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Appointed as the host broadcaster for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Host Broadcast Services (HBS) renewed its partnership with EVS to provide instant tapeless technology and support services for the production of this world-class event.

EVS technologies are involved at different levels of the host broadcast production, including the live production of the 64 matches. The OB facilities use these systems for the production of live slow-, super slow- and ultra-slow motion replays, best clip compilations, and creation of highlights packages.

EVS also provides a full HD multiple feed ingest and media exchange using a large media server based on network XT[2] servers. This offers instant access to any content recorded during the competition with enhanced search and low-resolution browsing systems, allowing broadcasters to interchange media content.

The media recorded and logged into the media server includes nine different feeds from the pitch, plus ENG files from the 40 field reporting crews.

To maximize the remote access to the content, the broadcaster uses Web server systems already operated by HBS for the Ligue 1 Football production in France. The system enables broadcasters to access, browse and review the edited sequences produced by the ENG team at the different venues on a Web-based solution for download in SD or HD.

EVS' Xedio editing solution is being used for the production of 24/7 news programs, as well as to provide remote access to file-based ENG through the Web production system.

Different broadcasters, known as media rights licensees (MRLs), are provided with browsing tools to access, review, clip and import material for their own production crews.

Last but not least, EVS systems manage the ingest of dedicated mobile feeds with live streaming onto Apple Xsan and FCP editor for instant delivery to mobile network operators (MNOs).

Production at venues

While traditional league matches are shot with an average of 12 to 18 cameras, 30 cameras are being used for the FIFA World Cup matches, plus an additional aerial camera and cable camera over the pitch for some matches.

In addition to standard cameras, HBS is operating a series of super slow- and ultra-motion cameras. To ensure the production of live replays, slow-motion action replays, highlights and closers during a live football match, all cameras are recorded on EVS video production servers installed in the outside broadcast facilities located in the broadcast compound, at the venue, during the event.

Multicamera recording

About 130 XT[2] servers are deployed in the fleet of OB trucks working at the different venues in South Africa. These digital video recorders manage the acquisition of all cameras surrounding the pitch. They are based on a loop recording process so that not even a single shot is missed. Their live-oriented architecture (with a high level of redundancy and fault tolerance, ensuring that no failure can interrupt the workflow) guarantees the level of control needed for instant replays, highlights editing, clips compilations and graphics overlay managed by the OB production team during the matches. Each server can simultaneously ingest and control up to six feeds per server.

During the production of a match, all the XT servers installed in the OBs are linked together, allowing operators and production teams to share content and control media recorded on the XT[2] network. The servers are ganged together through a dual media sharing network consisting of an XNet[2] network based on high-bandwidth SDTI and a standard GigE network.

Any feed recorded on one server can be reviewed, converted to a clip and played out from any other server. This allows operators to exchange clips and highlights with other operators gathering all the best sequences and actions that will then be transferred to the International Broadcast Center (IBC) in Johannesburg.

During the production of the matches in the OB trucks, the large number of I/O XT channels are controlled by multiple systems, including the MulticamLSM and IPDirector.

The MulticamLSM remote controller is used for all live slow-motion, super- and ultra-motion replays, multicamera actions clipping, and quick highlight or closer creations. In addition, LSM controllers point out the offside positions of the players through the insert of a virtual offside line graphic overlay recently integrated onto the system.

The IPDirector is used for the multicamera ingest and server network control, browsing and logging operations. In addition, a timeline editing module of IPDirector, called IPEdit, will create highlights and clip compilations. With IPEdit, HBS editors benefit from instant access and control over the XT[2] recording channels, with no need for media transfer, encoding and decoding processes. The IPDirector is also used to manage the transfer of clips and sequences onto third-party post-production tools.

Live editing operations

A total of 150 MulticamLSM systems are used at the different venues for all live replays, including slow-motion, super-motion (three-phase cameras) and ultra-motion camera replays. EVS is used for all replay actions of ultra-motion camera sequences managing up to 1000 frames per second. In addition, HBS LSM operators use the system for the creation of on-the-fly highlights and closers played during slack periods or to illustrate interesting actions happening during the game, such as a goal, penalties and crowd reaction.

Clip compilation and near-live timeline editing

HBS production at the venues compiles all the best sequences and replays occurring during the matches. These sequences combined as one single feed are transferred to the IBC and ingested to the media server to be available to all HBS and MRL production teams.

The creation and gathering of clips by the HBS teams in the OB trucks at each venue is managed using MulticamLSM and IPDirector clip and playlist management tools. The clip compilation gathers all the best action recorded on the servers during the match, such as multicamera angles of goals, public reaction, and super-motion and ultra-motion sequences. To facilitate the compilation of all the best action replays, as well as player and crowd reaction clips, an HBS team working in the OBs on the IPDirector has real-time access to all logs created by another HBS team in the IBC in Johannesburg using the IPlogger interface.

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IPEdit (the new timeline editor for IPDirector) is used by the OB team for the production of highlights and pregame sequences, complete with transition effects using the full timeline editing solution. Editors can access multicamera feeds instantly and add sequences and clips on their timelines with simple drag and drop actions. IPEdit is operated for short-form editing such as highlights and closer creation.

