen broadcast graphics will both be part of Sky Sports’ gamified live coverage of the new ‘family friendly’ cricket tournament The Hundred which starts on 21 July. The Hundred is a professional franchise 100-ball-perinnings format involving eight men’s and eight women’s teams located in major cities across England and Wales. With the sport looking to attract new fans, it’s not ‘cricket for dummies’ but it is very much a TV-friendly format, with accessible start and end times and shorter matches, that has been devised to be more entertainmentfocused and inclusive than other forms of the sport. As such, alongside some of the world’s best cricketers, The Hundred will feature a mixture of music, DJs, fan participation and more in an effort to attract more female and child viewers, attendees and participants. Sky Sports is the host broadcaster for the England and

Wales Cricket Board (ECB)-owned competition and will show all 68 games with the BBC broadcasting 10 matches free-to-air, doing its own coverage but taking Sky’s world feed. The family-friendly approach will be reflected in Sky Sports’ output which, in conjunction with the ECB, will use gamification to appeal to younger viewers. That gamification comes in two main forms: player avatars that will be used for analysis during presentation elements of Sky’s coverage; and on-screen broadcast graphics with a ‘gaming’ or ‘esports’ feel that have been designed to help simplify the game for viewers. Sky Sports director of cricket Bryan Henderson, speaking to SVG Europe ahead of the tournament, explained the premise behind the tournament and what they are setting out to achieve. “Cricket as a sport is doing really well and has had some incredible moments over the last few years, with both the England women’s and men’s World Cup wins and some amazing international and domestic cricket,” he says. “The issue though, concerns demographics. Cricket’s audience on and off-screen is typically, quite middle-aged ABC1 men. Although they are an important segment, we need to engage new fans if we are going to grow and future-proof the sport. At the same time, society is evolving. “People’s lives are changing, people want shorter formats that are easier to understand and they want formats that are affordable to watch with the family. “Cricket has recognised this and the issues that it has in its appeal and relevancy. And so The Hundred has SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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The Hundred

The bright and bold graphics follow the style created by the ECB

essentially been born out of that and our commitment to it and to growing the game.” The upshot of this from a TV perspective will be a new way of broadcasting the sport, he adds.“We are going to freshen things up and present things in a slightly different way.”

Player avatars

Created in conjunction with the ECB, the player avatars are part of the gamification of The Hundred, with Sky Sports on-screen talent and pundits due to present around them during pitch-side presentation elements within the coverage. The avatars will help viewers to “get a little bit closer to the players”, says Henderson, and make the graphics “more gamified and in tune with the target audience”. They were created using facial recognition and motion capture technology rather than the volumetric technique that Sky has used to great effect on its golf coverage with Sky Scope. The decision to go with avatars rather than volumetric capture was purely practical, according to Sky Creative creative director of innovation Jason Landau, who was invited to talk to the ECB after it saw the impact of Sky Scope. “What is right for one sport isn’t necessarily right for another,” he says. “With the cricket bowling [motion] it wasn’t going to be feasible [to do volumetric]. At the same time, we’d been talking a lot about avatars. We’d seen how they were getting better in the overall look so we examined the pros and cons of doing a hyperreal avatar, SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

and then capture the motion data. We thought it would be different but also engaging.” Using avatars rather than volumetric capture will also make it“easier to re-skin if someone changes hairstyle or bat sponsor”, Henderson adds.“Plus we can touch up hair, alter facial expressions and change things as we wish.” The avatars themselves have been created using MetaStar, Dimension Studio’s hyper-real avatar solution, and the Augmented Reality experience created by Arcade (an immersive experience creative agency, using Unity). Dimension Studio created the avatar faces using images from 19 stills cameras that captured a scan of each player’s head. Those pictures were then animated, processed and stitched together before skin texture and detail was added. Motion capture techniques were then used to generate the sporting action for each avatar body. For this, Target 3D positioned 30 optical micro tracking cameras around each player. These triangulated the position of 50 optical markers that were placed on a bodysuit worn by the cricketers as they played different shots or went through their bowling action. Motion capture gloves were also used to capture movement for bowling wrist and finger position, providing an extra level of detail. The position of the markers was then used to calculate a skeleton that then drives the animation. The data capture session took place over three days at Twickenham Stadium. “We got a great response from the players,” explains Landau. “A lot were pleased that we were pushing innovation. We were always worried about the motion

“We were always worried about the motion capture shoots, but once the players had seen what we were trying to achieve, they really bought into it” JASON LANDAU, SKY CREATIVE

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Graphics will be placed at a different angle on the screen

capture shoots, but once the players had seen what we were trying to achieve, they really bought into it. “We asked certain players to play certain shots as this will heavily build into the editorial that we will do. [Representatives] from the Sky Sports Cricket team [including producer Tom Crump and senior assistant producer James Wilson] were on hand to check the shots were right. But it came down to whether the players were happy. They got to provide input. They wanted it to be perfect. It was a lot of fun.” The result of the combined facial recognition and motion capture work is that each player has four 30-second avatar clips that Sky can augment into its output for expert analysis of shots and techniques either pitch-side or in the studio. Acknowledging the complexity of presenting alongside a graphical element that can only be seen on a monitor, it is likely that the avatars will only be used for “heavily preproduced and pre-planned” segments, says Henderson, who added that it is unlikely anything will be done with avatars “on the hoof”. In addition to the broadcast output, the avatars will also be used by the ECB on The Hundred-related social campaigns and on a smartphone app that makes use of AR to allow the user to have a cricketer avatar play a shot in their garden, or on their kitchen table, for example. “It’s been a challenge but when is innovation not a challenge?” says Landau. “We’ve gone into the unknown — we do believe it is a broadcast world first.We know that within Hollywood, people have been doing this before. But I am not sure they have done it at this level of detail with analysis for sports broadcast. 106

New-style broadcast graphics

While the player avatars will doubtless receive lots of attention, getting the newly designed and styled broadcast graphics correct took up greater time for Henderson and the Sky Sports team.And mainly because it’s not just about aesthetics. As the sport is aiming to attract a new audience, the on-screen data and information has to be both visually appealing for the target audience and simple enough to be inclusive without alienating those already passionate about the game. “We’ve tested the on-screen graphics with a range of cricket fans,” says Henderson. “It is really important that we get the balance right between educating newer fans and not annoying or upsetting [traditional cricket followers] or dumbing down. I can’t tell you how many meetings we have had about it! “The graphics took an eternity to create. There are something like 85 graphics we can call upon. It’s been months and months of work.” The ECB has created a completely new look and feel for The Hundred which is very bright and bold and this will be carried into Sky’s on-screen graphics. From there, it was about what to show and where to show. “From a TV producer’s point of view, [this is a] great opportunity to deliver something new. Simplicity is at the heart of everything,” he adds. The chosen screen layout is fairly similar to video games, with data going up and down on both sides. It allows the viewer to quickly see how many runs have been scored and how many balls have been bowled – those being the two main currencies of each game. And SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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in the second innings, how many runs are needed off the number of deliveries left. “That is the key information,” says Henderson. “How many runs are needed off the number of balls left to bowl. In the second innings we will add the target score so that you’re not automatically having to compute it in your mind. They’re really just based on simplicity ultimately.” In addition, a Cricviz algorithm will appear on screen showing a ‘win predictor’ based on its Winviz data. Although this data is used in coverage of other formats of cricket, it will take more prominence on The Hundred and will help viewers to answer the age-old novice cricket spectator question The avatars were created using facial recognition and motion capture technology of ‘who is winning?’, something that is very subjective and difficult to answer in a sport that ebbs and In addition, the production will be Albert certified, a flows. mark of sustainability that indicates that the programme “The win predictor bar is not going to be there all the maker has taken steps to manage and reduce its time,” says Henderson. “We’ll just animate it in, now and environmental impact. A cricket and climate change again, when relevant. What you will see, more of the time, documentary will air during the tournament and is the more conventional bowling and batting statistics.” sustainability will be integrated into the editorial. AR will also be used for some of the broadcast graphics — which in itself is not new — but Henderson is asking The reaction his team to place them at a different angle on the screen. Henderson acknowledges that The Hundred, which “A lot of the time, in other competitions, you shoot was first mooted in 2016, and agreed formally in 2017, down from up high on our cameras. We’re going to do it hasn’t been universally accepted by all traditional cricket the other way and [shoot from below in order to] kind of followers, which made developing the TV coverage more superhero the players — which looks really nice.” complicated. But a four-week immersion course, called Sky Using the ECB’s branding, Sky Creative designed the Labs, in which the team took themselves off to a different graphics, led by Chris Wilcock, creative director at Bigfoot part of Sky’s campus in southwest London to develop the Creative, who is a former design director for Sky Sports. coverage concept, was invaluable. AE Live did the software writing and implementation The workshop included brainstorming, idea and will generate the graphics remotely for Sky Sports’ development and presentations and talks from various host broadcast as well as producing AR content at the third parties, including representatives of social media venues. platforms, former England cricketers, academics, The same set of real-time scoring data will be used to sponsors and more. drive graphics around the LED perimeter of the grounds “Sky Labs was a game-changer,” says Henderson.“When and the venue’s main scoreboard. The data is being The Hundred was announced it didn’t go down very well. ingested, orchestrated and distributed from AE Live’s But the ECB has recognised that if they don’t do anything, new platform, Aether. Find out more about The Hundred the sport is potentially in trouble. This is really important graphics. for them. The four weeks, especially with the academics, gave us the confidence to go for it and take risks. They told Remote, responsible and diverse us not to worry about the haters. That gave us confidence, Coverage of The Hundred will be done remotely by Sky instead of compromising. with pictures switched back in Osterley, where replays “We’re taking risks. The alternative is to play it safe and and graphics will also be added, from a dedicated cricket do nothing. It’s not all going to work perfectly. We know gallery. Presentation will be done on-site. that. But we’re trying.” The on-screen talent will be diverse with at least 50% Sky Sports will show 68 games in The Hundred, 34 from from a minority ethnic background on each game, and the men’s and 34 from the women’s tournaments, with all the output equally balanced from a gender perspective the women’s games and nine men’s games being made with equal coverage and promotion for both the men’s available free-to-view on the Sky Sports YouTube channel. and women’s competitions. Gender-neutral language will There will also be coverage on the Sky Sports Main also be used, so ‘batters’ instead of ‘batsman’, for example. Event, Sky One and Sky Sports Mix channels. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

“We’re taking risks. The alternative is to play it safe and do nothing. It’s not all going to work perfectly. We know that. But we’re trying” BRYAN HENDERSON, SKY SPORTS

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Formula 1

New F1 Insight Braking Performance displays and compares drivers’ braking styles and performance by measuring how closely they approach the apex of a corner before braking

Inside track: Uncovering the strategy behind Formula 1’s new graphic Insights for the 2021 season BY HEATHER MCLEAN FIRST PUBLISHED 15 APRIL 2021

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ormula 1 has announced the release of the first of six real-time racing statistics for the 2021 season. The first F1 Insight to be introduced this season, Braking Performance, shows how a driver’s braking style during a cornering manoeuvre can deliver an advantage coming out of the corner. It will be used as an on-screen graphic by broadcasters and on Formula 1’s social media channels this weekend for the Italian Grand Prix in Imola. Each of the new F1 Insights, which will be rolled out throughout the 2021 Formula 1 season, are designed to give fans the inside view on split-second decisions made on the track before, during and after each race by providing the data and analysis fans need to interpret driver and team race strategy and performance. The new additions have been created in partnership between Formula 1 and Amazon Web Services (AWS). They build on six released in 2020 and a previous six released since the start of the F1 and AWS partnership in 108

2018, making a total of 18 F1 Insights delivered by the end of November 2021. All of the insights will be integrated into the races’ international broadcast feeds around the globe, including F1’s digital platform, F1TV, helping fans to understand the split-second decisions and race strategies made by drivers or teams that can dramatically affect a race outcome.

Library of broadcast graphics

The idea behind F1 Insights is to give Deane Locke, F1’s director of broadcast and media, “effectively a library of graphics that he can call upon for any event”, says Rob Smedley, director of data systems at Formula 1, speaking with SVG Europe. “When there’s an event [such as a crash or battle] coming up in the middle of a race that he wants to tell a story about, these offer a great way to be able to tell that story, through data,” he notes. “What we’ve always got to SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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think about when we’re using data is how do we use it responsibly, first of all; how we’re using it to give insight.” He elaborates:“Formula 1 races are incredible complex; if you imagine a football game, predominantly 85% of the action is always where the ball is. Formula 1 is very, very different because the director of the broadcast can only ever focus on one particular car pairing, or one particular battle, or one particular car.” “The reality is because there can be 20 cars on the track, there can be 20 interactions, 20 battles or events going on all around the track or in the pits,” Smedley continues. “Really it’s about teasing out that data to give the fans some insight as to what’s going on in something that they are watching and to give them more information than just the metadata that they’re taking in through the visuals, or to tell them something else which is emerging somewhere else. In some cases [it’s saying] ‘stay tuned’ because something really great is going to come up here and here’s the data.” He adds: “We can’t predict the future; we’re engineers and scientists, not magicians, but what we can do is say our simulations and algorithms we’ve developed with AWS [say] ‘this is what we think is going to happen’. That draws the fans in and gives [them] much more insight into what’s really happening right around the circuit.”

So many choices

More than 300 sensors on each race car generate over 1.1 million data points per second that F1 transmits from the cars to the pit and onto AWS for processing. F1 relies on the breadth and depth of AWS services to stream and analyse that flood of data as it is generated, and then present it in a meaningful way for TV and online viewers around the world through F1 Insights. Those six F1 Insights released last year were used across F1’s racing broadcast for each of the races on the World Feed, as well as on its digital channels since 2020. Says Smedley: “With AWS last year, what emerged was that the algorithms that we’re building, the models that we’re building, are so complex [but] what usually gets onto the screen is a really simplified, elegant output. There are so many different ways we can use this output that we started to collaborate with not just the live broadcast element of Formula 1 but also the digital platforms as well [to tell] more deeper data stories.” That data is also being used on social media to attract different kinds of Formula 1 fans, outside of the hardcore regulars. Explains Smedley: “Across the F1 AWS partnership, we’re really cognisant of looking at how we can use all these data products to get these different fan groups involved in Formula 1. Younger fan groups might

“If we can get the Gen Z’ers involved in Formula 1 by using data to tell those stories and give them insights and get them engaged in it, brilliant, then I’m all for it” ROB SMEDLEY, FORMULA 1

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want to consume Formula 1 racing in five minutes, or 90 seconds or 60 seconds, across the various social media platforms. Data is a brilliant way of being able to do that; to condense stuff down into a format that is understandable but condensed down into key moments of a two-hour race. If we can get the Gen Z’ers involved in Formula 1 by using data to tell those stories and give them insights and get them engaged in it, brilliant, then I’m all for it.”

Bucket of ideas

To create the new insights, F1 uses historical race data stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and combines it with live data streamed from F1 race cars and trackside sensors to AWS through Amazon Kinesis, a service for real-time data collection, processing and analysis. F1 engineers and scientists use this data to create machine learning models with Amazon SageMaker, AWS’s service that helps developers and data scientists build, train and deploy machine learning models quickly in the cloud and at the edge. F1 is able to analyse race performance metrics in real time by deploying those machine learning models on AWS Lambda, which is a serverless compute service that can run code without the need to provision or manage servers.

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To decide which stats to bring out next, Smedley explains the F1 team sits down with AWS to look at the three pillars the stats fit under: race strategy, “something that fans are always interested in”, notes Smedley; car performance, “using the car telemetry, which is really something that’s been almost hidden from the fans for many, many years”; and competitor analysis. The F1 and AWS team will come up with a “bucket of ideas” at the beginning of a new season for potential F1 Insights, then will section those into the three pillars and bring in Locke’s team to get their thoughts. “They will be able to give us a really clear steer on the editorial value of the candidates, and by doing that, going round the various different stakeholders, we eventually get down to a list of six or seven. It’s very collaborative, I would say.” Smedley says the F1 team works in an integrated way with the AWS team to develop F1 Insights. He adds:“We’ve found a really good groove now between F1 and AWS in the way we work on these insights. First and foremost when we’re germinating ideas, we whiteboard it out between us and I bring my knowledge of 25 years in this sport, AWS will bring their knowledge of technology and machine learning and cloud compute… it’s collaborative.” For Smedley, Fastest Ever Driver, which was released in the middle of 2020, has so far been the best of the F1

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Insights. He enthuses: “We used some really, really cool machine learning methods to build a neural network of [F1] drivers. You end up being able to ask the question, how fast was Senna compared to Hamilton? Formula 1 is this beautiful combination of man — and hopefully at some point, woman — and machine, so you’ve always got the machine question in there; how good is the driver really, because you’ve got this muddiness of the machine in the middle of it? So we worked with AWS to build some really cool machine learning algorithms that got rid of the machine so you’ve just got the pure driver skill, even drivers from different ages. I think for me that was a really fun one.”

New season F1 Insights

On the new stat, when executed well, braking optimises a car’s speed through the phases of cornering and enables the driver to gain a better position on the track. Braking Performance displays and compares drivers’ braking styles and performance by measuring how closely they approach the apex of a corner before braking. In addition, it will show the key performance metrics that lead to how the car and driver perform together when cornering, such as top speed on approach, speed decrease through braking, the braking power (KWH) utilised and the immense G-forces

Rob Smedley, director of data systems at Formula 1

drivers undergo while cornering. Braking Performance builds on the existing Corner Analysis statistic, which shows how cars physically perform while cornering. Five other F1 Insights are being delivered this season. Car Exploitation shows fans when F1 drivers are pushing their cars to performance limits in areas like tire traction, braking, acceleration and manoeuvring during

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More than 300 sensors on each race car generate over 1.1 million data points per second that F1 transmits from the cars to the pit and onto AWS for processing

“Formula 1 is this beautiful combination of man — and hopefully at some point, woman — and machine, so you’ve always got the machine question in there; how good is the driver really, because you’ve got this muddiness of the machine in the middle of it” ROB SMEDLEY, FORMULA 1

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key points in a race. The stat reveals the data in real time by displaying a car’s current performance during a race compared to a theoretical performance limit, and then calculates the time gained or lost per lap as a result. The stat debuts on 11 to 13 June at the Canadian Gran Prix. Energy Usage provides insights into how the hightech engines powering F1 cars utilise energy during a race, including when teams unleash energy to overtake another car. The stat demonstrates energy flows through each component of the advanced F1 engine, known as the Power Unit, and shows how much battery energy is left at any given moment in a race. The F1 engine propels a vehicle by using a combination of internal combustion and hybrid systems that recover energy from braking and from the turbo charger. However, there are limits to the Power Unit’s energy storage capacity and the amount of energy that can move through it during each race lap. Race teams track this data to help maximise their car’s performance at key moments in a race, determining when to deploy energy in steady streams to achieve the best lap times or unleash it in focused moments to gain or maintain position when battling another driver. Energy Usage allows fans to see those decisions in real time. The stat debuts on 16 to 18 July at the British Grand Prix. Start Analysis displays which driver was the quickest on the pedal and picked the perfect line, as well as which drivers struggled off the starting grid and why. Achieving the perfect start is a core driver skill and Start Analysis will help fans understand how a driver’s decisions earn or sacrifice an early advantage in the race. The stat debuts 10 to 12 September at the Italian Grand Prix. Pitlane Performance analyses pit stop performance, adding excitement to the portion of the race that takes place behind the pit wall. Pit stops are an essential and precisely co-ordinated, but time-draining element of an F1 race. Pitlane Performance offers insights beyond a car’s stationary stop time, like unpacking how the driver and

team perform during each step of a pit stop in the pitlane and highlighting total pitlane time lost or gained due to how efficiently the team works. The stat debuts 8 to 10 October at the Japanese Grand Prix. Undercut Threat helps fans anticipate which cars are at risk of being overtaken as the result of an undercut. The undercut is an F1 race strategy where a chasing driver enters the pit for fresh tires with the expectation that improved lap time resulting from the new tires will allow the driver to overtake the car in front once that car has pitted. F1 introduced a similar stat, Pit Strategy Battle, in June 2020 to highlight an undercut battle as it happens and help fans assess in real time how successful each driver’s strategy will be. Undercut Threat adds a new layer of predictive insight by analysing race performance before either car has pitted, adding to fan excitement and the sense of jeopardy around potential action to come. It visualises data on gaps between cars, average pit loss time, and tire performance to help identify which cars are at risk. The stat debuts 19 to 21 November at the Australian Grand Prix. “Data has become a critical piece of the story for modern sports, and for F1 — where literally each second on the track produces more than a million data points — they require a partner that can translate that raw data into meaning in real time. AWS enables F1 to analyse its troves of data at scale, make better and more informed decisions, and bring fans closer to every phase of action on the track, from the starting grid, to cornering, to pitting,” said Darren Mowry, director of business development at AWS EMEA. “The world’s premier sports organisations are using AWS to build data-driven solutions and reinvent the way sports are watched, played and managed. Our work with F1 demonstrates how advanced stats can elevate the fan experience by revealing the tactics and strategies behind even the most seemingly straightforward elements of a race.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


SVG Europe Wellbeing Fund Providing financial aid for people working in European sports broadcasting and production who require mental health support, therapy or counselling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fund, underwritten by Sony Professional Solutions Europe, provides up to €400 per person towards the cost of psychological wellbeing services. To apply for assistance please visit www.svgeuropefund.org for more information. The applicant’s name and identity will remain private throughout the process and personal information will only be made available to the person on the Wellbeing Fund team who receives the application and the Fund manager who will contact the applicant for Fund distribution processing. “The Fund is a response to the deepening COVID-19 pandemic which is causing emotional strain for those who are still unable to work, those who have been made redundant, or those who simply cannot work because an underlying condition makes them vulnerable to serious complications if they fall ill with COVID-19. We hope that it can help as many people within our community who need it as possible.” Ken Kerschbaumer, SVG Europe editorial director and SVG Europe Sports Broadcasting Fund director

www.svgeuropefund.org


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Sponsor Update

2021 SPONSOR UPDATE As live sport restarted in earnest and remote production came to the fore, it’s been another year of innovation across the sports broadcast sector. Michael Burns talks to Platinum, Gold and Bronze sponsors about their recent projects, challenges and plans for the future.

808 Talent BEN SWANTON

CEO AND CO-FOUNDER

“With 808 Talent specialising in recruitment, talent consulting and coaching within the global broadcast and sports media technology industry, our role is working in partnership with our clients and candidates and keeping them abreast of industry trends,” says Ben Swanton. “That means consulting and understanding what their challenges and pain points are, and how COVID-19 has impacted and changed their approach when it comes to future staffing and hiring cycles.” Since September 2020, 808 Talent has been engaged with a number of established and fastgrowing vendors within the sports production markets, making crucial hires globally as these companies adopted a mindset of ‘hiring local talent in local markets’. “Over the past nine months alone, we have recruited key strategic hires in the US, Brazil, China, India, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Mexico and Switzerland encompassing roles from CRO, CTO, chief customer success officer, CMO and VP sales, to operations, pre-sales, and support staff in these countries,” he adds. Swanton says the year’s biggest development has been growing the firm’s coaching practice. “We see it playing an even bigger role now in supporting leaders and their teams within the sports broadcast community. The past 16 months have placed a huge amount of stress on many within our community and helping leaders identify the signs of burnout or mental health issues in themselves and their teams, we believe, is fundamental to a company’s longterm, sustained success,” he says. “We plan on continuing to build our Coaching and Consulting practice, as we see wellbeing and mental health trending as the key influencer on our client’s recruitment and talent challenges in today’s world. Our recruitment practice continues to go from strength to strength and we will be looking to add more talent to our own 114

team towards the end of 2021 to help deliver for our clients across the sports production ecosystem. Finally, we look forward to being able to see our clients and contacts face to face again at the various SVG Europe events, NAB and IBC as these trade shows begin to come back towards the end of the year.”

AE Live STUART COLES CCO

“Despite the difficult circumstances, the past year has been another exciting one for AE Live,” says CCO Stuart Coles. “We were involved in a number of high-profile projects delivering our broadcast services across a number of sports. With football in particular, we have had an extremely busy schedule of events. We provided world feed graphics for FIFA’s Club World Cup in Qatar and for the recent Euro 2020 tournament, we delivered presentation and studio graphics-related services for BBC Sport, ITV Sport and SuperSport.”

AE Live is about to embark on an exciting new period of graphics delivery. “We have installed six purpose-built graphics hubs at our UK office which are on-net with major connectivity partners,” explains Coles. “We delivered our first major project from these hubs for The Hundred cricket tournament. Based at these hubs, our operators can connect to Sky Sports’ studios in London, fully equipped with talkback and monitoring with live camera feeds from venue to produce match and presentation coverage of the inaugural competition.” AE Live will continue to push two new products, Aether and Aero. “Aether is our data management platform that enables our clients to take control of their sport data and repurpose it across other strands of their business. Aero is our cloud rendering solution that caters to the growing number of audiences that consume live sporting events via digital platforms,” Coles explains. “We will also be expanding our global footprint by increasing our presence in North America and have a number of exciting opportunities in the pipeline there.”

AJA Video Systems BRYCE BUTTON

DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT MARKETING

“We also commenced our horse racing contract with ITV Sport at the start of 2021 and, in addition to delivering core in-race and presentation graphics at their 59 scheduled race meetings this year, we have produced some striking augmented reality content using Robycam at some of the more high-profile festivals,” he adds. “As always, we have been heavily involved in cricket; as well as the Indian Premier League, we have provided match graphics at the majority of international test series globally, as well as the recent World Test Championship final between New Zealand and India.”

“Throughout the many challenges of the past year, AJA has been committed to helping video professionals across sports production,” says AJA’s Bryce Button. “Our latest product updates and offerings have been t argeted at helping video professionals produce more dynamic and engaging live content as fans safely return to stadiums and arenas,” he continues. “For collegiate level sports, we’ve witnessed wide adoption of AJA Helo to power live H.264 streaming workflows and deliver real-time games to fans watching from any location.” One product highlight is a feature-rich firmware upgrade for the FS-HDR real-time HDR/WCG converter and frame synchroniser. “FS-HDR v4.1 introduces a host of new SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Sponsor Update

features targeted at helping sports and live production professionals deliver the most vivid and colour accurate HDR/WCG content, while further simplifying real-time single-master HDR/SDR production,” says Button. “As sports broadcasts are increasingly using AR graphics and in-camera visuals to deliver a more dynamic and interactive experience to fans, FS-HDR v4.1 increases the frame buffer depth from 6 to 20 frames to accommodate the increased video processing required. Besides the integrated Colorfront Engine colour processing, FS-HDR v4.1 also extends support to v1.5 BBC HLG LUTs and NBCU LUTs, allowing sports professionals to take advantage of the latest colour tools and further streamline singlemaster HDR/SDR live production. “As most live sports productions are distributed simultaneously in multiple formats, FS-HDR v4.1 offers additional features that support conversion in the transmission path while maintaining critical data, including increased ancillary data pass-through and translation capabilities. Combined, these new features empower sports professionals to deliver

the highest quality HDR content to fans while using the simplest workflows.” Button remarks that the global content boom has required sports production professionals to innovate with new ways to deliver more enriching and interactive content to compete for viewership. “Whether producing pristine 8K/UltraHD2 live broadcasts, vivid HDR/WCG colour content, or immersive and eye-catching AR graphics or visuals, AJA will continue to help sports professionals raise the bar by simplifying capture and delivery of the most dynamic live content to global audiences,” he concludes.

Aldea Solutions DANIEL GONZALEZ CEO

In July and August, Aldea transmitted live coverage of the Tokyo Olympics for numerous broadcasters from the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Tokyo back to their respective home studio facilities. The video services provider was chosen to

deliver live sports content via its state-of the-art encoding and fibre optic network infrastructure ensuring high quality, reliability, security and the lowest possible latency. As with many of these important events, latency was a major consideration due to the large distances between Japan and broadcasters’ home studios around the world. “Aldea continues to build upon its past successes at previous editions of both summer and winter Olympics, along with the FIFA World Cup and Pan American Games, dating back to 2006,” says CEO Daniel Gonzalez. “The Tokyo Games are the third major sporting event Aldea has delivered this year, having successfully transmitted live feeds of the UEFA European Championship as well as the Copa America to numerous rights holders from around the world. Aldea will hereafter commence preparations for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.” Among the technology trends Gonzalez observes, remote production is one that he believes is here to stay. “Although remote production was being increasingly used by

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broadcasters, COVID was the accelerator. This will, however, put different pressures on the video ecosystem, whereby increased bandwidth will be demanded,” he says. “IP protocols such as SRT will continue to grow and perhaps become mainstream in the following years. Aldea has adopted SRT in its workflows and is now distributing numerous sports leagues exclusively in SRT, or in a fibre-SRT hybrid model, whichever format best responds to customers’ requirements.”

AMP Visual TV STÉPHANE ALESSANDRI EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT — INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS

“This year, in a first for France, AMP Visual T V exploited the functionality of interconnecting two of its Millenium OB vans under operational conditions,” says EVP Stéphane Alessandri. “These two OB trucks are designed to be assembled with each other to form a single large unit with exceptional capacities.”

