Blackmagic Design technology helps Amsterdam ArenA achieve smart signal distribution goals

Amsterdam_Arena_04Amsterdam ArenA is a multi-purpose, 53,395-seat stadium that hosts more than 400 corporate events each year, as well as a dozen major annual concerts. However, the ArenA’s production facilities are primarily used by Ajax Media, the content division of leading Eredivisie club AFC Ajax. Overseeing those facilities is Tim Oosterop, the ArenA’s production manager.

“The sophistication of production at the ArenA is increasing,” according to Oosterop. “The media has progressed from playing out some basic commercials to producing a live programme with highlights, graphics, presenters and slow motion replays. The aim with the technology and workflow is always to have the highest quality possible for our narrowcasting system.”

Ajax Media produces three in-house television channels during live games, including a live feed of the match action taken from the league’s host broadcaster, mixed with bespoke sponsor logos and public transport information. Ajax Media itself operates three pitch-side cameras, a PTZ camera in the press room and two fixed cameras in the players’ tunnel to produce a second channel. A third in-house channel is used for specialist content during the ArenA’s host of UEFA matches for distribution to VIP zones.

Signals from all the Ajax Media cameras are routed through a Blackmagic Design MultiView 16 and to a Blackmagic Design Smart Videohub 40 x 40 before onward connection to a video switcher. The ArenA’s Smart Videohub is mirrored by a second identical unit at Ajax Media’s facility, where post production is carried out using Avid editors.

The outputs include four to the giant video screens, three for the in-house channels, four for slo-motion, one to Ajax Media, three to the OB van area and one each to the stadiums narrowcasting system and recording devices.

“What’s great about the MultiView 16 is that we have control over the outputs of the system. Since we usually require more than 15 outputs at a certain points during a match we need to switch some of them to the Videohub. With both the MultiView and Videohub we are always sure that the right signal goes to the right output.”

Oosterop adds: “This is especially important for concerts and other live events where we are not necessarily working with regular partners and we are unsure what format we will receive signals in.”

Oosterop’s team plans to augment the spectator experience further by introducing rich media, including video, streamed over the stadium’s Huawei Wi-Fi network.

“Ajax distributes statistics to its mobile app, but not video yet. Technically we can do this today but we would like to provide fans with a richer in-stadium experience including the ability to choose between different camera angles and to zoom in on pictures.”

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