SVG Summit 2015: NBC Sports’ Karl Malone Offers Peek Into Rio Planning

At the DTV Audio Group’s Audio Production and Distribution Workshop meeting on Dec. 14 during the SVG Summit, Karl Malone, director, sound design, NBC Sports and Olympics, provided a preview of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

NBCSportsGroupPlanning has already begun for coverage of 42 sports events (including rugby sevens and golf, both new this Olympiad) taking place over 18 days. Malone expects the D-Day–like logistics ramp-up for Rio to exceed even the effort for the 2012 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, which saw 1,500 hours of television produced across 15 platforms from nine OB trucks, 50 cameras, and nearly 50 miles of fiber and Cat-6 cabling, transported in 140 shipping containers.

In Rio, 32 venues will be spread across four areas of the city, including five soccer stadiums outside it. These will be managed by a 75,000-sq.-ft. IBC, with the vast majority of the audio produced in 5.1 surround. But, says Malone, as large as it will be, operations will be more efficient and leaner without the burden of copper, thanks to more implementation of Dante networked audio, Ethernet fiber, and IP transport. Commentary, comms, and ambience audio will be sent over IP, as will the audio from non-traditional venues.

At traditional venues, Ethernet and fiber will be deployed to conventional OB trailers; for golf, diving, volleyball, and men’s basketball, custom flypacks will be used. Rio will see an approximately 10% increase in use of the at-home remote-production methodologies seen at Sochi, with Lawo systems (mainly consoles and routers) de-embedding the incoming video and audio feeds. At NBC Sports’ production base in Stamford, CT, a single operator will be able to monitor, adjust, and quality-control all aspects of the 20 live transmissions from a single touchscreen, including mapping audio and re-embedding, as well as concentrating all 20 commentary announce booths in Stamford via the Ravenna IP protocol.

There are no plans to use dedicated surround microphones for the production, Malone said in response to a question from the audience. “We’ll put our own mono and stereo microphones out, as well as using the host broadcaster’s microphones. That gives us the flexibility to pick and choose.”

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