NEP enables substantial OB operation at London 2017 World Athletics Championships

Image courtesy of NEP

The London 2017 World Athletics Championships ended recently with a Bolt of lightning and a golden Mo-Bot. Whether it was viewed at home or in person at the stadium, millions of people around the world were able to enjoy coverage provided by their rights holding broadcasters (RHBs), supported within Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the roads of London by host broadcaster Sunset+Vine.

Sunset+Vine partnered with specialists to create the ideal set-up for the broadcast-intensive event. The host broadcast operation was carried out using an NEP Broadcast Services UK Flypack Solution based in 17 portacabins, with a further 13 cabins for the host broadcast IBC operation.

Making tracks

As to how NEP got involved with Sunset+Vine for the London 2017 World Athletics Championships, Kevin Orwin, technical project manager at NEP Broadcast Services UK, told SVG Europe: “NEP UK successfully won the contract over a year ago when Sunset+Vine sent out a tender to all the major live broadcast providers. There was two parts to the tender and NEP UK was a natural fit to fulfil those requirements. Both parts needed comprehensive coverage of all the action within the stadium, but the first requirement was to broadcast the host coverage and the second was to supply the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) with footage to send to rights holders around the world. Our proven track record, reputation and experience around major events, including the 2012 Olympics, is what I believe influenced Sunset+Vine’s decision to work with us.”

Due to the size and complexity of the project, it was felt that NEP’s Flypack Solution would best serve both the host coverage and IBC activity. Commented Orwin: “We moved away from the idea of using trucks, as we needed the flexibility of the flypacks and wanted to create something that would be specifically configured to the event. With over 76 cameras, three routers, 25 EVS machines, and seven production galleries, we needed the flexibility to be able cover the different disciplines that were taking place in each session. In fact, cameras were being regularly moved between production galleries within the host broadcaster set-up.”

The whole of the London 2017 World Athletics Championships was recorded in HD with no requirement for 4K, said Orwin. Footage of the championships was played out across the world including the BBC (UK), TBS (Japan), NBC (US), YLE (Finland) and ARD (Germany).

Innovation came in the form of Pico Antelope mini camera systems, said Orwin. “For the first time ever during an event the size of the London 2017 World Athletics Championships, we used eight Pico Antelope mini camera systems as part of the replay operation. These systems offered far better quality replays as they record at higher speeds than standard cameras. Each camera records with up to 520 frames per second in native HD. The quality of replays was exceptional, with extreme slow motion and integration into the EVS operation was simple, making it easy for the EVS to include the footage within their workflow. With the camera set-up we felt we could record footage from vantage points that previously were unreachable,” he noted.

Challenging winners

Image courtesy of NEP

Regarding the issues NEP faced in relation to this event, at this location, Orwin commented: “The biggest challenge was linking the two locations together; the host broadcast compound and IBC site were almost a kilometre apart in terms of cable distance, and there was a large number of signals to pass between the two sites. As well as the entire signal distribution required to feed, the RHBs also had a number of signals that had to be distributed back to the host broadcaster compound at the stadium. It was a Sunset+Vine technical requirement that all signal distribution between compounds needed to be resilient and include a high level of redundancy to ensure the integrity of the broadcast. We used some Riedel Mediornet products as well as a number of different fibre solutions from other manufacturers. It’s flexibility and resilience makes it a good choice for this event.”

RF signalling was managed by NEP as well, with its own RF Department supplying and managing all the RF radio cameras for the event (17 in total including two for Creative Technology, another NEP Group company). Creative Technology was also provided all the radio communications as part of the NEP host broadcast facilities.

NEP specialises in delivering solutions for multi-venue projects. Its deep flypack inventory allows it to provide multiple, identical flypacks for each location so that production teams can be immediately familiar with the set-up and workflow as they travel from venue to venue. This allows for a seamless, optimised and reliable production environment.

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