PyeongChang 2018

Live From PyeongChang: German Public Broadcasters ARD, ZDF Embrace New Workflows

The two share onsite resources, alternate distribution

When the 2016 Rio Games came to an end, it was unclear whether ARD and ZDF, the two national German broadcasters that combine efforts on the Olympics, would be at the 2018 Winter Games, given that Eurosport had purchased the rights for all of Europe. But, last August, a deal was struck, and the ARD and ZDF planning stage for PyeongChang began. The problem? Space in the IBC was limited, rental companies were short of equipment, and production staff had been committed to other events. Compromises had to be made.

Gunnar Darge and the ZDF and ARD Olympic production teams have delivered for fans back home.

Gunnar Darge, head of engineering and operations, special projects, ZDF, explains, “In Rio, we had 2,700 sq. meters, and here we only have 1,100, so it was not possible to put all of the production parts in this small area. We made the decision to split it up. We have a National Broadcast Center in Leipzig, Germany, where we have Avid and EVS editing suites working for us. We also have three Avid edit suites and five EVS edit suites here with a total of 27 eight-channel EVS servers in use.”

German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF alternate days for Olympic coverage and also share a studio at the IBC.

The space in the IBC includes three control rooms used to create the programming signal, which is delivered via either ARD or ZDF on alternate days. There is also a nice studio that offers multiple positions for different programming needs.

The condensed production area may have been born out of necessity this year, but odds are, something similar will happen at the 2020 Tokyo Games because ARD and ZDF are under a bit more scrutiny when it comes to costs.

“Every country is staying at home and doing more [at-home] productions,” says Darge, “and we will have to do more in Germany for Tokyo.”

The ARD and ZDF facility also has three Horlemann Mobile Energy UPS systems on hand in case of power loss. “If there is a loss of power,” he says, “it will take up to 20 seconds to get our generators running, and, if the systems here power down and then up, it’s a disaster. So we have our own UPS.”