World Cup, second screen insights at SVG Europe’s Football Production Summit

Workflow innovations ahead of Brazil 2014 and the continually evolving nature of second screen content were among the discussion points at the latest annual edition of SVG Europe’s Football Production Summit, which took place at Stade de France yesterday (18 March).

HBS director of production Dan Miodownik kicked off proceedings with a fact-packed presentation on the IBC set to handle this summer’s World Cup. Updating delegates on the current state of preparations, Miodownik emphasised the streamlining of workflows and emphasis on flexibility that have fed into the design of the Brazil 2014 IBC. Although political and social upheavals in Brazil were the cause of occasional “sleepless nights”, he admitted, the omens look good for a production infrastructure even more seamless than that encountered by broadcasters in South Africa four years ago.

In the first panel session of the day, Sky Sport’s Keith Lane, BSkyB’s Gary Hughes and Mediapro/La Liga’s Ignacio Arrola Albarracin joined IEC in Sport COO and SVG Europe chairman Peter Angell to consider long-term trends in football production. The number of cameras available to broadcasters continues to increase, but more than ever, said Hughes, the focus needs to be on “what you use that technology for – how you reflect the content and enhance the story.” Arrola Albarracin picked up on Hughes’s theme of the importance of storytelling, noting that with second screen there were exciting opportunities for broadcasters to “tell new and different stories”. Lane also agreed that “content is king” whilst pointing out Sky’s continuing interest in new technologies, including evermore compact and mobile cameras.

In the following session, Orad Hi-Tec Systems’ Ofir Benovici, Vizrt’s Julia Vogel and ChyronHego’s Ian Wray all agreed that it was a case of “evolution, not revolution” when it came to football graphics, but said that second screen platforms provided the opportunity to create rewarding distinctions between different types of graphical content.

Paul Clennell, chief technology officer, took attendees on a whistle-stop tour (virtually speaking) of dock10’s MediaCityUK studios, which have lately provided a home to – amongst many other high-profile shows – Match of the Day. The BBC football mainstay is filmed in dock10’s HQ3, a 4,500 sqft, fully equipped HD studio with a saturated lighting grid and connectivity for eight camera channels.

Sky Italia’s Riccardo Botta and CANAL+’s François-Charles Bideaux were among those joining SVG editorial director Ken Kerschbaumer to discuss the storytelling techniques inherent in great football coverage. Whilst on-field capture continues to evolve, it is clear that some of the most exciting developments are taking place off the field, with broadcasters investing more in capturing additional content – player Q&As, behind the scenes reports, you name it – that can be pushed out to mobiles and tablets.

Some of these themes were expanded upon in the following, dedicated second screen session. Opta’s David Collet, deltratre’s Carlo De Marchis, Monterosa’s Tom McDonnell, Netco Sports’ Christopher Rapaport and FIFA TV’s Stefan-Eric Wildeman joined SVG Europe managing editor David Davies to discuss the advent of bespoke solutions that will increasingly put the viewer in the director’s seat. Second screen applications must be malleable to the broadcaster’s individual needs, however, and Wildeman made it clear that this kind of impulse to flexibility has had a big impact on World Cup 2014 planning.

In the final panel session of the day, Paul Clennell, AJA Video Systems’ Matthew Causon, UEFA’s Nicolas Deal and EVS’ Thierry Pauwels considered the likely UltraHD scope of Brazil 2014. 4K and even 8K shoots are reportedly in prospect, but there remains a demonstrable shortfall of availability on the consumer end. Whatever happens long-term, said Causon, the objective has to be to turn out “a really beautiful looking picture” for football-lovers.

In excess of 100 people overcame travel difficulties to attend the 2014 Football Production Summit. Keep an eye on SVG Europe over the next few days for in-depth individual reports of each summit session.

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