Foxtel Australia Makes Leap to 4K Racing Coverage With Gearhouse Broadcast
The action was captured by 28 cameras operating in native 4K mode
Foxtel Australia this past weekend produced the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 for supercars in 4K with Gearhouse Broadcast, the Gravity Media-owned supplier of technical facilities, at the core of the production. Gearhouse provided five onsite remote-production trucks for HD and 4K needs: HD5 for the world feed, HD6 for the world-feed overflow and big-screen production, HD8 for the Fox Sports 4K feed, HD9 for the Fox Sports HD feed, and HD10 for the Channel 10 feed.
The 161-lap, 1,000-km race was covered in 4K with 28 cameras operating in native 4K mode: 26 Sony HDC-4300’s and an HDC-P43 were deployed around the track; an HDC-4800 slow-motion camera captured the action in even greater detail. An additional 56 HD sources (specialty track cameras, pit cameras, Heli, CamCat high-speed rail-cam system, and all the traditional EVS output channels) were upscaled through a Grass Valley Kahuna production switcher operating in 4K. Overall, the production team had 83 4K sources to choose from via quad-link SDI transport.
“The main challenge was passing the 1080p50 3G quad-link signal from the camera base stations into the 4K facility,” explains Ben Quelch, asset manager, Gravity Media Group. “Given the cable-length limitations of this signal format, there were over 120 fibers deployed to cover the signal count.”
The next challenge, he adds, came with use of the Kahuna’s intelligent tie-line switching to provide upstream switching of the 4K cameras into the Kahuna from the Grass Valley Sirius router.
“This was the first time this system had been run worldwide, with Grass Valley providing phone support,” he says. “Onsite support was provided by Jon Plaw, a freelance ex SAM employee engaged through Gearhouse.”
The tie-line system worked well, and Quelch says it will provide the only feasible way to incorporate a large 4K camera count into these productions.
The main program output was enhanced with native 4K graphics and a true native creation of 5.1 surround sound to accompany the brilliant and dynamic images, giving the viewing audience unprecedented live coverage of a sports event.
According to Nathan Prendergast, GM, TV and content, Supercars, Gearhouse Broadcast was the natural choice for delivering a large-scale event like Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in 4K.
“The team at Gearhouse Broadcast has provided Supercars with excellent broadcast coverage for the past five years,” he says. “We had total confidence that they would deliver the latest, cutting-edge content to enhance our broadcast even further.”
Gravity Media CEO John Newton notes that Gearhouse has invested heavily in the latest 4K production equipment and has been involved in numerous live 4K productions around the world.
Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, he adds, “has been the next evolution in the ongoing efforts by Gearhouse to consistently move forward with innovations, integration of new technology, and a collaborative relationship with Supercars that goes back to when we first partnered in 2013.”
Following the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 launch, Foxtel 4K will showcase a wealth of 4K content, including movies, documentaries, concerts, and live sports coverage.