EVS charts FIFA World Cup production workflow

Following on from its successful deployment at last year’s Confederations Cup in Brazil, not to mention numerous World Cups passim, EVS is once again going to play an instrumental part in HBS’ broadcast plans for the FIFA World Cup. “There are two main differences between last year’s event and the World Cup this summer,” states EVS EMEA marketing manager, Sébastien Verlaine. “The first is the scale. There are more venues involved, so more cameras and more servers. The second is the connectivity; some of the products that we launched at IBC2013 are going to be used for the first time at such a large event.”

The EVS team is quietly calm and confident ahead of the tourney, which is all the more admirable when you consider that the company currently has several million pounds worth of equipment on a container ship en route to Brazil somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.

“In terms of the kit there will be 16 XT3 servers per venue, which is 192 XT3 servers altogether,” says Nicolas Bourdon, SVP Marketing. “There will also be 18 additional servers at the IBC for ingest and match highlights and 24 more servers for the playout of SDI feeds. In total you have 234 EVS servers that have been shipped out to Brazil. They’ve already left the continent and delivery will be late April/early May which is when set-up will begin.”

And if that seems like a lot of equipment then that’s because HBS has taken the wholly pragmatic step of bypassing the country’s notorious transport and infrastructure problems — not to mention security worries — by simply making sure that the same production set-up is available at each of the tournament’s 12 venues.

“Instead of OB trucks all the equipment will be in containers,” explains Bourdon. “These have been prepared for months at a secret location in Germany and the only way you knew whether one was destined for one place or another was by a little sticker on the door. They’re even being shipped over using different ships. HBS is taking this aspect of security very seriously.

“The team working at the IBC won’t be moving to different places.” he continues, “different teams will be working at different locations. The technology now allows that to happen. The ability of some of the production teams working on the multilaterals for HBS in Rio being able to access any of the content being ingested into the servers at any of the 12 venues provides a lot of flexibility. it gives them the opportunity to produce more content, faster and better.”

The basic workflow starts with those 16 XT3 servers per venue that will be used for replays, highlight edits, graphic insertion, clip creation and content management. EVS’ IPDirector production asset management suite will drive all the ‘emotion’ highlights packages, which is an add-on to the multi-feed concept first pioneered by HBS during Germany 2002 (nine feeds will be produced from each game). The compilation of all the best clips will be handled by EVS’ new MultiReview solution, and these clips will then be used to create highlights packages that will be made available to FIFA’s Media Rights Licensees.

41 ENG crews will also be in action, following the individual teams during the tournament and more, ingesting the material at the venues and passing it to the FIFA MAX server (Media Asset Exchange) at the IBC. Connectivity is being handled by multiple technologies including Amazon Cloud, Aspera and Smartjog.

“The XT3s have some new options available,” explains Bourdon. “We have a new software application for live production which allows the operator to review all the camera angles while they’re working on the playlist; the main objective being to give them the ability to select a camera angle which has not necessarily been chosen by the director live.

“We will have two C-Cast agents at the venues. From the live venues all clips created and all feeds go through the C-Cast agent automatically, which then pass into the central storage where it can be controlled using the C-Cast control for centralised reviewing of the different content available.”

More than 100 EVS IPDirector suites located at the IBC will be used to manage the ingest of live incoming feeds as well as granting access to the FIFA MAX server (which is built from a combination of XT3 servers and XStore SANs and can handle 28 ingest feeds and store around 4500 hours of footage on 420TB). 36 Adobe Premiere stations, along with EVS’ IPLink plugin panel, will be used to create final edits of updates, promos, behind the scenes footage and multimedia packages, marking the first time the editing package has been used in combination with EVS in a major tournament workflow. The Epsio FX system is being used for on air graphic insertion.

It’s the ability to access, review and work with a remote location that is really new for this World Cup, both ‘internally’ as part of the HBS workflow and externally to MRLs distributed round the world

“50 browsers from HBS running IP Pro stations allow the production teams working on different packages to provide multilateral content,” explains Bourdon. “The servers automatically generate proxy files, allowing IBC teams to access content at low resolutions, create clips and then import a high bandwidth version. Plus we will have all the different MRLs that have the rights to browse into the FIFA Max. I think in total you have 75 MRL licenses distributed for the IBC in Rio, and in addition there are offsite production teams that have web browse access from their own home cities and there are 83 licenses distributed so far for that.”

As well as the growth in remote production,EVS will also be involved in the other major industry zeitgeist for this year, the 4K capture of (as it now stands) three matches using its XT3 servers. This Sony/EVS 4K workflow has already been deployed this year for capturing Spain’s El Classico last month and the Superbowl at the start of the year, and SVG Europe will have more details of the plans as we get closer to the tournament.

In the meantime, watch out next week for details of the C-Cast second screen production that is being mounted from the tournament, the largest scale deployment of it to date.

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