Behind the scenes of the Autumn Nations Series rugby with host broadcaster Cinevideo

A complex camera setup captured the action in Genoa

For the second year, Cinevideo has carried out the full television production of the Six Nations and Autumn Nations Series rugby, including the final match between Italy and South Africa held in Genoa last month.

Roberto Landini caught up with Andrea Buonomo, executive sales manager of Cinevideo, to find out more about this complex production.

What were the most interesting aspects of the Cinevideo setup for the two tournaments?

In summary, a high number of cameras, the management of the Television Match Official (TMO) – similar to VAR in football – and a unilateral Sky Italy on-field studio customisation. This is a small but well-equipped studio with the new ILME-FR7 Sony PTZ camera.

The management of the TMO is entrusted to an English-speaking operator so they can better communicate with the referees who are often native English speakers, although we are also training Italian operators to specialise.

The TMO referee is always in the mobile control room and is in contact with the first referee on the pitch: when there is any doubt about a foul, some action or a point scored, the first referee can ask the second to verify, viewing the signals from all cameras in the control room.

All of this takes place live: both the audience in the stadium and the referee on the pitch can see the same images that are proposed by the TMO.

The audio commentary between the two referees is also on air and all 22 cameras used on the production can be interlocked for the replay. Of these, six operate in Supermotion at 75fps and one in UltraEmotion at 600fps. Four of these cameras are connected via RF links with radio frequency systems supplied by EI Towers.

All cameras are used for replays, with 34 recording channels on the EVS network, and an operator is dedicated to supporting the referee in the gallery who is able to see all the angles being recorded. This in turn can show the referee on the field the ‘offending’ action from the most useful angle.

Were you operating only as the host broadcaster or did you also deliver customisation? And which OB truck did you use?

The last match [of the Autumn Nations Series] was played in Genoa on 19 November with the production headed by Sky Italia. Cinevideo has been their rugby reference service for several years and for the second year we engaged the Dolphin 7.0 OB, which produces content in HD 1080i.

The camera plan is shared by all competitions and therefore all matches have a similar camera layout.

The camera plan for the Italy vs South Africa match in Genoa

On board the same vehicle, in addition to the direction for the international feed by Roberto Montoli, a second independent director also simultaneously carries out the unilateral customisation for Sky Italia.

This customisation was created with two cameras and, for reasons of limited space in the sideline studio, it was decided for the first time to use a full-frame Sony PTZ remote camera, the ILME-FR7. It is a new model that enables filming with a cinematic look, mounted on a space-saving rail.

In this mini studio, the two talents delivered the pre- and post-match analysis. The second customisation camera took care of the flash interviews, always in the field.

Tell us about the team on site, given that this is a complex production including many feeds and many service links

The team consisted of 55 technicians with 22 cameras for the host and two for Sky. Among the special shooting supports were two remote PTZ cameras in the locker rooms to offer silent images of the teams returning from warm-up or after halftime and when they were about to go out on the pitch.

Two other PTZ cameras took care of filming coaches because, unlike in other sports, the coaches sit in the stands away from the pitch during the match to better see the action. We placed a PTZ camera for each of them that followed them throughout the game to catch any reactions.

A Steadicam on the pitch followed the game and was also used for the line-up of players. There were nine EVS technicians; we also delivered several signals to the analysts of the respective teams, who were also in the stands, to be used for tactical purposes.

There were many cameras in a complex layout, including four on the long side of the field, two in favour and two reverse over the shoulder. Four Supermotions were placed at the corners of the field, called TMO, since they are the first reference for referees.

Inside Dolphin 7.0

Two more are considered tactical and placed left and right, up in the corner; a reverse Supermotion was in the field, dedicated to reverse shot images, then, importantly, the UltraMotion was positioned in a corner. This can work up to 2000fps according to shooting needs and up to 600fps in ‘triggerless’ mode.

Triggerless indicates an operating mode without the use of a buffer (typical of high-speed cameras) and allows the replay operator to have the replay immediately available without having to acquire the slowed-down images. In practice, it’s like working with a classic Supermotion but at eight times faster speeds.

The high-speed cameras were Phantom HighSpeeds ​​from Vision Research.

Cinevideo also guaranteed the audio coverage in stereo as well as the interface with an external company – appointed by the international federation – which guarantees the entire complex communication system of the referees (with each other, touch judges, with the direction, main referee, etc).

Riedel Bolero systems took care of communications in the field between floor managers, audio managers and radio cameras.

For the world feed, a commentary station was set up in the grandstand along with a second one for South African broadcaster SuperSport; the commentary station for Sky Italia was also always in the stands.

The international world feed signal was delivered to a redundant uplink, while Sky Italia used optical fibres to transport the national signal to its Santa Giulia headquarters.

Each event of this kind requires about two days of preparation plus that of the match.

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