Grass Valley 8000s catching the action on historic hundredth Tour de France

The centenary edition of the Tour de France got underway on Saturday 29 June with a broadcast infrastructure featuring a new, more compact transmitter set-up and additional cameras on the motorbikes tracking the riders. In many other ways, however, the infrastructure was largely unchanged from last year.

An integral part of bringing the Tour de France to the world since the mid 1970s, Euro Media Group is again delivering picture from the helicopter, motorbike and some onboard cameras. France Télévisions, meanwhile, is again bringing its considerable OB powers to the 3,403km race, which began in Corsica on Saturday and is due to conclude in Paris on 21 July.

Last year, the primary workflow change related to the use of MPEG4 for backhaul transmission of signals from the field. Speaking to SVG Europe as this year’s Tour gets underway, Euro Media Group CTO Luc Geoffrey said that although there are “no significant changes” from 2012, the technical team is making use of a new “compact, 1080p ready transmitter. It brings a very high quality of picture and robust transmission, and occupies a very small place in ‘the bag’.”

Euro Media is also adding “one or two more cameras on the motorbikes to get some different kinds of shots… a marginal improvement, but nothing dramatic.” A total of ten Grass Valley LDK 8000 Elite Series HD cameras are capturing the action, along with three Cineflex cameras located on the helicopter.

As in previous years, a team of about 50-60 people from Euromedia is committed to the Tour de France project. But unlike so many other major sporting events at present, there is no 4K trial this year.

Geoffrey hints that 4K technology has yet to catch up with the inherent complexity of covering the Tour. But next year…? “Well, a test is a possibility, I suppose. But it’s really very difficult to say at this stage.”

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