Virtual offside line creation during live production

For the first time, HBS is creating virtual offside line graphics for the international feed. The offside line graphic overlay creation is managed using an EVS Epsio. This allows LSM operators to instantly generate a virtual graphic overlay with automatic recognition of the pitch boundary. The operator only has to manually trigger the offside line with the jog wheel of the LSM remote to adjust it properly. Using a one-time-per-event calibration wizard, where each camera sends images of the playing field with predefined angles into the system, Epsio can instantly and automatically recognize the playing field during actions and virtually draw the offside line along the borders of the playing field. This one-second operation is selectable with the touch of a button.

The special preview of the graphic overlay guarantees the availability of the offside line effects when the director decides to replay the action.

IBC remote browsing and transfer

Additional IPDirector browsing stations (IPBrowser) have been added to increase the availability of multicamera angles to the production teams in the IBC. They also allow unseen camera angle browsing and reviewing right after each match.

The IPBrowser in the IBC is connected to the IPDirector database in the OB truck at the venues through an Ethernet network. Operators in the IBC are able to review each clip, as well as its related, unseen camera angles. Operators can transfer the high-resolution clip back to the IBC for the preparation of news cut and edits.

The media server

HBS introduced the EVS media server in 2006 during the FIFA World Cup to expand broadcasters' creative capabilities during major sporting events. It offers the production team, as well as broadcasters around the clock, access to all the recorded media, including the director's cut, multiple camera angles, ISO camera and best clip compilation. ENG footage was made instantly available for production and post-production operations.

The media server is a fully integrated cluster of production servers. Built on instant tapeless technology, the media server combines hardware (XT[2] servers) and software solutions optimized to manage exchange and distribution of media with the maximum guarantee of speed and security, including indexing (based on intelligent logging systems) of incoming feeds and content, media backup, and archive.

For the World Cup, the media server — known as the FIFA MAX (Media Asset Exchange) — manages the ingest and the exchange of about 3000 hours of HD content. During the competition, HBS production teams and MRLs (the broadcasters) can access a wide range of A/V material, including match feeds, clips compilations, match highlights, and the ENG clips and rushes. To assist MRLs with background coverage, HBS has its own features, the FIFA tool kit, music sequences and city profiles.

Also on the server are analysis and stats, selected ISO camera recordings, team training, interviews and press conferences, plus the match day minus one highlights (MD-1).

During each match, 11 HD XT[2] servers record the nine different feeds produced by HBS, including a:

  • broadcast international feed;
  • clean stadium feed;
  • tactical feed;
  • player A camera feed;
  • player B camera feed;
  • team A feed;
  • team B feed;
  • clip compilation; and
  • mobile live feed.

Logging operations

The content recorded on the media server is logged using IPDirector systems. In total, eight logging stations are used to add descriptive tags (logs) to the A/V feeds recorded on the FIFA MAX media server.

Two loggers per match (four in total, in the case of two simultaneous matches) are dedicated to logging the clean stadium feed as well as to the clip compilation feed. Three stations are dedicated to the logging of ENG material and the MRL content contributions imported onto the system. One additional station is used for supervision.

ENG operations, ingest, Web browsing

HBS deployed 40 ENG crews, with 32 crews following each playing team and eight crews spread throughout the host country gathering World Cup-related features about matches, fans, South African culture, sights and on-site events.

All crews working with Panasonic P2 camcorders send their rough cut edits and rushes to the IBC on a daily basis. These are immediately logged and made available on the media server for HBS production teams and MRLs to browse and download locally.

The rough cut operations are managed using an EVS Xedio media dispatcher system to select, group, clip, log and export P2 files — in the appropriate format — onto the media server in Johannesburg. In total, about 20 to 25 hours of content are produced and shared every day.

To increase the availability of ENG cuts to MRLs, HBS developed a new Web-based solution offering Web browsing and download capabilities to broadcasters based on the XT[2]Web systems.

The MRLs use services based on XT[2]Web technology already implemented for the Ligue 1 Football production in France. The system offers remote video and audio Web browsing and download capabilities of the ENG edits to broadcasters that opted for MRL services.

Once ingested onto the media server, ENG edits and their related metadata logs are automatically sent onto a secured Web server in proxy format (MPEG-4 H.264). MRLs at their own studios abroad can browse among the hours of edited ENG content using the keywords and descriptive metadata to facilitate their search. Once they have found and selected media (A/V or audio only) and dropped it into their baskets, MRLs can then request the high-res file either in SD or HD.

The transfer operation is automatically managed using the SmartJog system linked to the EVS database and media server. High-res audio files can simply be imported locally through the XT[2]Web solution.

Mobile live feed ingest and streaming

HBS is managing the production of a mobile feed delivered to FIFA mobile subscribers through telco networks. To offer high-quality footage, HBS is providing a dedicated mobile feed. A production team works on the mobile feed production; a special mobile production substitutes the main camera feed with a dedicated camera — also filming from the main platform — to provide closer shots and action that offer better visibility on mobile devices.

Mobile production includes a clean feed produced at the venue from the dedicated mobile camera mixed with other shots composed for the small mobile screen. A feed is sent to the IBC for the dedicated production of mobile packages, with a version produced for distribution with mobile-specific graphics for the distribution to mobile network operators.

The dedicated mobile feed produced at the venue is ingested into the media server with live streaming from an Apple Xsan server, allowing a FCP editor working on the mobile content production (voice-over, editing, specific team presentation, etc.) to edit it live.

Sergio Napolitano is solution marketing officer at EVS.