Live From Rio 2016: Viasat, NEP Sweden Embraces Flexibility

Viasat Sweden’s presence in Rio includes 80 people, with nearly 30 of them reporters and talent. “Overall, everything went well, although some of our athletes did not do as well as we hoped,” says Joakim Ekstrand, production manager, Olympics, Viasat Sweden.

Joakim Ekstrand, Viasat Sweden, Olympics, production manager (left) and Mikael Krantz, NEP Sweden, technical producer, makes sure Sweden Olympic fans see their favorite athletes compete.

Viasat Sweden’s Joakim Ekstrand (left) and NEP Sweden’s Mikael Krantz ensure that Swedish fans see their favorite athletes compete.

Mikael Krantz,, technical producer, NEP Sweden, is on hand overseeing the technical operations (NEP Sweden is providing the technical facilities) that make use of the OBS VandA+ package, which provides 55 event and camera feeds to the Viasat team onsite at the IBC. The team is also taking the OBS Multichannel Distribution Service (MDS) and converting it to 50 Hz prior to sending it to Stockholm.

The Viasat operation at the IBC is connected to its Stockholm facility via five 1-Gbps circuits providing 12 video circuits with MADI audio that use Nimbra J2K encoders for transport. One of the circuits is also used to backhaul the Olympic UHD service.

“The rest of the bandwidth is aggregated and used for file transfer for editors, and a number of Nevion encoders/decoders are also in use to move content around,” says Krantz. “There are also some dedicated lines so they can choose feeds and extra material. And the MDS is sent via satellite as a backup or primary signal, depending on the sport.”

Operations at the IBC basically serve as master control, ensuring that signals are in the best technical shape possible (audio mixing, fixing latency issues) before heading to Stockholm, where two live studios and control rooms pull the content together. There are also editors onsite working with Adobe Premier.

Although some of the Swedish athletes did not meet expectations, one group did: the women’s football team lost to Germany in the final but managed to knock off the U.S. and Brazil along the way. Such unforeseen successes can make use of contingency plans.

“It’s hard to plan for things like that, when you need to book things two years prior to the Olympics. So we tried to design our setup so that it could be extremely flexible, and that was proven out here. We had no plans to need a studio at Maracanã Stadium [where the final was held],” says Krantz. “For example, for the women’s football final, we set up a full studio in a day; before the Olympics, we had identified a few spots where we might need a point of presence. So we booked fibers to those spots and had mobile kits that could go there. We have adjusted the resources as the tournament evolves to put those kits where the focus is at the moment.”

Krantz points out that the system allows total production flexibility, noting, “The savings compared to the old way of doing things, are huge.”

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