Inside the game: the Giro d’Italia, part II

Italy: Every stage of Italy’s legendary Giro d’Italia involves eight motorcycle TV cameras, two shooting helicopters, two radio link helicopters and a whole modular control room.

In 1998, Enrico Motta, TV Technical Manager for the Giro d’Italia, created a system capable of following all main sports events in Italy such as the Giro, the Moto Mondiale, Formula Uno and many others. In the years before he was the person in charge who set up all these TV production projects from scratch. Starting with a deep study of each event and with the help of the editor and Rai, for the new sports channels Raisport 1 and Raisport2, Motta had to plan everything and produce a new technical, productive and editorial scheme.

The organization involved in this first complex study was the technical structure of ProduzioneTV, which is wholly made of RAI resources. From the first year that this great TV event was televised; they had first to develop a production profile that could be flexible enough for the serious challenges of the race. So, after a first rough project, Enrico Motta, considering what had been done in the past, made a many efforts to improve the whole experience while still trying to optimise the available resources.

The main idea was to create a series of different TV programmes and journalistic stories to be broadcast in several different time slots throughout the day and and the whole period of the event.
Actually the “Giro” is broadcast from morning to evening and faces very different audiences along the day in several different programmes and channels. The whole system is to be adaptable to the various sessions, so the choice was made in favour of a modular hardware solution to be composed at every departure and arrival location, with different configurations available depending on context.

Motta explains: “The event is composed of ‘easy’ stages, which can be produced with simple and standard hardware and equipment, and and complex stages such as when the riders have to race through the mountains, and the technical system has to be prepared at least one hour in advance departure. It also has to be quick to be dismantled and re-constructed in another location the following day, perhaps as much as 500km away.”

The travelling production centre consists of control room, recording booth, replay systems, satellite links, editorial and production offices, UPS, cabling, etc. And everything is tailored to the location of that day’s installation, among squares and streets, taking into account security services and so on. Everything is geared towards digital productionediting server-based Avid editing, BLT equipment working as image stores for highlights, with EVS for slow motion and workign as the production server.

All images are shot on Sony XDCAM, while moving, on motorcycles, plus two terrestrial, and a redundant recording camcorder. Two receiving stations on earth receive all the contribution of the motor cameras and two shooting helicopters, plus two others which fly at a higher altitude and operate as radio links of all signals.

In case of bad weather a specially-equipped airplane is used over the clouds to receive all radio camera signals, flying in circle over the event. All radio equipment use dynamic power handling which automatically adapts to weather and orographic conditions. All high frequency equipments comprise gyroscopic hardware for aerial automatic pointing through GPS (Italian Civil Aviation also has an important role in this event, since all necessary flight safety instruction details are issued in realtime throughout the whole race).

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