Even with Pyeongchang Games looming, South Korean broadcasters keep focus on Sochi

Although the Pyeongchang Winter Games are a full four years away, South Korean rightsholding broadcasters in Sochi can’t be blamed for prepping for what will be the nation’s first hosted Winter Olympics. However, SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System), which holds South Korea’s Olympics rights through 2024, and its sublicensees KBS (Korean Broadcast System) and MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Corp.), are keeping their eye on the prize in Sochi.

SBS's Sinwoo Jin inside the South Korean network's master control at the IBC

SBS’s Sinwoo Jin inside the South Korean network’s master control at the IBC

“2018 — I don’t think about that right now,” SBS TV Technology Manager Sinwoo Jin says with a chuckle. “First, we are here; then, we are at Summer Olympics [in Rio de Janeiro in 2016]. Then, we worry about 2018. We have a very long time to go, and we are [focused] here.”

Although SBS is the official rightsholder, the network splits its space with KBS (40% of the space) and MBC (30%), each of the three networks producing its own, independent coverage of the Games.

Seoul Broadcasting System
Like so many rightsholding broadcasters at the IBC in Sochi, SBS has connected its on-site production with its broadcast center in Seoul. The control room and ENG operation at the IBC have five outbound fiber lines to Seoul and two in-bound lines back to Sochi for sharing and distributing content.

SBS's Sinwoo Jin inside the South Korean network's studio at the IBC

SBS’s Sinwoo Jin inside the South Korean network’s studio at the IBC

On-site in Sochi, SBS is ingesting all OBS-provided VandA (video and audio) feeds from the respective venues, as well as additional content, into its local storage at its IBC facility. Through the first six days of competition, SBS already had more than 2,000 hours ingested and logged.

SBS has rolled out seven non-linear editing systems at the IBC: five Apple Final Cut Pro 7 NLEs and two Grass Valley Edius systems. The ENG team is running primarily on XDCAM HD422 (at 50 fps) while the primary broadcast content is DVCPro HD.

SBS is connected to its Seoul broadcast home base by two fiber pipes, an STM-4 (622 MBps) and an STM-1 (155 MBps).

Though heavily relying on at-home–production workflows to tie its IBC operation to Seoul, SBS still counts about 80 crewmembers (fewer than the 100 in London but more than in Vancouver) at its facility.

The SBS area also includes a three-camera studio — all Ikegami units, one a jib — and two commentary booths.

Korean Broadcasting System
Meanwhile, KBS is delivering Olympics content to two linear channels in South Korea, totaling more than 12 hours per day.

KBS master control

KBS master control

The network is taking in 20 OBS-provided VandA feeds from the Sochi venues and sending them to its broadcast center in Seoul and also recording them onto seven servers at the IBC.

“From Opening Ceremony to Closing Ceremony, every minute [of content] will go to our servers for our archive,” says KBS Outside Broadcast System Engineer Lee Seon II. “We [also] send everything to our headquarters in Seoul. Then, they have another TV studio in Seoul, and they [produce] the program there.”

This workflow is made possible by STM-4 and STM-1 fiber pipes connecting Sochi and Seoul.

In addition, KBS has a small studio at its IBC facility, equipped with four cameras depending on the need. Four ENG cameras and a Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer edit system are also deployed for ENG.

Munhwa Broadcasting Corp.
MBC has brought a staff of 65 to Sochi and is using a similar infrastructure and workflow to what it developed for the 2012 London Games, delivering more than 200 hours of programming to its South Korea viewers.

MBC Senior Engineer, OB Operations, Seok-Jin Lee

MBC Senior Engineer, OB Operations, Seok-Jin Lee

“Two years ago, we worked very hard to prepare a [workflow] for London,” says OB Operations Director Lee Won-Young. “We have very close to the same system here in Sochi. It has a little bit more [capability], but it is very similar to our system in London.”

Like SBS and KBS, MBC is ingesting all VandA feeds, sending them to Seoul via MST4 and MST1 fiber pipes. It sends a total of five MPEG-4 paths to Seoul with one MPEG-4 return path to Sochi.

MBC has four ENG crews with three members per team shooting on Panasonic P2, the content going to three EVS servers with LSM interface and a single Final Cut Pro on-site. The network’s IBC facility also houses a commentary booth, studio, and small chroma-background set for live standups.

While Sochi is at the forefront for South Korean broadcasters, it can be viewed as a valuable — albeit much smaller — test run for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. Although South Korea has primarily been seen as a Summer Games-oriented nation (Seoul hosted the Summer Olympics in 1988), Sinwoo expects the 2018 Games to show that his nation can be plenty wintery.

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