RAI delivers cost-efficient yet extensive World Cup coverage

Cost issues have led to an emphasis on delivering a somewhat reduced but nonetheless high quality and extensive World Cup coverage at Italian broadcaster RAI. Aldo Pellegrini, director of production centre for RAI, spoke to SVG Europe about the workflows it put in place for the 2014 tournament.

Pellegrini remarks: “We have maintained, albeit in reduced form, the classical scheme of production for large events of this kind that always includes the installation in Rio at the IBC (International Broadcast Centre) of an important technical production system capable of sending to Italy [a variety of] different signals, live HD or recorded at the same time, to deliver footage from the studio, work in post-production, and broadcast dedicated to the ENG RAI crews operating in Brazil.

“RAI has a tech centre located in IBC and this is connected through fibre optic to Italy. The signals are travelling to/from all the stadia, the IBC production centre in IBC itself, and two studios operating in Saxa Rubra preparing comments for RAI Sport 2 (channel with programming dedicated to the World Cup in Rio on-air 24hrs per day). Saxa Rubra is also working for RAI 1 and RAI 2, which are broadcasting live matches and some related, in-depth analysis.

“The heart of the operation at the IBC consists of a traditional master control in high definition, and a large central matrix that can handle all the signals produced by the host broadcaster, mostly coming from the stadiums. This includes those produced by RAI both externally and within the TV studio at IBC and by local editing systems, routing them as necessary to Italy and/or distributing them locally.

“Increasingly important is the role of the FIFA MAX mega server that FIFA has already made ​​available to broadcasters for a couple of editions of the World Cup. It is very much enhanced in all of its features for 2014, facilitating research and online availability for broadcasters of Cup-related materials.

“At the IBC the live mixing involves audio in Dolby 5.1 associated with HD footage and a commentary from the pitch by RAI journalists, prior to everything being sent to Italy.

“This technical system is sized appropriately for the backup of the signals produced in the stadia [which are] transmitted via satellite and fiber in such a way that for any game there are at least two different signal pathways from Brazil to Italy.

“With regards to the production effort outside the IBC, RAI has carried live broadcasts from the training field of the Italian national team. Coverage here is delivered by ENG crews, who are engaged in filming reports and downloading material in the editing system; sometimes they are engaged using radio UMTS link.

“The opportunity for live footage from Casa Azzurri is maintained and includes the press conferences of the national team, as well as interviews with the players. Material can be conveyed to the IBC via a terrestrial microwave radio system that also provides full access to RAI’s intranet connection and required signals for monitors, the return signals of the Italian channels, coordination communications and so on.”

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