Live from the World Cup: Inside Look at the EVS C-Cast Publishing System
Two years ago when UEFA and EVS undertook a test of the EVS C-Cast second screen publishing system for the Euro 2012 tournament it was arguably a technology that was just ahead of its time as rights holders were still unsure about the role it would play in their operations. Two years later at the 2014 FIFA World Cup that role has become defined as 40 broadcasters are delivering multimedia services and 22 of them have even built their own standalone applications. The result? More than 25 million unique users have consumed 15 million hours of video through FIFA’s multimedia services solutions alone. The FIFA TV services are delivered by FIFA World Cup broadcast production service provider HBS, with the support of EVS, Netco Sports and deltatre.
Dieter Backx, EVS training and engineering consultant, took some time out of his schedule to give SVG a hands-on look at the system at the IBC in Barra, Brazil.
Within the IBC there are two staffers for every match that are involved with publishing content via C-Cast. At a simple level the EVS C-Cast system ties together the video clips cut on EVS servers; deltatre provides the match metadata that is associated with each clip and makes it possible to publish the content in a more automated fashion; and Netco Sports designed the app.
The C-Cast publishing system is designed to give rights holders maximum flexibility when it comes to creating not only a look and feel to the app but also what content is included. In addition, an API allows content to also be easily migrated into pre-existing apps and services.
“The broadcaster can choose their own branding colors and also add in advertising or pop-up commercials,” says Backx. “And it is their own decision as to whether to add their own interviews or content. They can also all keywords to match metadata in the C-Cast platform and then the application points to it.”
Users log into the C-Cast workspace and can upload VOD content like press conferences, features, promos and more. There is also plenty of stats integration as well as exclusive content that is edited on Adobe Premier and not seen on TV. In addition they can decide where content like highlights sits within the user interface as well as what thumbnails to use and text descriptions.
“Before the match there are things like stats and player information as well as a countdown clock,” says Backx. “And then one hour and 45 minutes before the match the app goes live with match content.”
Once the match starts the most exciting aspect of the app is the ability for users to watch top plays from as many as 24 angles via a diagram of the pitch that has icons marking different camera locations. Users simply click on a camera location and they get a replay from that angle.
“We’re recording all the camera angles on 16 EVS servers at the venue and the production team picks out the camera angles that will be available,” says Backx. “Then there is someone at the IBC watching the world feed and marking timecode in and out points for key plays.”
That timecode is, in turn, sent to Dublin, Ireland where the C-Cast central storage system is located. A request from there is sent out to the video servers at the venue and then the relevant camera clips are transcoded to h.264 and delivered via Aspera to the server in Dublin. At the same time an HD version of all clips are sent to the IBC so they can be available to the editing team.
“And broadcasters can make their own decisions by clicking a check box next to the camera angles they want to show or not show,” adds Backx.
To call the streaming of the World Cup an unprecedented success is not hyperbole as Akamai has publicly stated that the World Cup is the biggest video streaming event on record. And it’s efforts like those from the companies mentioned above that are making the difference as a reliable and consistent experience often means success.
“More and more football fans want to watch high quality, live coverage of matches on their tablets or mobile phones, as well as on their televisions,” said Stefan Wildemann, Manager of Sales and Distribution at FIFA TV. “These figures show just how fast our industry is adapting to a truly multimedia world. Only on the digital platforms can fans watch the FIFA World Cup from every possible angle.