App Media Group discusses connectivity and cameras for Italian Basketball League channel production

LegaBasketFrom locations in Milan and Padua, App Media Group’s many activities include the management of the Italian Basketball League channel. The channel is the result of a partnership with Basketball League and Fastweb that has provided fiber links to and from every arena involved in Basketball League Serie A.

Initially, all 16 venues engaged in Serie A basketball were cabled with fiber and KA satellite links, aftter which other sporting locations were added. The dual satellite and fiber connectivity is intended to ensure security and backup of broadcast delivery.

Mario Chiavalin from App Media Group says: “In every sports arena we have installed an H264 encoder and a PC with special software that allows acquisition and management. So we can take and convey all the images of the game live and delayed if needed, thanks to a signal recording made on site, which also serves as a further guarantee.”

At each building a local television production service (generally, every sports federation makes arrangements with a local service) shoots and carries two embedded SDI signals, accompanied by commentary from the visiting team. Some of these programmes are aired on Sky and RAI, and without journalistic comment. An operator also prepares highlights of all the games and makes them available various foreign TV stations from the Network Operation Center of the Basketball League.

In each hall the production philosophy is to use four cameras: two positioned centrally on top seats on the same side (one that performs narrow shooting and one wide images). The other two are placed under the baskets.

The team in charge of filming the matches is generally on-site with a mobile vehicle or, less frequently, flightcase-based set-up. They prepare the programming that is broadcast live on regional television [the full list of stations can be found on the league basketball site] and even an audio commentary. ”

On the web channel a programme called Beko Live features links with all the basketball venues. The footage is commented on by a journalist, with input from a special studio guests as well.

Chiavalin notes: “We boast an average audience of about 20,000 online viewers as registered users who benefit from the entire transmission among more than 50 thousand subscribers. On, once subscribed, one can find the matches of the previous years and all the highlights of each event.”

Most of the basketball teams are followed from one of the 22 mobile units operated by App Media Group. In each venue the images are captured by four Sony cameras and/or Grass Valley units with long lenses. Graphics are created by connecting an interface to scoreboards, whilst a designated PC follows the 24 seconds of the timer with the results.

The service also provides the signals of four independent cameras on a machine known as Instant Replay, which is available to the judges. If they have doubts about a player action they can review the images from all four cameras and then decide whether or not to endorse any foul or irregular action.

In the commentary booth there is a monitor, two headsets and two speaker areas, while some halls also feature a journalist conducting interviews. The set-up generates two recordings: a ‘priority’ for the visiting team that goes on-air and one for the home team, which is issued after the game. The audio recordings are gathered from the cameras, each of which features a microphone that records audio effects. One channel is used for effects and another for the commentary.

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