“The occasion was the PSG vs Barcelona match at the Parc des Princes for the Champions League, where AMP Visual TV made this major new tool available to RMC Sport,” continues Alessandri. “The two OB vans are linked by an interconnection module which allows for more than 96sqm of work surface in one place and constituted two production spaces: for the production of the international signal and the private signal for RMC Sport.” “These spaces accommodate a team of 45 people and a UHD set-up with over 30 cameras, including five 180° and 360° cameras for the channel’s VR application, as well as our new Pelicams solution: a mini arm equipped with a slow-motion micro camera installed behind each goal,” he adds. “A plug and play optical fibre interconnection makes it possible to distribute workstations as easily in the two OB vans as if we were only in one.” According to Alessandri, the layout has been carefully designed in an operational manner, deliberately separating the technical spaces from the production/editorial spaces. “This allows 116

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everyone to work in a comfortable and peaceful environment at a live event,” he says. AMP Visual TV executive vice president and CTO François Valadoux says: “This device embodies a project that we have had for a long time: to have technical tools that are both flexible and scalable which, through their assemblies, allow them to multiply their capacities in order to achieve very powerful set-ups.”

Arena PETER LOVE

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

Holding contracts with the UK’s major broadcasters to provide coverage of sport as well as events, music and large studio shows, Arena is a Telegraph 1000 business that has remained in continuous British family ownership for over 30 years.

“We have been broadcasting the FA Cup matches for BBC Sport, using both our onsite OB vehicles and with many staff working remotely at our CoreTX base at MediaCityUK.” “Arena will be growing its production and transmission services by expanding CoreTX,” he reveals. “We are developing a range of ‘remote production friendly’ compact OB units to facilitate extra work from new contracts which includes additional football coverage for ITV Sport and the FA Women’s Super League for Sky Sports.” The company runs a fleet of 24 OB units, flypack modular remote production systems and studio production facilities and works across a range of international sports. Key contracts include English international football, the FA Cup, One-day Cricket Internationals, Six Nations Rugby, the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and European Darts.

Arista Networks GERARD PHILLIPS

LEAD M&E SYSTEMS ENGINEER FOR EMEA

“Arena were world pioneers of an all-IP workflow for UHD-HDR production five years ago,” says director of operations Peter Love. “This year that foundation has been critical in allowing us to stay ahead and offer new additional services. We are now embarking on new OB truck designs to offer clients a muchreduced emissions footprint, as we move to a net-emissions neutral target for all our operations.”

This year Arena has provided a range of production and transmission services branded as CoreTX. “These comprise control rooms at our own Redhill base and also semi-permanent and portable solutions at client premises and thirdparty studios like dock10 and The Maidstone Studios,” adds Love.

“The M&E team at Arista Networks has been working hard with customers and technology partners over the past year — preparing for the 2021 summer of sport and, of course, deploying the flexibility of IP to help the accelerated move to remote/distributed production that has been brought on by the pandemic,” says Arista’s lead M&E systems engineer for EMEA Gerard Phillips. BT Sport and Timeline TV chose a pair of Arista 7508R high-performance chassis-based switches as the core of the new live production workflow at BT Sport studios in Stratford. “This is indicative of many projects over the past year,” says Phillips. “Many organisations have worked to enable distributed functions with production staff working in diverse locations, including at home, and utilising remote production, where the venue is also remote. “This same model was used by our clients in [American and European] football, tennis, basketball, hockey, many motorsports and at certain multi-sport global events.” In the next six months, Phillips foresees “continued disruption of the switching and routing market-place”, as well as “continued innovation, and investment in products and support specifically for the M&E sector”. “Our ‘merchant silicon’ strategy means we can continue to deliver newer, faster, cheaper, SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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smaller boxes, enabling our customers to buy cutting-edge performance, features and flexibility,” he adds. “We’re doing this throughout the range — from 400Gbe down to POE GigE for the campus. Hand-in hand with this is the single EOS on all our boxes — the same CLI, the same image — simplifying the lives of operations teams and enabling us to continue to move really quickly with our development and feature rollout.” “We are working hard on even more intuitive visibility in our CloudVision network management tool,” he adds. “This includes the ability to visualise flows through the network, IP and Mac address searches making it simpler to nail down where specific hosts are, and contextsensitive information presentation, turning status in the network into events in the network that you should be paying attention to. There’s also a lot of work going on with broadcast technology partners, enabling them to maximise the benefits that customers see from the use of automation — whether that is smart SDN solutions, faster, automated network bringup, or broadcast-centric network visibility.”

Ateme MICKAËL RAULET

CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER

“One of our major highlights of the last year was our work for the French Open,” says Ateme chief technology officer Mickaël Raulet. “We’ve been involved in the event for many years now, but this year broke new ground with the introduction of next-generation immersive audio content using Dolby Atmos 5.1.4 via Dolby AC-4. This innovation provided a more bespoke experience for viewers who could choose to switch off commentary, for example, and just listen to the music and effects from the stadium instead. It also allowed our customers to deliver a single audio file end-to-end, allowing automatic switching from immersive audio for the live to traditional stereo or 5.1 for adverts.”

Raulet feels Ateme’s most significant product development of the past year was enhancements made to the company’s NEALive Just-in-Time (JIT) packager. It now offers production-grade low latency in pull mode for both HLS and DASH. “As the first low-latency JIT packager on the market, it has huge implications for sports broadcasters who will now be able to use the packager to deliver live streaming content in low-latency mode, while enjoying the greater efficiencies of JIT packaging, where only the format needed for the requesting device is created and delivered,” he explains. “This combination of low latency and greater efficiency hasn’t historically been possible via OTT. This is in addition to traditional services, including time-shift TV, start-over capabilities and VOD on any device, allowing sports broadcasters to deliver high-quality viewing experiences.” “Low latency will continue to be a focus for us as an enabler for sport distribution as now it can be delivered on a par with broadcast,” he adds. “We also plan to continue enriching

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our solutions with server-side analytics to drive efficiencies in the video-delivery workflow.” Raulet foresees 5G technology playing a big role in sports production workflows. “By harnessing the low latency and high bandwidth of 5G, sports content providers will be able to produce high-quality content remotely, at scale and efficiently,” he says. “Beyond merely letting us watch video, 5G will enable sports broadcasters to engage better with their audiences, while also increasing content personalisation and monetisation.”

Batcam JON HURNDALL CEO

Batcam, provider of remote-controlled cameras in the sky, has been very busy this year. “There has been so much sport since September 2020, it’s hard to highlight any particular occasion,” says CEO Jon Hurndall. “There were a few ‘firsts’ for us. Batcam Drive operated at the ATP Tennis finals at the O2, broadcasting in 200fps over RF straight to EVS. This was the first time we were able to take advantage of that capability of the Sony P50. Batcam Fly operated at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, our first time on ETP Golf and I enjoyed seeing how that added to the coverage and its subsequent reaction.”

“Batcam Wire expanded the stadiums that they can now operate at, with Wembley, Manchester United, Manchester City, Everton, Leicester and Arsenal added to the list of top clubs in the EPL,” he adds. “Batcam Hold and Fly were dispatched to Gibraltar for the Rumble on the Rock boxing match for Matchroom Boxing. This was a great event to be a part of and gave our crew a welcome break from the English weather!” Hurndall adds: “I am extremely proud of our ability to be extremely nimble in adapting to this new world. We have managed to maintain our client list and even build new ones, [and are] emerging even stronger than before COVID, which is some achievement.” Looking ahead, the CEO says the company will be bringing the capability of AR over RF to all its 118

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products soon. “This is something we will begin to offer our clients and integrate in our existing contracts,” he explains. “We will continue to disrupt with new concepts and ideas and prove to our clients that our sporting operational background is a huge asset to Batcam. Having the equipment is only one piece of the puzzle. How you execute the technology into an event is a key factor to bringing the wow factor to a broadcast.”

Blackbird ADRIAN LAMBERT CMO

“[This year] Blackbird has continued to welcome new sports clients including BT Sport and Athletes Unlimited who are using Blackbird for fast, efficient cloud native editing and publishing of their sports content,” says chief marketing officer Adrian Lambert.

additional camera angles is one part of this equation while VR and AR will contribute to the video gamification of sport. “A significant change from a year ago is that remote production is now the first-choice and standard operating model for many live event producers and broadcasters. We are seeing organisations begin to bake-in resilience to future shock,” he adds. “There’s also no turning the clock back on the proven positive benefits of a work/life balance. Cloud-based remote video collaboration has gone from ‘nice to have’ to necessity.” Lambert says the industry needs to build on strides already made in environmental and socially responsible governance. “For example, by 2022, video viewing will account for 82% of all internet traffic, according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, with internet traffic accounting for well over 1% of global emissions,” he says. “To counteract this and achieve a reduction in bandwidth, without sacrificing latency, scalability, or quality, more efficient video compression must be used. Blackbird’s ultra-efficient codec is already delivering on this vital agenda.”

Blackmagic Design SIMON WESTLAND

SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR

Over the next six months, Blackbird is aiming to further expand its global footprint, remaining focused on its core OEM, sports, esports, news and entertainment sectors with a particular emphasis on the North American and European markets. “The Blackbird platform will continue to evolve to meet the needs of media production teams who demand flexible, fast and resilient professional level video editing built for the cloud,” says Lambert. The CMO is upbeat, foreseeing that innovations, delayed by the pandemic, will “be unleashed into a year of sport”. “These technologies include greater 8K acquisition, further adoption of next generation audio and data-driven personalisation and commercialisation. The rollout of the 5G network will enable more personalised live event experiences,” he says. “Second-screen fan activations are just the start of the transition from a broadcaster-directed static view of an event to one in which multiple data and video rich experiences are created alongside the host viewing, giving a full 360 approach. Maximising

“Although restrictions have fluctuated between regions during the past 12 months, the ability to access and engage with sports fans who can’t always attend in person remains vital,” says Blackmagic Design sales and marketing director Simon Westland. “For many, the capability to produce broadcast-quality streaming content has continued to be a lifeline.”

Westland says many Blackmagic customers in sports production had already begun to see an increasing demand from smaller clubs and sporting federations wanting to adopt a direct to consumer model, long before the pandemic struck. “This has informed their choices in SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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purchasing flexible video production equipment that can be deployed within OB and live streaming workflows,” he says. “Spanish sports production company Terrible Producciones has implemented an end-toend streaming workflow based on Blackmagic Design hardware for numerous national sporting federations including Spanish Segunda División (football), Liga Asobal (handball), Rugby National League (rugby) and the Real Federación Española de Balonmano (handball). “In Belarus, the team at Specmedia were able to give fans all over the world their football fix when many other national leagues came to a halt,” he adds. “The team continued to film more than 260 matches a year with a fleet of Ursa Broadcast cameras, often travelling 700km to cover three to four games in a day.” Westland says there have been promising signs of larger scale projects and installations at sporting venues and broadcasters, which had been paused or delayed due to the pandemic, coming to fruition. “In France, horse racing channel Equidia developed a mobile control room solution built around the Atem 2 M/E Production Studio 4K

and URSA Broadcast cameras, supporting 33 begin to fill up again, production crews will have racecourses across the country as they upgraded to overcome the increasing noise to ensure from analogue SD to HD.” a seamless production,” he adds. “Camera, lighting and other production staff will need Bose a quality headset that is comfortable to wear MATT RUWE for hours on end. Bose stands ready to support SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER production teams with our latest offering, the “Over the past year, sports SoundComm B40 headset.” production teams across a wide Looking forward, Ruwe sees Bose increasing spectrum of sporting events its presence and efforts to bring high-quality have been using Bose SoundComm headsets,” headset systems to production teams. “We says the company’s senior product manager are committed to improving the capabilities Matt Ruwe. “The most visible examples include of production staff and crews by leveraging on the sidelines of the NFL, during the Riot the benefits of our noise cancelling headset Games League of Legends global championship technologies,” he says. “To do that, we will tournaments and by the crew members of continue to deepen our connections with Corvette Racing.” production professionals across the industry to better understand their challenges. In turn, that will help us create even better products and services in the upcoming years.” Ruwe says Bose is seeing several technologies and capabilities increasing in popularity and sophistication that will likely continue to influence the industry. “As you would expect, “As we near a post-COVID era and see venues we are particularly focused on those changes

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that will involve headsets or connectivity to headsets,” he says. “One example is the increased use of cellular technologies like LTE, which will continue to facilitate fast and secure wireless networks. This will encourage and enable an ever-increasing number of consumerlike products that can be leveraged into both new and existing use cases. “Another example is lower latency Bluetooth technologies and protocols that enable higher quality Bluetooth audio/headsets. Ultimately, we believe these capabilities will start to influence more than just the back-of-the-house production workflow and will provide new opportunities for more efficient and more creative ways to work.”

Brightcove ROBERTA CAMBIO

SENIOR ACCOUNT DIRECTOR

“The sports industry is recovering from a challenging situation — one that has led to viewers developing new streaming behaviours and habits,” says Brightcove senior account director Roberta Cambio. “We’ve seen fan engagement come from on-demand content catalogues rather than live, as well as new audiences adopting streaming as people in more age groups turned to streaming at more touchpoints. These new behaviours are likely to continue and sports organisations are challenged to adapt to and even lead audience behaviour.” Cambio observes that reliable, scalable, secure video technology is paramount in this day and age. “From tiered content offerings to multiple payment options, organisations are able to reach a wider audience on multiple devices. As the market continues to evolve, organisations need to be flexible enough to rapidly launch new content offerings or monetisation options for fans,” she says. “Brightcove Playback Restrictions and OTT products give organisations this capability and speed up the time to launch.” “Unfortunately, with a growth in streaming comes a growth in piracy,” she adds. “Sports organisations need the ability to amp up their security measures to meet the increased risk and to select the most effective security measures for the needs of their individual offerings. For example, forensic watermarking may not be suitable for shoulder content, but it would be for main event content.” “OTT streaming is now ‘table stakes’,” she 120

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adds. “Every organisation now needs to be able to deliver the content they own ‘over the top’. This could be as complex as creating a customer UX, or partnering with a video platform to build the service so all you, as the content owner, needs to do is worry about delivering content to keep viewers coming back for more.” “As audiences grow, it is critical for sports federations to collect first-party data on which they can base their business decisions via login portals,” she adds. “It’s essential for sports federations to work with OTT providers that can support different subscription tiers. In addition, the capability of Brightcove to marry video data with user data becomes key to making sure that each viewer receives a tailored proposition that increases their engagement.”

Broadcast Solutions RAINER KAMPE

MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CTO

Two projects developed by Broadcast Solutions this year represent two aspects of sports production, the UHD2 OB van for German broadcast production company HD Broadcast, and the F1 Pod created with NEP Germany. According to Broadcast Solutions managing director and CTO Rainer Kampe, the former is “a massive one-piece sports production tool, perfectly designed, that can produce large sports events, deploying 30 UHD cameras and an army of EVS servers. It is constantly in use to produce German Bundesliga matches.”

control solution — the Human Interface (hi),” says Kampe. “The system has received a lot of attention and adoption in the broadcast industry, with customers using it in fixed and mobile production facilities. As part of an ongoing development process a new release natively fully supports NMOS IS-04 and IS-05. The hi team is strongly supporting the idea of open standards as the road to ensure future compatibility.” “Hi now has a very intuitive auto-discovery workflow,” he adds. “NMOS-compatible devices in the network are discovered and can be adopted into the system with two clicks.” Another area of development for the company is around climate and air purification concepts for safe working in production rooms, revised for the pandemic. “Broadcast Solutions has researched and developed several technological solutions to improve air condition environments and surface disinfection within OB vans or indoor production facilities in general. Due to the ongoing Corona pandemic these means become even more important,” says Kampe. This also recognises one of the trends Kampe sees affecting sports production, namely “changes in available space per production unit and a mixture of remote and on-site teams and production units”. “There are also hybrid solutions in technology (IP, baseband, UHD and HD), which interconnect seamlessly” he adds. “Broadcast Solutions is reflecting all these new requirements by anticipating innovative workplace solutions as well as sustainable workplace modules, which can be arranged in variable settings/ constellations and diverse environments.” Photo credit: Andrea Schombara Fotografie

BT Media DOMINIK WRONA “The F1 Pod is a flexible production tool that is used for Formula One,” he adds. “It represents innovative system integration in an extendible air freight container. The mobility of the whole system is crucial. It works on site but can also be managed completely remotely.” The Pod is used to produce interviews and expert talks, with audio and video signals transmitted directly from the race track via dark fibre to the Servus TV broadcasting centre in Salzburg. “Over the past couple of years Broadcast Solutions has developed a broadcast and media

SENIOR MANAGER, LIVE MEDIA PORTFOLIO

“Our biggest highlight of the past year has to be the role we played in bringing sport back to TV screens around the world in the middle of the pandemic,” says BT Media senior manager Dominik Wrona. “It all started with Project Restart where we have worked closely with our partners EMG UK to deliver English Premier League (EPL) matches in a safe and socially distanced environment. This led to the creation (the first of many) of the Remote Operations Centre (ROC) in High Wycombe. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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are doing on our software-defined network Vena or previously mentioned JPEG XS,” he continues. “We want to have the ability to give our customers visually lossless footage with the highest bandwidth efficiency. It enables them to do more, enables us to be more commercially flexible and allows viewers to enjoy the ultimate production.” Looking ahead, Wrona foresees BT’s credibility in the contribution space leading to further partnerships and creations of ROCs around the world. “I think we will also start seeing different variations of remote production as broadcasters find what workflows work best for them, and we have to be ready to accommodate them all,” he adds.

“The success of Project Restart paved the way to bring rugby back in a similar fashion,” he adds. “During that time, we have enabled every EPL and rugby rights holder to deliver what they were committed to — something we are very proud of as a business.” Wrona sees the introduction of the JPEG XS codec as a key development. “We believe this technology allows us to deliver for many different customers across different sports Calrec and entertainments. Having the ability to dial DAVE LETSON compression up and down is hugely beneficial VP OF SALES for so many different scenarios. We are also pushing towards greater integration between “In a year where everyone ourselves and production organisations.” has approached everything “Vendors enable us to manage the bandwidth differently just to keep live in the most effective way, whether it’s what we television on air, it’s been great to see some

normality coming back with sports events like the Euros and Wimbledon, now featuring actual spectators!” says Dave Letson, VP of sales at Calrec.

Calrec equipment was heavily involved in the Euros with both Telegenic and CTV using Calrec consoles in trucks to mix games in England, Scotland and Italy. Meanwhile, events like Extreme E, the electric off-road racing championship, is being mixed on a Calrec Artemis console remotely from NEP Group’s centralised production centre in London. “Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen a shift to remote control of audio signals, and mixing, in the cloud,” says Letson. “At the scale

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our customers operate, processing remains on dedicated hardware, but there has been a clear shift to exploit more distributed workflows.” “A big area of interest for Calrec is in how best to utilise SaaS,” he adds. “It’s impossible to deny that the cloud will play a big role in the future of live audio production, but we are likely to see hybrid models for a while: a mixture of cloud processing, on-premise hardware and edge processing for IFB feeds.” “These are all workflows which are hitting the right notes for our customers as they continue to assess the best way of working for each broadcast,” he continues. “Sometimes a console like the Apollo or Artemis in a truck is appropriate, and sometimes a remote production model using Calrec’s RP1 remote production core via a remote operations centre is more cost effective. A broadcaster might employ IP products like Calrec’s Type R and ImPulse core, which both allow multiple mix environments to operate from a single core and can be remotely located. They can be remote controlled by a physical control surface or on a screen through a dedicated web interface like Calrec Assist, or a console in an ROC might control a core in a truck. All these models are flexible and cost effective, simplify remote working and bring us closer to pure distributed production models.” Providing audio mixing at scale in the cloud is still a challenge, but Letson says huge advances in remote control and flexible remote workflows mean there are “no issues around the geography anymore”.

Camera Corps BARRY PARKER

COMMERCIAL MANAGER

Sponsor Update

and international cricket commenced. When [the sport offers] no crowd shots to a director all specialist cameras tend to be used more, which meant we had to ensure we were at the top of our game and also adapt and augment positions where we could.”

A major milestone towards the end of 2020 was the inaugural use of Basecam for the Major League Baseball playoffs, later nominated for a Sports Emmy. “Basecam was a specialist camera innovation which had never been approved or used in an MLB match previously, so it was a first for our client and the league,” says Parker. “The dual camera wireless base gave viewers [innovative] angles of players in the field of play and became invaluable for in-game analysis.” Part of the Vitec Group, Camera Corps also saw action at the major sporting events of 2021, including the Euros and the Olympics. “The planning has had to be constant and we’ve had to react as things have changed over the year and as restrictions altered,” says Parker. “Lockdown allowed us to focus on new product developments, [such as bringing] the Qx mini robotic camera system to 4K, a refresh of our suite of aquatic cameras, our new SMPTE fibre hybrid product and work on new remote heads.” As for the next six months, Parker says: “IP control, more use of data, less reliance on mechanical movement of cameras and keeping up with industry trends with regard to resolutions, formats and frame rates: all will be key to what we do next.”

“The postponement of the t wo major 2020 sporting events meant our team had to regroup and refocus our efforts into future product developments, and we saw the demand for controlling cameras over IP increase exponentially,” says Barry Parker, commercial manager at Camera Corps. “A big highlight for us was when Premier League football got back underway again, albeit behind closed doors. This Canon Europe challenged us like every other Premier League WILFRED SOEREL supplier to look at different and more efficient EMEA SALES MANAGER ways of working, operate within new field of play protocols and to align our specialist DMR goal “Over the past 12 months, camera systems with the remote OB production. we’ve seen the pandemic “The same challenges came into effect for revolutionise broadcast and our Stump camera work when both domestic content production,” says Canon Europe EMEA 122

sales manager Wilfred Soerel. In line with the growing demand for smaller scale and efficient production teams, many broadcasters have shifted a part of their production to remote. Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras are an essential piece of kit providing a compact solution in the 4K space. “Seeing the rising demand, Canon launched three PTZ cameras in March, all capable of shooting broadcast-quality 4K footage in 4:2:2 10-bit,” Soerel adds. “Canon’s CR-N500 and CR-N300 can be operated over IP as well as stream content via various protocols. For outdoor use the CR-X500 is the perfect choice, with its IP55 weatherproof rating and optically excellent image quality that supports up to 4K UHD 60p along with its Dual Pixel Auto Focus technology. Canon is planning to expand its PTZ lineup to support the remote production market even further.” Soerel reveals that Canon’s broadcast lenses have been used at a variety of major sporting events this year, including the European Football Championship and the Olympic Games. “Today, Canon is offering a total of 19 UHD broadcast lenses, five box type and 14 portable lenses, that meet the diverse needs of broadcast sports productions,” he adds. “Canon is proud to play a part in the impressive output performance of our customers, resulting in the production of high-quality images and content during these events. In case of any breakdown, we assure that technical service is close by, so that in every eventuality the show can go on.” “ To h e l p f u t u r e - p r o o f b r o a d c a s t environments, production companies need to be looking towards 4K and HDR workflows, with 4K UHD kit and a range of IP protocol capabilities for streaming and live production,” adds Soerel. “Canon reference monitors, lenses and cameras are UHD HDR compatible, allowing broadcasters to tell better stories, all in 4K.” Looking to the future, Soerel says the quality and quantity of content will be key to keeping consumers switched on. “Broadcasters want high-quality solutions that are easy to implement, delivering consistently, time-aftertime,” he says. “We continuously listen to our partners and customers to understand their developing requirements and needs. Canon is continuously investing in R&D to bring new and innovative solutions to market for broadcasts to create content that is more immersive and engaging.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Cerberus CHRIS CLARKE CEO

Cerberus has been working with IMG and Discovery to supply their sports production workflows with what we believe to be the most dense SMPTE ST-2110 encoders and decoders available,” says Cerberus CEO Chris Clarke. “Each 2RU chassis is capable of running 64 channels of encoding or decoding which enables significant consolidation of space, power, cooling, cabling and management over a traditional SDI installation.” This is in a year that has seen two important company developments in the form of IO and Livelink. “IO is our point-to-point or point-tomultipoint, live IP broadcast delivery application built using the power of Docker,” says Clarke. “IO is the ultimate flexible protocol switching tool, compatible with any device and able to run in a data centre or in a cloud platform. IO can be used as either a sending or receiving device, or it can act as a central hub for the

distribution of content via a simple UI. Feeds can be brought into IO in any supported format and converted for delivery direct to channel partners, broadcasters, CDNs, OTT as well as global head ends.” “Livelink is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) live IP delivery platform, which allows users to self-manage live feeds from any location, to any destination,” continues Clarke. “Combining flexibility and control with global reach, Livelink’s expand-on-demand platform enables users to contribute and receive live linear content over the internet at scale. The platform is cloud agnostic, available in every region and is compatible with any transport protocol including Zixi, RIST, SRT, HLS and RTMP. “Over the next six months we will be concentrating our efforts on the further development of IO and Livelink solutions through close collaboration with existing customers, suppliers and third parties,” he adds. “This will allow interoperable IP workflows to become the primary delivery method for content owners and broadcasters alike.” Not surprisingly, Clarke sees ST-2110 as

an important trend for sports production, “allowing more encode/decode capacity with less hardware”, as well as cloud, where “IP transport protocols enable greater flexibility and collaboration”. “ W ithin both trends there are key environmental and sustainability benefits,” he says. “Less power consumption, remote workflows require less on-site manpower and therefore less travel, and so on. Combined with the advancement of technological capabilities, the tangible environmental benefits mean that these trends will appeal to organisations as they take responsibility for their own impacts within the broadcast industry.”

Chyron DAVID ECCLE

VICE PRESIDENT SPORTS AT TRACAB

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“Chyron, Tracab and Hego embarked on numerous projects throughout the past year, including stadium installations, support of Olympics coverage for several major broadcasters and numerous specialised installations for coverage of a wide array of sports from golf to basketball to horse racing and more,” says Tracab vice president sports David Eccles.

Sponsor Update

offers professional services for sports events, utilising Chyron and Tracab technologies, as well as those of other vendors, and specialises in providing technicians/analysts for world-class soccer events.”

Cobalt Digital SUZANA BRADY

SVP OF WORLDWIDE SALES AND MARKETING

According to SVP of worldwide sales and marketing Suzana Brady, Cobalt solutions are found in the control rooms of most major broadcasters and OB vans of the production companies that bring sport “One project that showcases the work of events to fans, “including soccer, tennis and all three brands is the extensive solution to golf tournaments and even the very popular enhance fan engagement for Univision’s TUDN, American ball games”. the home of soccer in the US, and multimedia sports brand of Univision Communications,” he adds. “The complete solution provides realtime capture and visualisation of player tracking data for TUDN’s broadcasts of Liga MX, the top division of Mexico’s professional soccer league system. Hego is providing extensive operations and production services using Tracab’s unparalleled tracking technology along with Chyron’s Prime, Virtual Placement and Paint “Cobalt launched the 9905-MPx 3G/HD/ solutions to create and deliver sponsored and branded data-driven graphics in real time, as SD quad-path up/down/cross converter/frame well as virtual ad insertion and state-of-the-art sync/embed/de-embed audio processor in telestration.” the autumn of 2020,” Brady continues. “The Chyron boosted its development team by over card was incredibly well received by the sport 70% in the past year with a focus on a platform market because of its multi-channel processing approach that can meet the needs of traditional capabilities that allow it to offer more channels control rooms but can also “untether users from in less space including per-channel LUTs. Typical the control room”. sport venues have to accommodate multiple “Chyron’s Prime Live Platform is a fully camera angles and the ability to offer flexible flexible, scalable and environment-agnostic processing in a multi-channel package is not only broadcast system,” explains Eccles. “With cost-effective, but crucial in trucks where space Prime’s cloud-enabled software architecture, is limited. resources may be deployed as needed. Plans “Another key solution launched is the 9904for 2021-2022 include a sports-specific platform UDX 12G/6G/3G/HD/SD UHD up/down/cross incorporating more core applications and converter/frame sync/embed/de-embed audio offering single- or multi-operator capabilities.” processor and its ever-expanding new features. End users can now work with Chyron’s Lyric The 9904-UDX enables HDR via Cobalt’s character generator directly from the Prime various conversion methods, 3D-LUT, BBC Live Platform. LUT, NBCU LUTs, and dynamic processing via Tracab ser ves leagues, coaches and Advanced HDR by Technicolor.” Brady observes that remote and work-atfederations, as well as broadcasters who want to draw fans with data-enriched analysis. “Tracab home production have become a requirement provides visual tracking and military-grade these days. “COVID may have pushed the radio frequency tracking, as well as Coach Paint, technology along, but now it’s here to stay. offering the industry’s only real-time telestration Cobalt’s 9992-ENC software defined, broadcast, as well as virtual line ups,” says Eccles. “Hego multi-channel encoder can help bring back 124

a confidence feed over the internet when supporting remote production.” Looking ahead, Brady says: “Cobalt will be expanding its already robust 2110 IP product portfolio by extending it to 4K including a unique solution in the ad insertion space. Stay tuned.”

