EURO 2016 Reflections: Italian broadcasters optimise 4K coverage of landmark tournament

For EURO 2016, Eutelsat and Rai worked together for live broadcasts of the matches in Ultra HD, transmitted via the tivùsat free satellite platform. Everything was prepared at Eutelsat Paris-Rambouillet teleport, where the heart of the Rai technological infrastructure was installed for live broadcasts of the various matches – beginning with Portugal vs Poland on 30 June. Further matches in 4K followed on 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 July, culminating in the final on 10 July. All coverage was aired on Rai in 4K on the new temporary channel 210 within free tivùsat satellite platform via Eutelsat – Hot Bird.

For these events Rai and Eutelsat chose DBW Communication to realise the customisation of the seven matches of UEFA EURO 2016 broadcast live in 4K UltraHD. The goal was to give users an unprecedented viewing experience, taking advantage of the extraordinary definition of Ultra HD images.

The project saw the entire group within Rai signing a strategic agreement with Eutelsat which made its resources available on Hot Bird satellite together with a series of ground services in collaboration with a pool of international technology companies, namely Rai, Rai Way, Eutelsat, tivùsat, Nagra, V-Nova and Perseus.

Dedicated programming

The final product was a sequence of dedicated programming, made possible thanks to the shots taken by 14 Ultra HD cameras by UEFA. This production structure was adopted for all seven of the aforementioned matches.

The access to tivùsat and the viewing of Ultra HD is simple and no subscription is required: all that is need is a satellite dish oriented to HOT BIRD 13° East, a tivùsat-compliant Ultra HD Tvcompliant, and a tivùsat HD CAM. Simply activate the tivùsat HD smartcard included in the package of the CAM and tune to channel 210 of the platform.

The signal was delivered to Rai at the International Broadcasting Center and reached the Paris-Rambouillet teleport via fiber, thanks to the innovative Perseus coding made by V-Nova hardware. The composition of the programme for Ultra HD airing took place onboard the OB Vehicle provided by DBW Communication, which was located at the teleport.

Before the uplink to Hot Bird the signal was encrypted using the Nagra coding system employed by tivùsat and packed with the new standard by HEVC encoders provided by Rai.

‘A leap forward’

There follows a small selection of comments from various participants in the project…

Valerio Zingarelli, chief technology officer, Rai: ​​“Thanks to a group of companies led by Rai, this is a leap forward. Our direct contact with the audience and our creating content requires us to use the best technology as a forerunner to the technological innovation that gives more value to the content itself.”

Luca Balestrieri, tivùsat, remarks: “Innovation today is never done [just by] yourself – you have to create the team. Rai and Rai Way, Eutelsat, tivùsat, Nagra, V-Nova and Perseus have combined their expertise to [achieve] one big goal.”

Guido Meardi, CEO and co-founder, V-Nova: “We ensure that the quality seen on the football field is kept completely entact and in the transmission thanks to Perseus compression technology. [Nothing is lost nor is] a pixel is out of place”

Giuliano Beretta, president of DBW Communication, adds: “We were the forerunners of 4K [having facilitated the broadcast of] a football match as early as 2013.”

Stefano Rebecchi, AD DBW Communication, adds: “One of our mobile units was sent to the teleport in Paris, Ramboulliet, carrying all devices that allowed us to customise the transmissions and make them suitable for the Italian public – Italian commentary, 4K graphics and so on – [somethng of which] we are particularly proud.”

Final word goes to Renato Farina, AD Eutelsat Italy: “For me this is really the kick-off of the television of the future.”

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