RAI Italy’s Nazareno Balani discusses Giro d’Italia 2015 workflows

Nazareno Balani, an RAI director with 40 years’ experience, spoke to SVG Europe regarding the latest news concerning one of the greatest Italian sports events, Giro d’Italia 2015. Balani’s extensive experience includes 15 years at TG1 News, three football world championships, six Olympic Games, 17 Giro d’Italia events and other special projects for RAI, including the World Swimming Championships.

The Grandi Eventi RAI working group is based on a well-established team.

Any project starts here with a look at technical feasibility and costs, examining everything in order to meet the needs of the publisher, RAI Sport.

“Over the years we have grown from a coverage of about 40km from the arrival in the first editions to today where we cover more than three times this figure,” says Balani.

“We moved from the use of a single shooting helicopter to two, from three to five motorbikes, from 8 to 15 cameras at the arrival and a plane which guarantees the radio link signal even in bad weather. We have therefore structured an important production. Cycling takes place on a very wide area and an average length of 150-160 kilometers per day, which present greater geographical and technical complexity than any other sport. The roads are not always covered by the GPS in an optimal way.”

Every day RAI sets up a complete production centre with a main and secondary control room, plus one for the news, editing rooms and newsrooms. At each stage a TV compound based on 24 vehicles is arranged. At 9 in the evening they leave and move to the next stage, before at 6 in the morning the compound is set up again…and so on.

On the finishing line, Balani sets the direction onboard a three-axis 12m OB van, covering the arrival with nine cameras: “Three cameras are for the interviews, plus a ‘beauty’, used before the cyclists arrive to portray the ‘background’ for graphic charts. Two are radio cameras; all the others are wired in triax and fiber optics. The mixer on RAI’s main production vehicle is a Grass Valley, while the cameras are by Sony and all shots are in high-definition.”

The only images shot in 4K are those of an Ultra Motion onboard a motorcycle. Upon arrival the Tour relies on two Super Slow Motion cameras, and in the last week of the race a Super Slow Motion and a Ultra Motion are deployed. Four to five cameras are used for pre-arrival, depending on the curves of the last kilometer and a radio camera is useful for shooting the winner. A radio camera completes the set-up and is used for interviews, as well as shooting a variety of race images for the programme Il Processo alla Tappa.

Variety of shooting locations

In fact, the number of the shooting locations is indeed greater than that of the cameras, since each camera covers more roles and moves where needed. To this extent, the technical team has wired multiple locations.

Balani remarks: “The TV programme schedule starts in the morning at around 10, 10:30, and ends at nine in the evening for a really huge amount of broadcast hours. About 120 people rotate in a continuous loop to make this possible.

Two latest-generation micro-cameras tilt to neutralise motion on the bike frame. The operator may switch between the shoulder and the microscopic camera.”

Another important novelty is that the entire system for the filming of this edition was handled by RAI, whereas in the past some segments were outsourced.

Last to be mentioned is a new car that is called Ka-Sat, namely a Fiat Florin with its own antenna that is placed from time to time in anticipation of the race arriving on a particular pass or an especially popular tourist location.

Another car equipped within the race has a camera, a radio link and recorder, and acts as a bridge so that one can send images to air as well as record them simultaneously.

Nazareno Balani concludes: “My work for the Giro d’Italia is not to ruin other people’s work! Because really great people are working here and it is a passion for work resulting in a great team, pride and international prestige for RAI.”

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