EVS C-Cast to drive World Cup second screens

As well as its integral role in the production workflow in Brazil, EVS’ C-Cast system is also driving what is expected to be the largest second screen deployment yet seen in sports broadcast. For a technology that was only a concept at the last World Cup, C-Cast has an impressively central role in HBS’ production plans for coverage of the tournament once it gets underway.

“With C-Cast we will be able to distribute media not only to rights’ holders but to viewers though connected screens,” comments EVS SVP marketing Nicolas Bourdon. “It also gives production teams and ENG crews access to the last feeds that have been recorded at our servers at the different venues which gives us a collaborative production workflow.”

C-Cast Contribution will be used to mesh the IBC and the 12 disparate venues together, live streams passing through the two C-Cast Agents at each venue where they will then be transcoded and transferred into an Amazon Cloud-based infrastructure. C-Cast Central will then govern the material’s distribution on the network, passing the footage on to Adobe Premier-based HBS production teams and media rights’ holders at the IBC and further afield too.

Add in the fact that the remote teams can add camera content — including camera angles and highlights — that have not been chosen by the director and made part of the world feed during the live event from any geographical location, and you start to get the sense that remote production workflows have just made an important step change. There is a caveat in that according to spec the first H.264 file is transferred to C-Cast Central within 45 seconds of the action taking place, all of which suggests a live feed mediated via the technology could perhaps have a lag long enough to be noticeable in the Twitter age, but that seems a small price to pay for the flexibility on offer.

Above and beyond its remote role though is also the part it plays in FIFA’s dramatically ambitious second screen plans.

“There are two options for broadcasters,” explains Bourdon. “One is to have a turnkey production, a white label app that a broadcaster can put their own logo on. Viewers can then access different types of content, up to six live camera angles, clips and key actions from a game which has an option of 15 camera angles, statistics provided by deltatre, and full language translation of all the logs and captions.”

Bourdon describes the whole enterprise as being “quite challenging”, but it seems to be a popular one with broadcasters too. C-Cast Central manages availability of material via APIs, and the major broadcasters around the world are folding the multiple C-Cast streams into their own fully-featured apps (the second option he refers to). However, an impressively large number of the smaller rights’ holders seem to be happy to go with the white label product.

“At this stage HBS has sold one hundred licenses which represents in term of geographical coverage a potential viewership of 2.7bn,” says Bourdon. “And while, of course, only a small percentage of that number will be interested in a second screen app, based on FIFA’s own calculations they are expecting around 50m people to download the application.

“So you can imagine how stressed our team in Belgium is to get everything up and running in the next few weeks,” he adds with a laugh.

Expect to see some new features once the tournament kicks off too, with Bourdon revealing that HBS will be using C-Cast 3.0 out in Brazil, which will then be productised into C-Cast v3.1 around the time of IBC.

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