Deltacast LIONEL DUTILLEUX

INTERNATIONAL SALES MANAGER

Deltacast has been fine-tuning its graphics products for topflight European football this year. “For the new partnership between Eleven Sports Network and the Belgian Pro League, Deltacast added features on Delta-highlight, our post-production tool for analysis made by consultants and journalists, and Delta-live, which inserts augmented reality live on the pitch,” says the company’s international sales manager Lionel Dutilleux. “On the one hand, we managed to speed up the calibration process thanks to the implementation of AI modules. On the other hand, Delta-sport products now benefit from feeds from Stats Perform, which makes extra sequences feasible such as heat maps, penalty maps, expected goals on the pitch and so on.”

“Our Delta-cg character generator, typically used in stadiums, now offers a sports-dedicated interface to ease and speed up playout production. Moreover, the product is now effective in the cloud,” he adds. “The Deltaoffside for VAR is now able to indicate the distance between the offside lines and the goal and, thanks to the creation of new shortcuts, the referee operator can use the software more quickly than before. This version is having an effect in the Belgian Pro League and in Argentina.” Dutilleux observes the rise in popularity of remote production, “even though it will never substitute for live on-site conditions”. However, he adds: “The Deltacast product range is compatible within a remote production context. The addition and implementation of AI speeds up the entire process. And we know that time is always [scarce] in the broadcast industry.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Deltatre ANDREA MARINI

DEPUTY CEO AND CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER

“This year was a memorable one for Deltatre, not least because we marked our 35th birthday,” says deputy CEO and chief commercial officer Andrea Marini. “As before, Deltatre’s services and solutions have been central to the biggest sport events in the world. As reported by SVG, once again our team were chosen to deliver graphics by UEFA, this time for Euro 2020.”

“I especially want to highlight the incredible work our team completed this year in India,”

he adds. “Our dedicated staff efficiently and expertly delivered a best-in-class service for the duration of the Indian Super League, in trying and unusual circumstances — fully remote and in a protected bubble.” Product development has been a big focus too. “We were delighted to launch new fan engagement functionality in our OTT player Diva,” says Marini. “This was thanks to a strengthening of our working relationship with LiveLike. Now influencer chat, polls, quizzes and more are available in Diva thanks to further integrations. “In addition, we announced the development of our UX management tool Axis into a sports-focused platform. As a long-standing streaming technology provider to leading OTT platforms across sport and entertainment, Deltatre is uniquely positioned to understand the complexities and differences in the way fans and users engage with and consume different content. This latest evolution of Axis brings this expertise to life, by offering sports-focused OTT providers the opportunity to offer their users uniquely

different ways of following specific leagues, tournament rounds, teams or players.” Observing technology trends from the past 12 months, Marini highlights the reliance upon remote production and cloud-based workflows. “In addition, detailed live data and a more engaged audience means that broadcasters have an opportunity to invest in more detailed data viz, and provide data-focused content both in-broadcast and as digital overlays,” he adds. “I’d expect to see even greater emphasis placed on segmentation and personalisation, for example producing different versions of the same content for different audiences.” “We’ve announced so many wonderful client relationships this year, including the Tennis Channel, Volleyball World, Ultimate Tennis Showdown and Major League Soccer,” he continues. “But we can’t stop there. Across our organisation, and especially in our dedicated Innovation Lab, we’re working on the solutions and services that the fans of tomorrow will demand from broadcasters and sports organisations.”

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Dolby

“We’re off to a great start with TVP in Poland to the cloud and tape. and also the trials with Roland Garros in France “EditShare will soon kick off the fall season of VP COMMERCIAL PARTNERSHIPS and these offer a good foundation for future industry shows and look forward to new product “As well as the work that the developments.” announcements as we get back together with Sky Sports team did to offer our key customers,” says Barnes. EditShare virtual crowds in Dolby Atmos EMG JEFF BARNES for Project Restart, BT Sport streaming Dolby DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BEVAN GIBSON Atmos on its app was a key highlight of the year,” CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER says Javier Foncillas, VP commercial partnerships “EditShare and Blackbird at Dolby Europe. have announced a technology “The year has been very busy When Brighton took on Liverpool in the integration this year that in events since some of the English Premier League, BT Sport Ultimate leverages Flow and EditShare storage as an largest sporting events originally customers were able to access the immersive integrated ecosystem for use with Blackbird scheduled to happen in 2020 were moved to sound output using compatible platforms as a front end editing platform,” says Editshare 2021. This was, for example, the case for the including iOS and Android mobile devices, Apple director of business development Jeff Barnes. UEFA Euro 2020 Championships and one of the TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung “EditShare has been taking clients to the biggest international sporting events which was Smart TV and its own BT TV 4K box. cloud with EFSv for hybrid cloud and remote supposed to take place in Tokyo,” says Bevan During UEFA Euro 2020, beIN Sports’ 4K access workflows. EFS storage and Flow asset Gibson, chief technology officer, EMG. “Next subscribers were able to watch live matches management offer the ability to back up, access, to these major events, EMG worked on regular in Dolby Atmos along with 4K Ultra HD on edit directly or edit with proxies in the cloud or 2021 events such as Roland Garros, Tour de a compatible TV or device, making it the first remotely from the on premise system.” France and The World Nordic Ski Championship broadcaster in the Middle East and North in Oberstdorf. It has been a real challenge to Africa to broadcast using the innovative deliver all these major events one after the other audio technology. Dolby also collaborated and we are very proud of our teams to have with Telewizja Polska (TVP) to deliver Dolby done it very successfully despite the COVID Atmos via Dolby AC-4 next generation audio restrictions.” for a temporary commercial channel for the tournament available to households across Poland. “Having kicked off in time for the football According to Barnes, this year has seen tournament, TVP broadcast free to air in UHD an expansion and reinvestment of Editshare quality on 49 transmitters covering about 90% products with the Arizona Cardinals and the of the territory of Poland in the new DVB-T2/ Cleveland Browns, as well as Barstool Sports. HEVC standard following intensive testing with Producing a wide variety of content in the infrastructure provider Emitel,” says Foncillas. sports, esports and lifestyle genres, Barstool’s “Every match played during the championship video shows and podcasts reach a highly Gibson identifies IP and remote production was broadcast on the TVP 4K channel. TVP engaged audience of 66 million unique visitors as the year’s main tech trends. “I think that this also added a level of personalisation for viewers every month. In addition, its YouTube channels pandemic has considerably accelerated the through Dolby AC-4. This includes stadium have 2.4 million subscribers in total with switch to remote production and this change is ambience from the football pitch, giving viewers 629,000 on the main channel, while TikTok rates here for good,” he says. at home the feeling of being at the heart of the even higher at 8.7 million followers. The launch of diPloy, EMG’s very large IP action with the players.” AbelCine, an EditShare channel partner based flypack is hailed as the most important product In addition, fans were able to select in Brooklyn, New York, has supported Barstool development by Gibson. “Although this personalised commentary from a choice of Sports productions since 2018 and took an order technology was ready to deliver some of these Polish or English as well as audio description for EditShare’s Flow and EFS storage to support major international sporting events scheduled to accompany their TV viewing experience, the content business. Barstool switched from to take place in 2020, we were only able to finally which could be particularly beneficial to visually a previous system to EditShare just ahead of show it to the world in February 2021 during The impaired fans. COVID-19, enabling it to hurdle the challenges World Nordic Ski Championship and then in a “Using HDR image technology and Dolby of a physical business facing lockdown and social number of other major sporting events which Atmos sound delivered through Dolby AC-4 distancing restrictions and it is now using Flow happened in the summer. Our customers were provided football fans in Poland with a much in conjunction with AWS as part of its business happy to be able to leverage the benefits of more immersive viewing experience, at no extra continuity workflow. All show recordings are IP-based infrastructure to implement remote cost,” says Foncillas. centralised directly to EFS, with Flow tracking production on a large scale,” he reveals. “As the “We envisage the momentum for NGA and metadata and offering tools for automating diPloy system evolves, we hope to better utilise what AC-4 can deliver to continue,” he adds. transcoding, file migration and nightly backups connectivity solutions and leave the bulk of the

JAVIER FONCILLAS

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required infrastructure in a central location. We 40 HDC-4300 UHD channels being shipped intend to develop this aspect of our system in the alongside 151 Grass Valley LDX 86N channels. months to come.” A further 200 lenses and more than 100 Vinten tripods were also supplied. Finally, 15 Grass Valley ES Broadcast Kahuna vision mixers of various specs were JONATHAN LYTH in action at several Games venues,” he adds. GROUP CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER “Our systems integration division has been no “ E S B r o a d c a s t p l aye d a less diligent in their endeavours to support the significant part in the delivery return of live sports. As technical partner for of UEFA Euro 2020 coverage, Glasgow-based OB company QTV, we have with large shipments of equipment going out delivered a new remote production facility to to venues across Europe,” says the company’s fulfil its contract with the SPFL, which placed group chief technical officer Jonathan Lyth. “In an emphasis on environmental sustainability. tandem with sister company Film Store Rental, In doing so we’ve helped QTV to pioneer some we provided all ENG kits — some 85 in total — of the most up-to-date and innovative remote used for creating supplementary content for the production workflows available in the sphere of finals, including kits for the crews covering all 24 Scottish sports and events production. teams and 12 host cities. The cameras provided “The most recent phase of the ongoing included Sony’s PXW-FX9, PXW-Z750 and FX3 upgrades we have been carrying out for OTT models. Our rental division, ES Broadcast Hire, sports broadcaster DAZN, meanwhile, saw meanwhile, had equipment including cameras, the installation of SMPTE ST-2110 routing lenses and tripods at every venue. infrastructure in the company’s playout facility in “A similarly vast inventory of equipment was Bangor, Northern Ireland. This was introduced on location at the Tokyo Olympics too, with 30 as part of work to create a scalable linear channel Sony HDC-3500, 10 HDC-5500 and more than playout solution as DAZN gradually rolls out

linear services globally,” continues Lyth. “In the realm of esports, ES Broadcast completed a portable production unit for PvP platform FaceIt. Built on a Ross Ultrix FR5 hybrid router and EVS Dyvi vision mixer, the PPU was primarily built to be used as the central production system for a new 12,000sqft studio facility in Santa Monica, California. Its portable design also allows it be deployed as a temporary system for esports events across the US and Europe.”

With venue connectivity moving to the levels needed to support remote production, Lyth expects to see a gradual but decisive evolution

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to production facilities, “such as the one ES Broadcast has delivered for QTV, with smaller engineering vehicles taking on the burden of at-venue work”. “Platforms such as Grass Valley’s AMPP and Mavis Broadcast’s Mavis Live solution are driving change in sports broadcasting by offering cloudbased live production, playout and virtual gallery solutions. We expect to see further adoption of these workflows within the sports arena over the coming year.”

Eurovision Services MARCO TINNIRELLO CEO

“Our main sports production highlight since September 2020 came in the form of an ambitious test for remote, cloud-based production at this year’s Biathlon World Cup event in Antholz, Italy,” says Marco Tinnirello, Eurovision Services CEO. “Working with the EBU, broadcasters and technology providers we were able to deliver the full contribution workflow, comprising three video feeds, an audio feed, remote cameras from the shooting range and mixed zone, as well as audio over IP, into the cloud in parallel with the live production of the event. The results exceeded our expectations and allowed us to bring some of the technology used to market as new services. At the specific request of a customer we deployed the AoIP solution that we tested in Antholz for commentary at a major European football competition.”

“We have also introduced two different services for delivery over IP using SRT,” Tinnirello continues. “Eurovision Services Cirrus is a fully managed, end-to-end solution where we supply the encoders and manage the transmissions, while Eurovision Services Stratus is an unmanaged solution that allows broadcasters to receive SRT feeds on their own equipment. These new SRT services are a perfect complement to our offering to Tier 1 sports content owners that allows broadcasters 128

Sponsor Update

not connected to our fibre network or PoPs to receive secure live broadcast signals over the public internet.” Tinnirello is convinced the year’s top tech trend is the move to the cloud, “for anything from remote commentary to full remote production”. “Although this is not a technology in itself, it still requires the necessary expertise to manage the complex gap between the production of the content and its distribution, which is exactly where Eurovision Services comes in. This is our core business, regardless of the means of transport and the final destination,” he adds. “The pandemic has compressed the calendar for major sports events considerably, which means that the next six months are going to be extremely busy for us. We will therefore be focusing on our core business of delivering the world’s biggest live sports events over this period while at the same time preparing intensively to do the same for some equally big sports events on the horizon later next year.”

Evertz MO GOYAL

SENIOR DIRECTOR — INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, LIVE MEDIA SOLUTIONS

Evertz saw a number of planned product developments accelerated due to the pandemic in the past year. “We found production teams demonstrated a greater willingness to evaluate new technologies and methods to produce live sports,” says Mo Goyal, senior director — international business development, Live Media Solutions, at the company. “At Evertz, one of our early challenges during the pandemic was to provide users an ultra-low latency and low bandwidth interface that did not sacrifice the operator’s experience. This approach not only works well for connecting to physical resources in an OB truck or production facility, but it also provides access to cloud-based resources. We saw this in the work we did with Electronic Arts Competitive Gaming Entertainment (EA CGE) for EA Sports FIFA 21 Global Series and Apex Legends Global Series. During the two events, nine remote operators used DC-Anywhere to operate seven DreamCatcher replay stations and two logging stations to control 11 NDI outputs.” “The ‘work from anywhere’ approach also accelerated our engineering efforts to move tools like DreamCatcher Bravo Studio to public

and/or private cloud platforms, and in the second half of 2020, we saw more customers coming to us to provide solutions,” he adds. “We quickly deployed DreamCatcher Bravo Studio to various cloud platforms, including AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.”

Using DreamCatcher’s modular architecture, production tools can be treated as a software solution deployed in data centres. “By taking advantage of advancements in transport protocols, such as SRT, RIST and Zixi, productions were able to use DreamCatcher Bravo Studio to produce live events, for example our participation with EA CGE for its global esports tournaments, but also produce other sports content that may have previously been cost prohibitive,” says Goyal. “In the second half of 2020, we started to see a number of sports leagues and live events restart, but in a vastly different manner than we saw pre-COVID. Remote production, socially distanced work areas and cloud production were prevalent to get live sports content to air.” “In Belgium, we worked with our partners StudioTech and Royal Belgian FA (KBVB) to move their mobile-based video assisted referee (VAR) service to a centralised model for the start of the 2021-22 season,” continues Goyal. “The centralised VAR centre is located outside of Brussels, with network connectivity to each venue provided by Proximus, and uses the full suite of DreamCatcher Bravo Studio tools to allow KBVB to support five simultaneous matches.” At the end of 2020, Evertz acquired a number of companies (Ease Live and Studer) and invested in others (ShotTracker) to address the growing direct-to-consumer market. “You will see these elements integrated into our DreamCatcher Bravo Studio, where additional content can be produced costeffectively of sports matches/events for lower tier leagues and enhancements can be made to the fan experience for large-scale events with more unique and tailored content,” says Goyal SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Sponsor Update

EVS NICOLAS BOURDON

CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

Production highlights for the Belgian company include the Super Bowl LV where the LiveCeption Signature solution was deployed, including the LSM-VIA replay and highlights system. Then there was UEFA Euro 2020: “Some 130 XT-VIA live production servers and LSM-VIA replay systems were being used across the 11 venues and the IBC for live storytelling,” says EVS CMO Nicolas Bourdon. “EVS’ MediaCeption Sports solution enabled remote browsing of all feeds at the venues, with HD file transfer workflows expressed in hundreds of terabytes and by the time the tournament was over, the storage of 929 feeds at the IBC. All of this content was remotely accessible to all rights holders in their preferred format via the IBC Media Management systems.” Big product developments included XtraMotion, a cloud-based super-motion service which Fox Sports has been using for Nascar productions. Relying on advanced machine

learning algorithms, productions benefit from super slow-motion on virtually every camera angle as the high frame rate is created on-demand rather than natively. MediaInfra Strada, a SDI/IP routing solution, leverages Cerebrum’s advanced router logics and customisable user interfaces, as well as Neuron’s flexible IP and SDI I/O for uncompressed realtime video and audio, to enable broadcasters to meet all workflow requirements and accommodate all signal formats. “In my opinion, SaaSbased services and IP are the main technologies driving sports productions right now,” says Bourdon. “Dynamic resources in the cloud and IP connectivity are facilitating the implementation of remote and distributed production workflows. AI is also playing an important role in reducing cumbersome and time-consuming tasks and enabling production teams to focus on their creativity.”

“We will be reinforcing our live production asset management solutions to help customers optimise their backend resources and implement their production infrastructure in the cloud,” adds Bourdon. “We will also introduce new real-time media processing tools for SDI, IP and hybrid broadcast infrastructures. We will be promoting lean production solutions, including X-One and Overcam systems for live coverage of college sports.”

Fanview JIM IRVING

MANAGING DIRECTOR

“[This year], Fanview worked with our client Red Bull to deliver their high-profile esports event Kumite,” says Fanview managing director Jim Irving. “Kumite London brought together the best Street Fighter players from across the globe in two days of intense competition. Fanview produced the event in partnership with Gfinity at Red Bull’s gaming sphere in East London.” For more than six months, Fanview had been deeply embedded in the team producing

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the broadcast output of the event, leading on production strategy and direction, liaising with the sport, event organisation and marketing teams, and delivering live executive production services on venue. The content was streamed live not just to Red Bull’s own Twitch and YouTube channels but also via multiple Red Bull countries and streamers. “Live production in the cloud has been the biggest development in the industry since September by some distance,” says Irving. “Two years ago, Fanview partnered with startup Mavis Broadcast. Mavis has developed a frighteningly quick, ultra-low latency protocol that makes full live production over the cloud a reality. Over the last year we have been working very closely with the Mavis team to rollout an entire OB truck all hosted on AWS. Cloud production will totally revolutionise the way live sport is produced. The ability to reduce complexity and cost while being able to scale at the touch of a button will change the live production space forever.” Irving reveals that Fanview has been re-commissioned by Red Bull to produce the next installment of Kumite, this time in Las Vegas. “We’ll also be announcing some exciting production developments involving AR graphics,” he adds. “We are now in trials with the Mavis cloud production platform with a number of UK and European broadcasters and federations. We are also with the team at European Championships Management to build and deliver their content strategy in the run up to and during Munich 2022.”

Sponsor Update

AI-based proprietary, patent-pending autofollow camera system designed to follow and record the movement of players. In partnership with NEP, the Fletcher Tr-ACE system has been implemented on courts at Wimbledon. Fletcher has also provided the technology for courts at the US Open to track players’ movements during matches on the outer courts. In addition, Fletcher invented several innovative proprietary camera angles now commonly seen by audiences worldwide: shots from ‘above the rim’ on top of basketball backboards, in-net cameras for hockey and rail cams in front of press tables.

Focusrite SIMON POULTON ARTISTS, MEDIA & PR

“Our most significant product development in the past year is our RedNet R1 Desktop Remote Controller,” says Simon Poulton, artists, media & PR, Focusrite. “It’s allowing engineers to mix and monitor in Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio using any combination of the selected eight source groups, in formats ranging from mono through to 12-channel audio and other 7.1.4 immersive formats. This obviously has significance for how we consume sports audio in the 21st century.”

Fletcher Group Update supplied by the SVG Europe News Team

Fletcher Group is a part of the NEP Worldwide Network, the leading production partner supporting premier content producers in the broadcast and live events industries across the globe. A camera systems provider specialising in live and recorded TV, Fletcher Group has around 30 years of experience behind it and has solutions suitable for both OB and studio environments. Numerous clients worldwide call on Fletcher for daily, short-term and long-term rental. The addition of Fletcher is consistent with NEP’s stated strategy to become the worldwide leader in broadcast services, and ‘camera capture’, both traditional and robotic, is an important part of the broadcast value chain. Among many solutions, Fletcher offers an 130

The RedNet range also saw action at 2021’s Super Bowl LV, which has the distinction of being the most watched television programme to date for the year in the US. Due to the pandemic crowds were kept at about one-third of capacity but included 7,500 local vaccinated healthcare workers hosted by the NFL. “The team from ATK Audiotek tackled the sound reinforcement duties with an infrastructure backfield of components from Focusrite’s RedNet range of Dante-networked audio converters and interfaces,” says Poulton. “A hefty complement of RedNet A16R and RedNet D16R 16-channel interfaces was used to connect digital and analogue sources and feeds to and from a Dante Audio-over-IP network. RedNet D64R 64-channel MADI bridges were deployed for connecting signals to and from the

various digital audio consoles in the system, and for connections between production groups. Focusrite RedNet AM2 stereo audio monitoring units were also used where additional monitoring points were needed. RedNet gear provided drive distribution for all of the JBL loudspeakers in support of the Super Bowl’s halftime extravaganza. The RedNet D64Rs offered clock management, blending high channel count with the ability to convert sample rates between disparate audio systems on a multitrack scale providing glitch-free intersystem audio transfer and sharing without a common master reference clock.

FOR-A MASAHIRO SOGA

DIRECTOR, SENIOR GENERAL MANAGER, MARKETING DIVISION

“Our sports production highlight this year is the UHD super slow motion camera system, the FT-ONE-SS4K,” says For-A’s Masahiro Soga. “Providing image capture of up to 1,000 frames per second, the FT-ONE-SS4K has been adopted by our customers covering major sports events across Europe, capturing the emotion, action and incidents at speeds not practical before in UHD.” The FT-ONE-SS4K is said to be the world’s first 4K ultra-high-speed camera, designed to be fully compatible with a 2/3in B4 lens for live broadcast applications. It offers simultaneous record and playback with internal memory and supports HDR/SDR and WCG and 24-axis colour correction. The camera can be used with Canon’s OLED viewfinder and when equipped with a B4 bayonet lens, it shoots footage up to four times brighter than models with a PL lens. A compact 2RU base station allows the camera head to be separated from the body, offering 2km range over an optical connection. “We have completed the key developments on FT-ONE-SS4K and, as a result, the camera has been used to capture major sporting events,” says Soga. “Due to the impact of COVID-19, remote production has become so important in sports production,” Soga observes. “IP certainly offers some needed solutions, however many customers are choosing 12G systems due to the cost and engineering resource point of view. FOR-A offers both 12G and IP-based infrastructure and production solutions to meet the requirements of the sports production market.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Sponsor Update

Genelec HOWARD JONES

COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR

“For audio engineers looking for more consistency in their mixes — even when working in challenging acoustic environments — our GLM loudspeaker manager software has undergone two major updates since last September,” says Genelec communications director Howard Jones. “Late last year we introduced GLM 4, which offers new features, a faster and more intuitive user interface, and Mac Catalina and Big Sur compatibility,” he adds. “This summer we launched GLM 4.1, which features the new AutoCal 2 room calibration algorithm — resulting in a more precise loudspeaker frequency response, better performance in livelier acoustic environments and significantly faster calibration speeds. “Both these updates will help users of Genelec Smart Active Monitors to produce reliable mixes that translate consistently to other rooms and systems, whatever the delivery method.” The launch of AutoCal 2 as part of the GLM 4.1

release also marked GLM’s 15th anniversary. Looking ahead, Jones sees remote working being a major factor for Genelec customers. “One thing the pandemic has highlighted even more strongly is the increased need for engineers and creatives to be able to work in remote and ad-hoc environments, and still be inspired and confident in the work they’re producing,” he explains. “While our GLM software is already a key part of that workflow, expect us to continue developing that theme — and maybe unveil a few surprises!”

interface that is on a separate IP address to the Dante network. When used with Dante Virtual Sound Card this made the Inferno a very simple and very powerful device for remote commentary.”

Glensound MARC WILSON

MANAGING DIRECTOR

“The pandemic massively increased the demand for our single user commentary units,” says Marc Wilson, managing director at Glensound. “If they are single user, the commentators can social distance. Our Inferno unit in particular has multiple network I/O on Dante, multiple talkback/monitoring channels and can be remote controlled via a web browser

“Throughout last year and into 2021 ESPN has been using Glensound remote commentary and setting up many of its sportscasters using 100+ of our Inferno commentary units,” he continues. “NEP UK has over 40 Inferno units and used them for social distanced commentary at this year’s Wimbledon tennis. We have also designed a custom unit for Hawk-Eye that is used by VAR referees, the HEVAR 2+. It is a

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mic and headphone interface with an external connection for an illuminated desktop PTT button to simplify the VAR referees’ talkback.” Glensound has matched industry demand by developing single user devices with multiple features but in a very compact format. “We have just launched the Spark which is our first commentary unit using the Dante Broadway chipset. It is super small at only 120x80x80mm, which makes it the smallest and most powerful single commentary unit available,” says Wilson. “We were able to use sprung front panel level controls for the four-channel headphone mixer to keep the unit’s dimensions as small as possible and still include up to four programmable talk buttons. The operation of the unit can be controlled and monitored on our Windows 10 app, GlenController. As a Broadway device it has a 1GB network interface and can act as a good Dante clock master, especially on larger networks that may include a majority of Ultimo-based devices. The Spark adds features, flexibility and it’s all in our smallest design.” “As the Dante Beatrice intercom is very important to our sports projects, we were having increasing requests for 2W interfacing with legacy beltpacks. We designed our Lucia 2 to interface with beltpacks from Clearcom, RTS and Tecpro with up to 10 beltpacks being able to be powered on each of the Lucia 2s two channels. These provide bidirectional channels between these 2W units and the Dante network,” he adds. “At events where multiple networks are used either at different clock rates or indeed one Dante and one AES67, for example, we have the new Vittoria twin network bridge. Two isolated and independent networks are only connected by DSP to allow complete network independence of 32 channels.” “Glensound is continually evolving our technologies and ways of doing things,” he says. “Our Dark Dante audio interfaces will be evolving soon to offer further functionality and broadcast engineer appeal.”

Globecast JAMES WHITTAKER

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

“In 2020 we signed a multiyear deal with Infront and, having already worked as part of this deal to provide a range of tailored distribution and monitoring services for The European Handball League, The Champions Hockey League, cycling’s Tour De Suisse as 132

Sponsor Update

well as volleyball and athletics, in June 2021 we supported them at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships, held in Riga,” says Globecast UK business development manager James Whittaker.

ambitions; they want to understand where remote production adds real value and/or reduces costs in the ways that we know it can. Another facet we have been looking at is how far the automation of remote production can be pushed — for example in terms of camera control. We take all the best technologies and integrate them to create the most suitable, targeted services.”

Grabyo SCOTT LUNN

HEAD OF CONTENT

“Globecast provided all of the encoding and connectivity from the site for the contribution path back to London via fibre, along with international distribution of the world feed. Onsite, encoding and monitoring solutions were provided across two diverse stadiums in Riga, allowing for full diversity and disaster recovery while adapting to COVID protocols. With Globecast’s engineering talent it was able to provide dual and diverse MCRs, not only for all the feeds going out but also the return global distribution feeds so that Infront could see what their customers were receiving. The feeds were sent to the UK for onwards distribution using Globecast’s teleport infrastructure.” “Alongside our premium connectivity, we’ve really focused on our customer approach with this partnership, providing a very ‘high touch’ service, which is paramount in today’s market,” he continues. “As part of our ongoing efforts to continuously improve our QoS, not only from a technical standpoint but also from a customer service perspective, we ensure that Infront has complete access to all members of the team, from the account manager to the technical experts who manage, monitor and deliver the feeds through the MCR, all the way through to the finance and bookings departments.” Throughout 2021, Globecast has been working on the development of a range of remote production and commentary services. “The focus is the backend infrastructure required for remote production, or parts of a production that are remote. We are not talking about the role of production company, but as the connectivity provider — low latency, high capacity, extremely reliable connectivity, from the site out to wherever the production is happening,” explains Whittaker. “We have been working closely with our clients to understand their needs and their remote production

“Nascar partnered with Grabyo to shift its digital video production workflow to a hybrid model, leveraging the cloud to bolster its digital content capabilities ahead of the Geico 500 Nascar Cup Series event at the Talladega Superspeedway,” says Scott Lunn, head of content at Grabyo, when recalling recent highlights for the company. “Using Grabyo Producer, Nascar produced several multimedia content series published to nascar.com. Each show had custom branded graphics and b-roll footage, alongside a mix of archival content from Nascar’s historical library. The shows were mixed and delivered in the cloud using Grabyo Producer, giving Nascar’s content team complete control of their content from any location.”

Elsewhere, Filmnova used Grabyo Producer to deliver in-depth and dynamic coverage of the World Para Triathlon Series to BBC Sport Online and other digital platforms. “Filmnova’s production crew consisted of just 10 people, who shot, edited and mixed the broadcast using a combination of four cameras with Mobile Viewpoint cellular bonded units linked to Grabyo,” says Lunn. “Using Grabyo Producer, Filmnova’s director mixed live feeds from each mobile camera, adding graphics and VOD assets from around the course.” Grabyo has made a significant number of improvements since September. “Grabyo’s new audio mixer gives the user the ability to set SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Sponsor Update

volume, gain and pan and mute, listen to audio sources independently using pre-fade, afterfade or output listening, and create and manage audio layers. Supporting precise dBFS level monitoring, the audio mixer can also support a large number of individual audio sources per event, with the option to add multiple audio mixers and vision mixers for the same event if required.” P ro du c e r G u e s t , G r abyo’s r e m ot e contribution tool, has also had a number of upgrades. “Up to 12 guests can now appear on a single broadcast from any location in the world, with production teams able to set up green rooms and speak to on-air talent easily, all hosted in the cloud,” says Lunn. “Grabyo’s mission is to take all the functionality of traditional broadcast production tools and combine it with the flexibility of the cloud,” he adds. “The next big step towards that goal is supporting the ingest and egress of highfidelity live video protocols, including SRT, Zixi and RiST. Grabyo is building the functionality to deliver broadcasts in these protocols to every platform and device, including broadcast TV.”

