Euro 2024: Sky Italia prepares for an unforgettable summer of football

Producer Ferruccio Zanotti will be on site for the matches

Some 24 national football teams are set to battle it out in stadiums across Germany from 14 June to 14 July, with the hope of being crowned European champions at the UEFA European Football Championship.

Sky Italia will be at the forefront of broadcasting the tournament in its entirety, with 20 exclusive matches that will keep fans glued to their screens. Indeed, Sky Italia is the only broadcaster in the European group that will show all of the tournament’s matches.

The Euros will take place across ten venues, with a team of 50 professionals, including commentators, reporters, producers and technicians from Sky Sport, travelling to each to ensure the best possible coverage.

They will be joined by around 100 people in Milan and Santa Giulia, where the playout, MCR, editing and ingest will be managed.

All of Italy’s matches will be followed by a mobile vehicle from Cinevideo and 4-5 reporters who will accompany the national team throughout the week.

Read more Euro 2024: UEFA’s technical broadcast plans

The studio for Italy’s matches will be on site and will have four cameras and a mini Jimmy Jib for live coverage.

In addition, a pitch presentation with two reporters will deal with interviews and in-depth analysis; a further Flash station will be dedicated to classic post-match interviews.

Ready to comment

Six matches in the first phase of the tournament will be commented on from the stadiums. The opening match will feature an innovative remote studio set up from the production centre of Milan Santa Giulia, Sky Italia’s headquarters.

Sky will use the LiveU LU800 system for the remote production, which will allow four live video signals to be received from the stadiums, with four SRT signals as backup and a zero-latency studio return.

If the Italian team does not reach the final, Sky will evaluate whether to use Cinevideo’s mobile unit or remote production for the broadcast of the remaining main matches.

In addition to the six matches where commentators will be in the stadium, there will also be seven others with a reporter who will conduct pre- or post-match interviews and in-depth analysis.

Sky will also have a studio at the Reichstag in Berlin. This studio, equipped with a bonded camera, will be used to produce a full edition of Sport24 and as support for links with VIP guests. Additional matches will be commented on from the Milan Santa Giulia facility.

A typical day

A typical day for Sky Sport will start at 10:00 with Sport24 and end at 12:30 at night with Calciomercato Originale, which this summer will be travelling to seven locations.

The technological heart of the Euro 2024 operation is the IBC (International Broadcast Centre) located in Leipzig.

Here Sky will have a small master control room that will receive all the signals. They will be distributed to Milan on four JPEG 2000 fibres, which will allow the transmission of match signals in both HD and HDR, and six fibres for the transport of MPEG4 accessory feeds; these include the helicopter feed, the fan camera and a daily schedule based on editorial needs.

In the IBC, in addition to the match signals, UEFA also provides 14 accessory signals such as ISO Cam, helicopters, drones, beauty shots of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, beauty shots of the stadiums and more to choose from.

To guarantee maximum security, an additional disaster recovery quality signal transport in a double chain is also planned to Sky headquarters in Rome and then from Rome to Milan.

The team

The director in charge of the integrations on Italy’s matches is Roberto Popi Montoli, who will manage the four cameras in the studio and the three cameras on the pitch, including a long lens that captures the various profiles of players and coaches.

The on-site team will also include EVS operators with 12 channels, a video mixer, two camera controls, an audio mixer and a total of about 20 people from the Cinevideo technical team.

Two producers, Ferruccio Zanotti and Giorgio Antoniol, and two editorial coordinators, Alessandro Scipioni and Federica Salpietro, will also be on site.

In addition, Sky will send two staff members, Andrea Picchioni, technical supervisor, and Fabio Griffanti, to the IBC, alongside two technicians from Globecast.

Read more Euro 2024: UEFA’s ENG crews at the ready

At the Adidas Village in front of the Brandenburg Gate, there will be an editorial coordinator who will also handle relations with the official global and national team sponsor, two camera operators and a producer.

In the second phase of the tournament, consisting of the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final, Sky will comment on all matches and will send five producers for on-site commentary.

Therefore around 20 journalists and 35 technical professionals from Sky will be involved in the production, along withthose from Cinevideo. In practice, the total effort in Germany will amount to around 80 people.

Cutting-edge technology and a year of preparation

Zanotti, an experienced producer with three European Championships under his belt, says: “It’s been a year of intense work: from the first workshops with UEFA last summer to the final broadcast standards communicated in December in Hamburg.

“From there we developed our editorial planning, aligning it with the budget and UEFA specifications, including the costs of the mobile unit with Cinevideo, the Leipzig-Milan-Rome connectivity with Globecast and coordinating everything in a production plan with the editorial side.”

Among the biggest challenges are logistics and transport, made complex by the movement of a large number of people.

Triple backup and autonomous power supply

After the experience of the last European Championship where the TV signal was only saved thanks to disaster recovery following the accidental cutting of the connection fibres, Sky has decided to implement a triple backup to guarantee maximum service continuity.

All power will be entirely under generator, eliminating the risk of blackouts.

“The real challenges, however, are not just technical,” continues Zanotti: “The inclusion of Euro 2024 in an already packed schedule that includes Wimbledon, Formula 1 and MotoGP will require a great organisational effort from the Sky production centre, which will be super stressed during that period from 14 June, and even before.

“It will be one of the busiest periods of the year and we will arrive very tired at the final on 14 July.”

A complex and innovative operation

To guarantee the best possible experience for viewers, Sky has combined various production and distribution technologies, while also making the most of machine redundancy to ensure maximum reliability.

“Among the most interesting innovations,” says Picchioni, “is the use of HD HDR, which offers extraordinary image quality. The matches will be broadcast in both HD and HD HDR, which will also become the production standard for the next Champions League, Europa League and Conference League. In addition, UEFA has chosen to use the LUT NBCU, a very high standard for colour management.”

Another novelty for the Euros is a ‘rocky cam’ – a broadcast camera and its lightweight mobile support – equipped with anamorphic lenses, which allows for capturing a wider field of view, giving the images a more cinematic look and the possibility of creating an oval bokeh. All of this will contribute to creating an even more immersive and exciting viewing experience.

From an audio point of view, the events will be produced in Dolby E and Dolby Atmos, offering an immersive and engaging sound experience.

Read more Euro 2024: UEFA’s live production plans

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