Live from London Games: What to expect from OBS
It’s the day before the Opening Ceremonies here at the International Broadcast Centre, home to Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) and dozens of broadcast organisations from around the world. The massive three story building is located right next to the Olympic Park, the 2.5 square kilometer area that is home to eight venues, including the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre, and Velodrome, and is home to the core technical facility that will offer more than 90 full HDTV feeds during between now and the closing ceremonies on August 12.
The OBS team has been on site since March, when most of the full-time departments moved into the IBC and the venue teams began battling the elements. During the next three weeks the OBS team will produce more than 5,600 hours of coverage, all in HD (and protected for 4:3).
Some of the key changes? Basketball will be played at two venues (one for preliminaries and one for finals), hockey and volleyball will each have only one competition venue (they each had two in Beijing), and there will be five live feeds of tennis coverage as opposed to three in Beijing.
OBS will also work closely with a number of broadcasters that will help produce the events. The BBC, for example, will handle football, boxing, rowing, canoe sprint, and tennis. YLE will be involved with the ceremonies and athletics will be handled by YLE alongside SVT and NOS. CCTV will serve up badminton, table tennis, and and fencing (as well as fencing and riding for the pentathlon). TVE will be responsible for the swimming marathon (OBS will handle the remainder of aquatics) as well as canoe slalom, and the triathlon. Cycling events will be handled by NOS and VRT while STV will cover hockey and FUJI will be on hand for judo.Indoor volleyball will be served up by ICRT while ERT will do the heavy lifting for weightlifting. And OBS will produce equestrian, handball, sailing, shooting, swimming for the pentathlon, beach volleyball, and wrestling.
As usual, OBS will offer up a number of production enhancements. All involved for OBC are now focusing on the final touches to the technical infrastructure both inside the IBC, at the venues, and for the Opening Ceremonies.
In the coming weeks the Sports Video Group and SVGEurope will take you behind the scenes of the events and the enhancements. And here are just a few of the changes this year that you will read about:
-All HDTV: Along with the 90 high-quality HD services for broadcast needs there will also be two compression profiles in IP for new media needs: 24.7 Mbps for high definition needs and 2.4 Mbps for standard definition needs.
-More than 230 hours of 3D: A 3D production unit consists of up to three fully-equipped OB vans and six separate ENG teams that will produce more than 230 hours of 3D content. Live coverage is expected for the ceremonies, athletics, artistic and trampoline gymnastics, aquatics, canoe/kayak slalom, and basketball finals. Additionally, the 3D ENG crews will cover an additional 21 sports as the team tries to learn how 3D impacts coverage of all Olympic sports. A daily summary programme will be produced, combining portions of the live coverage with that collected by the ENG crews.
-Eight days of Super Hi-Vision: A first for a major sporting event will be the use of “Super Hi-Vision,” the next-next-generation format that offers eight times HD resolution as well as 22.2 Surround sound. It will be used for eight days of live coverage and the ceremonies and will be available for viewing in three theatres in the UK as well as Japan. Viewing will take place on 400-inch screens.
-High-Speed Super Slow Motion Cameras: Expect OBS to use more than 40 super slow-speed cameras this year, capturing events at more than 600 frames per second.
-Specialty Cameras: As usual, OBS will help viewers experience the games in an entirely new way thanks to specialty cameras that offer new perspectives.
-Surround Sound: All events will be produced in 5.1 Surround Sound, with all channels embedded into the HDTV stream. The one exception will be the Olympic News Channel which will be in available in stereo only.
-Virtual Graphics: Virtual graphics, which help identify competitors, will have an expanded role this year as athletics, swimming, rowing, canoe-sprint, sailing, football, and tennis will all get the virtual treatment.
-Animated Graphics: Animated graphics will also play a bigger part after a successful launch at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. Also expect to see course animations for sports like the marathon, cycling, triathlon, cross country equestrian, mountain bike, race walks, sailing, triathlon, canoe kayak slalom, and swimming marathon.
-Beauty Cameras: 11 cameras have been placed throughout London, providing broadcasters with shots of such iconic landmarks as Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Trafalger Square, and St. Paul Cathedral.
-Multichannel Distribution Service (MDS): OBS will also offer 11 “ready-to-air” channels as well as the Olympic News Channel via satellite for countries that are looking to cut production costs.
It will be an exciting three weeks, not only for viewers but for broadcasters tackling new workflows like file-based workflows that tie their home broadcast facilities together with their IBC operations, the birth of Super HiVision, and the continued growth of 3D.
And the SVG Olympics blog will have the inside scoop.