Giro d’Italia 2024: Behind the scenes of EMG Italy’s TV production

Part of the Grand Tour of cycling, together with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, the Giro d’Italia is known as a beautiful but challenging event. And, like the race itself, the operation that brings the Giro d’Italia to television viewers around the world each year is both complex and imposing.

The entire technical apparatus of people and equipment needed to produce the international signal for the broadcast of the Giro, which stretches for 3,404.8km across Italy in 21 stages, is put in place by EMG/Gravity Media. The race began on 4 May, concluding in Rome on 26 May.

For the third consecutive year, event organiser RCS entrusted EMG Italy with the entire TV production. In addition to the live international race signal, the clean signal for the national broadcaster (Rai), and the clean clean signal for Eurosport distribution, daily highlights and the news feed, a weekly magazine and social media content were also produced.

The production itself faces numerous challenges, starting with managing a crew of over 120 people who travel daily from stage to stage, and moving the TV compound, which consists of regia vehicles and support vehicles for graphics and connectivity.

Read more: Pink race: Graphics gold for EMG Italy with a peloton’s-worth of innovations for the 2024 Giro d’Italia

Daily live broadcasts

The duration of the live broadcast, which varies in length depending on the stage and weather conditions, averages six to seven hours each day.

The international feed produced by EMG begins 30 minutes before the race start and continues for 45 minutes after the stage winner’s arrival; it includes the daily jersey award ceremonies.

A major challenge is ensuring seamless coverage for areas not directly connected via cable or fibre. For this, state-of-the-art and proprietary wireless transmission systems are used.

Once the live broadcast is over, EMG Italy also plays an important role in the production of highlights, using two Avid editing stations connected to the EVS network to create daily clips and a weekly magazine.

Read more: Maglia rosa: EMG Italy on managing the logistics and technicalities of the 2024 Giro d’Italia

Andrea Basso, head of TV productions and media rights for RCS, says: “This year we chose a Dutch director and assistant director, Koen van Mourik and Tjarko Stikkers, who we know well because we have already produced some editions of the Tour of the Emirates with them.

“They are used to working together, they are very synchronised and they have an even fresher and more dynamic vision of the race. In their narration of the Giro, they used the new graphics package created by Boost Graphics much more than in the past.

“For its part, RCS Sport has also invested heavily in the storytelling of the territory, selecting points of interest that are regularly provided to the team of aerial camera operators and enhanced during each stage.”

The voice from the director’s booth

“It was a very exciting job!” begins van Mourik enthusiastically. “The Giro is definitely a great show and it’s not for nothing that it’s called ‘the toughest race in the world, in the most beautiful country in the world’. It was a great opportunity to work with Tjarko Stikkers and the international team that EMG has made available.”

“Overall, the event was very well planned from the beginning of the season and then, at each stage, a camera plan was used that we confirmed on site each day before the start. Obviously, there are always small operational aspects that we cannot foresee before each stage and we are forced to make changes at the last minute,” he adds.

“For example, we are often not sure if we will have the space we want for camera placement and sometimes we have to mediate and adapt to the actual conditions, solving problems by making small changes to the original plan.

“In general, we always have a big pre-production meeting where we explain to the operators what we want to achieve and what we expect from them. Then we discuss the small daily adjustments to the story and underline the focus we want to tell before each stage and on that specific day.”

EMG at the Giro d’Italia

EMG Italy:

  • Manages the entire production and all logistics, and provides the main OB mobile vehicles
  • Is responsible for television direction, guaranteeing coverage of each stage
  • Coordinates and has relations with MIMIT for radio frequency licenses
  • Coordinates and carries out satellite booking for all contribution transmissions

EMG Connectivity:

  • Coordinates the activities of moving images during the stages and provides the necessary personnel and technology
  • Ensures the wireless transmission of images and data from the race to the HB’s OB van

EMG Belgium + EMG France:

  • Coordinate the operations of helicopters and airplanes during the stages
  • Guarantee the safety and integration of the shots taken from the motorcycles

EMG Netherlands:

  • Manages satellite transmission
  • Distributes the Giro d’Italia video signal to broadcasters around the world

Boost Graphics:

  • Developed the race graphics package and provides timing and data processing services
  • Enriches the television production with informative and engaging visual elements in real time

Aerial Camera Systems (ACS):

  • Provides the gyro-stabilised cameras positioned on the helicopters for coverage of the action from above

“From a technological point of view,” continues van Mourik, “we have extended the use of drones following the trend in other cycling races where aerial shots undoubtedly allow for greater spectacle, especially in some of the most difficult stages to follow.”

The use of drones had already been inaugurated by EMG Italy in the previous edition during the Tarvisio-Lussari stage, but in 2024 their use was significantly expanded due to the perspective they allow, particularly in mountain stages.

Van Mourik confirms: “What we have tried to do is bring together different elements that can better tell the story and entertain the viewer as much as possible. We are aware that cycling can sometimes be monotonous, so we have combined spectacular images of the beauty of the places and added as much as possible in terms of sports data, statistics and graphics.”

Storytelling with freedom

When narrating the story of the race, the role of the director is fundamental in determining the pace at which the spectator enjoys the show and experiences the event. This can happen to a greater extent in cycling than in other sports, such as football, where the main camera must follow the ball.

Van Mourik nods: “Mine is a great job, because I have a lot of freedom of expression: in fact, even if the race itself is always the central focus of the narrative, as a director I can continuously choose what to propose and really add impactful visual elements. In practice, the direction must find the right mix of technical information and spectacular storytelling.”

When thinking about what could be improved for future editions, he adds: “Although the new graphics package that includes tracking that was implemented this year has been really good, I believe that it is precisely in this direction that we can raise the bar even further and involve the data even more in the coming editions.

“In addition, for the first time we have used a second stabilised camera, connected via RF, at the start/finish line that works at high speed and mainly follows the start phases. I believe that we could increase the clips that show what happens before and after the race and propose more images taken from the motorcycles in super slow motion. In addition, capturing as much as possible the excitement of the fans on the roads would add an extra dimension to the beauty of the race and the show.”

He concludes: “It was great to work with the truly international team put together by EMG Italy and RCS for this great event, which brought together so many specialists from so many parts of Europe. The excellent organisation of everything allowed everyone to really give their best in every segment of the production, to create a performance at the highest level.”

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