Grass Valley MARCO LOPEZ

GENERAL MANAGER FOR LIVE PRODUCTION

“ In t h e l a s t ye a r, c l o u d technology has demonstrated proven advantages for enabling remote production by helping Electronic Arts Competitive Gaming Entertainment deploy an end-to-end cloud workflow built around our GV AMPP (Agile Media Processing Platform) for its major competitive gaming events EA Sports FIFA 21 and Apex Legends,” says GV’s general manager for live production Marco Lopez. “London-based esports company Gfinity also utilised AMPP to spin up services and rapidly turn around the production of its virtual professional motorsports series. Grass Valley customers continue to leverage the benefits of on-premise solutions, like Dorna Sports, which adopted our Kahuna 6400 production switcher for the live production of the 2021 Grand Prix motorcycling season to produce shows for 19 MotoGP events in 15 countries all over the world.” The transition to cloud-based workflows

rocketed last year and for production teams spread across the world, switching in the cloud is a significant advantage, observes Lopez. “By introducing GV K-Frame on AMPP, a SaaS version of the K-Frame switcher engine launched earlier this year, our customers enjoy a seamless transition to cloud-based video production while extending the flexibility of existing solutions. This scalability is ideal for sports media companies or rights holders that may already own Grass Valley switchers they can now leverage in the cloud.” Lopez continues: “The shift towards the widespread adoption of standards-based IP as a more flexible and scalable replacement for SDI, alongside the greater use of software rather than dedicated hardware to reduce cost and provide more automation, is a significant trend we are seeing to enable more efficient production workflows. “However, simply transitioning to a softwarecentric future doesn’t automatically bring greater efficiency; what’s truly needed to shape the sports production workflow of the future is a simultaneous change in approach. As our

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customers strive to meet rising consumer demands for greater immediacy, choice and quality, there is a drive to do more with less. IP and cloud-based models undeniably form a large part of the solution.” Since the launch of GV AMPP in April 2020, the company has unveiled applications for audio mixing, master control and playout, and by the end of this year, Lopez says it will reveal several more like replay and creative grading. “In addition to our vision for a virtualised future, we are still innovating with on-premise technology and recently announced the launch of a new camera, enhanced switcher and replay and highlights system that will enable sports productions to leverage the latest in IP and 4K UHD technology with HDR workflows.”

Gravity Media EDWARD TISCHLER MANAGING DIRECTOR

Sponsor Update

outside broadcast truck Pictor, the international production for broadcasters around the world, as well as parallel advertising live from the famous stadium. Prior to the match, the Gravity Media team at The Production Centre in London also delivered the FA Cup Preview Show which included interviews from the Chelsea and Leicester City camps.” In July the Gravity Media equipment rental team supplied equipment for The Open Championship at the Royal St George’s course in Kent, England. Gravity Media supplied all of the systems and glue equipment including Kayenne vision mixer, routers, OLED monitors and 46in screens,” says Tischler. “Gravity Media’s postproduction engineers Andrew Emmerson and Shane McGill were also on site where they deployed edit facilities to capture the action.” Also in July, the Gravity Media team travelled to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone which took place over 52 laps. “Following the Austria Grand Prix, the team travelled to Silverstone to supply outside broadcast facilities, including our remote operations flypack, for the Channel 4 highlights show alongside Whisper to cover the 10th race of the season,” Tischler adds. “2.8 million viewers tuned in to watch the Sunday evening show and witnessed Lewis Hamilton take his eighth British Grand Prix win.”

It’s been busy this year at Gravity Media’s Production Centre in London. “Among the many projects, we’ve been supporting Mola TV with its Premier League and Bundesliga wraparound shows, as well as our work with UEFA on the season’s Champions League and Europa League competitions,” says Gravity Media MD Edward Tischler. “Across these two clients Hitomi alone, The Production Centre has been used RUSSELL JOHNSON for a wide array of services, including highlights DIRECTOR programming, instant highlights feeds, match commentary, digital clips and studio features The newest member of Hitomi’s — using our gallery and staff to produce the MatchBox family of solutions coverage — as well as a video wall backdrop to for lip-sync is MatchBox Glass, show live beauty camera shots from around the an app that works with MatchBox Analyser to grounds.” replace the need for human intervention to test audio and video links. “At the Euro 2020 soccer competition, existing customers added Matchbox Glass to their workflow and other broadcasters hired equipment from us,” says Russell Johnson, director of Hitomi. “2021 also saw Women’s Super League matches used for field trials of Glass latency.” In June, the facility delivered the digital edits Johnson says Hitomi has been increasing its and commentary for the UEFA Under 21 Euros ability to measure camera-to-camera timing final where Germany U21s won the title. differences. “Not just relative to each other but It’s also been busy on the OB and rental front. true latency,” he adds. “Previously cameras had “Once again, Gravity Media was thrilled to be at to be pointed at the same iPhone simultaneously the heart of the action as over 20,000 headed to with a maximum of four channels. With the Wembley Stadium for the FA Cup Final in May,” new feature there is no limit to the number of says Tischler. “Over the weekend, the Gravity cameras that can be used. This is very useful for Media team produced the big screens using our soccer games with an eight-camera shoot. 134

We have also added the latency measurement feature to Matchbox Generator making it possible to know exactly how long a signal will take to get to its destination — a very useful feature for remote production workflows.” The latter is one of the trends that Johnson has observed impacting sports production this year. “Remote production is getting easier to do and more widespread,” he says. “Also UHD and HDR are becoming more mainstream, and not just for the high-end productions.” Looking forward, Johnson says latency measurement will be a feature on Glass and Matchbox generator. “There are also new quality assurance features coming in our test patterns and measurement systems,” he adds.

Imagine Communications JOHN MAILHOT

CTO NETWORKING & INFRASTRUCTURE

“EMG’s diPloy IP flypack system, enabled by Imagine’s SNP network-based processing functionality and IP-based workflows more generally, has covered a lot of events over the past year,” says CTO of networking & infrastructure John Mailhot. “One example was the 2021 FIS Nordic World Championships in Oberstdorf, where SNP-enabled diPloy modules placed around the courses allowed EMG to provide host broadcast facilities for the cross-country skiing and ski jump competitions. Equally, we’ve deployed a great deal of IP-based production equipment worldwide as the various leagues have resumed play.” A lot of development focus has been around HDR and wide colour gamut (WCG) conversion and processing “being able to integrate SDR and HDR elements together in productions, giving creative teams fine-grained control over the SDR/HDR conversion process”, says Mailhot. “We are also very focused on how HDR interacts with multiviewers and monitoring — presenting the right type and style of video content to each staff position within a production, according SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Sponsor Update

to their needs and responsibilities, and how to integrate HDR into those monitoring applications appropriately. We are also investing in JPEG XS for long-haul networking, for venue-to-client or ground-to-cloud sorts of applications, sending low-latency production-quality video signals around, enabling high-quality remote production workflows.”

HDR- and UHD-enablement — improving the conversion and processing tools and monitoring capabilities of UHD and HDR production, and enabling the transition into IP-based, networked, remoted workflows. Even as the productions become/remain distributed or split, everybody involved needs to see what they are doing, with low-enough latency and adequate quality, to create the desired air look.”

Iron Mountain Entertainment Services (IMES) CHRIS FOSSEY

UK BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

Mailhot sees remote production evolving “from crisis-driven necessity into a value-driven new normal” over the next year. “I think we will see more HDR production and more UHD, but also more remote elements — AI-driven processes and cloud-based render elements — being integrated into live productions,” he adds. “We will be continuing down our path of

CUT

According to UK business development manager Chris Fossey, IMES has digitised thousands of hours of content this past year for a Tier 1 global sports rightsholder, which includes football and tennis, and plans to perform similar tasks for other clients in the coming months. “IMES will continue to develop our technology and to seek innovative ways to service the archive industry,” says Fossey. “Across the globe, IMES not only works with the

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sports industry, but also partners and supports the film, music and broadcast industries. “Our most important development this year is the IMES MAM platform Smart Vault, recently rebranded and available globally,” he adds. “Smart Vault enables content owners to use the latest cloud-native technology to enable greater ease of access to their content — whenever and wherever they want it, providing swift visibility and easy access to large volumes of media with an inbuilt video player. As well as streamlining and bringing multiple efficiencies to the elongated processes used in managing media assets, powerful AI/ML capabilities enable users to enrich the media stored in the platform, providing valuable monetisation opportunities for existing and future archive content. Additional functionality allows users to share media, contribute to the platform and create custom workflows for media production and distribution, increasing agility through the chain.” Fossey observes that artificial intelligence and machine learning-based solutions are having a big impact on sports production. “Such solutions are capable of identifying specific game objects,

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Lawo constructs, players, events and actions,” he ANDREAS HILMER explains. “This aids in near real-time content CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER discovery and helps sports’ producers create sports highlight packages automatically — even In late 2020, Lawo announced when the game is in progress. Sports’ fans are its most compact mc² desk always looking for new ways to engage with the ever. “Based on A_UHD Core sports that bring them closer to real-time action.” technology, the mc²36MkII caters to venues, control rooms and OB trucks where space is at a LAMA premium, offering countless features borrowed EWAN CAMERON from its bigger siblings,” says chief marketing CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER officer Andreas Hilmer. “Phase 2 of the A_UHD Lean And Mean Audio, or LAMA Core, also announced in late December 2020 for short, is a startup based in and already operational in Scotland and beyond, Aalsmeer in the Netherlands. offers DSP resource sharing by several consoles “Currently there are a lot of people looking in a distributed scenario.” into how to move the whole production into Both the mc²36MkII and A_UHD Core the cloud,” says chief commercial officer Ewan support Lawo’s Home IP management platform Cameron. “There has been great progress on the introduced in April 2021, which according to video front, but audio remains a puzzle. There Hilmer has been hailed as “the missing link are still a lot of hurdles to overcome, but we think between operators and their IP-based gear”. that this will be the next major progress in sports “While IP is clearly where the industry is production.” headed, most users struggle with the underlying The company’s LAMA Platform Pro is a complexity and sometimes cumbersome software application that creates, contains, configuration routines,” he adds. “Home brings runs and manages LAMA audio solutions. back that plug and play feeling of analogue days.” Lama products such as AutoMix and AutoSync are deployed on the platform but no specific hardware is required and audio I/O can be done using any standard audio driver type.

“Our AutoMix solution has been extensively used for the Australian Open, Wimbledon and Roland Garros,” continues Cameron. “The LAMA platform now has a rest API that controls all functionality. In this way it can be controlled by orchestrators, automating the whole process of loading presets and settings. Due to the requirements of remote working, we also have created a web GUI from which you can control our AutoMix and AutoSync solutions without the need to use remote desktop software. “[In the next six months] our Automix solution will gain some extra functionality, such as interview detection so that we can see if there are interviews on the international sound stream that need to be levelled,” Cameron adds. “We are also looking into enhancing the solution so that it can be used for programmes like talk shows with multiple guests on screen.” 136

As well as working on football broadcasts as soon as they became possible again, Lawo products have also been involved in high-profile events this year, notably at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2021 and FIS Nordic World Ski Championship 2021. “Held in Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy) and in Oberstdorf (Germany), IBC/MCR operations and feed distribution by Infront Productions relied on Lawo IP broadcast infrastructure with the V_matrix software-defined IP core routing, processing and multi-viewing platform, and the V_matrix vm_dmv flexibly expandable 4K IP multiviewer app,” says Hilmer. “For overall broadcast control and workflow enablement, Lawo’s Virtual Studio Manager was used.” Lawo’s sports truck installations were extremely challenged by the COVID-19 situation. “Some projects in the US and elsewhere nevertheless proceeded according to schedule, with NEP Belgium successfully delivering two identical allIP trucks based on Lawo IP technology, dubbed the ‘RTBF OB Twins’,” says Hilmer. “Although

their busy schedule also includes covering other newsworthy or entertainment events, they are a cornerstone in RTBF’s sports productions, such as cycling and soccer.” In a recent European soccer tournament, Lawo reports that the host broadcaster utilised a lot of its gear for infrastructure. In addition, many national TV stations relied on Lawo IP — either at the IBC or remotely. “For e xample, one of the G erman rightsholding broadcasters used a new Lawo-centric infrastructure, with vm_dmv multiviewers, mc² consoles, A_UHD Core and Power Core units as well as a Smart monitoring and real-time telemetry system,” says Hilmer. “Being able to swiftly move operators around for physical distancing reasons was cited as one of the most impressive benefits of this new IP-based setup.” Hilmer observes that remote production workflows — an area Lawo has been involved in since 2014 — are now considered a necessity in 2021. “Despite the obvious benefits it offers, the worldwide lockdowns in 2020-21 have shown how crucial the ability to work in a distributed production scenario is,” he says. “One of the reasons for developing Lawo’s Home platform was to help operators save setup time through automatic discovery and registration mechanisms, as users increasingly expect their gear to become operational the minute they connect it to a network whose architecture and hubs are likely to change on a daily basis.” “Looking ahead, we are monitoring the evolution on the cloud front,” he adds. “Lawo will also focus on growing the number of Homecompliant video and audio devices through updates for the software-definable hardware they run on. Even slightly older Lawo products will benefit from an update that will allow them to leverage the benefits of Home, which is good news for the environment and CFOs.”

Leader Europe KEVIN SALVIDGE

EUROPEAN REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

“CTV Outside Broadcast’s OB 12 mobile production truck hit the road recently for coverage of the PGA European Tour following an upgrade to fully modular SMPTE 2110 IP-based operation,” says Leader Europe’s Kevin Salvidge. “Leader LV7600 and LV7300 rasterising test instruments, supplied by Leader channel partner Thameside.tv, are used SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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through the OB 12 production areas to achieve accurate matching of incoming feeds. They also allow operators to ensure that the full available dynamic range is maintained from source right through to output.” Salvidge observes that with the rapid diversification of consumers’ viewing habits, broadcasters are facing the challenge of having to deliver content to multiple platforms.

“The growth of streaming services has seen a dramatic rise in the requirement for 4K/UHDTV wide colour gamut, HDR programming, and [the industry] now needs test and measurement products that can support the analysis and monitoring of these advanced standards.” “Most facilities are adopting a hybrid migration approach from SDI to IP,” he adds.

“This requires products like the Leader LV5600 and LV7600 ‘True Hybrid’ IP and SDI waveform monitor and rasteriser that are capable of simultaneously monitoring and analysing both IP and SDI video sources, as well as traditional black burst/Tri-level sync and PTP references. The transition from SDI video will likely take many years so test and measurement products will need the ability to monitor both without compromise during the same period.” Salvidge observes IP brings with it the need to monitor multiple services simultaneously. “We are promoting the recently announced Leader LVB440 IP analyser which allows efficient analysis of SD, HD, HD HDR, 4K and 4K HDR data flow over media networks of any size,” he says. “Designed to monitor and analyse highbitrate media traffic in broadcast production studios, OB vehicles, master control facilities and transmission networks, the analyser supports data rates of 10, 25, 40 and 50 gigabit/s, extending up to 100 gigabit/s via dual interfaces. The core processor is more than capable of handling the 48 gigabit/s data rate required for full bandwidth source 8K. It gives production

teams the resources needed to perform realtime checks on large numbers of streams and multiple resolutions in parallel at multiple locations.”

Limelight Networks CHARLES KRAUS

SENIOR MANAGER PRODUCT MARKETING

“Limelight Networks is an active participant in the live sports video arena carrying live streams of football club matches across the Premier League, Bundesliga and the Champions League finals. We have undertaken several important product developments in relation to sport over the past year,” says Charles Kraus, senior manager product marketing, Limelight Networks. “These include a focus on enabling interactive engagement, capabilities to improve stream monetisation and technology to deliver live steams at scale, with latency that matches broadcast quality for the best second screen viewing experience.” Kraus feels many forthcoming technology trends will have a direct improvement on fan

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engagement. “Included in this are options for viewers to choose which camera angle to watch from during a match and augmented reality statistics overlays on screen and watch together apps,” he says. “Live betting is a recent enhancement to legal sports betting made possible by new technology for live streaming delivery and advanced analytics algorithms that allow sportsbooks to monitor games and recalculate odds in real time.”

There are also trends affecting the live production of sports. “Static camera placement is being complemented by mobility. Rail cams and aerial cams are becoming popular at many sports events. Drone-mounted cameras, both 2D and 3D, have demonstrated spectacular results covering motorsports, rugby and football,” says Kraus. “For the next six months, Limelight will be focused on working with our sports streaming customers to deploy these new technologies successfully to deliver the highest quality picture quality. We will also be helping them to take advantage of these new opportunities to offer premium features to their viewers.”

LiveU RONEN ARTMAN VP MARKETING

Sponsor Update

starting line. The solid high-quality signals were then transmitted back with low delay to Evertop’s production OB van and, with support from China Unicom and China Telecom, 5G signal was available in the field. The LU800 combined both 4G and 5G connectivity to ensure optimal streaming conditions.”

Another highlight was a Bundesliga 5G test with pay-TV operator Sky Deutschland and Vodafone for next-gen sports production. “LiveU played a central role in the successful test trialling wireless 5G transmissions with multiple cameras to demonstrate the powerful possibilities for engaging live sports provided by the integrated workflow,” says Artman. “Supported by LiveU’s German partner netorium, the test showed the reliability and mobility of LiveU’s wireless technology for major sports. The test also explored the important network slicing feature possible in 5G networks, ensuring the highest service reliability required for such major sporting events. An LU800 was deployed for the trial, alongside two LiveU LU-Smart-equipped smartphones.” There has been further development of LiveU’s production tools. “For example, IP Pipe provides remote control over a wide variety of network-based equipment, including robotic and PTZ cameras, CCUs and IP-based intercom,” Artman says. “We’re also excited by the opportunities arising from IP distribution. Our LiveU Matrix cloud-based management and distribution platform is increasingly being used for sharing live content over IP and we’re seeing an increase in demand from different sports organisations.”

“The roll out of the new LU800 has been our most important product development this year,” says LiveU’s VP marketing Ronen Artman. “First of its kind, the LU800 combines multi-camera production and mission-critical transmission with superior video and audio capabilities. These include up to 4Kp60 10-bit HDR transmission, 16 audio channels and 70Mbps HEVC live video encoding. One of the latest highlights has been the introduction of switching from the unit’s interface itself.” In China, the LU800 field unit was used to deliver dynamic live coverage of the Chengdu Marathon, leveraging the 5G network. “Sports production company Evertop looked for a flexible and cost-effective solution to deliver LTN Global multi-camera remote production of the MICHAEL ARMSTRONG marathon,” says Artman. “With fully frameVP SALES, EMEA synced feeds, the native 5G LU800 enabled Evertop to deliver a unique viewer experience LTN Global worke d with from multiple angles. The LU800-PRO4 Swisscom Broadcast to bring [contribution encoder] streamed fully framegame festivals to life at a major synced HD feeds of four cameras from the championship series this year. “LTN Global’s 138

solution suite extended live fan celebrations beyond the football stadium to the official tournament game festivals,” says VP sales, EMEA Michael Armstrong. “Integrating our playout, cloud-based video router and transport solutions, Swisscom managed scheduling, rights switching and multiple-camera integration, including fan cams across multiple European cities.” “Live Video Cloud, our live video routing solution, was used as master control to aggregate, record and route all content, including on-site camera feeds from each city and third-party partners such as social media and webcam sources. Swisscom’s production team integrated multiple content sources into a robust mix of live and pre-recorded content and then seamlessly routed the correct feeds back to each fan zone,” he continues. “LTN Network IP multicast solution was used to transport feeds to Swisscom’s centralised production facility and distribute produced content back to each game festival. Schedule, our cloud-based playout system, was used to mix unique live and pre-recorded content on the giant screens for each screen in every city, meeting different rights requirements and highlighting local clips.” The company recently enhanced Live Video Cloud with audio stream mapping capabilities, allowing customers to condition streams for individual destinations. “Previously, stream providers had to manage hard-to-find mismatches and last-minute changes when meeting takers’ expectations on stream delivery,” says Armstrong. “This required additional hardware, infrastructure, or multiplexers, raising costs significantly, but our audio mapping feature makes it simple and cost-effective.” Another area of focus is integrating data. “Content consumers from sports and esports fans to wagerers look for data-rich viewing experiences. We give media companies the tools to not only monetise their content but deliver engaging viewing experiences that increase viewership and fan engagement — benefiting from additional revenue opportunities along the way,” says Armstrong. “While we are bringing innovative features to the market, we also focus on the bigger picture: streamlining the technology and workflows, which often means integrating the technologies media companies already use. We’ve created an integrated ecosystem to efficiently support our customers across content production, distribution, transport and monetisation.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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M2A Media SIMON HARRISON HEAD OF PRODUCT

“Highlights this year have included the Champions League final, the Premier League, the Canelo Alvarez Vs Billy Joe Saunders tentpole fight, the Tour de France and, of course, the UEFA European Championship,” says M2A Media head of product Simon Harrison. “Last year we launched M2A Connect, a cloud acquisition, aggregation and distribution system that simplifies, automates and scales the management of live video streams in AWS Cloud. M2A Connect customers are, in the main, either global sports OTT platforms, such as DAZN and Spark Sport, who use our technology to acquire or add resilience to the transport of their live sports events, or global sports brands, who use it to distribute their live event streams via cloud IP to their broadcast and OTT partners.” Recently M2A made significant upgrades to the product, adding greater usability in terms of the control of output protocols and switching

of streams. “M2A Connect now offers sports broadcasters and rightsowners one-click routing of live feeds,” says Harrison. “We’ve added a visual display to show available live streams and the destinations to which those streams are routed. As a result, content suppliers can offer affiliates real-time selection of entitled live streams. Similarly, affiliates are able to choose where to route incoming live streams and both parties benefit from greater monitoring powers via proxy views, stream metrics and stream metadata, all accessible through the M2A Connect UI.” Another recent development has been the integration of live capture product M2A Capture with M2A Connect. “This allows broadcasters to centralise and control essential live video workflows,” says Harrison. “With the ability to transform live video streams into broadcastgrade VOD assets in minutes, M2A Capture creates frame-accurate digital assets from live SD, HD and 4K video, allowing viewers access to sports content on-demand rapidly after an event. M2A Capture also delivers assets in any number of profiles and formats ensuring content

is available to view on the range of devices that modern day sports fans expect.”

Harrison says M2A’s cloud video experts working with live streaming product M2A Live are aiming for “greater ease of use further upstream so that content scheduling and placement decisions can be instantly understood

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in terms of cost, resilience and appearance”. “Similarly, sports broadcasters are enjoying the greater control, simplicity and scalability afforded by the cloud,” he adds. “With M2A Connect we continue to iterate to give our users greater control of the setup and configuration of global video transport as we handover previously complex tasks to our UI. For years the standard set up time quoted for new connectivity has been 90 days; our aim is to get that down to minutes.”

that signal back to the remote Edge S1, receiving the return channel as either the program feed or another camera source. As the glass-to-glass latencies between the remote location and the studio are very low, this enables smooth, realtime dialogue between remote operators and in-studio talent.” Matrox has a busy 2021/2022 product roadmap. “We will be unveiling new, innovative ways to use IP to enhance live video production,” concludes Andrews. “These tools will be purpose-built for a hybrid world Matrox as the production world transitions to all-IP WAYNE ANDREWS environments. And, as always, our solutions SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER will continue to place a priority on multi-vendor Matrox technologies have interoperability by using open sources and played an integral part in a standards.” number of live sporting events Mavis Broadcast over the past year. “Our Matrox Monarch Edge PATRICK HOLROYD E4 encoders and D4 decoders, in particular, CEO have been used in some of the world’s premier sporting events, including this summer’s biggest “Our work on the European European football championship,” says senior Athletics Indoor Championships product manager Wayne Andrews. in March 2021 took a number “At the event, the Monarch devices were of feeds from the events and encoded them used to securely transport multiple streams into our cloud platform,” says Mavis Broadcast of HD video between the football venues and CEO Patrick Holroyd. “This gave three different the production studio, ultimately delivering broadcasters the capability to cut away from the broadcast-quality, multi-camera-angle world feed and create their own programming productions while minimising production costs using the Mavis Live platform.” by keeping production talent in-house. Similarly, a Monarch Edge-based platform was used to cover an internationally renowned motorsport automobile endurance race, helping transmit synchronised, multi-camera remote production video feeds between the racing circuit and the production studio over 1,000km away.” Product developments include introducing the Matrox Monarch Edge S1 in April to further enhance multi-camera remote production (REMI) workflows. “The Monarch Edge S1 An end-to-end solution, Mavis Live utilises the is a simultaneous encode/decode appliance power of the cloud to enable remote virtualised that enables additional REMI opportunities live production catering for both progressive by providing return feeds to off-site multi- and interlaced workflows. Boasting a full camera production crews and remote broadcast feature set, the inbuilt functionality contributors/collaborators for seamless studio includes vision and audio mixing, instant replay communications,” says Andrews. “Broadcasters and talkback. Mavis Live allowed a number of have already employed the solution for sports broadcasters to produce unilateral programming production workflows. to complement the integrated feed across the “[For example] a remote talent such as a four days of events. sports analyst equipped with a single highNot surprisingly given that Mavis Live quality SDI camera can use Monarch Edge S1 virtualises the live production workflow, Holroyd to send a high-quality feed to a second Edge S1 predicts that cloud technology is set to have the installed at the studio. Once the program feed biggest impact on sports production workflows. is ready, that same in-studio Edge S1 can send Speaking to SVG Europe at the time of the

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European Athletics Indoor Championships, Holroyd said Mavis Broadcast could take control of the entire feed production workflow to be able to reduce latency on the system to six to seven frames, using an underlying piece of technology developed by the company. The Mavis Live Streaming Protocol (MLSP) allows content to be connected in a Mavis-controlled ecosystem through the cloud, from and to the various end points, therefore removing latency from the workflow and ensuring more control and reliability for end users. All the kit in the system — from apps and interfaces, to a small encoder that clips to the back of cameras to encode video across the commercial internet with ultra-low latency — are connected back to the cloud via MLSP. Holroyd describes the ability to now work in higher frame rates as one of the company’s most important product developments. “We’re really excited about this as we think it opens up a host of possibilities,” he says. “We’ve got some exciting plans for how Mavis Live will evolve, including enhanced replays, additional inputs and additional frame rates. Watch this space!”

Media Links GILL PAYNE

MARKETING MANAGER

“Media Links has been providing Me dia over IP Transp or t Technology Solutions for the Olympics since 2004, always with an aim towards maximum signal fidelity and reliability at optimal bandwidth and cost efficiencies,” says the company’s marketing manager Gill Payne. “Our technology solutions were selected to provide the IP media transport and switching of hundreds of video, audio and data signals at the Tokyo Olympics IBC, as well as at studios and remote event venues during the Games; all while leveraging the interoperability of industry standards, supporting more and more remote production/distribution applications.” Media Links also continued its streak of SuperBowl appearances that date back to SuperBowl XLII in 2008. “Transporting everything from the main, highest value uncompressed video, graphic and data feeds to broadcasters across the globe, we provided reliable, high performance IP-based solutions for content transmission,” adds Payne. As network bandwidth as well as the demand for more multi-platform content increases, Payne says Media Links is addressing the market SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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with solutions that allow broadcasters and sports/entertainment producers to transport more synchronised media channels than ever before. “This includes our new generation MD8000-100G Edition for uncompressed or compressed video, audio and/or data over IP from remote sporting venues to distant production studios,” he says. “Media Links MDP3020 Max series of IP media gateways and edge devices are ideal for those sporting applications where economy, flexibility, lowlatency and high reliability is paramount. Our high-performance 100G switching solutions are already at the heart of some of the world’s most demanding networks.” “Media Links’ ProMD EMS system offers broadcasters a comprehensive tool for media network management, including service scheduling, operational monitoring, troubleshooting and so much more,” he adds. “This ensures network providers and broadcasters can maximise the efficiencies and workflows across their mission-critical, contribution quality media over IP networks. “Poised to debut is MetroXPRESS, a selfcontained, expandable/scalable turnkey IP over fibre system solution for transporting multi-media services across metropolitan or localised WANs,” he continues. “MetroXPRESS provides the ability to more easily and cost effectively transport/switch/control the highest contribution quality, real-time multimedia services across a regionalised IP network, optimised for carrier class performance.”

