UFC 200 Soldiers on With Robust, Side-by-Side 4K, 1080i Live Productions
ConCom Director of Technical Operations Greg Louw goes inside the milestone event
Saturday’s UFC 200 card was dealt a massive blow this week when Jon Jones was pulled from his main-event fight with Daniel Cormier following a failed drug test. But that won’t keep this milestone event from being one of the most ambitious production undertakings in the history of mixed marital arts (MMA) coverage.
UFC 200 marks the first time in the history of television that a pay-per-view event will be available for purchase in 4K, and ConCom, the Bloomfield, CT-based show packager that handles all UFC live productions, is ready with some hefty production tools to make it all possible.
“UFC 100 was the pinnacle of shows,” says Greg Louw, director of technical operations, ConCom. “But [UFC 200] has grown dramatically to the point where we have 60 international takers that will be downlinking this event.”
ConCom will produce two separate shows, in 4K and 1080i. Each will have its own mobile units, but, inside the arena and around the octagon, the effort will be a full sharing of resources.
Inside T-Mobile Arena, the sparkling new gem in Las Vegas, ConCom will deploy 18 cameras, seven of which will be Sony HDC-4300’s shooting in native 4K. Those cameras will be used as the bulk of the resources for the 4K show and simultaneously will be downconverted and taken into the HD truck for use in the standard production.
According to Louw, HD-camera angles will be available to the 4K production and may be used when a live shot or replay warrants it, but the goal is ultimately to produce the show entirely in native 4K from end to end. A Vizrt graphics engine is native 4K; the FightMetric clock and score data are in native 4K, and all preproduced features will roll off a single 4K-capable EVS server.
Five NEP mobile units are in Las Vegas for a bevy of events around the city, including weigh-ins, undercard fights, and studio shows. NCPVII will be outside T-Mobile Arena producing the HD version of Saturday night’s main event for PPV; SS32 will house the 4K production.
“We’ll cut less cameras for a 4K show,” says Luow, adding that the crew will have an upconverted version of the clean program from the 1080i show to go to for the 4K production in case of an emergency.
The main HD show has some very sharp toys of its own, including the Grass Valley LDX 86 cameras that will be shooting at 6X speed. Two of them are positioned right on the octagon and will replay through a Grass Valley K2 Dyno replay system.
ConCom also brings in a JitaCam for UFC PPV events. This one will have two cameras aboard, both a 4K and an HD device.
For viewers, the 4K production will be available two ways: via satellite on DirecTV (Channel 106) and via a live stream to the NeuLion-designed UFC app available on Sony’s Android TV-capable UHD televisions.