Sport content creators discuss new workflows for new markets

The second-screen experience, and the impact on remote sports production, was a major topic of discussion at IBC. And during a sports production conference session featuring a number of industry leaders, attendees were able to understand just how future production needs will shift as interest in the second screen grows but production budgets don’t.

“You need to get ready to deliver the same content produced for the broadcast and have it packaged directly to the consumer but with speed, accuracy, and minimal cost,” said Peter Angell, HBS, director of production and programming. “A key step is to start at the end so you see clearly where the content will be used so you can then make sure it is originated in the correct way. For us, content is delivered on multiple platforms and we don’t have to touch or modify the content. And that is important to monetising it as every step added increases the costs.”

HBS is at the center of productions of massive sporting events like the FIFA World Cup and began working on creating content for the mobile screen in 2006 for the World Cup. For that event HD wide screen content was passed through encoders to deliver the content to small screens.

“We quickly realised that the wide camera shot on the small screen makes it difficult to make out the ball or identify players, so we wanted to try and improve that in 2010,” he explained.

So in 2010 a different approach was taken. An additional camera was placed alongside the camera one position that was shooting the TV broadcast. While the latter shot wide screen the camera dedicated to the smaller screens was zoomed in on the action a little bit tighter, making it easier for consumers to follow the action.

“It was perfectly framed for live delivery to mobile devices,” added Angell.

And now those workflows are being passed to other HBS clients, like the Ligue de Football Professionnel 1 and 2, with 342 LFP matches produced every season.

“The LFP is quite innovative and forward thinking and they came to us and asked us how we could produce content in the right way at the beginning so it gets delivered the right way at the end,” said Angell.

Sergi Sendra. Dorna Sports, director, TV production department, discussed current workflows for MotoGP, where approximately 19 hard cameras and one RF ground camera are used to cover 17 motorcycles on the race track. In the main production truck four operators will handle up to five cameras each, cutting replay clips from the cameras.

“In the past [when we used tape] it was a nightmare, and you didn’t have time to go into the tapes,” he explained. “But now we are building up to 400 clips an hour and getting them onto the video server.”

Dorna Sports also developed an on-board camera and communications system that includes four cameras (one front, two on the back and one on the side).

“Recording each bike is another goal and we can see six bikes at the same time,” said Sendra of the use of Gigawave transmission gear. The 1.6-kilogram system sits on the bike and GPS and timing information is also captured and made available to race fans via the Internet and mobile apps.

With four cameras on each of 17 bikes plus cameras around the track more than 110 cameras are typically used in a race.

“We record a lot of feeds at the same time but only some will be created on clips,” explained Sendra. More than 40 feeds, in fact, are used for the basis of a live program sent out via satellite and the Internet.

Post production is completed with 13 Apple Final Cut Pro edit suites tapping into eight Grass Valley Dyno ingest and replay stations.

Jason Suess, Microsoft, principal technical evangelist, discussed some of the work Microsoft has done with clients like NBC Olympics, CTV, Wimbledon, and NCAA On Demand via its Microsoft Media Platform.

For example, during the Vancouver Olympics a tool known as the MMP Video Editor was developed with the goal of getting clips in front of consumers more quickly than they were published during the Beijing games. In Beijing clips were built using Avid editing suites. By the time the Vancouver flame was lit a Web-based editing system was able to allow clips to be built in minutes from anywhere.

“Now instead of having editors sitting in a room in 30 Rock they could be anywhere with a Web browser to create clips,” said Suess.

Microsoft is also working on a Commentary Tool that will allow for commentators to be able to add a voice-over track from anywhere in the world, provided they have an Internet connection. The opportunity came out of broadcasters who

“It take the voice, records it to AAC audio and then pushes it back to the same publishing point,” said Suess. As many commentary tracks can be added as needed and the voice over track is automatically mixed over the ambient effects. But each track is, ultimately, discrete so that consumers can listen to pure ambient noise or different languages at the click of a button.

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