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Vendors go for the gold

As is the case every four years, broadcast equipment vendors are supporting the 2008 Summer Olympic Games for distribution to just about every conceivable content delivery platform — on-air, online and on mobile devices. As a group, they are helping to bring the international sports action home to millions of viewers live, and, this year, for the first time, they are being captured and produced by Beijing Olympic Broadcasting (BOB) completely in HDTV (1080/50p).

This year, almost all of the major vendors have laid claim to the games.

Chyron is providing more than two dozen graphics systems to NBC during the network's coverage of the games. The network is using Chyron's HyperX (in both HD and SD) in tandem with the Lyric PRO 7 system, which allows NBC to deliver graphics in 2-D and 3-D, using Apple QuickTime, Adobe XMP metadata and Windows AVI files.

As a major sponsor, Panasonic said it has delivered the largest-ever supply of digital electrical technologies for the games this year. This year marks the eighth Olympics for which Panasonic has provided equipment as the official recording format for the games.

Working with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), and the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting (BOB), the company has supplied a large amount of its P2 HD series gear as well as studio-use digital VCRs, cameras and monitors.

The company said that the total number of digital electronic devices delivered to all 37 venues in Beijing and the seven other cities holding Olympic events is the largest ever and is 1.7 times greater in scale than the previous Athens Olympic Games. This includes approximately 100 P2 HD cameras, 250 P2 recorders and 1500 LCD production monitors.

In addition to production equipment, Panasonic also will supply its Astrovision large-screen display systems, RAMSA series professional audio systems, flat-screen HDTVs and DVD recorders. The Astrovision screens will be used in the opening and closing ceremonies to be held at the National Athletics Stadium (commonly known as the Bird's Nest). Panasonic has also provided surveillance camera systems throughout Beijing.

Harris has supplied a wide range of HD and SD broadcast equipment to support the world’s leading broadcasters during their live coverage and is also providing clients with local support during the games. This equipment includes signal processing, routers, multiviewers, servers, graphics systems and signal conversion equipment.

For example, an association representing Japanese broadcasters for broadcast coverage of the 2008 Beijing Games has selected the Harris Integrator and Panacea routers, 6800+ HD conversion equipment, frame synchronizers, distribution amplifiers (including 3Gb/s), multiplexers and demultiplexers.

China's premiere national broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV), has purchased a range of Harris video processing and distribution products, multiviewers, and test and measurement solutions, which will be used in its master control facility during the Beijing Games.

In addition, the CBC, Canada’s national public broadcaster, will use two Inscriber G7 HD/SD broadcast graphics systems to support the creation of real-time 2-D and 3-D graphics over two channels during its coverage of the games.

Numerous broadcasters, including Brazil’s TV Globo, will use more than $8 million in Vistek signal processing and test signal equipment from Pro-Bel in Beijing. Globosat, a content provider owned by the same group as TV Globo, has bought two Cifers (based on Pro-Bel’s advanced algorithms for format conversion and Digital Vision’s motion estimation technology) that have been deployed in Beijing and another 14 in Rio de Janeiro. They’re being used to convert the 1080i/50 and 625-line signals in China to 1080i/59.94 and 525-line signals used in Brazil.

Sony has provided NBC with 30 PDW-700 XDCAM HD cameras and 170 PDW-HD1500 decks. In addition, 42 Sony HDC-1400 studio cameras, eight MVS-8000 switchers, and two MFS-2000 switchers will be used by NBC in the International Broadcast Center (IBC).

The network is using the XDCAM HD camcorder as its primary ENG camcorder to record athlete arrivals, interviews, venue press conferences and any other assignments. The XDCAM HD decks will be used for the ingest wall at the IBC in Beijing.

Telemundo, NBC Universal’s Spanish-language TV network, will use the PDW-700 camcorders at its standup location overlooking the Olympic Stadium.

Sony’s HD studio cameras also will be at NBC’s facilities in the different venues, including the HDC-3300 3X super slow-motion camera. Material will be acquired using a mix of Sony PDW-700, HDC-1400 and HDC-3300 cameras.

Doing its part at the games, Thomson said its equipment would be represented in virtually every venue and sporting event at the Olympics this year.

In China, there are now hundreds of Thomson Grass Valley HD and SD cameras as well as 30 outside broadcast (OB) trucks outfitted with 425 Thomson Grass Valley LDK 8000 and LDK 6000 mk II WorldCam cameras; 47 Kayak HD, Kalypso HD, and XtenDD HD production switchers; and 18 Trinix and Concerto series HD routers. To provide expanded coverage of the games in HD and on mobile devices, Thomson also has supplied its Elite 100 and Elite 1000 transmission systems.

CCTV’s news production department, located in Beijing, is providing live coverage of the Games in HD from numerous venues using the Infinity’s built-in JPEG2000 codec. Clips captured with the Infinity during the games will be offlined in the field on EDIUS laptops using an external USB REV PRO drive. Edit lists created from the laptops will then be transferred to EDIUS NLE workstations for online finishing. The finished program files will be delivered to CCTV's news network for storage, sharing and management.

There’s clearly lots more manufacturers’ equipment involved in the games this year, and, like the athletes, too many to list them all. With the industry supporting these international broadcasters, they plan to send worldwide audiences the best pictures and sound they ever have.