The recent NFL football game between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants at Wembley Stadium in London proved quiet a challenge for Fox, but the network’s sports division delivered a flawless SD and HD telecast. The network produced the game in 720p50 HD, including the “1st and 10 line,” “Fox Box” graphics, HD slow-motion replays and 5.1 surround sound.
Among the technology vendors who supplied equipment were AJA Video, Panasonic, Pro-Bel and Snell & Wilcox. It was the first in-season game ever played outside of the United States.
AJA Video, a provider of video interface and conversion solutions, delivered an Io HD system to the Miami Dolphins to facilitate a remote HD editing solution, which was used to cut footage captured with Panasonic P2 and Varicam HD cameras on an Apple MacBook Pro laptop computer.
Brendan Nieto, senior manager of production and programming for the Dolphins, said he ingested HD SDI video straight out of the Varicam and into Io HD, recording it right onto the laptop's hard drive using the Io HD’s hardware-based Apple ProRes 422 encoding capability. AJA’s Io HD provides 10-bit quality video over FireWire for Apple's Final Cut Studio and natively supports Apple’s ProRes 422 format. Finished pieces were loaded onto a server as MPEG-4 files so fans could watch it at a viewing party on the HD Daktronic Video boards at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.
To deliver the game from London to the United States, FOX Sports used Pro-Bel’s Cifer and Snell & Wilcox’s Alchemist HD standards converters to convert the 720p50 program as produced at Wembley to 720p59.94 for distribution to the FOX HD affiliate stations in the United States. FOX took delivery of three new Cifer HD standards converters for the big game, one used in London and two at the FOX network operations center in Los Angeles. This allowed signal conversion to be carried out in either the UK or the United States and provided the network with multiple levels of redundancy. Both the Alchemist and Cipher converters incorporate motion compensation, a motion estimation technique that delivers high-quality images in real time.