Studer consoles specified for 2012 Olympics transmission

The specially built International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in the Olympic Park will see the BBC rely on seven Studer Vista and OnAir consoles, along with a Route 6000 network core, as part of its London 2012 Olympics broadcast.

This will allow the BBC to take feeds from 34 participating Olympic Games venues for domestic transmission via its network. Following a pledge to broadcast “every session of every sport every day,” this will amount to 2,500 hours of TV sports coverage.

Studer’s director of product strategy Andrew Hills, confirmed that the integration of the desks would be carried out by Dega Broadcast Systems, simultaneously extending Studer’s relationship with the UK’s state broadcaster, which dates back more than ten years.

Whilst Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) will provide host facilities within the IBC’s 42,000-square-metre net space, the design of the BBC space, which was led by project coordinator John Cleaver, has been a concerted effort between both the broadcaster and Dega.

The installation will comprise three 62-fader Vista 9 consoles and a Vista 5, in addition to three OnAir desks (two OnAir 3000 and an OnAir 1500). Incoming feeds from the host broadcaster and the BBC’s own studios will be fed to the desks, with the Route 6000 linking all the consoles at the core.

Lead Sound Supervisor for the operation Pete Bridges will oversee all sound and communications, with a Vista 9 serving as the hub of each of the broadcaster’s three HD and 5.1 production galleries. Furthermore, an interactive gallery (IPCR) will manage and route 24 separate streams whose destination will be the Internet, Red Button, and other platforms, such as Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media; these will be running in stereo utilising two OnAir 3000s.

Bridges will be forced with the task of taking the bundle of host broadcaster’s feeds and folding it into its own programming, which will involve combining the broadcaster’s own presenters with VT, and incoming HD-SDI video feeds and Outside Source (OS) lines. The OnAir 1500 will provide a microphone submix from the athletics stadium presentation.

Utilising a Vista 9 for the first time, Bridges noted that the metering will allow fast reconfiguration when dealing with a variety of incoming 5.1 OS lines, along with commentary and 24 microphone circuits from the studio via Studer’s D21m stage boxes. Other sources to the Vista 9 will include VT and grams.

To put this into perspective, the Vista 9 in the main gallery will provide 16 line inputs, 72 line outputs, 52 mic inputs (via RELINK sharing) with 112 AES inputs and outputs (the large number of ports being the result of having so many incoming 5.1 sources).

Situated in its own room, the Vista 5 will serve as a backup gallery to the main sound control rooms (SCRs), and will act as a bypass source (in the event of the main studio suddenly needing to be put into bypass to allow a pre-record to take place). “We will use the Vista 5 to pick up the mix, freeing up the Vista 9s to mix the pre-record,” said Bridges.

Bridges also noted that a further useful feature of the Vista 9 is its ability to upmix stereo sources to 5.1 and downmix 5.1 to stereo outputs.

The Route 6000, which is able to accommodate up to 1728 x 1728 inputs and outputs, will provide 40 line inputs; 40 line outputs; four microphone inputs and two HD-SDI de-embedder/embedder cards.

Meanwhile, use of the Studer RELINK I/O sharing resource will allow the technicians to share mic circuits between all the control desks. “This is a key benefit,” Bridges said. “We can have HD tie lines between the cores of each desk on CAT5, using Studer’s High Density data stream…with 96 bi-directional tie lines to each of the four Vista consoles, sharing the desks’ sources and outputs.”

The integration of these components has been a triumph for Dega, stated Cleaver: “One of the realities of an event of this scale is that you are looking at building an entire broadcast centre, not just an OB. Our area of expertise is permanent installs and this is as big an installation as we would undertake anywhere. To do so in a temporary building, for use over a 3-week period, and make it work for the number of people who are going to be using it, was certainly challenging.

He added: “Since this is our domestic Games it needs to be covered more comprehensively; the fact that we have built three full galleries, and provided interaction between them so that the three Vista 9 consoles link and route to each other to allow them to control any of the galleries, is a huge plus for what these mixers do. Without a doubt, this ability at the front end is something the broadcaster had wanted.”

BBC Sport will field 20 IBC sound technicians, managed by Jon Sweeney, technical operations manager, and Richard Morgan, chief engineer. With the aid of the Studer platforms, this will guarantee that the 26 participating sports are sufficiently represented and that the broadcaster’s aim of “every session of every sport every day” is successfully maintained.

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