BBC readies extensive coverage for Sports Personality awards

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) will be revealed tomorrow (16 December) during a live broadcast from the ExCel centre in east London, the venue for boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling during the London 2012 Olympics.

The main BBC1 and BBC1 HD programme will feature footage from the Games, Euro 2012 and other sporting events of year compiled from thousands of hours of material held on nearline storage systems.

The Sports Personality of the Year will be selected by public vote on the night from a 12-strong shortlist, which includes several Olympians (Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Sir Chris Hoy), Paralympians (Ellie Simmons, David Weir), tennis player Andy Murray, golfer Rory McIlroy and cyclist Bradley Wiggins, the Tour de France and Olympic Gold medal winner. Among other categories are Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, Young Sports Personality of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Coverage of the event begins at 6.15pm on the Red Button with guests arriving at the ExCel on the red carpet. BBC Radio 5 Live will also carry a full preview. The main show, hosted by Clare Balding, Gary Lineker and Sue Barker, will start on BBC1 and BBC1 HD at 7.30 (and from 7 on 5 Live). John Inverdale will interview the winners for both the Red Button service and 5 Live from 10.05 to 11.30, although this could change as SPOTY has a reputation for over-running.

Video material for the evening has been compiled by Timeline TV North. Two viewing stations and an ingest area were set up in an office at the company’s facility on the 17th floor of the Blue Tower at MediaCityUK in Salford. Clips have been taken from several QNAP nearline storage devices, with 2000 hours from the Olympics alone, plus the BBC’s coverage of the Euros, as well as other sporting highlights of the year.

BBC Sport has been using QNAP recently and Timeline TV installed the system for compatibility. The company’s operations director, Eben Clancy, says that at £8000 for 48TB of storage QNAP has proved “very cost effective” bearing in mind the amount of capacity needed for this production.

“The BBC gave us 120TB of Olympics material from its archive and we had the same logs, back-ups and edit point information, running through EVS IP Director. So it was like an extension of what the BBC production teams had at the IBC in Stratford,” explains Clancy.

Material was edited on Avid, with up to seven suites being used as the big night approached. Timeline TV North also worked on the BBC Olympics DVD, while its London counterpart was involved in the commercial release of Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage.

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