Equidia weighs in for first-class equestrian broadcast workflows

Created in 1999 through the initiative of two racecourse organisers (France Galop and Le Trot), Equidia has become a major sports-themed TV broadcaster serving the French market. Available via ADSL TV packages, cable and satellite TV in France, the specialty broadcaster has launched several spin-offs and can be found on various channels: Equidia Live for the coverage of at least three daily races (ie. about 3,200 hours of live broadcasting each year); Equidia Life for the magazine shows and current topics related to the various riding competitions; Equidia Radio, the newcomer; and finally, the catch-up TV versions and second screen apps.

The Equidia group is managed by Eric Brion, whilst Jean-François Bertrand is in charge of the channel’s technical operations.

“Even though it’s the technical association of the Hippodromes that produces the signal of the main races with its three OB units, we carry out a significant amount of work in-house. We have therefore set up a dedicated technical team of 42 people,” explains Jean-François Bertrand.

In 2009, Equidia began to broadcast in 16:9. Today all of the programmes are in HD (but not necessarily broadcast in HD).

Bertrand continues: “Ever since we switched to almost entirely tapeless production we have divided the processing time of acquiring rushes by half. We use the IMX30 format and remain as far as possible with the HD-SDI workflow.”

Two studios on the Equidia premises located in the Paris region are used for the television shows. The first one has a surface area of 95sqm whereas the second one is smaller, measuring 35sqm. Each studio has its own production room. In both cases a blend of robotic cameras (Sony BRC 300s) and stand-mounted cameras are deployed.

For live broadcasts Equidia is connected to the 27 main French hippodromes via a combination of fibre optic cabling and satellite signals broadcast by the company Globecast.

As far as the multiplexed broadcast of its channels is concerned, Equidia uses its in-house production facilities but also employs Cognacq Jay Images as a back-up for security reasons.

ProConsultant Informatique, an IT specialist for the broadcast industry, has provided an end-to-end workflow management solution that handles everything from acquisition to delivery of broadcast-ready file needs. The company chose to install the Louise software that is very popular among the broadcast world. It can, among other things, manage programme acquisition (viewing, purchase contracts/production, strategic programming and cue sheet drafting (ad insertion, trailers). Meanwhile, a Harris solution has been selected for hardware automation.

Bertrand notes: “Due to the large number of programmes we have and as far as archiving is concerned, we have chosen to work with Capital Vision right from the start. Second screen services and catch-up TV being one of our major development aspects, we also work closely with Visiware for specific applications.”

When Equidia was established, its graphic design was carried out by Dream On. Today a team of graphic artists are using the 3DS Max computer graphics program to ensure that the existing design continues to evolve.

Although Equidia is a special interest broadcaster it is perfectly able to hold its own against other sports channels from a technical standpoint.

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