Native UHD HDR and immersive audio embraced by OBS as standard for Winter Olympics 2022

© 2021 Olympic Broadcasting Services

OBS adopted the UHD production standard for its coverage of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the Beijing Winter Olympics will see the consolidation of this newly established standard.

For worldwide audiences, this transition translates into more life-like details; realistic and richer colours; greater contrast and sharpness, all of which will seemingly bring the audience right into the heart of the action and give them that feeling of actually being there.

For Beijing 2022, all the sports sessions, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the Medals Plaza Victory Ceremonies will be natively produced in UHD HDR, with immersive audio.

Customised production for video and audio

Delivering UHD HDR content requires customised production units and workflows. Overall, OBS will utilise a total of 15 outside broadcast (OB) vans, together with nine field datacentre  production units, a fly-away system and a virtualised OB van; all that have been specifically configured and fitted-out to meet OBS’s new production and distribution requirements.

It will be the first time in an Olympic Winter Games that OBS will capture the sounds of the Games through an immersive 5.1.4 audio set-up that enables viewers to have a more realistic audio experience, with sound appearing to come from every direction, even from above.

OBS will expand upon 5.1 surround sound by adding an overhead sound layer, and thus a third audio dimension with the addition of four hanging ceiling microphones with heights that will be adjustable.

Two new microphones were specifically designed for this immersive sound production. In total, OBS will be using more than 1,600 microphones (40 different models). Two immersive audio quality control rooms installed inside the IBC will support the venue production and guarantee quality consistency across all sports.

© 2021 Olympic Broadcasting Services

Single HDR to SDR production workflow

All rights holder broadcasters (RHB’s) will receive the output in HD 1080i SDR as per Olympic standards. OBS has created a single HDR to SDR production workflow model that will allow the trucks to generate an HD 1080i output via high quality conversion from the primary UHD HDR signal.

Almost all of the content will be produced natively in UHD HDR; however, OBS will also rely on several specialty cameras that at this time can only operate in HD 1080p SDR. The video source of these cameras must be up-converted to UHD HDR in order to be seamlessly integrated into the main production so that there are no perceived colour or brightness differences.

A full IP infrastructure has been built to support the transport of the UHD HDR signals for the contribution network. The OBS Venue Technical Operations (VTO) team has developed a set of look-up tables (LUT) in-house to maximise the quality between all cross-conversions (from/to UHD-HD and HDR-SDR).

By having natively captured the content in UHD HDR or up-converted to UHD HDR, then down-converted again, the final HD 1080i signal delivered to the RHBs will offer higher quality across all platforms than if produced in a standard HD production.

Tech specs for rights holders

All RHBs will receive the International Signal in the host city’s HD standards. For Beijing, the SMPTE 292 standard is used for the production of the 1080i/50 HD-SDI signal. OBS will follow the 50Hz specification.

RHBs can also receive the international signal in UHD HDR. The UHD production will adhere to the SMPTE 2036-1 standard and follow the 50 Hz specification.

The HDR standard will be Hybrid-Log Gamma (HLG). The 5.1.4 audio configuration will be provided for both standards.

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