Inside the French Open’s groundbreaking 4K trial

Having been one of the pioneers of HD broadcasting, the French Tennis Federation has once again demonstrated its innovative credentials by premiering 4K (3840 x 2160) production and broadcasting during the Roland Garros Tennis Tournament.

AMPVISUAL TV is in charge of the technical services. From June 4, footage of the action on the Philippe Chatrier court, where all the major matches of the tournament take place, has been filmed with three 4K cameras: two Canon EOS C500 cameras with a PL mount and a For-A FT-One camera.

The camera systems form part of an interactive platform, the camera operator has at his disposal remote zoom and focus, tally and, of course, talkback. In the studio the engineer can monitor the diaphragm and make colour corrections. In view of the distance between the location and the studio 3G-SDI connections that convert feeds to optical fibre have been set up.

The camera’s output is in Canon’s RAW format. It undergoes de-Bayering before being accepted by the Kahuna 360 switcher. France Télévisions provide the graphics in HD, which then have to be converted to 4K before being integrated.

The studio is equipped with two EVS XT3 servers. The first one is used for slow-motion replay of the two Canon C500 cameras (at 33% as in HD). Note that the For-A camera can film directly in slow motion with its 2TB recording capacity. It can shoot up to 900 frames per second (fps).

The second EVS XT3 server is used to record and broadcast the 4K programme on an Astro screen at the France Télévisions stand, in their exhibition space called the RGLAB.

Ateme carries out the digital compression of the signals that are then sent to Eutelsat for the deferred transmission of 4K excerpts.

Ephrem Garreau, who is in charge of 4K production at AMPVISUAL TV, comments: “The use of 4K in sports offers viewers an improved immersive experience, which was to be expected and has now been proven. It’s interesting to note that the use of a 4K camera even for broadcasting in HD provides a much better image than HD recording.”

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