Leader Electronics reflects on how a busy summer of sport has driven innovation

At the Euros, Leader Zen series test instruments allowed OB service providers to monitor multiple transfer characteristics on a single display, ensuring that HDR and SDR video feeds were of high quality

Leader Electronics has enjoyed an active 2021 global summer of sport with postponements from summer 2020 making this year’s schedule of televised live events even more tightly packed than normal. These have allowed maturing technologies such as UHD HDR, immersive audio and remote IP production to give audiences an enhanced viewing experience.

Leader test instruments such as the LV5600 True Hybrid waveform monitor were used by outside broadcast operators at various summer 2021 sports events to monitor SDI and IP sources simultaneously. Also deployed was the LVB440 IP analyser which provides IP network analysis via a low-latency HTML-5 display.

“Live production has overcome many of the challenges broadcasters faced during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kevin Salvidge, Leader Europe’s regional development manager. “Innovation has flourished in adversity. With most of the TV-viewing public limited in their travel options, OTT service providers saw their chance and took it by using UHD, HDR and immersive audio, which were already on the verge of becoming mainstream.

“Remote IP production has made rapid progress. Operations such as camera shading, which in the past would be performed at each sports venue, were relocated to remote production centres. This significantly reduces the number of staff needed at each site. There will still be a requirement for high-budget OB trucks as IP connectivity is still not available from every location but demand for IP-based remote production is growing strongly.

“UEFA celebrated the 60th anniversary of its European Football Championship in 2020 by hosting the tournament across 11 European countries. The tournament delivered 51 matches during 31 days of competition, all being available in UHD/HDR. A number of Leader customers provided OB support, feeding UEFA’s master control room in Amsterdam ahead of distribution to media rights holders.”

Following the success of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where FIFA offered media rights holders UHD/HDR content for the first time, Leader saw significant growth in OB service providers equipping with UHD/HDR capability. Leader Zen series test instruments allowed OB service providers to monitor multiple transfer characteristics on a single display, ensuring that HDR and SDR video feeds were of the highest possible quality.

The Zen series played a key role in the Orion-Convert HDR to SDR colour management process developed by Poland-based colour integration firm Cromorama and deployed at summer 2021 sport events

“I’ve been using Leader products for many years,” said Cromorama’s founder Pablo Garcia Soriano. “Leader’s Zen series instruments helped us develop the algorithm we use to create the LUTs now proving invaluable as customers start to provide HDR services from these major sporting events.”

“Major sporting summers like the one we are currently enjoying place a huge demand on rental companies,” said Adrian Young, CEO of Leader Europe rental partner Presteigne Broadcast Hire. “We knew the delays to the 2020 UEFA Championships and the Summer Olympics would have a positive impact on 2021. Demand, especially for UHDTV/HDR products, proved stronger than we could ever have expected with rentals back above summer 2019 levels. Our Leader test and measurement products have been in high demand. With 2022 also having a large number of major sporting events, we see demand for UHDTV/HDR increasing.”

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