MediaKind CHRIS WILSON

PORTFOLIO DIRECTOR, SPORTS

MediaKind has supported the delivery of premium live sports coverage for Altice Portugal’s OT T service MEO, including the recent UEFA Euro 2020 tournament and the UEFA Champions League final in May 2021. “MEO leveraged MediaKind’s Video Storage and Processing Platform (VSPP) to reduce the end-to-end latency of its live streaming content and enhance the overall quality of its coverage for its customers in Portugal,” says Chris Wilson, portfolio director, sports at MediaKind. “The solution enabled MEO to deliver live content to consumers using ABR technology for OTT streaming, leading to a significantly improved viewing experience for all customers watching via Android TV.” 142

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MediaKind also supported NBC Olympics during Tokyo 2020. “MediaKind provided a range of its video processing and advanced modular receiver technologies to support NBC Olympics’ high-quality video distribution to millions of viewers,” says Wilson. “MediaKind’s specialist engineers assisted with the installation of equipment and set-up. The engineers were present on-site 24/7 to offer multi-site support throughout the event.”

MediaKind Engage, an end-to-end directto-consumer (DTC) solution was launched in 2021. “MediaKind Engage enables sports entities, broadcasters and content owners of all sizes to make a seamless transition to operating workflows in the cloud, providing a broadcast-grade framework that meets and exceeds today’s DTC market challenges around the quality of experience, ROI and commercialisation,” says Wilson. “Almost all 40 sports rightsholders analysed in MediaKind’s 2021 Sports D2C Forecast regarded DTC platforms as an essential part of their future distribution strategy for live sports and building direct touchpoints with fans.” Also new is AI-based compression technology (ACT). “ACT is an intelligent compression algorithm that enables significant operational and performance improvements. Using AI MediaKind has developed a better way to analyse the nature of content that arrives at the encoder in real-time so that the processing resource can be driven towards the appropriate tools. AI is used to select the most effective balance of compression methods based on the nature of the content and maps how the encoder uses its processing resources accordingly. This process is possible for both traditional linear and ABR encoding and transcoding,” Wilson explains. “MediaKind’s focus for the next six months will be expanding the capabilities of the MediaKind Engage platform, enabling all content owners and channel originators to develop impactful DTC offerings to their audiences.”

Mo-Sys MIKE GRIEVE

COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR

“In March 2021, at the SVG Europe Sports Graphics Spotlight, Mo-Sys launched StarTracker Sports Studio, in collaboration with Hyper Studios, leaders in cloud broadcast graphics,” says Mike Grieve, the company’s commercial director. “This is a unique integrated real-time graphics solution for sports presentation and production that combines a complete virtual production system, based on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, with a state-of-theart HTML5 sports graphics system.”

Also new, designed and manufactured during the lockdown period, the U50 is a heavy-duty remote head that enables camera operators to safely operate the biggest box lenses and heaviest broadcast camera set-ups remotely yet with the same precision and agility as when they are controlled manually and on-site. “Driven by the pandemic requirements, there has been a rapid rise in the use of augmented and extended reality for the coverage of sporting events,” says Grieve. “Due to the inherent advantages of this type of technology, we see this demand continuing to rise even as the social distancing restrictions ease, particularly in the use of set extensions (XR) and photorealistic AR graphics. “Recently, Plazamedia has announced its use for the augmented reality displays used for the coverage of the European Football Championship at MagentaTV,” he adds. “Plazamedia has been using the Mo-Sys StarTracker camera tracking technology for years, having been the first beta user of the technology and instrumental in its development. Now in the process of setting up LED volumes with Mo-Sys VP Pro XR software, Plazamedia continues to be a pioneering partner.” “R ac e c o ur s e M e dia G ro up (R MG) commissioned a new high-end virtual studio, set up with the help of Timeline and Moov, to help SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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take its horse-racing TV coverage to the next level,” continues Grieve. “Mo-Sys StarTracker systems are in use, helping to make what is physically a small studio appear large thanks to its wide degree field of view, which enables it to cope with challenging camera angles.” Looking forward, Grieve says Mo-Sys will continue to develop its range of image robotics, technologies for remote production and advanced VP workflows.

available just recently, which makes it a complete remote production tool.” Bais says that before 2020 the company was focused mainly on sports games, but this has now evolved into other sports such as horse racing and cycling. Looking forward he sees AI, VR and AR as all having a major impact. “AI will open up live streaming to sports clubs who can easily create their own OTT channel and raise money through sponsorship and subscription without a massive Mobile Viewpoint amount of resource or expertise,” he says. “We MICHEL BAIS also see a massive requirement for video capture MANAGING DIRECTOR to feed into analytical packages for coaches and “Mobile Viewpoint, via its AI trainers.” brand of IQ Video Solutions, MOOV has been developing sports LAURIE BEAMONT production platforms that do not require camera HEAD OF GRAPHICS & BUSINESS people,” says Michel Bais, managing director DEVELOPMENT at the company, which was recently acquired by Vislink. “Through the power of AI, our aim “We’ve been working with IMG is not to put camera people out of a job, but to on European football coverage enable lower tier sports and clubs to live stream for CBS Sports over the past year, which has professional productions that in the past were been a challenging but tremendously rewarding unaffordable.” project for us. The team have re-written the rule “We are working with OTT providers who have book when it comes to goal wrap shows,” says purchased media rights such as Solidsport,” he Moov’s Laurie Beamont, head of graphics & adds. “By utilising our AI driven IQ-SP platform, business development. Solidsport will be able to create and live stream “The CBS Champions League Golazo Show professional sports productions without the need has really demanded more from us in terms of of a cameraperson or onsite director.” the graphical content required. We rose to the Through this partnership, Solidsport will be challenge, which culminated in a Europa League the exclusive partner to Mobile Viewpoint to version for Matchday 6, which was a five-hour install and serve the company’s AI cameras in broadcast covering 24 matches and 67 goals. the Nordic region. We had to redevelop a number of key systems to allow us to operate such a busy show over such a long duration practically, with the viewer not being able to notice the difference. The shows themselves are very reactionary, we can only really know where we’ll be for the first minute of action and then we just have to follow the action around Europe. Being able to recall line-up information or match stats for any fixture at any time is the key here to ensure that the broadcast is as immersive as possible.” In the past year Mobile Viewpoint has introduced a new entry-level platform called IQ-Club. “It’s really aimed at grassroots sports at a price point to match,” says Bais. “It enables them to monetise their own games — the days of being forced to sell hot dogs to fund clubs could become a thing of the past. We have also introduced an analytical layer that works at the same time as the broadcast features, while Beamont observers that while the use of remote commentary is another feature we made data in sports broadcasts has been around 144

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for decades, it seems to continually grow and progress. “A number of vendors and data providers are developing new ways of capturing interesting metrics that help tell a wider story in all forms of sports,” he says. “This can be through deeper data analysis or through player tracking, for example. Our challenge is to develop ways of displaying this complex information in a clear and concise way that audiences can grasp quickly and improve their understanding of certain situations.” Moov has also been developing its core product set this year. “Constellation is a suite of tools that allow for data management (Aquarius), operation playout (Orion), social media curation (Phoenix) and cloud-based rendering (Gemini), which all have an aim of simplifying the graphics process in both a live and post-production capacity,” he says. “Orion, in particular, has been enhanced to perform deeper and more sophisticated queries, allowing us to drill deeper into our data sets and pick out information that really supplements the action.” Moov is now planning to launch a virtual studio facility in London in partnership with another company.

Motion Impossible ROB DREWETT CEO

“The Agito hasn’t stopped working during the pandemic, if anything it has been busier than ever! Some of our key sports production highlights include Le Mans, ATP Tennis, athletics, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, DFL and many more,” says Motion Impossible CEO Rob Drewett, talking about the company’s remote camera platform. “The Le Mans broadcasting is a really good example that brings out the best of what the Agito is capable of doing.

“The event attracted over 63 million spectators in 57 countries at a time when COVID restrictions did not allow for travel or audience being on site. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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However, they were still able to watch fabulous coverage of the race as a result of Nova Grip choosing to operate Agito Sports to support the broadcast and help capture the action with neverbefore-seen live footage shots. These included low shots and in-between car shots, impossible to shoot with a camera operator.” Earlier this year, the company launched Nova, new firmware which introduces repeatable movements to the Agito arsenal and provides a more ergonomic and streamlined UI for the Agito’s remote control. “The introduction of repeatable moves mode adds a powerful new capability into the Agito toolkit in both free-roaming and track operation, which is very appealing to sports, providing five memory banks of three minutes each,” says Drewett. “The newly unified UI includes a dark mode, the ability to quickly switch between Sports, Trax and Repeatable Moves mode, real-time speed feedback to show how fast the system is moving, additional control mapping, enhanced Tower controls, as well as advanced steering modes, including steering angle hold for the perfect circle without track. These are all properties that enhance capturing sport footage.” Drewett believes there are growing trends for “more AR, a reduced number of cameras, increased camera mobility enabling more creative freedom for camera choreography during set plays or during various stages of play”. “Another significant trend we see is the need for more flexibility and modularity for camera setups and configurations in sports/athletics stadiums, ice-skating arenas, golf courses and race tracks,” he says. “Between now and NAB 2022, we will be focusing on more automation, enhanced safety, increased intelligence and new drive-ends for different environments and production scenarios.”

Movicom Update supplied by the SVG Europe News Team

At the Sony PS5 Supercoppa Italiana 2021 football tournament in January, Movicom was contracted to provide specialty cameras to cover the pitch from above. The rematch between Serie A champions Juventus and Coppa Italia winners Napoli was played at Mapei Stadium — Città del Tricolore in Italy. As a services provider for the Supercoppa Italiana 2021, Movicom was asked to provide its Robyline point-to-point system to fly over the 146

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football pitch, and it was used mostly for the match replays. Robyline is a classic point-to-point robotic cable camera. Fast acceleration and a speed of 16mps make it suitable for panoramic shots and dynamic high-speed coverage. The new system is built around Movicom’s modern direct-drive R3 gyro-stabilised headline. Video and data transmission is delivered via RF with no signal loss, even at very long distances. The year also saw Up Films Imagen Aerea bring Robycam to Spain, after TVE network introduced a new morning show with a different feel that required new production options. The producers of La Hora de la 1 and Up Films needed a system that would provide production value in the small space of Prado del Rey’s existing Studio 1 and also would not take up a lot of room. Despite its smaller size, the system has full positional tracking and camera data compatibility with all major augmented reality graphics systems, like Vizrt which is what TVE chose to use for La Hora de la 1. This combination allows not only preset moves in the studio space which can be repeated and intercut with regularity, but also any kind of AR graphics can be ‘dropped’ into the 3D space of the studio to enhance the visual environment.

NativeWaves CHRISTOF HASLAUER CEO AND FOUNDER

“The disruption of live sporting events due to the pandemic has had a severe impact on our productions. With the new seasons of various sporting events starting again, we are back working with broadcasters to deliver an enhanced user experience using the NativeWaves technology,” says CEO Christof Haslauer. “In June 2021, we conducted a trial in partnership with ProSieben Sat 1 and delivered a multiview experience of the German Touring Cars races (DTM) from Monza, Italy, to ProSieben Sat 1 viewers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Prosieben Sat 1 viewers could access this trial by scanning a QR code broadcast on television during the race using their mobile device and they were taken to Prosieben’s website (www.ran.de) where they could access different camera angles and live data from the race, in perfect sync with the broadcast. Despite being a trial, and having no marketing around it, we received very good viewer participation. We

also got very useful usage data which has given us an insight into what the viewer wants to see.”

NativeWaves used the quiet period caused by the pandemic to redesign and refine its product. “We conducted a detailed analysis and refined the pain points that our customers had with adopting our technology,” says Haslauer. “We devised a new hybrid approach that uses a combination of native and web-based solutions to deliver dynamic user experiences to viewers. This approach helped us overcome the challenges that a pure native solution had thrown up while making it much easier for broadcasters to adopt the NativeWaves solution. Best of all, the new approach allows us to dynamically make changes to the user experience, based on usage data, in the midst of an event. “We also developed a pure web-based solution to deliver a multiview experience from live events. This solution delivers multiple streams of video, audio, video and data in perfect sync with each other and with the main broadcast,” he adds. “Since September 2020, we have fine-tuned our low-latency streaming solution and added much higher efficiencies to ensure that the multiview solutions we deliver work in the most challenging situations. Our R&D and development teams continue to work to ensure that our customers are able to deliver the best possible experiences to their customers.

Ncam MIKE RUDDELL

GLOBAL DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

“The past year for Ncam has revolved around t wo key themes, product and partnerships,” says Mike Ruddell, global director of business development. “On the product front, we hit a huge milestone with the release of our Ncam Reality Mk2 product line. This has simplified camera tracking operations, giving creative and editorial teams maximum flexibility and control SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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over their output. At the same time, we maintain our key differentiator of enabling production in any physical space without the need for a calibrated environment.” “To further reduce the barrier to entry and give customers at all levels the flexibility they demand, our commercial offering has also been overhauled, which has been very well received across all markets and verticals,” he adds. “Partnerships also remain a crucial part of who we are, and on the software front we continue to deepen and update integration with longstanding graphics partners as well as further proving the benefits of working with rapidly developing game engines. As we’ve all seen, shooting on LED stages has now crossed over from film into sports production, and through our technology partnerships we hope to have some exciting developments in this space.” “We’ve seen great uptake both with existing customers upgrading and new ones coming forward,” continues Ruddell. “Sporting events have been thin on the ground until very recently, so we’re really looking forward to seeing what customers can bring to the screen and supporting their ambitions.”

NEP Group MEREDITH KNIGHT

DIGITAL AND CONTENT MARKETING MANAGER

“This year, NEP UK launched its brand new NEP Production Centre — London,” says Meredith Knight, digital and content marketing manager. “The centre is designed to be flexible in every way — with easily adaptable workspaces, quickly scalable resources and virtual studio solutions — allowing it to adapt to the needs of almost any type of broadcast or streaming production on any given day.

“The NEP Production Centre — London includes spaces that can be configured for control rooms, edit, reversioning, sub-cut, media management, vision control/shading, and production galleries, including three production control rooms, two sound control rooms, three multi-functional production spaces, nine flexible 148

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control rooms, a flexible green screen studio capable of utilising NEP’s virtual studio solutions, as well as a temporary equipment room suitable for housing any required equipment.” Conveniently located with easy access to public transportation and several major airports, the space is in close proximity to London’s many media institutions and infrastructure. The building includes reception, atrium, break-out space and two meeting areas. According to Knight, the facility’s central location and diverse 100Gb connections, combined with NEP’s extensive connectivity capabilities, allows NEP to provide fully managed connectivity solutions. “Using fibre, BT Tower, or satellite, it can link to any location in the UK and a growing number of locations in Europe, North America and around the globe,” she says. “Additionally, as part of NEP’s AnyLive network, it is permanently connected to over 250 event venues in the UK and Ireland. NEP can also provide any of its in-house connectivity assets, including SNGs, hybrid satellite/fibre vehicles, satellite flyaway systems and more.”

Net Insight PER LINDGREN CTO

This year Net Insight announced the successful implementation of the world’s first 100GE IP Media Trust Boundary for the delivery of an uncompressed IP playout solution to Red Bee Media. “It included the first deployment of Net Insight’s new Media Pro Application, a fully programmable, adaptable and scalable foundation for handling high data volumes of ST-2022 and ST-2110 IP video, audio and data for the most demanding live events and production workflows,” says Net Insight CTO Per Lindgren. “Our cloud-based Nimbra Edge solution used for flexible production of sports during COVID times now has integration into large cloud production systems such as GV AMPP and Simplylive. Nimbra Edge provides operational simplicity and supports both full-time and occasional use advantages.” Net Insight’s cloud solution helped SRF to power the FIS Alpine Ski World Championship 2021 in Cortina in February. “SRF, the Swiss broadcaster and business unit of SRG SSR, had originally planned to have 80 people onsite during the event but had to change its plans last minute due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” recalls Lindgren. “SRF had tested Nimbra Edge

for some time and went live using it for three unilateral mix-zone production feeds during the FIS Ski World Cup Women in Crans-Montana in January. One week later the government decided to name the region of Veneto a risk zone. SRF decided to change the concept and sent only a project manager and 12 journalists to Cortina, without any technical staff at all. As the field test in Crans-Montana was successful they were confident about Net Insight’s solution and decided to select Nimbra Edge to broadcast the whole championship.” “During Euro 2020 many of our customers, such as SVT, Globecast and SRF were involved in producing and distributing the tournament to viewers all over the globe,” adds Lindgren. Looking forward, the company plans full ST-2110 support with ultra-low latency JPEG-XS compression for T1 productions over 10G/100G IP WAN, and full cloud production workflow with integrated contribution and primary distribution over internet and cloud.

Never.no ALEX HUMPHRIES-FRENCH HEAD OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS

“We’ve been working with a range of top-flight football clubs in the EPL and Australia’s A-League,” says Alex Humphries-French, head of marketing and communications at Never.no. “Following the start of the 2020/2021 season, clubs such as Manchester City have produced broadcast shows streamed across their social platforms to connect fans beyond the stadium and across the globe. Pre-match and reaction shows place fans at the centre of the live offering and entice viewers to share their reactions in the form of comments, images and videos via social media.”

“Our cloud-based engagement platform Bee-On enables producers to access and source social content, edit and moderate, and publish live as dynamic graphic overlays during each show. Live polls have also featured heavily, with Bee-On aggregating results from across multiple platforms consolidated to one live result SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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displayed within graphic overlays,” he adds. “The dynamic visuals included L-graphic, tickers and full-screen graphics — created by Never. no and managed by Bee-On — and delivered new inventory for branded content, including rotating sponsors and ads offering deals on merchandise and wide-ranging campaigns. The seamless integration of advertising fulfilled the club’s sponsor and partnership commitments beyond the empty stadiums, setting up more opportunities for the return of fans and to a global fanbase. “BT Sport has used Bee-On extensively for live watch-alongs, weigh-ins and cup draws, to support its premium WWE, UFC, boxing and Champions League coverage. We’ve also seen the likes of Wimbledon, Sky Sports and Optus producing live interactive shows with audience-generated content at the centre of their offering.” Bee-On has introduced updates including access to more social media channels such as Twitch, and integration with messaging platforms WhatsApp and Telegram. “The Twitch update gives producers the tools to access and select live viewer reaction and content to be featured, alongside other sourced social, in streamed or broadcast shows — making live coverage more accessible and interactive for a wider audience,” Humphries-French says. “There are many opportunities to monetise content for rights holders, clubs and sponsors. We’ve got some exciting new activations coming, with our own onboard graphics soon to be added to productions ranging from singleplatform streams to international television broadcasters. We’re currently mapping out a totally new user interface for Bee-On, making it even more intuitive and easier to navigate. Combined with this, we have some exciting new content integrations and are even exploring new datasets to help our growing customer base to present increasingly complex, data-driven graphics.”

NTT Electronics Europe MARCO FABI

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

“This year we have released our new flagship HC32000 family,” says NTT business development manager Marco Fabi. “It comprises a multichannel encoder and decoder with a channel density that can reach four HD HEVC/H.264 or two 4K channels.” 150

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With a built in dual power supply, the devices support BISS-1 encryption as well as the latest scrambling protocol, BISS-2/CA, to guarantee the highest security of the stream. They offer maximum 64-channel audio to support multilanguage transmission. Selectable audio formats include MPEG-1 Layer II encoding and SMPTE 302M, and Dolby E pass-through. The 1RU encoders were used during Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics (mainly for 4K), while the latter event also saw customers use the HC11000 multi-channel encoder for 4K and high dynamic range sports coverage for both 4K and HD using ultra low delay, and the MV7000 compact IP encoder/decoder for HD with ultralow delay. The company’s products have also been deployed on Formula 1 “With our new firmware, which will be released in October 2021, we’ll increase the density of our HC32000,” says Fabi. “In fact, we’ll support up to eight HD channels with low latency.” Observing the market and technology trends, Fabi believes that as well as remote production playing a major role, 5G and low latency will also be key in the evolution of sport production.

Panasonic GUILHEM KRIER

HEAD OF NEW BUSINESS & MARKET DEVELOPMENT

“Our most important product developments this year have been Kairos, our IT/IP-centric live video production platform, and the AK-UC3300 4K studio camera system,” says Guilhem Krier, head of new business and market development at Panasonic Broadcast & ProAV.

complete input and output flexibility, resolution and format independence, maximum CPU/ GPU processor utilisation and virtually unlimited scalability through unlimited layers that users can freely create and move around.” The AK-UC3300 is a studio camera system equipped with a S35mm MOS 4K sensor to deliver high-quality video and a large 11MP 4K image sensor. A built-in optical conversion lens allows standard 2/3-type B4 mount lenses to be used and HDR and ITU-R BT.2020 wide colour range is supported. Krier identifies the transition to IP, live streaming and the adoption of VR/AR as key technology trends shaping sports production workflows in 2021, and Panasonic has seen a lot of interest in at least two of these from the esports world this year. For example, Mediapro used Kairos to produce coverage of eLaLiga Santander, the official tournament of FIFA 21 in Spain. According to Panasonic, the IT/IP video processing platform was chosen for the esports production because it was ideally suited to the workflow designed for the esports tournament: during the pandemic, players compete from home with remote camera feeds, as well as inputs from two separate studio productions, all flowing directly into the Kairos system. The output is then broadcast into various platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. Six Panasonic AW-UE150 PTZ cameras, an AW-RP150 controller and a Tuning rail system with an elevated column were deployed via ES Broadcast for FaceIt when the gaming platform staged its Flashpoint Season 2 tournament for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at Twickenham Stadium in London. The Panasonic UE150 cameras and Tuning system fitted perfectly in the environment because they didn’t require proprietary cables and could be controlled from a simple IP network.

Phabrix PRINYAR BOON PRODUCT MANAGER

“Phabrix has worked closely on-site with the team at BT Sport in Stratford as they prepared for both the 2021 UEFA Champions League final in Porto and the 2021 UEFA Europa League final in Gdansk; two very high profile HDR/SDR productions with very different workflows in “Kairos offers an open software architecture the space of a few days,” says Prinyar Boon, system for live video switching. It delivers Phabrix product manager. “Phabrix supported SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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BT Sport, providing its Qx rasterisers and technical expertise, as they adapted and refined their single-stream HDR/SDR workflows for the two games amid various COVID-related travel restrictions.”

Sponsor Update

Pixellot

Pixotope YOSSI TARABLUS

ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT MARKETING

“The closed venues and loss of gate revenue has put teams, leagues and federations at a loss. Pixellot’s AI-automated solutions are being widely deployed as the cure,” says Yossi Tarablus, associate vice president marketing at Pixellot. “In the case of Major League Baseball, MLB’s Appalachian League will install Pixellot systems at 17 venues to capture, produce and live stream all games and practices. The historic Appalachian League functions as a collegiate summer league and is part of the Major League Baseball and USA “For these events, the host broadcasters Baseball Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP).” produced their content in HLG whereas BT Sport HDR Ultimate productions have routinely been produced in S-log3/SR-live with a PQ HDR deliverable,” continues Boon. “This singlestream PQ HDR deliverable was down-mapped to provide the main SDR feed for the BT Sport HD channels. For the Champions League final this also provided the feed for the SDR coverage available on YouTube.” A further complication was that the host’s GV cameras were used for the match coverage but the BT Sport teams on site and in the UK use Sony cameras, so there had to be a seamless intercut between the different camera HDR productions, as well as guaranteeing that the SDR deliverable, down-mapped in the UK, matched the intent of “In Scotland, every second-division Scottish all the camera shaders. A presentation gallery Professional Football League match will be was constructed in Stratford operating in HLG broadcast internationally with a fully remote and mixers in the Porto truck were configured production in 2021 via Pixellot cameras, while in to automatically follow the decisions of the main Ireland, LOITV will stream all football matches gallery desks in Stratford. across the SSE Airtricity First Division and the “The closed-loop shading single-stream SSE Airtricity Women’s National League in the workflow that is now routine for BT Sport 2021 season,” he adds. EPL and UEFA coverage was extended “In England, Pitchero, the sports network internationally to track the host SDR for running clubs online, announced that production,” says Boon. “We believe this is the it was teaming up with Pixellot to promote world’s first example of a distributed single- and integrate Pixellot’s video into its allstream HDR/SDR production.” encompassing platform for clubs, teams, Boon says Phabrix has an intense six-month leagues and associations.” release roadmap for its Qx Series of rasterisers. Tarablus continues: “In South Africa, “We are continually developing these products Supersport together with Nashua partnered and can assure our customers that they are with Pixellot to broadcast games as part of a high investing in the right platform; the roadmap and school sports network to serve athletes, families, rate of innovation is a very important factor to coaches and scouts throughout Africa, while in them,” he says. “Our upcoming releases adds Poland, Pixellot, eWinner and Sportize joined Dolby E Decode, a host of advanced ST-2110 forces to bring live sports to fans around the IP features, PCAP tools and enhanced remote country beginning with eWinner II liga, Poland’s capabilities and improvements to our already third division football league with more than 250 comprehensive video analysis toolset.” games scheduled for next season.” 152

SAM LEADSOM

VICE PRESIDENT, GLOBAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, SPORTS

“Two highlights of the year were Pixotope supporting SBS Korea’s Olympic coverage with their virtual set in Korea, and in North America we partnered with CBS Sports to provide augmented reality graphics for their Superbowl coverage in 2020,” says Pixotope vice president, global business development, Sports, Sam Leadsom. “Pixotope’s involvement was key in helping deliver an ambitious live mixed reality production of the All-Time team sequence to celebrate 100 seasons of the NFL. The complex, seven-minute production combined live action from multiple moving cameras with augmented virtual stages and graphics.”

“One of the takeaways from 2020 has been the clear acceleration of the adoption of mixed reality and virtual production methods and technologies, not only in media production but also for corporate events, communication and big data visualisations,” he adds. “Broadcasters and content creators are beginning to adopt the same tools and methodology to create a natural bridge to new media as they become viable products in the future. The key driver is to win back younger audiences, and they believe and hope that combining the emotional impact of watching live sports with the interactive, individualised, social and programmable aspects of online media will go a long way to achieving that. This is where the true power of mixed reality and virtual production come into their own right, and the financial incentives and technological advancements have reached a point where this seems inevitable.” According to Leadsom, data and data-driven ideas will continue to advance and drive sports productions. “Content needs to appear fresh to viewers and be easily shared and distributed on multiple platforms and mediums. In the current age, content must have varying degrees of interactivity too,” he says. “We have had a SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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very busy first six months of 2021, so you can expect to see Pixotope continue to provide new workflow tools that enhance the user experience for XR productions, as well as building on our established AR and VS technologies.”

RaceTech JOHN BOZZA

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Sponsor Update

“We will continue to evolve our operational and disaster recovery planning as government and sports regulation evolves through the next stage of the pandemic. Undoubtedly the way live events are captured and broadcast will continue to adapt and evolve. We will also continue to innovate and add value for rightsholders to ensure horse racing is at the forefront of sports broadcasting.”

“A huge focus has been on Reality Check Solutions maintaining service delivery MIKE WARD for our racing stakeholders and MANAGING DIRECTOR, EMEA rightsholders during the pandemic. We have “In the first half of this year we successfully kept our sport on-air during what worked with the creative team has been one of the most challenging times the world has seen in recent memory,” says RaceTech at DFL to deliver a complete CEO John Bozza. “This has changed the way we on-air graphics suite for all Bundesliga and operate in many areas, including a greater degree 2. Bundesliga domestic and international of remote production and home working. rightsholders. This is the third Vizrt package we have built for DFL in a partnership lasting almost a decade,” says Reality Check Solutions (RCS) MD Mike Ward. “We also delivered an innovative graphics and data solution which QTV Media deployed seamlessly across multiple workflows as part of its transformative broadcast “We were delighted to sign a long-term production and distribution partnership with extension with the BHA for archive and remote the Scottish Professional Football League. The ingest and access services as well as several new cloud-based Singular platform allows QTV racecourse contracts for the race day services we to provide outstanding overlays both on-site excel in providing.” and remotely at low cost and with no specialist RaceTech played a leading role in the live graphics hardware or operators. In advance of broadcast of both the Cheltenham Festival and the 2021-22 season we have added enhanced the Grand National Festival, providing pictures functionality, new features and comprehensive to satellite and terrestrial channels using Vislink data integration using our RCS COBB control radio link equipment. Working with Racing TV application and RCS Foundation, our cloud(RTV) for the two festivals, RaceTech partnered based data service.” with Vislink to supply remote race cameras and radio cameras to capture the detail and drama in horse races across the country. The pictures were broadcast live on RTV, Sky Sports Racing and ITV Racing. The company also played a major part in facilitating the live broadcast of Royal Ascot, taking place under the UK government’s phased events trial. RaceTech’s teams were well RCS was well-placed to support clients equipped to provide enhanced footage, with its flagship outside broadcast unit OB10 supported through COVID-19 challenges. “We have by a second OB unit to service the Hong Kong focused on offering flexible products and Jockey Club. services that can be deployed quickly and In terms of tech trends observed this year, cost-effectively,” explains Ward. “RCS COBB, Bozza highlights “the ability to remotely a hybrid cloud-desktop application which access and operate many aspects of the on-site controls graphics on multiple platforms, has production equipment. In addition, we’ve seen evolved into a key pillar of this agile approach camera enhancements such as the in-field photo — its bespoke interface allows an operator to finish and 360º parade ring cameras. generate multiple, data-driven graphics outputs 154

on Singular, Viz Engine and Ross XPression simultaneously.” Ward recognises two technology trends impacting the industry: remote production and cloud. “RCS has been a pioneer of remote production workflows for the best part of a decade, most notably in providing a fully managed and supported service to ESPN Netherlands since 2013,” he says. “[For cloud] we contribute unparalleled expertise in Singular complemented by our cloud-based RCS Foundation data service and RCS COBB. Clients such as Sky Germany and DAZN have expanded the role Singular plays in their production workflows, encouraged by its low cost, high flexibility and the potential it offers to create more content more quickly with fewer people.” Ward expects to bring in new talent to join the RCS team both in the UK and US. “We are proud of the fact that we have not furloughed any staff during the COVID-19 pandemic — the whole team has overcome the challenges of working remotely to continue to support our clients,” he concludes.

