The TV Technology Behind the Beijing Winter Olympics

BEIJING—When the 2022 Winter Olympics Games get underway in Beijing subsequent month (Feb. 4-20), lots of the challenges that broadcasters confronted when protecting the Summer Olympics in Tokyo will stay as Covid continues to affect on a regular basis life. However, there are a selection of classes realized that the Olympic Broadcasting Services will put into place to make sure a secure and smooth-running two-week occasion. (Image credit score: IOC)When the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have been postponed from 2020 to the summer time of 2021, broadcasters now not had the luxurious of getting a yr and a half between the Winter and Summer Games. With the 2022 Games coming solely six months after the Tokyo gathering, this created a complete new set of challenges for OBS.“The pandemic created a really, very complicated state of affairs, the place the two video games got here very shut to one another,” stated Sotiris Salamouris, CTO for Olympic Broadcasting Services. “This was completely surprising and I wouldn’t say was simple to take care of.”When the Tokyo Games have been postponed in March 2020, the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Tokyo, house to the 1000’s of broadcasters protecting the Games, was inside a number of weeks of turning into operational. With the occasion postponed, the OBS needed to put a freeze on their plans, ship their personnel again house and set up a plan to keep up operations till the precise Games came about. As if dealing with such logistics in the center of a pandemic with the associated security precautions and journey restrictions weren’t sufficient, the postponement additionally pressured OBS to give attention to planning, constructing and sustaining two operational centres without delay. The Summer Games, nevertheless, have been held and have been successful, Salamouris stated. “Tokyo proved that you could nonetheless have a really profitable main occasion like the Olympics, even in such situations, and we’re assured that that may proceed in Beijing.”Covering the hockey competitors at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang (Image credit score: Olympic Broadcasting Services)The Importance of the Cloud and IPThe key to offering the most complete supply of reside programming to the world’s broadcasters when protecting the Games is IP and the cloud, which characterizes a lot of the manner media corporations have managed to keep up reside TV protection worldwide to fulfill the challenges of the previous two years. Salamouris says utilizing IP instruments and the cloud performed an necessary function in planning and designing the IBC and its manufacturing workflows. Salamouris calls the cloud “a vital facilitator as a result of it permits us to construct a digital infrastructure to be established lengthy earlier than we even go to the facility. We don’t have any  limitations. It will be pre-tested months and even years earlier than you actually attain the facility collectively along with your companions. Then you simply spin it down and also you spin it up once more as wanted.”For the Tokyo video games in addition to Beijing, OBS has teamed up with Alibaba Group to create OBS Cloud, a set of custom-made cloud-based options particularly tailored to the extraordinarily demanding, data-heavy broadcast workflows. OBS says its cloud service presents the high-performance connectivity, processing and storage capabilities required for the broadcast of the Games. Not solely can rights-holding broadcasters entry all OBS content material remotely, however they’re additionally now in a position to arrange their very own content material creation, administration and distribution programs inside the platform.A cameraman covers the freestyle snowboarding competitors at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang (Image credit score: Olympic Broadcasting Services)UHD, Immersive Audio & 5GThe Tokyo Summer Games represented the first Olympics that the OBS offered UHD/HDR protection and the 2022 Winter Games will mark the first such 4K UHD/HDR protection of the winter occasion. Although numerous broadcasters have lately dabbled in UHD protection of the Games, OBS developed an infrastructure that enables them to synchronize content material whether or not it’s in 1080i HD or 4K UHD, making it simpler for rights-holding broadcasters to handle and entry extremely high-resolution content material.This setup was deployed in Tokyo and is sort of distinctive, in accordance with Salamouris. “We have one unified manufacturing unit,” he stated. “All of our protection is strictly the similar in HD and UHD.” For audio, OBS expanded its choices to transcend 5.1 channel audio that had been the norm up till Tokyo. For Beijing, OBS will present immersive audio.“It’s an rising customary that offers you a further excessive stage of audio that enables broadcasters to make use of it as a result of it’s discreet and never compressed so it could actually meet the distribution customary in accordance with their wants,” Salamouris stated. And with a unified HD/UHD manufacturing infrastructure, “whether or not broadcasters choose up HD or UHD they’ll at all times be capable of obtain immersive audio.”Another innovation that may type an necessary a part of OBS’s protection is the growing use of 5G wi-fi.The use of 5G “is much more necessary as a result of in the Games now we have a significant issue with the lack of frequencies, as a result of we’d like a lot of RF crews simply to do our protection,” Salamouris stated. “And 5G helps as a result of you may depend on a longtime community to do our wi-fi transmissions as an alternative of counting on devoted expertise that we don’t have sufficient of anymore.”Facilities and GearSince the Winter Games have at all times been smaller than the summer time model, the Beijing IBC will likewise be smaller than Tokyo’s. And as has been the case for the previous a number of many years, Panasonic will function the official supplier of a big a part of the broadcast manufacturing gear to cowl the Games. The Beijing Olympics Speed Skating Oval (Image credit score: Inside the Games)“They are supporting us with many programs, not simply cameras, and certainly they’re offering us the largest a part of our digicam programs that we’re utilizing as a result of now we have a lot of ENG groups that go round to totally different venues and even in the metropolis the place they’re capturing tales, all of those cameras are Panasonic,” Salamouris stated.Since the Summer Games have been held in Beijing in 2008, the metropolis already had an IBC constructing, nevertheless for the Winter Games, a brand new 419,000+ square-foot facility was constructed, with greater than 220,000 sq. ft devoted to broadcast studios and manufacturing. A smaller 129,000+ square-foot broadcast centre is strategically positioned in the mountains. With greater than 6,000+ hours of content material anticipated to be produced, and an growing portion of it being delivered to non-traditional broadcast suppliers, the give attention to producing content material for the number of digital platforms has taken on added significance, in accordance with Salamouris. “Our help [for the right-holding broadcasters] must be on two fronts: First of all, to provide them extra content material as a result of they’ve extra distribution channels,” Salamouris stated, “And quantity two is to provide them expertise that makes this simpler for them. So a variety of our widespread supply now’s taking place in a digital-friendly method. IP supply is essential for the broadcasters to have the ability to simply to transform the content material that we’re giving to them to codecs which might be utilized by the units that they’re placing on-line.” China, and the metropolis of Beijing specifically, has skilled a speedy technological transformation, particularly since the Games have been final held in the metropolis in 2008, which Salamouris was additionally part of and he marvels at the ubiquity of digital expertise, specifically the reputation of cellular units. He additionally notes that this ingredient presents benefits find a lot of native expertise corporations and consultants to help its manufacturing.“I feel the Chinese inhabitants, particularly right here in Beijing that I see, might be the most digital-ready inhabitants wherever in the world,” he stated. “They actually use cell phones for every part, together with transactions, collaboration for communication, for actually every part. It helps loads while you’re interfacing with folks when it comes to planning, when it comes to discovering all the expertise that we’d like from native personnel to have the ability to work with. You are in an atmosphere the place expertise shouldn’t be a stranger.”

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