FIFA World Cup 2018: Globo takes remote production from Red Square to Rio

Globo, the largest media group in Brazil as the top broadcast television network and the largest pay TV programmer, is among the discreet group of 11 rights holders for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia that now has a panoramic studio set up in Moscow with a fantastic view of Red Square, including the Kremlin and Saint Basil’s Cathedral. These iconic monuments will give viewers a visual taste of the heart of the Russian nation, and with Globo’s coverage, the World Cup itself.

Globo has designed its coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia targeting tight integration and alignment of the teams and operations, so as to produce content to all of its distribution platforms (free TV, pay TV and digital). The goal is to create one sports content production pool, with multiple outputs.

“With this target in mind, we are aiming to innovate both in terms of on-air look and operational efficiency,” says José Manuel Mariño, Globo’s director of technology for sports, speaking to SVG Europe.

Remote production is an important aspect of Globo’s coverage of the World Cup this year, Mariño says: “An important aspect of our coverage is the heavy use of technology to bring major savings to the operation. Remote production is being employed for content generated both at our Red Square studios and at the venues where the Brazilian team will play. It means that we are not using OB vans or control rooms in Russia to produce content at these two locations. The signals from our unilateral cameras and microphones are being taken to our headquarters in Rio using fibre optics links, and there they are combined with the multilateral signals of the games, and with the live signals produced by our news teams positioned in all venues and cities of the World Cup.

“By not using OB vans and control rooms in Russia, we have made significant savings in equipment rental and infrastructure costs, as well as savings in head count, as we needed to fly fewer people to Russia, plus we maximise the use of our assets at the headquarters.”

Globo’s news crews on site are using small and lightweight ENG kits, comprised of a handheld camera, a laptop with editing software and a file transfer mechanism to transfer selected portions of captured content to our server in Rio. Final editing of news stories will happen in Rio, again saving costs on trips, hotels, crew.

“We have a terminal of the host broadcaster’s server in Rio as well, allowing us to remotely browse its contents using proxies, make lists of selected clips, and download these lists to our server in Rio, for editing together with our unilateral content,” says Mariño. “The crews that we have in Russia for the event are fitted with a cellular bonding backpack to contribute live to our newscast, so no big, bulky SNGs in our kit. Live coordination of reporters for our news contribution feeds is being done using VOIP APPs tied to our intercom matrix back in Rio and run from the reporters’ cell phones.”

The Red Square studio is employing the latest technologies, in terms of camera tracking and augmented reality graphics. Using three giant LED screens and three TV cameras – one in a crane, one in a pedestal, and one on a tripod – it is inserting eye-catching augmented reality graphics that the presenters can interact with, surprising and entertaining viewers, as it did during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The graphics are being produced daily by Globo’s sports art department in Rio, using a 66 node render farm, part on-premises and part in the cloud, and are being exported to the Red Square Studio facility through a 450Mbps fibre link using file transfer acceleration protocols.

Mariño says: “Once loaded into the augmented reality graphics engines, animations are put into the desired sequence, according to the rundown of each of the six programmes that we are airing daily from the studio, and inserted into the images captured by each camera. We always have a fresh on-air look, because we are inserting graphics which are related to events that either happened or will happen during that same day.”

The studio’s debut happened on 10 June, and it is already being used heavily. Every day, operations go from 11:00am until 04:00am the next day. “The concept for this studio is so radically new that we have built an exact replica of it in our premises in Rio, with all of the equipment needed, so as to test it in real life,” continued Mariño. “From 19 February till 10 March 2018, we conducted thorough and extensive tests and evaluation of it, with the participation of technology, sports arts department, sports operations and the on-air talent. This has been an extraordinary experience, which has ironed out many questions and has built confidence among the team that the concept works well and the on-air look met our expectations.”

He noted that the studio in Russia is an evolution from the design delivered at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. “It will surely teach us a lot of important lessons, and our arts department will come up with new challenges for the studio to be used for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” Mariño said, noting the continued forward development of the studio. “Technology is continuously evolving, with faster and better graphics rendering tools, and together with virtual reality and artificial intelligence technologies, will help us in taking a big step forward in the next studio design. The target is always to surprise the viewer with our innovations.”

Lastly, Globo has implemented its central newsroom in a hotel, which is physically located near its studio at Red Square, instead of placing it at the IBC. “Using modern software tools, our news editors and executives can access the newsroom computers in Brazil, as well as all of the other corporate applications, through the web, with both security and speed. Compared to the World Cup in Africa, the last that we have covered outside of Brazil, we are delivering more content to all platforms, and with major cost reductions,” concludes Mariño.

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