Red Bee Media STEVE RUSSELL

CHIEF PRODUCT OFFICER

“Live event distribution is part of Red Bee’s DNA and we c o nt in u o u s l y d e li ve r amazing live sports moments to local and global audiences. But if I’d have to choose one highlight, it would be Extreme E, the all-electric racing circuit aiming to bring attention to the dire effects of climate change,” says Steve Russell, chief product officer at Red Bee Media. “Red Bee is supporting Extreme E with live event services and global distribution for linear and digital feeds, to make sure audiences around the world can enjoy high-voltage racing action from some of the earth’s most remote locations. Being a part of the delivery of the inaugural race in Saudi Arabia and the subsequent one in Senegal has just been fantastic. The co-operation between Red Bee, our partners and Extreme E has pushed our respective capabilities to the extreme and we are looking forward to the upcoming races.” In terms of products the company has launched an IP-based MCR facility. “This has been a gamechanger in terms of our ability to acquire, manage and deliver live feeds and events around the planet,” says Russell. “This new capability will underpin many of our forthcoming innovations in the live sports space.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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events and other premier sports competitions, this power ful, one - of-a - kind remote communications and signal transmission hub provides centralised proactive monitoring of multiple channels of video, audio, telemetry and other data, and even remote control of systems and networks. Staffed 24/7 by a professional technical team and connected globally by a carrier-grade SDN backbone, the ROC offers an “We’re seeing a rapid evolution of distribution efficient, scalable, reliable and flexible option for channels across direct-to-consumer, social and remote operation services supporting the entire syndicated rights, where access to granular production chain.” data is shaping how live sports is produced and delivered,” he adds. “Data and analytics are informing the way sports producers and rights owners measure and adapt to viewing patterns and audience behaviours. Red Bee’s services enable the gathering and aggregating of this data and we continuously support our customers as they evolve and pivot towards data-driven sports production strategies.” Russell is positive about the direction in the future. “For Red Bee it is all about continuing to Not surprising then is the technology trend translate our hard-won experience in delivering Bockskopf feels is doing the most to shape sports complex live broadcasts into innovation across production workflows: “These past few months new distribution channels,” he says. “As we have shown what can be achieved with remote continue to evolve our services and deliver services — and the great advantages they operational excellence, we step our game up bring: time savings through simpler logistics through software-based innovation, making the and less travel, as well as a smaller carbon most of our hybrid cloud setup.” footprint. Because they have evolved to address the mounting technical challenges of today’s Riedel Communications sporting and entertainment events, remote CHRISTIAN BOCKSKOPF services are here to stay,” he says. “Leveraging HEAD OF MARKETING our ROC, along with our technology portfolio A c c o r d i n g t o C h r i s t i a n and solutions from trusted partner suppliers, we Bockskopf, head of marketing will continue to push the envelope in providing at Riedel, the 36th America’s innovative turnkey solutions for remote Cup presented by Prada was a tremendous production workflows.” demonstration of Riedel hardware and software Ross Video technologies. “Managed by an on-site team STUART G RUSSELL in Auckland, New Zealand, with extensive COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR monitoring and engineering support from our Remote Operations Center (ROC) in “Piero, Ross Video’s sports Wuppertal, Germany, we delivered a dynamic graphics analysis solution, was 360º concept for coverage: live TV production, widely used by international event infrastructure and race management,” broadcasters during this year’s Euro 2020 he explains. “Provided for the event by host tournament and helped bring a new highly visual broadcast partner circle-o, this innovative dimension to sports coverage for audiences,” approach and comprehensive technical according to the company’s commercial director infrastructure brought coverage of this thrilling Stuart Russell. competition to life for sailing fans. “In terms of production integration, we’ve “The award-winning Riedel ROC has recently announced two new solutions called transformed the way live sports events are Ultrix Acuity and Ultrix Carbonite. Ultrix is produced,” he adds. “For America’s Cup, the a routing and AV processing platform that German Bundesliga, high-profile motorsports packs an amazing amount of functionality 156

Sponsor Update

into a modest chassis and can collapse racks of traditional infrastructure into a small number of rack units. By combining both the Acuity flagship production switcher and the Carbonite midsize switcher with Ultrix, Ross has created two new hyper-converged production platforms which integrate a production switcher with routing, clean/quiet switching, multiviewers, trays of frame syncs and audio embedders/ de-embedders — all solutions that normally fill multiple equipment racks — and compress everything down into either a 2RU or 5RU chassis.

“The flexible architecture of both solutions ensures that format and connectivity challenges simply disappear. They enable transition from HD to 4K UHD with a simple software licence and SDI and IP sources can be mixed in the same frame transparently. The sophisticated tie-line management tools are used to incorporate the system into a larger distributed routing fabric. In addition, both can become one node of a larger distributed routing environment, reducing the incremental cost of adding I/O and further production switchers.” Russell also reports that Servus TV, which is owned by Red Bull Media House in Salzburg, is one of the first customers to adopt Ross’ Extended Reality (XR) virtual graphics tool. “This offers a large array of LED displays which can completely surround the talent to create a 360º environment. It enables the talent to see rendered graphics in real time and react to them, unlike in a green screen studio,” says Russell. “Servus TV has been using XR to enhance the creativity of its sports coverage, especially F1 and football, and it has been using Voyager to power its studio. This is Ross Video’s hyper-realistic graphics rendering solution that is based on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. I’m convinced we’ll see more sports broadcasters and venues taking advantage of XR because of the creativity and amazing visuals it can offer.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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RT Software LUKE HARRISON

TECHNICAL PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER

“T he de laye d Euro 2 0 2 0 tournament saw a lot of use of both our solutions for analysis graphics and AR by new customers,” says RT Software’s technical product marketing manager Luke Harrison. “LNK Lithuania used our Tactic Product for its live studio show where presenters were able to select clips of interest and add graphics for tactical explanations from a touchscreen while on camera. The ability to customise the touchscreen interface provided tools on both sides of the screen for two presenters to control clips and add graphics during discussions. With our Sports AR solution, they were able to bring virtual graphics such as player stats, results and tables into the studio, all of course driven by external data sources.” L’Equipe TV in France also used Tactic for presenter-led touch applications. “Rather than relying on a large touchscreen, its presenters controlled Tactic from an iPad,” Harrison says. “TRT in Turkey used Tactic Pro to create more complex analysis including effects such as morphing between two different camera angles and using camera tracking to measure metrics such as shot speed.”

Aside from analysis graphics, RT also has a big presence in VR and AR for sports productions. “Sail GP uses our Swift Studio solution for an immersive studio show with virtual studio backgrounds and AR graphics in the foreground,” says Harrison. “During the race, it uses live tracking data to add graphics to a live shot from the helicopter. Graphics such as boat identifiers are added to the boats, while distance markers, boundary and finish lines are added on to the surface of the water greatly enhancing the viewer experience.” One of the reasons Tactic is so popular with customers is its ease of use, allowing operators to turn around graphic sequences quickly, believes Harrison. 158

Sponsor Update

“Towards the end of last year, we released an important update to Tactic Pro, version 5.4 which introduced artificial intelligence and machine learning. It can now automatically detect players and their motion paths in the clip and all operators need do is to drag a graphic on to the player for it to automatically follow. This kind of functionality has been tried before, but with machine learning, our customers tell us that this is the first time that they have seen it really working well.”

Salsa Sound ROB OLDFIELD CEO

“A year on from September 2020 we have just launched our MIXaiR AI-driven automated mixing tool for live sports,” says Rob Oldfield, CEO at Salsa Sound. “It builds on our existing AI technology to provide a holistic automated audio mixer in the cloud or on premises.” Salsa was first in the US to do virtual crowd sound when CBS used its vCROWD touchscreen app for the NWSL Challenge cup content, the first sport to return in the US. “Traction with vCROWD has grown significantly since then owing to its ease of use and deployment, and it has been a pleasure to serve the broadcast industry in this difficult season by offering an easy-to-use, intuitive virtual crowd creator/ player,” says Oldfield. Used extensively by Manchester City FC and by Vista WorldLink for its MLS and USL coverage in the US, vCROWD was also used by CBS for college football content and men’s and women’s basketball, and by the Big10 Network to provide virtual crowd sound for all its college football and basketball. “It was good for our guys to get their hands dirty with a lot of audio editing — creating high-quality, team-specific sample banks across multiple sports, so that the virtual crowd sounded as realistic as possible,” he adds. Salsa has also been the audio partner on the UK government-funded 5G Edge-XR project with BT, Condense Reality and others looking at facilitating live XR experiences for live broadcast on consumer devices. “We are using our AI audio analysis engine to detect and extract all of the interesting sound sources in the space so they can be panned/manipulated appropriately to enable a custom/personalised rendering for viewers. It’s an exciting and cutting-edge project with great technology, exactly the kind of thing

we love to get our teeth into at Salsa!” enthuses Oldfield. “Over the next six months we will be expanding our AI automated mixing to new sports and use cases. We also have some great projects in the pipeline to help automate some processes around highlight/replay production and we have some cool new AI audio stuff coming too.”

SES ED COX

VICE PRESIDENT, SALES NORTH AMERICA AND SPORTS & EVENTS

“A highlight this year was our par tnership with the International Judo Federation (IJF) for whom we act as the single-source, end-to-end provider of satellite distribution, FTP, metadata and archiving services,” says Ed Cox, vice president, sales North America and sports & events, SES. “For regular IJF events, we typically provide 9MHz capacity over Europe, Asia and the Americas and cover a single fight per event. For this year’s IJF World Championship held in Budapest, we provided three slots of 6MHz on Astra4A, AS5 and SES14 for global distribution of several simultaneous fights. We also recoded, edited and archived each fight on our SES 360 platform for takers to access the content at their convenience. SES also enabled IJF to have remote capabilities via our SES IP Switch streaming solution to ensure judo fans around the world had access to all the IJF action.” This latter solution was created in response to broadcasting challenges posed by the pandemic. “SES IP Switch is great for content owners and broadcasters seeking additional options to satellite distribution, fibre networks, redundancy or proprietary transport solutions. The IP Switch combines complementary technologies with self-booking options, a strong service layer, live monitoring, 24/7 NOC and add-ons to enhance the management and distribution of live feeds around the globe. With it, customers gain full control over live event distribution via the internet from anywhere in the world,” says Cox. “In addition, we’ve made extensive updates to our SES London Sports & Events facility in Stockley Park. Opened in September 2020, we have already expanded the operational capabilities available by adding an antenna array dedicated to the facility at SES’s SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Sponsor Update

headquarters in Luxembourg, giving the site direct access to a wide array of satellites for uplink and downlink services. We also added professional audio booth facilities and just opened a custom-made commentary booth to ensure the facility meets the evolving needs of sport broadcasters and rights holders. As we have throughout the past year, we will continue to innovate on our existing and new video services, accelerating the momentum of our cloud-based solutions,” continues Cox. “As the only multi-orbit satellite provider, we also have a unique MEO offering with fibrelike, low-latency connectivity that could be interesting for the right sporting events.”

at Signiant. “With more remote operations and higher resolutions in play, we’re seeing venues invest in network infrastructure to make sure all that great content can move quickly to and from the venue. However, without the right software, a faster network alone won’t do the trick. The ability to help locate and drive access to the right content at the right time is also playing an ever-important role in the overall sports production ecosystem. Signiant’s patented intelligent transport was designed to take advantage of all available bandwidth using the most efficient path of retrieval possible. Indeed, it’s now common for us to see transfer speeds of multiple Gbps on a regular basis.” Another area of ongoing investment for Signiant Signiant is expanding its integration strategy MIKE FLATHERS and APIs. “While Signiant technology plays CHIEF SOLUTIONS OFFICER a mission-critical role in enhancing live “ W e ’ v e r e c e n t l y m a d e productions, it is often used as a building block improvements to our intelligent for more complex, multi-step workflows where transport architecture which many systems are often in play together, both uses machine learning to adapt to network on-prem and in the cloud,” says Flathers. conditions and optimise performance in real “Signiant realises the value of easing this ai162496412618_Motion Impossible SVG Europe 0621_f02.pdf 1 29/06/2021 11:55:28 time,” says Mike Flathers, chief solutions officer kind of integration and we are investing

heavily in this area. Signiant’s modern, eventdriven APIs offer the ability to stitch together complex workflows quickly and adapt easily as conditions change.” Remote production demands saw NBC Olympics select Signiant’s intelligent file transfer software to move petabytes of footage from the Tokyo Olympics back to its International Broadcast Center in the US immediately upon capture. Meanwhile NEP Group selected Signiant Media Shuttle to enable accelerated file-based operations across its fleet of OB trucks, studios and flypacks. The company has also made two recent acquisitions: Lesspain, a German provider of embedded media processing software and the desktop application Kyno. “You can expect to see more capabilities on our SaaS platform to interact with media assets in ways that are beyond fast file movement,” reveals Flathers. “It’s important to not only transport files but also to find the correct files to transfer in the first place. The former Lesspain team and technology is playing a key role for us in this area.”

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Skyline Communications LAURENS SERNEELS

MEDIA SOLUTION CONSULTANT

Belgian firm Skyline has been working on orchestration and process automation for hybrid cloud environments this year. “This enables our users to manage remote devices together with local devices in the same interface and even include virtual resources,” says media solution consultant Laurens Serneels. “These virtual resources can be microservices delivering signal processing services and can be spun up automatically by DataMiner [the firm’s open monitoring and orchestration software] when a production requires them. This enables users to book resources that don’t even exist at the time you book them, providing an unmatched flexibility in on premises and remote productions, while at the same time rationalising costs. DataMiner enables users to do orchestration, monitoring, reservation and capacity management in a transparent manner in those complex ecosystems.” Serneels observes the evolution towards the hybrid/multi cloud for live production as well as highlighting that file-based production is shaping sports production workflows “without a doubt”. “You have to be able to combine on premise and SaaS services in a flexible manner, as your productions become more distributed,” he says. “Not only in terms of where your technical resources are located in stadium, but equally where your people are located, whether they’re in the stadium, working remotely from a control room, or even at home. As a broadcaster you want to mix and match, creating a best of breed hybrid cloud solution fitted to your needs.” Skyline was paramount in building the Fox Sports Roadkit project, where DataMiner is used for the management and configuration of resources like switches and endpoints that are on premises as well as in the stadium, connecting those to the contribution network. Serneels adds: “We are working now on collaboration and data sharing. In distributed and remote production, you will, for example, be able to share routing panels with a certain limited scope with third parties, like an external OB company, enabling co-operation without losing control of your data. Also in that scope are virtual desks and virtual panels, bringing the correct functionality to the correct desk, inside or outside your organisation.” 160

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Slomo.tv IGOR VITIORETS CTO

“FIFA is developing a VAR Light concept to make VAR technology accessible for all leagues and federations. Trials were announced in the spring of 2021,” reveals Slomo.tv CTO Igor Vitiorets. “This pilot programme consists of a series of systems and technology tests that fit the VAR Light criteria. Slomo.tv is the world’s first technology provider to start a fully-fledged realisation of the VAR Light Trials project, in collaboration with the Professional Football League of Kazakhstan.”

The company’s videoReferee systems were selected by sports federations for use as the main video refereeing system for the Tokyo Olympic Games for water polo (FINA), wrestling (UWW) and canoe slalom (ICF). “For each sport a special modification of the server was developed, taking into account all features required by the federation. For example, for the ICF, a unique portable 16-channel videoReferee server in a 1U chassis was created,” explains Vitiorets. “Since last September we’ve introduced our slow-motion replay and multichannel recording server Fulcrum ATM/12G, which quickly became very popular because of its affordable price and basic configuration of 11 Rec + 11 Search + 2 Play + FX working with HD/3G-SDI signals,” he continues. “It is perfectly suited for sports broadcasts, including esports thanks to the support of a large number of 3G-SDI channels. It integrates with SSM cameras from most manufacturers and features our fast, highperformance and intuitive interface. Fulcrum can be purchased without the 4K option; when it is really needed, the software licence (€10,000) can be added and activated remotely to add a 4K configuration of 4 Rec + 4 Search + 2 Play + FX.” Future plans are driven by the pandemic and the rise of remote production. “We have noticed that the pandemic has sharply reduced the quality requirements for equipment,

because the priority became the ability to solve the task itself. This has led to increased sales of inexpensive solutions,” he says. “We understand that the pandemic will last for a long time and since remote production remains the trend, we plan to make the most affordable solution for video-refereeing and instant slow-motion replays using remote production technologies.”

SMT PATRICIA G HOPKINS

CORPORATE VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING AND CREATIVE

Due to COVID -related onsite restrictions, SMT has expanded its remote production capabilities in production centres in North Carolina, Florida and California. “From our remote production studios, dubbed Rooster, SMT has successfully supported events such as the 2020 US Open Tennis Championships, 2020 and 2021 Tour de France with data integration and graphics build, 2021 Roland Garros with virtual advertising, as well as 2020 and 2021 Triple Crown horse racing events with graphics production,” says Patricia Hopkins, corporate vice president, marketing and creative. “The studios allow us to deliver the same product and service suite with minimal onsite footprint and minimal impact to the final on-air product.”

SMT’s in-house creative studio created an ‘AR open’ for the MLS Cup, paying tribute to 25 years of Major League Soccer with a rendering of the trophy highlighting 13 past winning franchises, flanked by slabs displaying the top 25 greatest players in MLS history. “Special heroic treatment of the league’s top four male players featured golden likenesses of David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Eddie Pope and Carlos Valderrama emerging from beneath the field,” says Hopkins. “The effect was created in real time, combining the graphics with live shots inside Mapfre Stadium located in Ohio.” In June, in collaboration with Nickelodeon (CBS Sports), the Sports Emmy Awards recognised SMT with an Emmy Award for excellence in American sports television in the SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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category of Outstanding Playoff Coverage. “The NFC Wild Card Game featured the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints in a family friendly, fun-focused broadcast in which Nickelodeon utilised SMT’s technology and graphics to provide special effects, including virtual slime cannons, SpongeBob field goal graphics, animated end zones and slime animations for the first-down line, down-anddistance line and red zone,” says Hopkins. “For the CBS simulcast, SMT deployed its Emmywinning 1st & Ten line system and SportsCG and QB Stat systems to deliver timing, scoring and statistical information.” SMT also went all-in with the NHL for its 2020-21 season, providing the league with its player and puck tracking system, official scoring system and virtual-graphics generation and data integration powered by SMT’s Oasis platform. SMT has installed its Oasis tracking system in all NHL arenas and, while a team of SMT technicians deploy to on-site games, others worked remotely at SMT’s Rooster studios. “Oasis can be customised to meet the needs of any sport or league by providing a multitude

of opportunities, from broadcast to digital platforms to coaching and scouting applications and sports betting,” says Hopkins. “SMT is working with a host of potential clients to implement the Oasis platform across a variety of new sports.”

Sony NORBERT PAQUET

region advertising content and synchronises the LED playout system to the host broadcast production, allowing the output of up to eight separate real-time feeds that are available directly from the CCU. The system isn’t limited by static camera positions or factors like bad weather that can affect virtual advertising solutions.”

HEAD OF LIVE PRODUCTION, PROFESSIONAL SOLUTIONS EUROPE

“Sony has been closely involved in a wide range of high-profile sporting events over the past year,” says Norbert Paquet, head of live production, Professional Solutions Europe, Sony Europe. “A couple of highlights are projects that leverage remote production for Tier 1 and smaller niche sports to reach new and wider audiences. Also noteworthy are initiatives like Parallel Ads, deployed for example when official FA partner TGI used the HDC-5500 for live coverage of the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leicester City at Wembley. Based on DCM technology by AGS, Parallel Ads creates tailored multi-

“We’ve also experienced and been a part of establishing HDR workflows as the norm, for example with EMG and the French Football league, and the surge in demand for training from many companies as they looked to deliver summer 2021’s sporting events in HDR. Sony’s SR Live workflow — including our latest-generation 4K camera systems and IP-ready XVS switcher series — makes

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it easier to create simultaneous HDR and SDR deliverables in 4K UHD and HD to meet international distribution needs. “Off the pitch, we’ve also seen our Venice cinematography camera finding a novel application in studio-based sport production. We started working with Fox and NEP in the Netherlands and since then we’ve seen a series of sporting events where large frame sensor cameras are being used pitch side, bringing a new depth of emotion to games. Equally important has been the integration of our cinematography cameras into Live Production operations, just like any other studio cameras.” The rise of remote and distributed production cannot be underestimated, he believes: “Our synergies with Nevion around IP — as well as other examples like remote switcher functionality — are driving a whole new way of thinking about sports production. “Developments at Hawk-Eye Innovations, a Sony Europe subsidiary, have been centred around adapting our technologies to fit the new norm. Examples of this have included scaling Hawk-Eye Live technology for more courts across multiple tennis tournaments, allowing a reduction in the number of in-person line judges due to COVID-related restrictions. We’ve also enabled employees to access Hawk-Eye Connect remotely across the globe.”

SOS Global MICHELLE TRUMAN

MANAGER OF PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

“This last year every production has its highlights because of the crazy new demands, but I would say working with the Tokyo Olympics is certainly one of ours,” says Michelle Truman, manager of partnership development, SOS Global. “We were in full Olympic mode when COVID hit, causing production to come to a grinding halt, leaving us with 400 containers already in Japan. Restarting this event required SOS to evaluate what was already in the country and the new reduced needs of clients. That meant moving another 200 tons of freight by air! The unique thing about these particular Olympic Games is that they are on top of the 2022 Beijing games, which means we will assist clients in sorting and shipping directly to Beijing. The Winter Games, however, require very specific equipment, so from a timing perspective it’s challenging to move that amount of equipment. Fortunately, we have 162

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a fantastic team on-site, so we are confident they will accomplish the load-out smoothly.” The focus at SOS continues to be on the need for flexibility. “As everyone is aware, the world of logistics has become extremely challenging to navigate, especially for clients with hard deadlines,” Truman says. “Our customer service team has always been 24/7/365, and that commitment to our clients has allowed us to stay ahead of a multitude of potential disasters. Working closely with clients on deadlines, budgets and level of service needed has allowed us to form contingency plans on disruptions that no one saw coming. It wasn’t just COVID, but the Suez Canal, the shortage of containers, Brexit, docks not being up to 100% and less flight availability. All those factors play a key role in contributing to the worldwide supply chain disruption, which, unfortunately, still has not worked itself out. Our team has become even more creative and forward-thinking, coming to the table prepared with multiple solutions and flexibility to exceed our clients’ service expectations.”

expectation. “Expected Goals is a powerful metric, offering an objective view of the quality of chances based on previous shots. That said, sports analytics continues to push forward and a new demand from fans has surfaced. The ability to look back at what has happened is one thing, being able to look forward to what may happen is another.” “On the final day of Ligue 1 last season, we worked with Canal+ to enhance its final day broadcast coverage by providing viewers with predictions of the likely winners and losers in the title race, using insights powered by our Qwinn predictive models,” he adds. “Those insights included predicting match outcomes with Live Win Probability and predicting the title outcome with Season Simulation, helping broadcasters and publishers frame key narratives with their audience, both in terms of key talking points pre-match and the significance of key moments on the pitch, which they can communicate on screen during live broadcasts.” “We’re now focused on bringing an entire series of these predictive models to market whether that’s League Simulation, Team Predictions, Player Predictions or Possession Value,” Morrison concludes. “It’s clear that fans want guidance on what could come in a match or season. These models allow us to do that and to take fan engagement to the next level.”

Streamteam JOHANNA KOSKELA “Keeping with that focus, we just recently CEO announced the opening of our new Dubai office and are evaluating several other strategic “Since the beginning of 2021 locations such as Singapore and Australia,” she we’ve been a carbon neutral continues. “This decision complements our company providing carbon already existing international footprint including neutral TV productions,” says Streamteam CEO offices in Europe, the UK and the US.” Johanna Koskela. “The first step was to calculate our carbon footprint. We used the Greenhouse Stats Perform Gas Protocol to identify the key elements that MICHAEL MORRISON ensure carbon neutral productions. To name MARKETING, CAMPAIGNS AND DIGITAL but a few, we are providing remote productions, “It’s now almost five years we use biodiesel instead of regular diesel and since we worked with the BBC started to move to electric and biogas vehicles, to bring Expected Goals into we’ve started to use green energy in all our mainstream broadcast,” observes Michael production sites and supported employee Morrison, marketing, campaigns and digital bicycling. Our target is still to be the technical at Stats Perform. “That move represented pioneer of the industry [Streamteam already an important shift in how sport, or more has an AI project on the go], but nowadays the specifically how football, was discussed during innovations include more in-depth consideration the broadcast. Much has changed over the past of sustainability.” five years and that depth of analytics is now a fan The year’s highlights include remote SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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production of the whole Finnish Hockey League, as well as a 22-camera remote production for Euro Hockey Tour’s Karjala Tournament in Helsinki last November. “The remote model we are using is unique and a first of its kind in ice hockey broadcasting in Europe,” says Koskela. “At the [Helsinki] arena were three technical vans with cameras, CCUs, video encoders, stage boxes and other equipment with a small crew. All the signals (video, audio, data, talkback) were transferred over IP to the main HUB, and the games were directed and produced from there. We had our own production galleries and directors for game feed, studio feed, as well as a director for three replay operators in order to get inclusive replays for the programme. The production format is progressive scan and on top of the game feeds, we had a virtual studio.”

Streamteam is moving to new facilities during 2022, with the whole infrastructure designed over IP. “There will be several studios and other operational galleries, but those can be used as multifunction galleries with shared resources,” Koskela says. “There will be room for several simultaneous productions and the productions can be made remotely nearly from anywhere by using fibre or 4G/5G connection for contribution from the production site. It’s being designed keeping sustainability in mind. For example, we will use the heat generated from the data centre to heat the whole facility.”

