Two people cross country skiing

Team sports are all about providing options, whether you’re finding space to receive a pass or blocking opposing players to give your teammates more freedom. The same is true of broadcasting sporting events; viewers are looking for more choices when watching their favourite teams and athletes ― from enhanced instant replays and multiple camera angles to new formats and higher resolutions.

Live broadcast specialist EMG tackled this challenge when they were called upon to build the technical architecture for a major multi-sports event in Tokyo in the summer of 2021. In order to provide all the viewing options expected by today’s sports audiences, EMG needed to build eight control galleries some 500m from the athletics stadium and bring in all the camera and microphone outputs over IP.

How does a company manage to cover every sport without latency, provide full redundancy for the opening ceremony, and handle road events more than 100km away from the stadium?

At the Click of a Mouse

For EMG, the answer lies in their diPloy system, of which Imagine’s Selenio Network Processor forms a core part. diPloy is an IP flypack system built into modular racks of different sizes, covering all typical elements of a production infrastructure. This concept drastically reduces the engineering effort per event and thus the equipment downtime between events.

A diPloy rack within the Tokyo athletics stadium connected the 4K HDR UHD cameras and microphones to the broadcast compound, where EMG had set up eight control galleries. All the switching was in the IP domain, whilst the SDI edge connectivity needed for handoff to legacy environments required conversion to SMPTE ST 2110 IP.

This is where SNP comes in. The processor has multiple adaptable software “personalities” that can be changed at the click of a mouse, depending on the requirements of each deployment. These include up-, down- and cross-conversion, SDI to IP, and point multiviewer functionality.

By converting incoming signals, multiplexing them onto fibre and finally splitting the feeds out for production, SNP ensured the Tokyo operation ran smoothly and without latency. Even the signals from the road cycling event ― which came from cameras on motorbikes, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft ― were seamlessly incorporated via SNPs connecting the downlinks to the control room.

Besides the Tokyo event, EMG also put diPloy into action at the cross-country skiing and ski jump competitions at the 2021 FIS Nordic World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany. A centralised IP fly-pack based near the cross-country finish line and diPloy modules placed around the course brought all the video and audio back to the company’s OB truck ― not only from the race, but also from the ski jump hill located some five kilometres away.

The Future of Live Sports Broadcasting

EMG calls diPloy the “the future of live sports broadcasting.” Where traditional OB trucks might have capacity to cover three football matches in a week in a localised environment, diPloy offers the ability to cover three in a single day ― and anywhere in the world. A director, a replay server team and an audio supervisor could be spread out across Europe to cover matches all over the continent.

It was clear from the beginning that the agility, flexibility and scalability required to make this work could only be achieved with an open, standards-based IP system, and SNP became the glue tying it all together.

As well as the obvious financial benefits of this centralised approach, there are crucial environmental improvements from reducing the transportation of kit and personnel. In addition, crews get to work in more comfortable production areas than ever before, with more space and more time to do creative work instead of travelling or rigging equipment.

That is what the future of live sports broadcasting looks like: a sustainable model ready to receive whatever setup is thrown its way.

December 13, 2021 - By Imagine Communications
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