Paris 2024: France Télévisions brings a live production with epic sustainability credentials to its coverage of the Olympic flame’s journey

France Télévisions is bringing the journey of the Olympic flame to millions of viewers live for the first time

France Télévisions has opted for what could be viewed as a risky production and transmission strategy for its coverage of the Olympic flame through France for its new digital channel, Paris 2024. However, the rewards are great, including non-stop live coverage of the flame’s journey for the first time ever, major cost savings and huge step forwards for sustainability.

The broadcaster – which is the host broadcaster of the Games for France – has taken a route which means that for the first time, the Olympic flame can be seen in a live production, every day for 10 hours per day, for the duration of its journey. Using the cloud, 5G and Starlink and no other transmission system between the flame and the broadcaster, the live footage is going out to millions of viewers.

Epic achievements

On the significance of what France Télévisions has achieved by using the cloud, 5G and Starlink alone to transmit the journey of the flame to its final destination at the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympics, Romuald Rat, France Télévisions’ TechLab and AI deputy director in the department of technology and information systems, says far lower costs and a major step forwards for sustainability are the major achievements.

“What is very interesting, is yes, it’s cheaper and it’s sustainable. But, if we did not have this solution, we were not able to have it at all”

Speaking to SVG Europe, he explains: “It is significant for many, many reasons. First, if you see the first or the immediate consequence, it is cheaper, much cheaper. And it is very sustainable, very, very sustainable. Looking at the production part, equivalent of the gallery, producing the [flame’s journey this way] is more than 70% cheaper than a normal installation. It also reduces the CO₂ emissions by 12 times. And it is only for the production part, only for the gallery.”

Rat says that working out the return on investment and CO₂ output is harder to calculate, but here he compares it to another production on the move to show phenomenal savings and green credentials: “We are working on the return of investment for the transmission solution. If you compare it to the Tour de France setup, we don’t have a helicopter, we don’t have an aeroplane flight for the high frequency transmission. We don’t have a car or trucks. So, you can say that it is 1,000 times cheaper than a normal setup. We have worked out that comparing this transmission to the Tour de France’s use of a plane alone means at least 260 tonnes of CO2 have been saved.”

Watch the solution on the move here:

Go hard or go home

The technical solution combines 5G specialist company’s expertise, Obvios, Télévisions de France (TDF), Starlink, TVU Networks’ solutions across the entire media workflow, plus with AWS at France Télévisions’ headquarters to achieve the first end-to-end cloud broadcast for a major event.

Ultimately, while this solution has strong benefits in terms of cost and sustainable goals, if it was not carried out using 5G and Starlink it would simply not have been a live production, states Rat.

He says: “What is very interesting, is yes, it’s cheaper and it’s sustainable. But, if we did not have this solution, we were not able to have it at all. The other solution [that we could have used instead] was to record [the flame on its journey] and send [it out as a highlights show] after.

“It was find another solution or nothing,” he goes on. “And it is what is very important. when I spoke with the head of the production they understood that this method of production and transmission would give them opportunities, not only for the flame journey, but also for the capability to produce things they were not able to produce before.

“If we were not able to give them this solution, they had to change what they wanted to do because they were not able to produce it live with the same quality with many cameras over two convoys,” states Rat.

The two convoys following the flame have separate roles: the first has three cameras and focuses on capturing the front end of the action with the flame, runners and public; the second, which focuses primarily on beauty shots, has two cameras, a drone and operator, plus a journalist armed with a smartphone to film interviews along the route. This vehicle captures beauty shots of the surrounding countryside, towns and villages for the edit, which Rat refers to as, “the Tour de France convoy” due to a similar focus on that cycling race’s coverage.

The first France Télévisions convoy vehicle loaded with the transmission solution

Neat production

The cut will go from perhaps 45 minutes focused on the first convoy following the flame through crowds, to 20 to 40 minutes minutes on the ‘Tour de France’ convoy, focusing on lakes, castles, mountains and the like along the route, as well as interviews along the way. The convoy vehicles follow each other throughout the day, producing eight to 10 hours of live TV between them.

Inside France Télévisions’ flame coverage gallery at its headquarter in Paris

In Paris, France Télévisions has taken regular meeting rooms and turned them into impromptu galleries for this coverage. Rat explains: “We are in normal meeting rooms. We created a new production gallery like this, which is working with only two people; one editor to switch the cameras and to manage graphics – there’s not a lot of graphics, but she manages graphics – and one guy mixing the sound, because this is very important. So, this is the gallery. There are also two technicians in the MCR.

“There is one guy for the editorial, who is here sometimes,” he continues. “In another room we’ve got the commentator, a journalist, who speaks all day long, like a journalist. And in the third room we’ve got what I call the continuity person, who manages the channel; they are doing the scheduling, the programming, and they manage all the parts where we are not live, because it is a 24/7 day, 24 hour channel. So, they are managing when we go live and go back to a cold content.

“So the channel is working with four technicians – two in the gallery, two in the master control room – one journalist to do commentary and one to be the head of the editorial thinkings,” Rat says.

France.TV Paris 2024 is already proving to be a far larger success than anticipated. As soon as the channel launched, France Télévisions was surprised to see that its viewers were significantly higher than expected.

The Paris 2024 channel currently boasts: 17.9 million video views on and on social networks; and 1.2 million viewers in contact with the digital channel.

Concludes Rat: “The audience watching the channel is six times more than what we were expecting. The channel is more important on the digital part than our main channels.”

More on the technical solution being used by France Télévisions to bring the journey of the Olympic flame to viewers coming soon

Inside the Paris 2024 channel play out room at France Télévisions’ headquarters


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