Supponor MASSIMO MAGRÌ

MANAGING DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE, AND GLOBAL HEAD OF FOOTBALL

“At Supponor we are proud to have secured many highlights since September 2020, a period during which new technology solutions and operational models were introduced across many different sports, events and environments,” says Massimo Magrì, the company’s managing director 164

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Synamedia for Europe and global head of football. “Our SIMON BRYDON production achievements have been marked SENIOR DIRECTOR, by two important events, the entrance to the SPORTS RIGHTS ANTI-PIRACY Italian and French football markets and the first commercial deployments in rugby in Australia “With the resumption of live and Europe, opening new opportunities for our sport, but no live audiences, deployments.” the past year has been busy not just for sports broadcasters but also for illegal pirate broadcasters,” says Synamedia senior director, sports rights anti-piracy Simon Brydon. “The focus for both legal and illegal services has been OTT, OTT — and more OTT. At Synamedia, we continue to invest in new technologies and intelligence to tackle and combat the piracy and security issues that plague the sports broadcasting industry.” Magrì says the global pandemic led the “In OTT security, we have created new services virtual advertising company to reflect and listen to protect OTT operators from pirates who are to market needs. “It led us to focus on our stealing directly from the CDN then delivering the software-based technologies and our remote content to their paying customers at the expense operations models as key developments,” of the legitimate provider. It’s an incredible he expands. “COVID-19 has also imposed business model to pay nothing for content and many restrictions when it comes to running then get it delivered at the cost of the legal owner!” productions on-site, forcing many players to he exclaims. “We continue to invest heavily in introduce innovative ways to approach this. our Streaming Piracy Disruption service, which “Much of the work Supponor does during combines advanced cyber and field intelligence event operations can be done remotely, to track and disrupt criminal IPTV networks and something that was accelerated significantly their IT infrastructures and supports a blend of during the restart of top sports leagues defensive and offensive approaches to nudge worldwide. Remote operations are now viewers back to legitimate services.” becoming the standard, therefore requiring Another important product development technologies to be more efficient and scalable initiative has been Credential Sharing & Fraud than ever before. Moreover, with the increased Insight (CSFEye), Synamedia’s machine learning OTT distribution formats and the opportunity to and AI service. “This year, we’ve seen how many of target individual TV viewers with personalised the major OTT entertainment services have finally ads, many functionalities are expected to be had enough of rampant credential abuses on enabled in the cloud, allowing virtual advertising their networks,” observes Brydon. “Synamedia’s technologies to be deployed in a drastically more CSFEye detects all kinds of sharers on an OTT efficient, scalable and cost-effective manner.” user’s network — from family and casual to illegal, “Supponor is developing existing and new for-profit fraudsters — and can recommend and strategic partnerships for the construction of execute a range of security and marketing actions remote operations centres to drastically scale in order to mitigate the risk, and convert them into up the deployment of its technology solutions paying customers. As the old saying goes, ‘turnover worldwide,” he adds. for vanity, profit for sanity’, and it’s clear that our Supponor’s key focus for 2021 and beyond will customers feel there is too much freeloading OTT be “scale”. “With new, innovative and efficient ‘turnover’ and not enough OTT profit.” technology solutions already developed and “From September onwards Synamedia being marketed currently, Supponor envisions and our new Customer Success team will being able to extend its market leading position be focused on delivering our security and across key markets in Europe — mainly Spain, anti-piracy technology services to customers Italy, Germany — and the Americas,” says and continuing to prove to the sports Magrì. “We will open a North American broadcasting industry and sports rights owners operations centre in Toronto and a US HQ in that investment in Synamedia’s technology New York to support our deployment plans with leads to quantifiable commercial benefits,” the NHL and NBA.” he adds. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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OUTSIDE BROADCAST Tel: 020 8947 3333 www.racetech.co.uk

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

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TAG Video Systems PAUL BRISCOE CHIEF ARCHITECT

“Sport was heavily impacted by the past 18 months, both the game and the coverage,” says TAG’s chief architect Paul Briscoe. “Events like the SuperBowl, ongoing professional league sports and the Olympics, however, adapted their planning as the situation evolved, resulting in the ability to be ready to cover them when they returned to play. Thanks to TAG supporting all of the emerging technologies being rapidly adopted to deal with the situation, we were able to support the flux of this change and enable rapid development of customer solutions.” For example, at the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, TAG provided NBC Olympics with an integrated software-based IP probing, monitoring and multiviewer solution to provide OTT monitoring for its MPEG Transport Streams originating in Tokyo. Briscoe observes that remote integration (REMI) and full remote/distributed production utilising the public internet for transport and the cloud for compute have upended reliance on hardware-based systems and control-roomcentric operations. “This forces things from capex to opex at a magnitude not seen before, and that shift in money enables entirely new envisioning of how TV is made,” he adds. “Our move to incorporate JPEG-XS and AWS CDI cloud transport into the product could not have been more timely. Combined with TAG’s live production, playout, transport and OTT capabilities [in the cloud], we were able to offer broad and deep integration across entire workflows, both traditional and evolving,” he continues. “The cloud migration has been accelerated over the past 18 months, which has reinforced our commitment to that evolution, and adapting to the specific needs of evolving customers has been an exciting and rewarding journey. “As we move forward, we are advancing our licensing models to offer ultimate cloud scale and flexibility, from full-time, capex-equivalent use to highly granular ‘stand-up/tear down’ applications. Combined with TAG’s softwareonly, all IP, ground/cloud/hybrid platform and continuously evolving capabilities of format and transport support, deep probing and monitoring, flexible multi-view visualisation and vast scalability, this licensing model allows cost optimisation of all applications while having access to the richest set of tools available.” 166

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Tedial

into an auto-generated EDL can be reviewed in the player and then burned in when the EDL is CTO flattened. In addition, sophisticated transitions SmartLive, Tedial’s automated between EDL segments such as fades can be l i v e s p o r t s p r o d u c t i o n created. All can be done with the same staff solution, was recently used without increasing production costs.” by a leading European production company Telestream to deliver an elevated viewing experience STEVEN BILOW of the UEFA Champions League. “Tedial SENIOR PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER configured SmartLive to meet the production company’s specific requirements,” says CTO “T h e 2 0 2 1 P G A M a s t e r s Julián Fernández-Campón. “This included tournament was broadcast compatibility with its installed SDI infrastructure from a newly built compound and legacy resources without compromising the housing more IP-based OB trucks than quality of its service, ease-of-use for operators ever, responsible for creating the primary who would be generating significantly more programme feed,” says Steven Bilow, senior content and a highly automated production product marketing manager at Telestream. process to allow concentration on editorial “To solve the timing issues between the IP and outcomes rather than on workflow processes. SDI trucks in the compound, NEP worked with SmartLive addressed all these requirements with CBS Sports to develop a hybrid approach. They tools that not only produce real-time highlights chose to synchronise the IP trucks with PTP but on its satellite platform, but also produce parallel the SDI-based ones required traditional black content for subscribers’ YouTube and Facebook and burst or tri-level sync. They were able to social media platforms.” time everything by providing the PTP Grand Fernández-Campón says Tedial is constantly Master reference for all the trucks using a pair developing SmartLive functionality to meet of Telestream SP8000A sync pulse generators the needs of sports broadcasters. “Based on (SPGs). We are proud to say that NEP has Tedial’s Evolution technology, SmartLive enables now packaged those two sync generators and integration with incumbent third-party solutions the ECO8000 automatic changeover that already in use in day-to-day sports operations, accompanied them into a travel case and CBS including Adobe and Avid editing, EVS solutions will now be using them to time every major and so on. SmartLive processes can be applied sporting event going forward.” to create more diverse and detailed highlight Bilow says Telestream was also proud to be packages quicker and more efficiently using a key contributor to the Games of the XXXII real-time data files from Opta/Stats or EVS Olympiad in Tokyo, with NBC Olympics IP Director,” he adds. “SmartLive’s ability to selecting Telestream to provide media capture maximise programme assets as well as the and automated processing workflows for its infrastructure provides sports broadcasters and production. production facilities with significant operational and business advantages.” Fernández-Campón identifies a number of trends the company is addressing. “Automation and AI tools will continue to be an important feature. SmartLive can leverage its unique metadata engine to automate the entire process from ingest and clip creation through multiIn terms of product development, Bilow platform distribution to digital networks, social says the company “made a quantum leap” by media platforms and traditional broadcast repackaging its Prism waveform monitor into a channels,” he says. “Social media capabilities complete family of small form factor softwarefor sports broadcasters require accurate targets defined, flexible and configurable instruments. and rapid distribution and will continue to be “Introducing six new instruments that fit enhanced by incorporating the ability to identify perfectly into narrow-depth racks means that we audience by age and gender. have one of the most sports/remote-production“Layering graphics on top of highlights is also friendly instruments in the industry,” he says. key for enhanced storytelling. Graphics inserted “The Prism MPS and MPD models are among

JULIÁN FERNÁNDEZ-CAMPÓN

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Sponsor Update

our most exciting sports-related product introductions because they place four decades of waveform monitoring expertise in the hands of anyone in a truck or other space-limited facility.” “Our product portfolio is many times larger than test and synchronisation products,” he adds. “Take, for example, Telestream Cloud Transform [launched in April] which provides world-class transcoding capabilities to development teams building their own media workflows without them having to become experts on the myriad formats. Transform addresses many of the technology trends and transitions impacting sports productions, including remote working, 4K/UHD, HDR, wide colour gamut and cloud-native services.”

Telos Alliance LARRY SCHINDEL PRODUCT MANAGER

“[Tokyo] was the first Summer Games in which every event was produced in 5.1.4 immersive audio,” says Telos Alliance product manager Larry Schindel. “Telos Alliance was there with

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US broadcaster NBC, using multiple Linear Acoustic Upmax ISC immersive soundfield controllers, Linear Acoustic LA-5300 broadcast audio processors and Linear Acoustic Upmax plug-ins running on their Avid Media Composer systems overseas.”

“France TV used the Upmax ISC to help deliver a consistent Dolby Atmos experience during the Roland-Garros French Open,” Schindel adds. “Linear Acoustic upmixing creates an immersive audio experience from the production’s native 5.1. “In the US, NBC Sports also used the Upmax ISC with Notre Dame football to deliver Dolby Atmos to its viewers, who received the 4K/Dolby

METADATA

FAN EXPERIENCE

Atmos feeds on Comcast and DirecTV. ESPN used the Linear Acoustic LA-5291 professional audio encoder on college football to deliver Dolby Atmos to its viewers. The LA-5291 allows broadcasters to create an immersive Dolby Atmos experience via a Dolby Digital Plus JOC bitstream for production workflows, platforms and delivery streams that do not require Dolby AC-4. The LA-5291 offers decoding, encoding and transcoding to and from PCM and select Dolby-coded formats for up to 16 audio channels.” On the product front, support was added for encoding Dolby Atmos with a Dolby AC-4 stream to the Linear Acoustic LA-5300.” Earlier this year, Telos Alliance also launched the Telos Infinity VIP Virtual Intercom Platform. “This is the first fully featured cloud-based intercom system,” says Schindel. “It delivers sophisticated comms virtually, making cloudbased media production workflows available on any device — smartphone, laptop, desktop, or tablet. Users can even use third-party control devices, like Elgato’s Stream Deck, to control Telos Infinity VIP. Now broadcasters can harness

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Telos Infinity IP Intercom’s performance, scalability, ease of integration and operational/ cost efficiencies anywhere.” Not surprising then that Schindel observes that cloud-based solutions, and anything that allows broadcasters to migrate to REMI workflows, are the key tech trend this year. “Now that sports have started back up and everyone has their workflows largely sorted out, attention is shifting back to pre-pandemic activities such as 4K, HDR and immersive audio,” he adds. “Certainly some of the large events this summer helped to drive that as well.”

Telstra Broadcast Services ANNA LOCKWOOD HEAD OF GLOBAL SALES

“Telstra Broadcast Services is proud to have continued providing services for live sports and esports events throughout the global pandemic, working with both long-standing and new customers,” says Anna Lockwood, head of global sales at the company. “For the Australian Open in Melbourne in February 2021, we used a mix of network solutions to deliver the world feeds, including traditional satellite uplink for distribution and optical fibre connectivity services from Asia Pacific to Europe. We had a large presence on site with more than 20 staff at peak point. This included onsite support from media satellite and fibre engineers, as well as a dedicated booking office/ MCR at the broadcast compound for itinerant satellite, or fibre unilateral bookings, on behalf of Tennis Australia. To accommodate the impact of COVID-19 on on-site production, we also offered a flexible model to operate remote production services.

“For the Americas Cup 36 in New Zealand between January and March 2021, we distributed live event coverage to a large number of broadcast rights holders in almost 200 countries and territories, while also live streaming the action on social media platforms. 168

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Just after winning the contract in January, [the pandemic forced us] to reconfigure our network design into a robust remote production model, but despite the challenges, the broadcasting of the event was a huge success.” During the pandemic Telstra needed to meet a significant spike in internet delivery requirements, so invested further in its Internet Delivery Network (IDN) to deliver additional content. “A key trend that we see is the move to hybrid network solutions, wrapped in a managed service,” says Lockwood. “We are busy providing transmission and media management services to major sporting events across Telstra’s fibre, satellite, and internet networks [including] Wimbledon, the Summer Olympics, the British and Irish Lions Rugby Tour, as well as supporting multiple sports and esports events taking place in Australia, the United States and Asia. We are also busy with our ongoing broadcast services contract for the WTA Tour, where we are proud to deliver over 47 events each year to WTA Media.” “With our new TBS Master Control Room in London, and the recent announcement of our new Broadcast Operations Centre in partnership with PSSI in the United States, we are continuing to invest in our live sports offering and capability to best support the growing requirements of our customers and partners for international delivery of sports content,” she concludes.

The Switch ROBERT SZABO-ROWE

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF ENGINEERING AND PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

The Switch has launched a comprehensive cloud-based live production and delivery platform, MIMiC Cloud Video Services, building on the launch of MIMiC Production in 2020. “MIMiC Transmission offers global IP delivery, enabling sports broadcasters, streaming services, and other rights holders to take video feeds from anywhere in the world and simultaneously deliver them to up to hundreds of destinations primarily using the internet and, where available, The Switch’s private network,” says Robert Szabo-Rowe, senior vice president of engineering and product management. “It enables cost-effective, high-quality transmission up to 25Mbps, which can enable HD and UHD broadcasts. For events in remote locations with limited internet access, The Switch can support

cloud-based transmission with bonded cellular services for either the primary feed or as a backup — leveraging 5G where possible.”

“[New service] MIMiC Clipping & Editing provides tools to create and post event highlights as they happen,” he adds. “For example, social media operators could live clip, edit and post within the cloud content, capturing all the high points or sideline commentary on the main event, as well as the pre-game build-up and postgame analysis.” The Switch has supported production and delivery for an entire slate of live programming for the Stanley Cup playoffs, deploying MIMiC to produce live stream pre-game content for Twitter. “The Switch produces the show with the talent at home or in its Burbank or New York production studios, along with remote graphics operators, show producers and directors,” says Szabo-Rowe. The company also supported Turner Sports with its live NBA on TNT broadcasts. “The Switch created pandemic-safe remote setups at its New York, Los Angeles and Burbank production studios for some of TNT’s most acclaimed commentators, enabling them to call games and provide analysis without having to travel around North America to NBA games,” adds Szabo-Rowe. “The Switch provided low-latency transmission services between its studios, the NBA venues and Turner’s Atlanta studio and production facilities, enabling the announcers to continue commentating live — creating a virtual courtside environment.” “Over the next six months, we’re investing in the deployment of further 100G infrastructure to support the growth in demand for remote production and enabling the higher resolution broadcast video formats and advanced codecs demanded by our customers,” he adds. SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Timeline Television DANIEL MCDONNELL CEO

The new Ealing Broadcast Centre in West London has been built by Timeline as a state-ofthe-art 900sqm facility set over three floors. The facility, equipped with high-end VR studio sets, global connectivity and a large enterprise data centre, has been built to satisfy the everincreasing demand for remote production, with the F1 Hungarian Grand Prix for Whisper TV and Channel 4’s live coverage of the Paralympics among the first shows.

Sponsor Update

Centre,” says McDonnell. “This not only furthers FE’s aim to reduce the carbon footprint by reducing international crew travel but enables the on-site TV compound to occupy a smaller physical footprint on-site.” Timeline has also launched a compact OB truck, Streamline 2, to facilitate traditional on-site productions, full remote production solutions and everything in between. “Streamline 2 enables remote productions to be delivered over fibre, internet and even over mobile connectivity using 4G and 5G,” says McDonnell. “Production teams have the flexibility to remote control the operation from Timeline’s Ealing Broadcast Centre, MediaCityUK or from their own facility.”

TSL Products MARK DAVIES

DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTS AND TECHNOLOGY

Timeline facilitated BBC’s OB presentation coverage of Euro 2020, including the Wembley Final which became the UK’s most viewed television broadcast of the past 20 years. “Extensive planning was required for countless permutations, with crews on standby to travel to different locations at very short notice based on the outcome of matches,” says Daniel McDonnell, Timeline CEO. “Ultimately, Timeline provided facilities in Amsterdam, Baku, Glasgow and Wembley using a blend of traditional and remote production workflows to provide three levels of service to the BBC. Major matches at Wembley could be delivered sustainably in 4K UHD HDR using a traditional on-site OB model with limited emissions, thanks to the stadium’s proximity to Timeline’s West London base,” he adds. “For games further afield, an IP-driven remote production model facilitated on-site presentation with cameras sent back to Salford along with associated audio, over UEFA’s GigE circuits. A variation of this solution, dubbed OB Lite, saw streamlined on-site presentation delivered over host circuits to the IBC and onto Salford.” Timeline continued to provide technical facilities and crew to Aurora Media Worldwide and North One for their host broadcast and presentation coverage of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. “New for Season 7, Timeline provided a hybrid remote production with the English and rightsholder operations taking place in Timeline’s Ealing Broadcast 170

Davies says the integration and expansion of TSL’s control offering has expanded the range of functionality it can now offer broadcasters. “TSL has been working with TJ Sports, a joint venture between Tecent and Riot Games, on the first large-scale esports remote production centre in Asia,” Davies reveals. “With the help of TSL, TJ Sports did an excellent job of remotely producing the 2020 League of Heroes MidSeason Cup through innovative means and efficient team collaboration. TJ Sports Broadcast Production Center is now undergoing the second phase of construction to make the most of the latest IP broadcast technology; TSL will continue to play a big part.” Davies says TSL will be releasing new products across its complete product range. “We will continue to build on the virtualised and ST-2110based control offerings that we have developed for the Berklee School of Music in New York. We also appreciate that the cost of deployment for edge devices in 2110/IP infrastructures is a key consideration for tight budgets, as is being able to support the many flavours of audio over IP, so we are looking to address this with our audio range.”

“The Flex Control network, a distributed network of control nodes that can be added to existing systems or provide much needed standalone functionality, are continuing to be used by major sports TV Skyline leagues and broadcasters across the United ROBERT KIS States,” says Mark Davies, director of products CEO and technology at TSL Products. “Since TSL’s acquisition of DNF Controls, which developed “Remote productions have the Flex solutions, TSL has expanded its offering become a more regular feature by integrating Flex with its TallyMan routing at our company,” says TV Skyline and tally control system. Sports broadcasters CEO Robert Kis. “At the centre of this is our new are using these solutions to cost-effectively add Skyline Remote Center (SRC).” UMD naming and routing control alongside a distributed protocol layer with additional functionality, such as monitoring and logging SCTE-104.”

“In 2020, one of TSL’s biggest customers, NEP, used TSL’s power management in its flypacks,” adds Davies. “The MDU12-PMi and MDU14-B units have a great reputation for reliability, which is essential when including them in flypacks for live productions, such as the UFC Fight Island 2020 in Abu Dhabi and cricket in the UAE in 2020.”

Sports highlights for TV Skyline this year include delivering the host broadcasting of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions and Europa League on behalf on Sky Germany, Sky Austria and DAZN. “The biggest match was the Champions League quarter final between Dortmund and Man City with 30 cameras and production in UHD HDR,” says Kis. “In total we delivered 17 host broadcasts, with 10 host broadcasts for the first time in UHD HDR exclusively for SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Sky. We delivered all unilateral provisioning with innovation packages including TV Skyline Rejib, where one operator controls two 4x high-speed HDR cameras behind the goals, offering spectacular pictures with thrilling goal area scenes; and TV Skyline FlexCine which is our new, stabilised compact wireless camera offering a cinematic look in HDR. “In addition, we covered the BMW International Open for the Men’s European Tour in Munich. For this, the most traditional professional golf event in Germany, [we deployed] 18 cameras over 150 hectares.” Then there was the Nürburgring 24 Hours touring car and GT endurance racing event. “This is the largest production in the Germanspeaking region, the longest race track in the world (25,378km) and the most dangerous, biggest and most famous car race in the world,” says Kis. “We delivered over 50 hours of live motorsport, with 40km of fibre optic cable, 60 cameras and 200 employees.” Looking forward, TV Skyline will be producing national and international football in the form of the Bundesliga and Champions League, Europa

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

League and Conference League from UEFA, as well as worldwide golf coverage of the Ladies European Tour, DTM (German Touring Car Masters) and winter sports. “We are a long-term partner of Deutscher Skiverband [German Ski Association] covering ski jumping, the Four Hills Tournament and Nordic combined,” says Kis.

TVN-Ü6 and TVN-Ü4, TVN delivered a week’s host broadcast production on behalf of ZDF, succeeded by the world feed as well as the unilateral feed for ARD in the second week, all in absolute compliance with pandemic guidelines.

TVN Mobile Production BASTIAN BERLIN HEAD OF SALES

Across Europe, TVN ha s successfully realise d approximately 200 football productions at the highest level in the past year, including the host broadcasting of the DFB Cup Final 2021 in Berlin, while a crew of more than 50 broadcast specialists with OB vans TVN-Ü6 and TVN-Ü3 covered seven UEFA Euro 2020 matches in St Petersburg. Another highlight was the 2021 Biathlon World Cup, where two biathlon events were held at the same location in Oberhof with one directly succeeding the other. With OB vans

“Together with our clients, we mastered the challenges [of the pandemic] excellently and further strengthened partnerships with our customers,” says head of sales Bastian Berlin. “We also keep providing innovative special solutions [for productions] such as high-end aerial coverage with our TVN Live Drone, the Highspeed Polecam and new remote concepts.” TVN has also explored the integration of a

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cinematic look into sports content by identifying and adapting suitable cameras, such as Arri Alexa or Sony Venice. “The importance of green production and special cameras for high-quality production will continue to increase,” says Berlin. “The pandemic has also significantly increased the acceptance of remote solutions among customers. We have already successfully implemented solutions for remote camera crews, remote slow motion and remote graphics, optimising the production workflow on location. By expanding the technology for fibre optic and IP signal transmission, we further ease work for our staff on site, simultaneously reducing set up times.” The production volume is set to increase. “We are very much looking forward to concerts, festivals and shows finally returning to our production calendars,” says Berlin. “The football sector will remain essential, with new assignments and opportunities on the horizon. With the Bundesliga and UEFA competitions, new production requirements will come up and we are going to implement them for our international clients.”

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transmitters and the TVU Anywhere mobile broadcasting app for transmission redundancy,” he continues. “TVU Partyline ensured each of the football clubs participating could receive the video return of the live programme output in real time (less than 100ms delay). Mix/minus feedback elimination ensured clean interviews.” Similarly, with ongoing travel restrictions, only the French coach was able to be in Paris on the day of the Rugby World Cup 2023 draw, while the other 11 national coaches had to follow the draw from home. “World Rugby and the France 2023 Organising Committee hosted the event on 14 December 2020, with Host Broadcast Services (HBS) capturing the event,” Castillo says. “Transmissions from the coaches’ home locations back to France were done using the TVU One mobile transmitter, fitted with up to six SIM cards covering all the main local telco operators.”

TVU Networks RAFAEL CASTILLO

GM/VP EUROPE AND LATIN AMERICA

As well as providing on-site support and rights-cleared live external video feeds of locations during the Tokyo Olympics, highlights of the year for TVU Networks included live draw events that were produced remotely for the first time. “Both centred on enabling live participation for high-profile events from several remote locations,” says Rafael Castillo, GM/VP Europe and Latin America. “For the 2020 UEFA Champions League and Europa League Final 8 Draw, as well as the 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw and awards ceremony, TVU Networks provided a turnkey remote production solution for participating clubs. To connect each location, the remote production set up had to include return audio feeds, mix minus feedback elimination for team member interviews, synchronised intercom communication for the camera operators at each site and transmission with less than onesecond delay.” “For the awards ceremony, each TVU remote production package included a camera operator, technical and training support, TVU One mobile 172

“We’ve rolled out major initiatives to assist with remote production and remote fan engagement, and we’ll continue to do so with a keen eye on cloud-based and SaaS models of production,” he adds. “Solutions like our TVU Anywhere app for remote production and TVU Grid for point-to-multipoint content distribution saw a dramatic increase in use over the past year. The latest version of TVU Producer for multicamera cloud-based production now includes an audio mixer panel, Partyline integration via RTIL, graphics overlays, replay, synchronised switching and SCTE pass-through for remote production, while the upgraded TVU One with HEVC now includes embedded 5G modules for full 5G infrastructure support.”

uniqFEED KATY WALSH

COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING MANAGER

Katy Walsh. “Our solution is based entirely on software, requiring no costly additional hardware or any intrusion in the production workflow, enabling sports rightsholders to maximise revenue from sports sponsorship, hassle-free.” In April this year, Roger Hall joined uniqFEED as CEO. “Roger brings a wealth of experience to the organisation having run technology businesses in the sector and most recently worked as a management consultant advising top tier leagues and federations on virtual advertising,” says Walsh. “Since his appointment Roger has been working on driving the development of multi-sport virtual advertising solutions and the company’s commercial objectives.” “They say that necessity is the mother of invention and the events of the past year have certainly demonstrated this. The sports industry has had to adapt quickly to unexpected challenges such as shortened seasons and crowd-less stadiums,” she continues. “However, the greatest advancements have surely been in remote production, with live sports events, producers, distributers and broadcasters now spread across countries and even continents with no disruption to the workflow or negative impact on production. We truly believe that remote production is the focus for the future, which is good news for uniqFEED as our software-based solutions are built to offer seamless integration with remote production workflows.” “Over the next six months uniqFEED will continue the rigorous testing of our solutions for different sports as we anticipate the release of our first software-based solution for football,” reveals Walsh. “We are currently involved in some exciting discussions with potential new partners in Europe and the US and are looking forward to the work we will do together. “Looking further into the future [we’re exploring] the possibilities offered by OTT and the potential for micro-targeted advertising within live sport. Our developers are hard at work developing a solution for this.”

Veritone DAVID CANDLER

SENIOR DIRECTOR, CUSTOMER SOLUTIONS

“At uniqFEED, we’re shooting for simplicity, meaning it is our In October of last year, Veritone priority to make virtual advertising as simple launched DraftClips.com. as possible for our clients and partners,” says Powered by Veritone Digital Media Hub, an communications and marketing manager AI-enabled intelligent media management SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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platform, DraftClips.com offers access to a Media Hub, the Giants’ media teams can use no-cost, ad-free collegiate basketball content AI-powered search and discovery to quickly hub housing thousands of video clips and identify and share content.” images. Veritone is also working with Extreme E to stream footage on a variety of digital platforms. “The solution combines accelerated file transfer and cloud object storage services from Base Media Cloud with Digital Media Hub to drive complex, cloud-native remote workflows, enabling smart global content distribution and its instant accessibility across the globe for “The streamlined user experience of the site Extreme E,” he adds. that features AI-enabled search capabilities, Digit al Media Hub gained content helps sports fans easily find and watch clips of notifications, annotation tool and collection their favourite players and teams and analyse concepts for better file organisation, and multiplays by this year’s top draft prospects,” says variant search which recognises a growing David Candler, senior director, customer demand for AI data. solutions, Veritone. “Adding artificial intelligence to sports The company also digitised a 60-year archive production workflows only enhances the speed for the San Francisco Giants baseball team. at which companies can move, helping them to “Veritone’s AI-powered operating system find content faster and make more sense of their aiWARE went to work processing all of the archive by structuring all of the unstructured Giants’ unstructured content to create and data contained within media files,” says Candler. associate meaningful metadata with their video “We are actively working on new features files,” Candler says. “Using Veritone’s Digital focused around eventing and personalisation

for sports customers. This will help our users more easily manage the content surrounding an event to make it more accessible to all interested parties. With social media-like personalisation, users can narrow the types of content they see based on what they like and follow, bringing together content rights holders and licensing customers in a unique and innovative way to further enable content monetisation.”

Vidi ROBERT OSZVALD

DIRECTOR EVENT SERVICES

“Our two sports highlights since September 2020 were the full winter sport season with the ski jumping Four Hills Tournament in Oberstdorf and Garmisch and the World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf,” says Robert Oszvald, director event services at Vidi. For the World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf alone, the German video specialist deployed 32 transmission lines, eight return lines, one MADI line and various data lines for the contribution links. In addition to staffing

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at the Vidi Network Operation Centre in Darmstadt, Vidi engineers were directly on site during the broadcasts. In Oberstdorf, Vidi was represented by its own staff, its own technology and its own OB van, while the counterpart in Mainz at broadcaster ZDF was also manned by Vidi staff during the transmissions. During Euro 2020 Vidi provided international fibre connections for rightsholders throughout Europe from the IBC in Amsterdam. “We’ve been looking at even more remote production-based operations than before, especially with the pandemic situation since 2020,” Oszvald observes. “I think SMPTE ST-2110 and PTP will be the next milestones in the event-driven business.” “Our most recent product development is our Vidi NMS 2.0 software-based network management system,” says Oszvald. “Our NMS 2.0 is being used in permanent networks such as the Bundesliga fibre network as well as for temporary events like the World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf. At time of writing the company was focused on the German General Elections taking place at the end of September 2021. “For the next 12 to 14 months we will also have a full focus on the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar,” adds Oszvald

Vislink DAVID EDWARDS

5G AND LIVE PRODUCTION PRODUCT MANAGER

In the pa st ye ar, V islink has deployed a complete video content capture system to provide wireless camera production for the Extreme E motorsport series, which highlights the environmental strain on the global ecosystem.

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at the company. “In enabling the complete range of camera views for the Extreme E event — from aerial shots, drop-camera views at critical locations on the course and driver’seye on-board coverage, Vislink’s systems have delivered reliable, high-impact and high production value programming that is enabled by premium quality wireless camera video systems.” Vislink has put the need to rapidly transition to new workflows of remote production and IP connectivity at the heart of its next-generation wireless camera receiver. “Vislink’s Quantum receiver has been deployed on all of this summer’s tentpole events, enabling robust reception from wireless camera feeds right at the heart of the action,” says Edwards. “With so much of this content being produced remotely from the events, the Quantum receiver has enabled production teams to operate with simpler architectures that have reduced preparation and rigging time dramatically.” A “ground-up design to a new generation of product”, the Quantum receiver supports the latest IP protocols and uses SRT to enable delivery of high-quality wireless camera video over the unmanaged internet, “allowing production teams to look again at their deployment budgets and affordably produce more content and deploy at new events that were previously not financially viable”, says Edwards. As well as taking an active interest in 5G, Vislink will be extending its all-IP connectivity over the coming months, with IP-connected receive antennas for wireless camera systems and rolling out SMPTE ST-2110 capability. “New IP architectures allow for faster and simpler rigging of systems leading to reduced deployment costs,” Edwards says. “Such systems also enable enhanced wireless connectivity over a wide geographical area delivering simple and complete coverage of major events such as golf or racing.”

