SVGE Football Production Summit: dock10 delivering innovative studios for sports production

Chief technology officer Paul Clennell joined SVG Europe’s Football Production Summit to discuss football and the future of 4K, and to deliver a brief presentation on dock10’s advanced HD production facility in Manchester, which – among many other flagship shows – provides a home to the BBC’s Match of the Day.

A cornerstone of the MediaCityUK complex, dock10 puts the focus on “end to end digital workflows” (Clennell) across a site encompassing seven HD studios, two audio studios (including one for the BBC Philharmonic), post-production facilities and managed media services.

Reflecting on the £650m investment by Peel Estates that fuelled the development of dock10, Clennell emphasised the holistic approach that the studios have been able to offer primary client the BBC. “The BBC was a catalyst for the development, but not the only tenant. The central idea, to build a media cluster, was very different [to what had been done in the UK before]. We offer managed studios around the studio and file-based content management to any organisation that wants to use them, [with a] 10 Gigabit Cisco network facilitating file-based workflows,” he says.

In particular, these facilities have seen dock10 become a hotbed of popular entertainment shows – The Voice UK and Dragon’s Den to name just two – but Match of the Day is also integral to its schedules. The BBC’s stalwart football highlights show is captured in HQ3, dock10’s medium-sized HD studio best suited to discussion and interview format programming. The 4,500 sqft fully-equipped HD studio incorporates: separate vision, production and sound galleries; a saturated lighting grid with lighting and scenic hoists for quick turnaround; connectivity for eight camera channels; and vision, production and sound control rooms housed above the studio.

Notes Clennell: “The MoTD set comes in on a Friday, there are a few rehearsals, and they are ready to go live very quickly.” The show’s workflow also includes a Vizrt system to power real-time graphics generation and Final Cut Pro non-linear editing (mounted on Harmonic MediaGrid).”

Theoretical future developments with implications for dock10’s sports production include remote editing and logging with Avid Sphere and Interplay Central, more remote gallery development, and 4K over IP following successful HD over IP trials. “We intend to work to further exercise investment in 4K over IP, and hope to do some trials over the summer,” revealed Clennell. These could entail collaboration with venues to “put in fixed cameras sending back a 4K feed. Using digital zoom and sub-frame zoom, we could undertake remote production from the facility in real-time.”

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