Universal 1080i HD
London’s IBC was located inside the London Olympic Park, just outside London. From there, hundreds of broadcasters established a home base from which to edit and redistribute content. All images were handled in the 1080/50i HD format. The 3-D coverage was transmitted as two 1080i signals to make a stereoscopic image in viewers’ homes (with compatible TV sets and glasses).
Panasonic’s DVCPRO HD was once again chosen as the official recording format for capturing the London Games. These Games marked the 10th event (counting both Summer and Winter Games) since Barcelona in 1992 that a Panasonic format has so been designated. This year, Panasonic said, various broadcast outlets used more than 1000 of its cameras, more than 300 recorders and more than 100 professional monitors.
Sony Electronics provided a range of HD broadcast and production technologies for the NBC Sports Group, including: HD studio and portable cameras, switchers, OLED monitors, decks, microphones and workflow management systems. Cameras included the latest HDC-2400 and HDC-2500 models for field and studio productions at the IBC in London, with content fed to Sony XDS-PD1000XDCAM stations and PDW-F1600 XDCAM decks.
About 30 XDCAM PDW-F800 cameras were used primarily for ENG use, complemented by 10 portable PMW-EX3 XDCAM EX camcorders for capturing pre-Games interviews and press conferences as well as other activities. Also, Sony’s MVS-7000X and MCS-8M production switchers handled feeds between the IBC and various athletic venues.
NBC Sports used Sony series OLED monitors for critical evaluation, as well as LCD display monitors. Other gear supplied included Sony ECM-77BC lavalier and ECM-680S uni-directional microphones.
Several international broadcasters and production companies used Grass Valley LDK 8000 Elite and LDK 8300 Super Slow-motion HD cameras and its K2 Dyno HD Replay systems. Others used Ikegami HL-79E HD cameras, HD monitors and related technology.
Digital audio was captured and broadcast in 5.1 surround sound and stereo, depending upon the country. Owing to new efficiencies, this year’s Games employed eight audio control rooms, down from the 17 built for the Beijing Games, because more all-digital OB vans were available on site.
Flexible signal distribution
At the IBC, Miranda Technologies provided its NVision hybrid routers, Kaleido multiviewers, Densite’ infrastructure equipment (including signal conversion, fiber and media cards), and iControl signal and facility monitoring technology.
Audio was also a major part of these Olympics, and companies like Linear Acoustic, TSL Professional Products, Wohler Technologies and others provided their respective equipment to various broadcasters. TSL supplied the BBC with more than 40 of its PAM2 multichannel audio monitoring units for use within the IBC. Linear Acoustic supplied dozens of similar-capability units to NBC Olympics, both in London and the U.S.
For broadcasters and photographers alike, Anton/Bauer sent hundreds of its Dionic HC and Dionic HCX batteries to London. The company, which said it supplied equipment for the 20th year, has also supplied its biggest capacity chargers, the TM4 and DUAL 2722 models.
In addition to gear, most equipment vendors established onsite service centers, where customers could see company representatives stationed in and around the IBC — supplying broadcasters with 24/7 access to products, repair, service and support, as well as on the ground.
“We’re more efficient now and can do more things than we ever could before,” Mazza said. “But, some things never change. The basic video production and transmission principles are still in place, but everything is handled as a digital file.
“The Olympics is still a huge undertaking, but we’ve gotten really good at making it happen, both financially and technologically.”
Of note: The NBC network paid $1.18 billion for the rights to telecast the Olympics, and had roughly 2700 people on site. The Olympics under NBC made money until 2010, when the Vancouver Winter Games lost an estimated $223 million. London is expected to lose more than that.
—Micheal Grotticelli regularly reports on the professional video and broadcast technology industry.