Vizrt THOMAS NELSON

HEAD OF SALES, SPORTS

“Finding new ways for humankind to live in “In June we launched our more equal harmony with nature is something cloud-native NDI-first Vizrt Live that Vislink is proud to be associated with [and Production solution. For sports we’re] working to make our operations more broadcasters with distributed and or remote environmentally friendly,” says David Edwards, productions, this cloud capability will be the core 5G and live production product manager element for certain tiered sports productions 174

going forward,” says Thomas Nelson, head of sales, sports at Vizrt. Vizrt Live Production combines Vizrt products Viz Vectar Plus, Viz Engine, Viz Trio, and Viz Mosart into a single, fast, cloud-deployable solution. It is also the first production system in the world to fully exploit all the latest NDI capabilities, including connectivity across both WAN and LAN networks, running onsite and in the cloud on the same sync, audio-over-IP integration with digital audio systems, and the ability to bring in any camera with a browser as a source, from anywhere in the world. “We are hearing from our customers that they are planning for most productions to be run remotely with the teams predominantly working from home — so we can see that for our sports broadcast customers this new product gives them the opportunity to grow exponentially,” says Nelson. “The continued focus on remote production, as much as it might be seen as a ‘trend’ now, will in fact shape the standard going forward. We are seeing productions planned for the upcoming season where the broadcasters are planning on producing certain sports with operators working from home. This is not just about costsaving or efficiency within a team, it’s about the broadcaster getting access to the best operators wherever they might be situated and those operators being able to produce several games or events during a single day.”

Wildmoka MATTHIEU LOREILLE CMO

“Wildmoka was a technology partner of leading US horse racing event The Breeders’ Cup 2020, which takes place every November,” says Matthieu Loreille, Wildmoka CMO, when discussing highlights of the past 12 months. “The ability to publish more content faster with Wildmoka had a major impact on the Breeders’ Cup’s KPIs.” Compared to the previous three years, net audience growth increased by 48%, impressions were up 22%, video views increased 23%, engagement rose 28% and betting ‘handle’ also increased significantly. “Before using Wildmoka, it was taking nearly 10 minutes to get a single video highlight posted to social and digital OTT, that time reduced to less than one minute with Wildmoka,” adds Loreille. “As an immersive experience for remote SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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fans, 14 iPhones were sent on-site to capture emotional scenes around races and various shoulder content. Both the linear live TV streams and the live streams from the iPhones were ingested to Wildmoka so that non-technical editors could remotely create stories that would engage fans.” Wildmoka has also adapted its Auto ReZone solution to football this year. “This AI/ML- based solution allows broadcasters to automatically create vertical near real-time video highlights for mobile phone consumption, using a smart scene visual adjustment based on players and ball tracking mechanisms,” says Loreille. “This provides a mobile-first vertical experience without the need to invest in a new dedicated vertical production team or workflow. It allows broadcasters to offer innovative snackable content, especially to younger audiences that prefer watching highlights. In addition, Wildmoka keeps extending the number of sports where AI/ML technology boosts editorial content production by automatically generating clips and highlight reels. The latest sport we have added this year is golf.” As well as predicting AI/ML will further shape sports production workflows, Loreille sees a growth in new use cases for live streaming to OTT and social media. “Some of our customers do not hesitate to stream the entire content of their hyperscale events live online, rather than just some parts of it over linear TV,” he says. “At the latest Olympics, France Télévisions ingested 45 live feeds into Wildmoka before streaming them all to their France.tv OTT app for viewers to be able to enjoy any live competition.”

highlights packages to fans. Golf highlights were just the beginning, as our technology supports automated highlights for 20 different sports and can provide the same service (and other offerings) for other leagues and other gaming companies. “Later in 2021 we moved into the European sports betting markets and announced our Live Video Notification product release with Sportradar which helps betting operators enhance the user experience, boosting volume and in-game engagement. WSC Sports and Sportradar will work together to develop new in-app integrations and explore new ways video highlights can enrich the user experience and support the market need for personalised, attractive and unique content.” “Another significant offering we deployed was WSC Stories, a mobile-focused product within the WSC platform that lets clients publish videos in story format (9:16) directly to Google OneBox during live play,” he adds. “Fans see each clip as an individual segment of the story, giving them the perfect mobile experience, right there in Google when searching for their team. The ability to publish to Google OneBox provides a new vertical for teams and leagues, away from their own social pages, apps or websites, to expose their content to more people, while also creating new monetisation opportunities.” WSC Stories was successfully used in the NCAA’s 2021 March Madness tournament. “It provided great results: more traffic, more engagement, completion rates and conversion,” says Shichman. “Other notable partnerships include Tencent, Extreme E and OneFootball.” Looking ahead and Shichman says: “We’re pushing forward with the release of our WSC Sports Broadcast Pro product, which offers the same DANIEL SHICHMAN automated highlights that we currently do in CO-FOUNDER AND CEO the perfect quality that’s right for digital, but in “As sports betting in the US broadcast quality. This will disrupt broadcasters’ grew in 2020 WSC Sports began highlight creation workflows and bring more exploring ways in which our content to fans quicker than ever before.” technology can be used by gaming companies XD motion to offer new fan experiences for their users,” BENOIT DENTAN says Daniel Shichman, co-founder and CEO at CEO the company. “This brought about WSC Sports’ partnership with FanDuel in January 2021. We’ve “The final of the French Football been working with them to deliver real-time Cup was played in May 2021 at push notifications of golf highlights, as they the Stade de France between happen, to users of the FanDuel Sportsbook AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain and app. This was the first time a US sports betting live broadcast on France 2. It opened with a operator was able to offer users fully automated spectacular sequence made in 3D and using

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augmented reality,” says Benoit Dentan, XD motion CEO. “XD motion in association with the French Football Federation (FFF) and France Télévisions used this process for the first time in an enclosure as large as the Stade de France. The images were coming from the camera installed on the proprietary XD motion cablecam solution, the X Fly 3D. This allows stadiums to be tracked in three dimensions in real time and virtual graphics can be easily added.”

XD motion worked with 3D software including Unreal Engine and Pixotope, producing “great AR sequences flying over Paris and Monaco ‘live’ on France Télévisions,” according to Dentan. AR versions of the cities were ‘placed’ within the stadium, with the respective team shield logos floating above. “We have heavily invested in IO.BOT, our software that controls all our product line, for example our robotic arm, Arcam, our X fly line and our tethered drone used on Formula E,” says Dentan. “One software can remote control all our hardware and is fully compatible with all industry-standard protocols, such as 5G, 4K, 8K [and offers] interoperability with Unreal Engine.” “We deployed our drones for the VR and beauty shots at the Olympics in Tokyo,” he adds. “We will continue to focus on making our products ideal for all viewer experiences: from customisable viewing options to more video game-inspired designs. Augmented reality is becoming a huge topic for the industry in 2022 and far beyond.” “What will set sports consumption services apart is how they enhance digital experiences,” he adds. “Viewership increasingly is nonlinear and the same can be said for sport’s economic model. Improving the value proposition ultimately comes down to service differentiation. Creative fan engagement functions and immersive elements delivered around rich, customisable video content are proven to help OTT services stand out from the crowd and make them stickier.” SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


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Zero Density AHMET OTURGAN

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

For Euro 2020, Belgian creative studio Dreamwall used Reality from Zero Density to bring Wembley Stadium into the studio for broadcaster RTBF’s Le Club de l’Euro programme. “DreamWall demonstrated the richness of virtual production with [features such as] a virtual set extension, portal window, green box for virtual sequences, 3D kicker for team compositions and augmented reality for refined infographics,” says Ahmet Oturgan, business development manager at Zero Density. “Three Reality Engines were utilised for the live production, with a Technocrane and one PTZ camera with FreeD tracking. The amalgamation of the physical and virtual world was one of the highlights of the broadcast.”

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to access all other products in the Zero Density ecosystem, so users can control, customise and monitor graphics from their phone, tablet or laptop. Broadcasters can easily integrate Reality Hub with existing equipment through industrystandard communication and automation protocols. They can also take advantage of Reality Hub’s real-time data integration to link external sources for sports.” “We are planning to develop more tools for data visualisations, offering highly customisable integration with the existing external data sources, as well as virtual advertisement and augmented reality related tools,” he adds. “We’re also aiming to develop specialised tools for sports production and deliver the RealityHub platform to more people in order to bring more integrated, more dynamic and higher quality content to the audience. We have already released a free Community Edition of RealityHub to provide end-to-end capability for broadcast workflows.”

Zixi ERIC BOLTEN

VP BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

This year the company released RealityHub, a web-based platform to enable users to control a production from a single hub. “Reality Hub is the first solution available on the market capable of letting broadcasters create both photoreal AR and virtual studio graphics, as well as automated, real-time overlay CG elements directly in Unreal,” says Oturgan. “It is a fully modular system; modules can be created by any developer, making the tools highly customisable. It brings a significant upgrade to sports broadcast graphics, from channel branding, lower-thirds and full-screen infographics to sport and news tickers. “Reality Hub provides a HTML5 user interface

“Despite the challenges of a global health crisis, Zixi is h e lp ing b r o a d c a s t e r s , streamers, gamers and viewers in new and exciting ways,” says VP business development Eric Bolten. “Zixi helped the NHL return to play by providing agile infrastructure for high-quality delivery of live streams for postseason games. In addition to their normal feed from every arena for every game, the NHL production team set up six extra cameras at each event, using Zixi to assimilate them into a cloud location where customers could view streams and pull certain content based on their specific need. When it was necessary to significantly increase the content capture and distribution systems, Zixi was deployed

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to enable multiple end users to get content quickly, efficiently and with high-quality monitored delivery. While health and safety of players and production staff were at the forefront of concern, engineers worked hard to enable talent and production tech to produce live game broadcasts from their homes.” Electronic Arts also leveraged Zixi for its Madden NFL 21 esport tournament, with 24 Madden competitors streaming in a variety of game modes. “Zixi allowed EA Sports to transmit high-quality, low-latency signals from sites with restricted bandwidth access, seamlessly allowing 43 EA broadcast-crew members, on-air talent and competitors to stream, monitor and manage broadcast-quality gaming content remotely from their homes,” says Bolten. In terms of trends, Bolten identifies virtualisation of streaming infrastructure and the growth of 5G as having a major impact on sports video. “For example, Zixi is working with Verizon and Amazon Web Services to deliver live video content for a major global broadcaster over the Verizon 5G network using AWS Wavelength Zones with 4K UHD streams being delivered to commercial targets at ultra-low latency and at the highest quality — continuously optimised,” he explains. “The first workflow that we are putting into production is distribution, effectively a satellite-replacement distribution workflow over 5G.” The company recently introduced Zixi as a Service, which provides broadcast media infrastructure as a service allowing users to leverage an efficient end-to-end virtual solution for video processing and delivery over any IP network. “We also expect to see Zixi enable a far more interactive experience for viewers, both inside and outside of the venue at a whole new level. This will be made possible thanks to 5G production capabilities allowing for ultra-fast delivery of information, such as real-time or playby-play gambling.” Leading sports television executives from across Europe are at the vanguard of Sports Video Group Europe. An independent affiliate organisation formed by the successful Sports Video Group in the USA, its mission is to advance the creation, production and distribution of sport content — on all screens — via information, events and industry initiatives. Make sure your company and your industry are represented in this vital collaborative initiative.

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808 Talent 141 AE Live 37 AJA Video Systems 39 Aldea Solutions 141 AMP Visual TV 143 Arena Television 143 Arista 41 Arkona Technologies 41 Ateme 43 BATCAM 145 Blackbird 43 Blackmagic Design 45 Bose Corporation 33 Brightcove 47 Broadcast Solutions 145 BT Media & Broadcast 49 Calrec 51 Camera Corps 147 Canon Back Cover Cerberus Tech 51 ChyronHego 53 Cingularity 53 Cobalt 55 CyanView 147 Deltacast 55 Deltatre 57 Disguise 149 Dolby 1 EditShare 57 EMG 5 EMG UK 149 ES Broadcast 151 Eurovision Services 61 Evertz 61 EVS 63 Fanview 151 Fastly 7 Fletcher 153 Focusrite Pro For-A 63 Genelec 65 Glensound 153 Globecast 65 Grabyo 66 Grass Valley 9 Gravity Media 13 Hitomi 155 Imagine Communications 67 Iron Mountain Entertainment Services 69 LAMA (Lean and Mean Audio) 155 Lawo 69 Leader 73 Limelight Networks 17 LiveU 73 LTN Global 75 M2A Media 77 Matrox 77 Mavis Broadcast 157 MediaKind 81 Media Links 157 180

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Ben Swanton +44 7917 772731 Gavin Bunker + 44 1442 234531 Gina Georgallis +44 7984 143056 Larry Tonon +14384903249 Elise Riffuad +33 771372591 Rob Hopkinson +44 1737 822011 Sam Watkins +44 7769908968 Rainer Sturm +49 1728640605 Dorota Bouskela +33 684633212 Jonathan Hurndall +44 7799884829 Adrian Lambert +44 (0) 7905 863352 Mel Atherton +39 6824770 Hans Vereecken +3212390831 Sheila McManus Andreas Hoeflich +49 6721 40080 Felicity Webster +44 1977 598694 Kevin Emmott +44 1422 842159 Barry Parker + 44 1932 336052 Leah Green +44 7966261516 Vicky Callister +44 (0)7506 786745 Carol Bettencourt +1 631 545 2000 Dan Pope + 44 (0)7788977904 Bob McAlpine +1 631 9888033 David Bourgeois +32 470 65 07 06 Geraldine Demarteau +32 42397884 Claire Bell +39 011 384 18344 Alexandra Coulson +447464343263 Miriam Wright +44 (0)207 4063219 Said Bacho Timo Koch +32 474475474 Angela Gibbons +447917460917 Terry Murphy +44 1923 650 074 Michele Gosetti +41 22717 2370 Mo Goyal +1 905 335 3700 Sebastien Verlaine +32 4 97434244 Jim Irving +7764 615709 Megan Davies +44 7425 225137 Richard Hingley +44 1753 576 861 Simon Poulton +44 1494462246 Peter Hattan + 44 7860 958955 Lars Olof Janflod +46 708166643 Marc Wilson +441622 753662 Bazeli Mbo +33 (1) 5595 2604 Rebecca Badcock +44 (0)789 0608873 Katharine Guy + 44 1635 569777 Mark Allatt +44 845 820 0000 Russell Johnson + 44 797 0716261 Kathy Bunting + 1 416.722.1872 Kerry Freemn +447887477219 Ewan Cameron +31 628601274 Andreas Hilmer +49 72221002 Kevin Salvidge +44 7286 178 752 Judith Storr +33 609187396 Ronen Artman +972 9 763 2414 Nadia Khan +1 508 331 1870 Elizabeth Lawrence +44 07949 904 168 Donald Sievewright 07721 862556 Moe Hamdhaidari +447951933694 Murray Barker +33 784548898 Al Nunez +1 6787703584

EMAIL ben@808talent.com gavin.bunker@ae.live gina@phosphor.pro larry.tonon@aldea.tv elise.riffuad@ampvisualtv.tv rh@arena-plc.com Sam@arista.com r.sturm@arkona-technologies.de d.bouskela@ateme.com jon@batcam.tv a.lambert@blackbird.video melissa@blackmagicdesign.com hans_vereecken@bose.com smcmanus@brightcove.com a.hoeflich@broadcast-solutions.de felicity.webster@bt.com kevin.emmott@calrec.com barryparker@cameracorps.co.uk leah.green@canon-europe.com vicky.callister@cerberus.tech carol.bettencourt@chyronhego.com dp@cingularity.tv bob.mcalpine@cobaltdigital.com david.bourgeois@cyanview.com g.demarteau@deltacast.com Claire.bell@deltatre.com alexandra.coulson@disguise.one Miriam.Wright@dolby.com Said.bacho@editshare.com Timo.koch@euromediagroup.com angela.gibbons@ctvob.co.uk terry@esbroadcast.com gosetti@eurovision.net Mo@evertz.com s.verlaine@evs.com jim.irving@fanview.co mdavies@fastly.com richard@flech.com simon.poulton@focusrite.com peter.hattan@for-a.co.uk lars-olof.janflod@genelec.com marc.wilson@glensound.co.uk bazeli.mbo@globecast.com rebecca@grabyo.com Katharine.guy@grassvalley.com mark.allatt@gravitymedia.com russell@hitomi-broadcast.tv. Kathy.Bunting@imaginecommunications.com kerry.freeman@ironmountain.com ewan@lamamix.com andreas.hilmer@lawo.de salvidge@leadereurope.com jstorr@llnw.com ronen@liveu.tv nkhan@ltnglobal.com lizzie.lawrence@m2amedia.tv donald.sievewright@matrox.com moe@mavisbroadcast.com murray.barker@mediakind.com anunez@medialinks.com SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


svgeurope

Sponsor Update

SponsorIndex SVG EUROPE SPONSOR

PAGE

Mobile Viewpoint 19 Mo-Sys 81 MOOV 83 Motion Impossible 159 MOVICOM 161 NativeWaves 83 NCAM 85 NEP 21 NEP Connect Net Insight 87 Never.no 89 NTT Electronics 91 Panasonic Broadcast 93 Phabrix 163 Pixellot 163 Pixotope RaceTech 165 Reality Check Systems (RCS) 165 Red Bee Media 93 Riedel 95 Ross Video 25 RT Software 97 Salsa Sound 167 SES Astra 99 Signiant 99 Singular.Live 169 Skyline Communications 169 slomo.tv 171 SMT 101 Sony 27 SOS Global 103 Stats Perform 103 Suora Broadcast 109 Supponor 110 Synamedia 111 TAG 115 TEAM Tedial 117 Telestream 173 Tellyo 119 Telos Alliance 175 Telstra 121 The Switch 29 Timeline Television 35 TSL Products 123 TV Skyline 175 TVN Mobile Production 177 TVU Networks 125 uniqFEED 177 Veritone 127 Verizon/Edgecast Vidi 129 Vislink 131 Vizrt 133 Waves Wildmoka 135 WSC Sports 137 XD Motion 179 Zero Density 179 Zixi 139

LEVEL Platinum Gold Gold Bronze/OB Bronze/OB Gold Gold Platinum Gold Gold Gold Gold Gold Bronze/OB Bronze/OB Gold Bronze/OB Bronze/OB Gold Gold Platinum Gold Bronze/OB Gold Gold Bronze/OB Bronze/OB Bronze/OB Gold Platinum Gold Gold Gold Gold Gold Gold Bronze/OB Gold Bronze/OB Gold Bronze/OB Gold Platinum Bronze Gold Bronze/OB Bronze/OB Gold Bronze/OB Gold Gold Gold Gold Gold Bronze/OB Gold Gold Bronze/OB Bronze/OB Gold

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

CONTACT Charlotte van Hertum Mike Grieve Mike Phillipson Rob Drewett Natalia Bogatova Venkat Venkateshwar Mike Ruddell Brian Clark Donna Palumbo Mari Fogelberg Alex Humphries-French Marco Fabi Sivashanka Kuppusamy Martin Mulligan Yossi Tarablus Brad Rochon Kate Hills Mike Ward Silvia Botella Christian Bockskopf Stuart Russell Mike Fredriksen Rob Oldfield Merav Cunningham Jon Finegold Mike Ward Thomas Gunkel Kate Krivitskaya Patricia Hopkins Anne Churchill Steve O’Connell Michael Morrison Johanna Koskela David Patton Christelle Gental Danna Mann Hannah Aitchinson Claudine Cecille Melanie Tassone Richard Collins Martin Dyster Carlos Farias Jessica Mintz Charlotte Wearden Chris Exelby Robert Kis Markus Osthaus Yoni Tayar Katy Walsh David Candler Shannon Shae Montoya Robert Oszvald Charlotte van Hertum Mark Gedderman Gil Wasserman Catherine Cywinska Galit Shiri Benoit Dentan Birim Yamanlar Keara McCarthy

PHONE +31 7270 00502 +447553 817033 +447860 522185 +44 1454 501010 +7 (495) 988-40-78 +43 6607740782 +44(0) 20 167 3868 +44 7824 563146 +44 01908 865554 +46 735148503 +44 (0) 7791256636 +39 3442263247 +49 1736282693 +44 1635 873030 +972 (0)52 289 0297 +18055518339 + 44 781 3947201 +44 7799 660792 + 34 689917616 +49 (202) 292 9516 +44 7827019494 +44 207 1688820 +447765686883 +19723 9280843 +1 781 3126786 +44 7799 660792 +3251313569 +1 3102858190 +1919 6024392 +1 800 628-6363 +1 8475 832100 +358 44 0124 055 + 44 20 8992 1550 +44 788 1914289 +1 315 646 8410 + 41 413681818 +33 607865 552 +1530 205 6416 +44 7799 117 269 +44 (0)7900 584066 +61 (405) 109 736 +1 310 339 4017 +44 8450 944 445 +44 1628 564610 +49 1703 733777 +49 (511) 12123705 +34 936317566 +41 792197492 +44 (0)7785 301587 +1 646 357 2408 +44 6151 9385 25 +31 7270 00502 +1 401 787 0120 +1972 3 6084064 +33 07 64 89 14 79 +972 508610010 +33 130660534 +902 323351700 +1 877 4949426

EMAIL c.vanhertum@mobileviewpoint.com mike@mo-sys.com mike.phillipson@moov.tv rob@motion-impossible.com nbogatova@movicom.tv vv@nativewaves.com mike.ruddell@ncam-tech.com bclark@nepgroup.com dpalumbo@nepgroup.com mari.fogelberg@netinsight.net alexhf@never.no marco-fabi@ntt-el-eu.com sivashankar.kuppusamy@panasonic.com. martin.mulligan@phabrix.com yossit@pixellot.tv brad.rochon@pixotope.com khills@racetech.co.uk mike@rcs.live silvia.botella@redbeemedia.com christian.bockskopf@riedel.net srussell@rossvideo.com mike.fredriksen@rtsw.co.uk rob@salsasound.com merav.cunningham@ses.com jfinegold@signiat.com mike@singular.live thomas.gunkel@skyline.be kate@slomo.tv p.hopkins@smt.com anne.churchill@sony.com SOConnell@sosglobal.com michael.morrison@statsperform.com johanna.koskela@streamteam.fi david.patton@supponor.com cgental@synamedia.com danna@tagvs.com haa@team.ch ccecille@tedail.com melaniet@telestream.net richard.collins@tellyo.com martin.dyster@telosalliance.com carlos.farias@team.telstra.com jessica.mintz@theswitch.tv charlotte.wearden@timeline.tv chris.exelby@tslproducts.com r.kis@tv-skyline.de markus.osthaus@tvn.de ytayar@tvunetworks.com katy.walsh@uniqfeed.com dcandler@veritone.com shannonshae.montoya@verizonmedia.com roszvald@vidi.eu c.vanhertum@mobileviewpoint.com mgederman@vizrt.com gilw@waves.com catherine@wildmoka.com galit@wsc-sports.com bdentan@xd-motion.com birim.yamanlar@zerodensity.tv keara.mccarthy@zixi.com 181


THANKS ITS SPONSORS GOLD

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BRONZE

808

TALENT

Deep Blue Pantone 276 C C92 M90 Y45 K60

Purple Pantone 682 C C33 M67 Y18 K2

Stone Pantone 421 C C34 M24 Y26 K4

Cerulean Pantone 631 C C70 M8 Y19 K0


PLATINUM

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svgeuropeupdate CLOSING COMMENT

A PUBLICATION OF

Looking back on Tokyo and a job well done BY KEN KERSCHBAUMER Executive Director, Editorial Services, Sports Video Group

A

ttending an Olympic Games is always a great chance to catch up with professional friends and colleagues and, more importantly, visit with multiple national broadcasters in a day without having to do any travelling. If you want to get a sense of where the industry is headed and what technology trends are about to become standard operating procedure, there is no better place to be than an Olympics IBC. Of course, trying to see trends in the middle of a global pandemic is tricky. Some of the trends are clearly in place because of the pandemic while others would have happened regardless of the pandemic. So which ones on display in Tokyo are here for the long haul? Clearly the first trend is remote production, where a broadcaster can keep more people in the home country, working remotely. It became clear in Tokyo that at major global events where a production partner like an OBS or an HBS creates tons of content, the on-site team will primarily be in place to make sure that signals safely get from the IBC to a production team waiting back home. The second big trend was the use of green screen technologies in more and more innovative ways. Eurosport’s efforts with the Cube in PyeongChang really took the green screen studio concept to the next level, and broadcasters like the BBC and France Télévisions both embraced green screen technologies for studio shows. It was interesting to see France Télévisions have a studio location in Tokyo complete with manned cameras and camera tracking but without talent. Instead, the talent, back home in Paris, was made to appear as if they were in the Tokyo studio. As for trends that might be limited to the pandemic era it seems that calling events off tube is the one most likely to revert to the prepandemic days when talent and reporters are on site. 184

In a COVID-19 era where the talent cannot get close to athletes, coaches and team officials, the ability to really take advantage of being on site is limited. But when this era ends, and God willing it is next spring, the relationship between talent and athletes can return to normal. Not only can talent call a better game when they can see the entire field of play as well as the feel the energy in the stadium, but they can also get that small little tidbit that can enhance a broadcast in a hallway or by being able to look around the venue. At the end of the day covering a sports event is entertainment and it is about storytelling. And good storytelling begins with fully understanding the subjects of the story, getting close to them and providing deeper context. One can only hope that the budgetary savings of keeping talent away from an event give way to the need for great storytelling. But the biggest trend of all at the Tokyo Games was simply how important technology has been to allowing national broadcasters and others to produce and deliver more and more of the Olympic Games to viewers back at home. Every broadcaster was delivering not only a linear TV channel but multiple channels of additional live event coverage. And, by the way, they were doing it with fewer people than ever but with more content creators than ever. The collective accomplishments of a sport production industry that has been challenged during the age of COVID-19 on all levels cannot be understated. And the Tokyo Olympics, as much as they lacked due to the lack of fans, showed those successes, full stop. The COVID-19 guidelines, testing protocols and more showed the sport production industry knows how to work safely and without conflict. And the fact that not only were the events able to be covered as if everything was normal but they could also be produced in UHD, HDR and 9.1 surround sound without major issues? That was something worth celebrating.And here’s to more celebrating in 2022 and beyond.

PUBLISHED BY SPORTS VIDEO GROUP

260 Fifth Ave., Ste. 600 , New York, NY 10001 USA Tel: +1 212.481.8140 | Fax: +1 212.696.1783 www.sportsvideo.org Ken Kerschbaumer, Executive Director, Editorial kenkersch@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +1 212.481.8140 Heather McLean, SVG Europe Editor heather@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +44 7986 473520 Will Strauss, SVG Europe Editor will@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +44 7789 711611 Jo Ruddock, SVG Europe Content Editor jo.ruddock@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +44 7980 264491 Veronica Newson, Head of Event Content and Production veronica@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +44 7801 231312 Clare Sturzaker, European Sponsorship Sales Manager clare@sporstvideo.org | Tel: +44 7710 991595 Nicky Lane, European Sponsorship Consultant nicky@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +44 7956 107882 Rob Payne, Managing Director, Worldwide Sponsor Development rob@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +1 212.481.8131 Andrew Gabel, Manager, Sponsor Development agabel@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +1 646.998.4554 Dawn Boultwood, Content Production dawn@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +44 7967 197803 Livvy Maule Ffinch, Audience Development livvy@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +44 7867 800191 Susan Schoepe, Sponsorship Coordinator sue@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +44 7711 168858 Joe Hosken, General Manager, Europe joe@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +44 7429 090134 Martin Porter, Executive Director marty@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +1 516.767.6720 Paul Gallo, Executive Director paul@sportsvideo.org | Tel: +1 212.696.1799 Magazine Production Dean Cook, The Magazine Production Company www.magazineproduction.com | Tel: +44 1273 911730 ABOUT SVG EUROPE Sports Video Group Europe supports the professional community in Europe that uses video, audio, and broadband technologies to produce and distribute sports content. Through SVG Europe, leagues, owners, teams, broadcasters, webcasters, OB companies, and technology providers learn from each other, turn vision into reality, and implement innovations. Sharing these experiences leads to advances both in the sports-production/distribution process and in the overall consumer sports experience. MISSION To advance the creation, production, and distribution of sports content. To provide a knowledge resource for the growing community of sports video professionals working for broadcast/broadband organizations, professional teams and leagues, collegiate and secondary schools, and facilities. To facilitate a dialogue with manufacturers, suppliers, and technology developers that will improve the quality and profitability of sports programming.

SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021


Because Sport TV Leads the Way Leading sports television executives from across Europe are at the vanguard of Sports Video Group Europe. An independent affiliate organisation formed by the successful Sports Video Group in the USA, its mission is to advance the creation, production and distribution of sport content — on all screens — via information, events and industry initiatives. Make sure your company and your industry are represented in this vital collaborative initiative.

Join SVGE today www.svgeurope.org


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SportTechJOURNAL AUTUMN 2021

Profile for The Magazine Production Company

SVG Europe, SportTech Journal 2021  

Advancing the creation, production & distribution of television sports content. Leading sports television executives from across Europe ar...

SVG Europe, SportTech Journal 2021  

Advancing the creation, production & distribution of television sports content. Leading sports television executives from across Europe ar...

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